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Expedition Journal: Experiencing the Eruption of La Cumbre Volcano aboard Yacht La Pinta

la cumbre volcano eruption galapagos 2018 night

This is a complementary expedition journal that pertains to our original blog about La Cumbre’s eruption that happened in June of this year.

The morning of June 16th began with a shake. Shortly after feeling it, news of an earthquake in Galapagos reached Yacht La Pinta, which just so happened to be anchored over by Punta Vicente Roca during our Western Galapagos Islands itinerary. At approximately 11 o’clock in the morning, one of our panga (dinghy) drivers watched as smoke emerged from the uppermost parts of Fernandina Island off in the distance. This smoke, which turned out to be a volcanic fumarole, marked the beginning of an eruption over on La Cumbre volcano in Galapagos. experiencing the la cumbre eruption aboard yacht la pinta 2018

Our Captain, Patricio Villacís, soon announced that we’d be sailing and in fact passing right in front of the eruption (while taking all precautionary measures in the process, of course). As we headed towards Fernandina Island, I had mixed feelings that jumped between surprise, joy and a little bit of fear. Nevertheless, my nervousness soon disappeared when I realized we were sailing in good hands. I knew everything was going to be alright and began looking forward to witnessing one of Mother Nature’s most incredible feats. 

Via our messaging Service, I managed to inform the Galapagos National Park about this extraordinary event that we were on our way to witness. Not long after sending them the message, we received a reply requesting that we provide further details about the incident as soon as we had cleared the area.la cumbre galapagos volcanic eruption 2018

That same afternoon, we reached Punta Espinoza (a visitor site located on Fernandina Island). Before disembarking, our Expedition Leader double-checked to make sure that conditions were safe enough for our guests to visit the islands. And boy, were we lucky enough to find out that they were! Because walking around this visitor site with La Cumbre Volcano erupting off in the distance proved to be one of the most exciting things in recent memory! All of our guests and guides walked around in awe as we explored this impressive and otherworldly piece of rock, complete with epic plumes of volcanic smoke rising off in the distance. The wildlife that was present at this visitor site also seemed to be idly aware of the fantastic scene unfolding around them.

sea lion in galapagos fernandina island

At around 6 p.m. that evening, our Captain set a course towards the shores of where the eruption was taking place, all so that we could get a closer look at this spectacular event and admire it one last time before navigating south. Mother Nature provided us with a fantastic scene that laid witness to both the power and splendor of this massive volcano.

It’ll be an experience that will be hard to forget, and we’re incredibly lucky to have gotten the chance to see it right when it occurred. It truly was a blessing!

volcanic eruption in galapagos 2018
Marcelo Izquierdo

About Marcelo Izquierdo

Medical Officer aboard Yacht La Pinta. I'm from Guayaquil and love photography, especially taking pictures of nature and animals while walking with guests on the trails of the Galapagos Islands. I’m also a part-time missionary during my time off and have the privilege of helping other people improve their lives through counseling and comfort. I also am in charge of taking pictures and managing social networks for the Children's Ministry in Ecuador.