When visiting the Galápagos, one can always expect the unexpected. This past January, guests aboard National Geographic Endeavour II and NationalGeographic Islander discovered this firsthand when they were lucky enough to witness the eruption of Wolf Volcano on Isabela Island.
Standing about 5,580-feet high, Wolf is the tallest volcano in the islands and is one of six volcanoes that give Isabela its recognizable seahorse shape.
“As soon as we learned that the volcano was active, we changed our itinerary,” says Paula Tagle, Expedition Leader aboard National Geographic Endeavour II. “We had been exploring the easternmost islands, but we left them behind and sailed 90 nautical miles to reach the northern part of Isabela.”
Wolf Volcano Erupts
When an eruption like this occurs, it’s a spectacular reminder of the powerful origins of this volcanic archipelago. The Galápagos were formed by the action of a hotspot underneath a moving plate known as the Nazca Plate. The hotspot is located beneath the western islands and so the western realm is home to the youngest volcanoes, like Wolf. In recent years, there have been several eruptions on Isabela including Sierra Negra in 2018 and Wolf previously in 2015. Our ships repositioned to be there for both of those eruptions as well, giving guests a once-in-a-lifetime thrill.
The sight of the incandescent lava combined with the evening sky made for the kind of unforgettable moment only nature can deliver. “We arrived in the vicinity of Cape Marshall at 9 p.m., with Cassiopeia constellation clear in the skies, reminding us where to find north,” says Tagle. “The moon competed in brightness with Sirius, but never with the red majestic glow coming from the active fissure of Wolf.”
Lava flows from the mouth of Wolf towards the shoreline. If it reaches the ocean, it will harden into rock and actually change the size and shape of the island. Black lava fields are common in Galápagos and just one of many fascinating types of landscapes guests will explore on an expedition here.