20 April 2009
Zephyra is anchored in Wreck Bay on the island of San Cristobal in the Galapagos. There are about 25 other yachts in the anchorage along with the tour and fishing boats. The town's population is approximately 6,000 and there are plenty of basic services. Internet is available but painfully slow. I will try to send a few pictures with this email, but they may have to wait until someplace else. We are enjoying Wreck Bay and the Galapagos. Many cruisers debate whether it is worth the stop and how expensive it really is. This is what we found:
The check-in to the Galapagos was about $230US which included a $100 fee for an agent. This is the first place we have had to use an agent, so we don't know if this is comparable to other ports. The check-in was quick and painless with a trip to immigration and the port captain. The agent went with us both places and walked us through the paperwork. There was no inspection and we have not had to pay the $100 per person park fee. Our boat cannot visit other anchorages or other islands. Some cruisers got what is called an Autografio in advance and that allow them to visit 3 island ports. My understanding is that this cost them about $300 plus $100 park fee per person aboard. We are limited to 20 days and they got 30. We aren't even going to use the 20. Besides the check-in, we have found everything else to be priced fairly from taxi tours to food. Only Equadorians can reside in the Galapagos and there are no street (or restaurant) hustlers. The taxis including the water taxi ($.50 per person each way) are well regulated and inexpensive. The other refreshing thing after spending time in Mexico and Latin America is there is no trash problem. The streets are clean enough to eat off.
We visited the Interpretative Center on San Cristobal (free) and found it a good source for the history of the island. We also, took a boat ride to Santa Cruz Island and visited the Darwin Center. This was also free and had a turtle project you could walk through get close to the giant land tortoises. Unfortunately we didn't plan it well and bought a roundtrip boat ticket for the same day, so didn't get to see much more of Santa Cruz than the center and the town of Academy Bay. Because the boat ride was $25 per person each way, we decided after that to stay on San Cristobal. Another day, we took a taxi tour up into the hills which visited a fresh water lagoon formed in an inactive volcano crater, had a guided tour of the tortoise breeding center and stopped at a beautiful white sand beach. We split the taxi with another couple so it landed us costing us $25 for the 6 hour tour. We have also found a beautiful snorkeling beach about 2 miles out of town. As you walk the short trail to the cove, iguanas are posing on the rocks. At the end of the trail, there is a beach with a very protected cove. We watched the 10 to 14 foot surf from the beach, but swan in clear calm water. We snorkeled out observing many types of fish in the rocks and came upon 7 large sea turtles. They are so not afraid that you can get close and swim with them. The same for the baby sea lions. Russ swam with one for about an hour before he got tired. Russ is getting very out of shape! The Galapagos sea lions are a smaller breed of the California sea lion and much more entertaining. Because they have always been protected, they are not afraid of people. The signs say that you shouldn't touch the babies, but on the beach they came and touched us. One guy threw a little stick and the baby sea lion played fetch.
We are glad we stopped in the Galapagos and have been enjoying our stay. We are now trying to get ready to do the 3,000 mile crossing to the Marquesas and are planning on leaving Tuesday. We have gotten fuel ($3.00 per gallon) and produce and tomorrow will ship water and get our international zarpe (exit permit). While we were here, Russ tracked down the radio transmission problem so we while once again start sending position reports.