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Old 21-04-2022, 18:15   #1
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Galapagos

I recently crewed on a crossing from Panama to Galapagos. Below is my perspective on stopping in the Galapagos.

First and foremost, we really enjoyed our stop in the Galapagos, but visiting on a private boat is a PITA: loads of paperwork, large fees, restrictions on boat movement once you arrive.

In our case, a 38' catamaran w a crew of 5, the fees were US$2,600. I started the paperwork process several months in advance and finalized it just before departing Panama. The boat bottom must be meticulously clean or you may be denied entry (and yep they check, the first event in our clearance process was that a diver checked the bottom). We hove-to about 50 miles out of San Cristobal and I hopped in to clean the bottom. Fortunately, it had a recent bottom job and was pretty clean. My suggestion is to clean the bottom before departure and then make a quick check/clean before arrival.

You cant really cruise the Galapagos...as we sailors are accustomed to doing in other venues because boat movement is restricted. Visiting yachts are restricted to a few ports (these are the only places you are allowed to anchor). Your initial paperwork determines which ports you are allowed to visit. You must request a local zarpe before departure to your next local port. At least in San Cristobal it is not practical, nor permitted, to use your dinghy because there is no dock where you can leave the dinghy (only a water taxi dock where tying up is not permitted) and if you did leave the dighy anywhere, many of the estimated 50K sea lions would use it as inflatable furniture...its also a constant battle to keep them off the main boat...especially a catamaran w twin sugar scoop transoms). This means you are dependent upon the water taxis for boat to shore transport. This works out fine, except they end service early in the evening. We almost got stuck ashore one night because we had gone out to dinner. When we were ready to return to the boat at 8PM the water taxis were done for the day. Fortunately, we were able to convice a crew member from one of the many live aboard tourist boats to give us a lift in their launcha.

Because of all the above, several cruising friends have chosen to skip the Galapagos or to visit by conventional means. The later is my suggestion, skip sailing there and just book conventiomal travel. It is WAY less hassle and certainly no more expensive. Flights from mainland Ecuador are inexpensive (my return flight to Quito was $149). There is lots of good and modestly priced lodging available (I found one of the nicest hostels I have ever stayed in for $25/night on San Cristobal). Food and activities are reasonably priced too).

Overall, despite the hassles/expenses above, I really enjoyed my brief visit to the Galapagos. The agent/officials were professional, friendly, and very helpful. The locals were super friendly. And of course the islands and wildlife are amazing.
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Old 21-04-2022, 21:54   #2
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Re: Galapagos

How times have changed. That's about 20 times what I paid in 1997 and 50 times what I paid in 1992. Its just another reason no to wait to go cruising.
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Old 22-04-2022, 02:35   #3
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Galapagos

I guess the days of Jacque Cousteau are long gone. Sad, and that was only about 40 years ago. Adventure today is very different
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Old 22-04-2022, 03:19   #4
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Re: Galapagos

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I guess the days of Jacque Cousteau are long gone. Sad, and that was only about 40 years ago. Adventure today is very different


It’s nothing to do with some lost era , it’s to do with (a) worldwide wilderness tourism and (b) enhanced protection and awareness of fragile ecology

Essentially the charges are an attempt to dissuade ad hoc tourism. In fact they probably should be many times more expensive
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Old 22-04-2022, 03:42   #5
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Re: Galapagos

Best way to visit the Galapagos?
Sail to La Libertad.
Get my Ukrainian mate Viktor to drive you to Guayaquil.

Then fly there having booked a tour
https://www.galapagosislands.com/tours/

The days of just turning up somewhere with beads and hatchets and colouring in books for the kids are very very long gone.
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Old 22-04-2022, 04:50   #6
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Re: Galapagos

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The days of just turning up somewhere with beads and hatchets and colouring in books for the kids are very very long gone.
LOL. I tried that, and with the plastic watches too. Zero interest. I couldn't even give the stuff away. Deflated soccer balls, that's a different story, just make sure you bring a hand pump too. You bring soccer balls, you're the king.
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Old 22-04-2022, 05:29   #7
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Re: Galapagos

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Originally Posted by El Pinguino View Post
Best way to visit the Galapagos?
Sail to La Libertad.
Get my Ukrainian mate Viktor to drive you to Guayaquil.

Then fly there having booked a tour
https://www.galapagosislands.com/tours/

The days of just turning up somewhere with beads and hatchets and colouring in books for the kids are very very long gone.


My wife brings tea towels** from home. Quite effective. The days of “ beads “ arnt quite over it seems

** Got a great tour of a Greek military vessel on the back of an “ Ireland “ tea towel.
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Old 22-04-2022, 05:51   #8
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Re: Galapagos

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I guess the days of Jacque Cousteau are long gone. Sad, and that was only about 40 years ago. Adventure today is very different
40yrs ago, adventure was mostly turning on PBS on a thursday night as a trip to the heart of the Amazon simply wasn't an option. Today, it's very much viable for the middle class.

So with large numbers of people now capable of visiting these sites, it comes with some rules and limitations. I'll take that trade off and won't be sad about it.
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Old 22-04-2022, 06:26   #9
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Re: Galapagos

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40yrs ago, adventure was mostly turning on PBS on a thursday night as a trip to the heart of the Amazon simply wasn't an option. Today, it's very much viable for the middle class.



So with large numbers of people now capable of visiting these sites, it comes with some rules and limitations. I'll take that trade off and won't be sad about it.


Sadly and equally happily ,this is true.
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Old 22-04-2022, 08:28   #10
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Re: Galapagos

Yes, times have changed and I expect there is a punitive aspect to the large fees...or at least an attempt to recoup some of the revenue that private boats dont generate (like lodging).
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Old 22-04-2022, 08:31   #11
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Re: Galapagos

Another factor which makes visiting in a private sailing vessel inconvenient is the flukey winds and currents between Panama and Galapagos. We had a few good sailing days, but mostly motor sailing or just motoring. We left with 400 liters of fuel so that we could motor the entire route if necessary.

We made this run in early May. April is better for winds.
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Old 22-04-2022, 08:34   #12
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Re: Galapagos

Fuel, water, and propane are also expensive there and inconvenient to take on. Fuel and water are jerry jugged to the boat.
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Old 22-04-2022, 09:36   #13
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Re: Galapagos

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Originally Posted by belizesailor View Post
Yes, times have changed and I expect there is a punitive aspect to the large fees...or at least an attempt to recoup some of the revenue that private boats dont generate (like lodging).
I don't know if I agree with "punitive" but yes, I'm sure they are trying to collect some of the revenue.

There may be rare exceptions but almost no one goes to the Galapagos for reasons other than the incredible wild life experience. It costs money to maintain and protect that, so I don't see a reason why cruisers should get a free pass...heck if the $2400 number listed earlier is per boat, that's still pretty cheap assuming say 4 people on the boat for a couple weeks compared to an organized tour.
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Old 22-04-2022, 09:37   #14
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Re: Galapagos

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Fuel, water, and propane are also expensive there and inconvenient to take on. Fuel and water are jerry jugged to the boat.
Not uncommon for many remote islands where water supplies are limited and fuel must be shipped in from long distances in small quantities to find it expensive and not too convenient.
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Old 22-04-2022, 09:41   #15
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Re: Galapagos

@belizesailor, so if someone told you just what you stated in post #1, would that have been enough to change your mind about sailing there?
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