After paying the rather hefty fees to our agent to come to the Galapagos, we catered to the 7 men who came aboard to complete paperwork, inspect the contents of our cupboards and dive the hull of SW and were then given the all clear. This is the most expensive place we have ever been to! It definitely didn’t disappoint.
We had fortified the back of the transoms with plastic netting, which kept the cute sea lions off the cockpit area. They found the back step and after putting fenders there it took them another week to work out they could still wiggle there way under them. Oh well no mess at least. We had 2 regulars which we named Chuck & Darwin.
On San Cristobel we went on a couple of hikes that didn’t need guides. Yes a lot of activities in the Galapagos require guides. The following are some activities we enjoyed:
1. The walk through the Interpretation Centre gave us lots of info on the history here and then you continued on to Cerro Tijertas to see Charles Darwins statue and the clear bay for snorkeling. The path then went onto Playa Ochoa & Punta Carola for turtles and sea lions galor.
2. Taxi tour ($50) to Laguna El Junco (the only fresh water lake in the Galapagos), Galapaguera (tortoise breeding farm) and on to Puerto Chino with its beautiful turquoise water & white sand beach. After swimming & absorbing the sun we managed to catch a taxi for a couple of $s back to El Junco and cycled back into town.
Giant land tortoises at La Galapaguera
Puerto Chino beach
3. Walked to Playa La Loberia about 50 minutes, for some snorkeling and saw 6 huge turtles hanging out in the bay.
4. Wildlife everywhere; Marine Iguanas, Blue footed boobies, lava lizard, frigate males with their bright red throats, big crabs & of course sea lions galore. These sea lions do have quite the life, playing in the surf, lounging everywhere and anywhere, swimming upside down and chasing each other; great entertainment for us. Snorkeled and kayaked with them which was fun.
marine iguanas feed in the ocean & lounge on the rocks spitting the sea water out of their noses.
lots of mum & pups feeding
We went diving at this stunning rock formation called Kicker Rock ($160 each). The 2 dives were great and we saw lots of different sharks; hammerheads, black tip & Galapogas Sharks, large turtles, sea lions and lots of different fish.
Great quiet anchorage in San Cristobel, but It was time to move onto Santa Cruz. We had heard the anchorage in Puerto Ayora was rolly but we found it reasonably calm; maybe the time of the year we are here. The anchorage is busy as this bay is the main hub for Cruise boats and dive live-aboards who come and go each day. They get to go to more islands and anchorages than we are allowed. Was fun kyaching past these boats in the bay.
The following are some things we did on Santa Cruz:
1. Wandered thru town and out to the trails at the Charles Darwin Centre to see land tortoises and these stunning yellow iguanas. Saw the fish market on the way, which had a good variety and was alive with Pelicans and seals looking for scraps. Fresh fish for dinner.
2. Tortuga Bay is about a 40 minute walk from town along a path that finishes on a beautiful white beach with a lagoon and trees with shade at the far end, to cool off after the walk. Loads of marine iguanas here. Loved the very old cacti trees in bloom.
3. To Las Grietas, a small gorge with 3 small water holes filled with very “refreshing” water where you can snorkel or go swimming.
4. Cycled up past Bella Vista to Tunel de Lava. As the lava flow from a volcano is exposed to open air the flow cools and a crust is formed outside but the molten lava continues to flow under the crust leaving behind a hollow known as a lava tube. The tunnel was huge.
We went diving with Academy Bay Diving Centre, who we’d highly recommend, to North Seymour & Mosquera ($170 each) for 2 dives. We had an amazing time seeing lots of marine life up close and enjoyed good visibility. The sharks swim very close, Wow! Lots of hammerheads & white tip sharks, eagle and spotted rays.
Our last stop was the island of Isabela, which is the biggest island with a beautiful long white sand beach that was nice for a walk. We had a nice protected anchorage behind the Tintoreras reef. Would have loved to kayak here but as its one of the islands tourist spots we weren’t allowed! Hmmmm.
We cycled out to the Wall of Tears, 6km from town where the wall represents the only evidence of a prison camp from 1946 to 1959 where the prisoners were forced to build the wall in this heat. You can walk to the top of the hill above the wall for a view back to town to see how harsh & dry the landscape here really is.
Huge volcanic rocks to be moving in this heat!
Passed turtles on the way, great to see them in the wild.
Walked along the boardwalk out to the giant tortoise breeding centre (free), which had all sorts of size tortoises and information about them. The boardwalk is also home to lots of marine iguanas and pink flamingos.
The most popular tour here is to the Cabo Rosa Tuneles de Lava ($110 each) behind a reef where broken lava tubes form natural bridges and underwater stone tunnels. We snorkeled amongst the formations and saw huge turtles, sea lions, eagle rays, sea horses; something we’ve never seen and sharks sleeping. A treat on the way back was 2 huge mantas near the surface, which we stopped to watch them gliding about, very cool.
Also went for a 16km hike to Volcán Sierra Negra ($40 each), the second largest crater in the world with a diameter of 7 x 10 kilometers, walking along its rim and down the other side amongst the old volcanic rock to Volcan Chico, which had last exploded in 2005. Amazing terrain that has that sulphur smell and you can feel the heat radiating from some of the collapsed small lava tunnels.
On the rim of Sierra Negra with harden volcanic rock below
Amazing colors near Volcan Chico, on the side of Volcán Sierra Negra
Lastly we wanted to snorkel with the small penguins up close so headed to Concha Perla near the main dock. These guys are only 30cm long and very fast.
We enjoyed the Galapagos. Alas it looks like the officials are going to tighten things up even more for yachties this year. Shame, but then they really don’t want or need us here. Maybe visiting by plane and doing a last minute dive / cruise trip organized in Santa Cruz so you get to more islands to see the wildlife would be the thing. You need guides to do and see the area and those activities are pricey and seem to rise every year, so expect it.
Off to the Marquesas in French Polynesia.