Galapagos was definitely one of my most interesting and difficult stops. There are very strict rules, crazy high fees, and extremely rolly anchorages. Thankfully the Ocean Cruising Club awarded me the challenge grant which covered most of the fees. There are also boobies, penguins,frigates, albatross, flamingos, pelicans, sea lions, marine iguanas, giant tortoises, hammeheads, and so many turtles. With the exception of the flamingos and hammerheads none of these animals seemed to be intimidated by humans making them easy photo subjects.
I was lucky to visit the 4 inhabited islands and was the 1st yacht to go to Floreana since covid hit. It was interesting being in a place that is completely geared towards eco tourism. There is very little you can do self guided. Yachts are required to stay in the commercial anchorages and restricted from using your own dinghy. Even snorkeling from my boat in Isabela had the guides telling me to go to shore and buy a tour if I wanted to swim. This is a really frustrating lack of freedom compared to every other place I have visited.
On the bright side all of the tours I did were really nice. I dove with hammerheads at kicker rock and tortuga. Swam with sealions and penguins off of Isabela. Saw nesting frigates on Espanola and nesting blue footed boobies on Isabela. There was a 6 hour round trip horseback ride to a sulphur mine I’m not sure if I’m yet recovered from and a 12 mile hike to the volcano which looks just like my home in Hawaii.
I was able to find some self guided hikes and snorkeling on Floreana. It is amazing that the island has been closed for over a year. All schools and churches are still closed and they didn’t have 1 case of covid. I needed a negative test and vaccine before going but still made me a bit nervous thinking I could be the cause that infects this vulnerable island. Thankfully I didn’t.
There is an undeniable mysticism with the Galapagos. Even after spending 7 years traveling some of the most remote places in the world there is still wonder there for me despite the tourism industry. I could not be more thankful to the Ocean Cruising Club for awarding me the challenge grant. Without it I would have had to skip this place.