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Essential Information When Visiting The Galapagos

By Val Ellis last modified May 12, 2011 12:27 PM

Published: 2011-05-12 12:27:22
Countries: Galapagos

See comments from Johnny Romero of Yachtgala at bottom

Posted 12 March 2011

The following information is provided to help cruisers visiting the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador. This information is based on two U.S.A. citizens on the 42 foot catamaran “YOLO” with no pets. Our ONLY Galapagos port of call was Academy Bay, Puerto Ayora, Isla Santa Cruz. We cleared in Monday, February 17, 2011 and out on March 10, 2011.

Overview:

If you thought the clearance fees and cruising permits for the Bahamas or Panama were expensive (both over $300 USD), you haven't seen anything yet. Welcome to the Galapagos, please hand over your wallet!

It is very difficult, probably by design, to get accurate information concerning the clearance requirements and related costs for the Galapagos. The Puerto Ayora Port Captain and his employees refuse to talk directly with cruisers. "You must hire an agent and schedule a meeting," is their reply when approached with questions. The port personnel speak one language, Spanish. The employees at the port captain offices are assigned to the port for two years terms, so someone new is often in charge and learning the ropes. The officials who boarded our vessel spoke Spanish and only spoke to our agent. The governmental fees and procedures are continuously changing, according to several agents. The Port Captain has the latitude to determine which type of inspections apply to your vessel upon arrival, and which to accept from your last port-of-call. Some of the port fees are based on the gross tonnage figure stated on your ship's papers. Some of the shipping agents want to maximize profits and we experienced a great deal of mis-information being communicated for their self-serving goal. To make a living wage the agents all have small businesses with multiple lines of work. For example, the Yachtgala office houses MoneyGram, FedEx, travel agency, private bank, provisioning, etc. businesses. Ship agent tasks are often considered secondary at some agencies. One agency employee stated, “In terms of agent fee, it doesn't matter which agency you hire, the agents got together and set the price for the next season.” I.e., price fixing. He also stated, “We work hard to do what we can, yet in reality we are working in a third world political and economic environment, which makes things very difficult.”

When you pay $750 to over $1,100 USD for the numerous fees and permits, you expect your agent to produce receipts and communication in a timely and accurate manner. In reality, you are often left with a pile of jello and double talk in the Galapagos. As noted by one agent, "fewer and fewer yachts are visiting our island each year." "Maybe more and more cruisers are voting with their sails and avoiding the excessive expenses of the Galapagos," I replied.

Regardless of the cost of clearing in and out of the Galapagos, "It is what it is." Some cruisers consider it the entrance fee for having access to one of the true remaining treasures of the world. You will observe a tremendous variety of wild life in the ocean, on land, and in the sky when visiting the Galapagos. Often times while sitting in the cockpit of your boat or taking a nearby walk. Few cruisers leave the Galapagos disappointed. However, we only met two repeat customers.

You have four options when visiting the Galapagos.

Emergency Stop:
If you pull in for emergency repairs, the Port Captain may grant you permission to stay in the harbor area for 72 hours or longer to complete the repairs and to provision your boat. During our stay in Puerto Ayora one sailboat arrived with a broken motor mount and was told to set sail within 24 hours, which was later revised to 72 hours. Another sailboat had a broken goose-neck, it was granted 72 hours for repairs, and left Puerto Ayora several days later. Both vessels were pressured by their agents and the Port Captain to leave the port within 72 hours. Both boats were inspected by port employees. You have the option of staying in one of two ports. Wreck Bay, Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, on Isla San Cristobal which is at the east end of the island chain. Or, Academy Bay, Puerto Ayora, on Isla Santa Cruz which is centrally located in the Galapagos. You do NOT have to hire an agent in advance of dropping your anchor, however you will be required to hire an agent and pay port fees upon arrival. Contacting an agent upon arrival may be more difficult than you anticipate, as they don't readily answer the VHF radio. If you have a phone that works in Ecuador, you may be better off calling an agent on their phone.

In Transit:
You will be considered “In Transit” if you want to stay 20 days or less and remain in a single port in the Galapagos. You have the option of staying in one of two ports. Wreck Bay or Academy Bay. You do NOT have to hire an agent in advance of dropping your anchor, however you will be required to hire an agent upon arrival.

Autographo Without A Galapagos National Park Guide
If you want to stay greater than 20 days and have the option of potentially visiting five ports (Wreck Bay, Academy Bay, Puerto Villamil on Isla Isabela, Puerto Velasco Ibarra on Isla Foreana, or near the airport on Isla Baltra) choose this option. Autographos are typically issued for 30 days and may be approved for up to 60 days. Autographos REQUIRE advance planning and you must contact and hire an agent prior to arrival in the Galapagos. The agents we corresponded with suggested that we give them 60 days prior notice, since they have to hire subcontractors in Ecuador's capitol on the mainland to process additional paperwork. The Galapagos National Park and Navy personnel work with your agent to determine which of the five ports you will be permitted to visit. Don't assume you will be granted permission for visiting all five ports. When you select this option you must initially clear-in at Wreck Bay or Academy Bay. One of these ports must also be your last port-of-call. You will be required to purchase a zarpe for $13.27 each time you leave a port.

Autographo With A Galapagos National Park Guide:
This option costs thousands of dollars and is outside the reach of most cruisers. It is similar to the Autographo noted above, except you will have a National Park Guide living on your boat and you have a pre-approved anchoring schedule for visiting numerous bays and islands in the Galapagos. We spoke with a mega yacht owner who selected this option and his related bill was over $50,000 USD for his 175 footer, 12 guests, and 12 crew.

Galapago Agents
The four agents listed below have offices in Puerto Ayora (Academy Bay) and we believe also have representatives in Puerto Baquerizo Mareno (Wreck Bay).

Yachtgala: Javier Plua Rizzo, Sales Manager, monitors VHF channel 11, is located at the corner of Seymour and Adolfo Hanny streets, office phone 593-52-527-403 or cell phone 593-87-229-577, We used this agent and would avoid doing so in the future. www.galapagosdestiny.com, Email: javier.pluas@naugala.com

Galapagos Ocean Services (GOS): Tuomo Vauhkonen, Operations Manager, or Peter Scheiss, monitors VHF channel 72, is located on Charles Darwin Avenue, office 593-9-377-2718, If you choose this agent you can use their dinghy dock, clothes washer, and showers free of charge. The cruisers we spoke with that used this agent were very satisfied with his services. www.gos.ec, Email: tuomo@gos.ec

ServiGalapagos, Ricardo Arenas: We were told he monitors VHF 16 early in the day but we never got a reply. He is based in San Cristobal but as representatives in Puerto Ayora. He was used by one cruiser at anchor in Puerto Ayora and he gave him a good rating. www.sailingalapagos.com

Galayachts, Antonio Moreano: This agent is often used by large yachts and got a good review from one captain. Email: antonio@galayachts.com

General Notes on Agents, Inspections and Paperwork
An agent must always be appointed, either before or on arrival. There are no exceptions.

A despacho/zarpe is required fron prior country. We gave our Balboa, Panama zarpe to our Galapagos agent upon arrival. Our agent also needed our passports and a copy of our ship's papers.

One Academy Bay agent, Yachtgala, monitors new arrivals closely and once your anchor is down he may show up at your boat with port, sanitation, and fumigation personnel in tow. When pressed, he will note that you are NOT required to hire him as your agent. Upon arrival in Academy Bay you are free to call or visit any shipping agent to start your paperwork. During your initial meeting with your agent, make it absolutely clear to that you will reimburse him for items which accompany a paid receipt from government and private service providers. If you don't you might end up paying over $300 in questionable charges.

Request permission to enter the port on VHF Channel 16: The Puerto Ayora Port Captain monitors VHF channel 16. When contacted he will switch you over to channel 12. Unless you speak flawless Spanish, the Port Captain office will NOT respond to your VHF call. After listening to channel 16 for nearly three weeks, it appeared than the Port Captain only acknowledges calls from cargo ships and live-aboard tour vessels, and then only half the time. For the most part, the Port Captain office monitors VHF channel 16 during business hours seven days per week.

Normal Government Business Hours: Your agent will know the business hours. Make sure you tell your agent that you want all clearance activities completed during normal business hours.

Retail Business Hours: Most stores are open from 0800 to 1200 and 1400 to 1800 Monday through Friday. Resturaunts, bars and gift shops stay open during lunch hours. Many business are also open Saturday and Sunday mornings.

Clearing Out Details: You can only depart the Galapagos Islands from Wreck Bay or Academy Bay. Give your agent two days advance notice to secure your zarpe from the Port Captain's office and to get your passports stamped by Immigrations. You are required to leave within 24 hours of the date and time noted on your zarpe.

Boat Inspections: Almost every cruising vessel that initially arrived in Puerto Ayora was boarded by their agent and a representative from the Port Captain's office. Many vessels were also boarded by a sanitation inspector and fumigation professional.

Our sanitation inspector reviewed our stores (dry goods, fruits, vegetables, meats, etc). He spent most of his time focused on our fruits and meats. He permitted us to keep all of our food items and warned us not to remove the food from our vessel. He squirted a gel into some of our cabinets and charged us $70 for the effort, even though we had no pests on board. On another vessel he closely inspected each individual orange, to the extent of giving each one a "sniff" test. We didn't hear of any cruisers being asked to dispose of food items in the Galapagos during our stay. The Port Captain randomly determines when sanitation inspections and fumigation activities occur.

Port, sanitation, and fumigation officials boarded most boats clearing into Academy Bay. Your agent will often travel with the above officials to your vessel.

Money and Fees (all quoted in US$)
You can pay for goods and services with Ecuadorian or USA coins and USA paper dollars. Ecuador does not have paper currency. A few merchants accept VISA and MasterCard, and they typically charge an additional fee for credit card transactions. The largest grocery store in Puerto Ayora, which is located near the main city pier, accepts credit cards and does NOT charge an additional bank fee. They do require a minimum purchase of $25 to use a credit card.

There are numerous ATM’s in Puerto Ayora which dispense US dollars. Some ATM’s, not all, charge you a fee for withdrawing money. The ATM will warn you about the fee up-front and give you the option of canceling your transaction, before charging you $2 USD. We were required to pay all park, port, inspection, and agency fees in cash.

As stated above it is nearly impossible to pinpoint the cost of clearing into and out of the Galapagos prior to arrival. The following figures reflect the charges associated with our 32 gross ton sailboat, which made one port-of-call (Puerto Ayora) for 20 days, had two people on board, and we paid for 2 national park passes.
Our total expense was $777.

Clearing In Fees:

    Inward Port Clearance Fee (fixed amount): $12.47
    Channel Access Fee (a gross tonnage calculation): $8.63
    Anchorage Fee (a gross tonnage calculation): $85.58
    Light and Buoys Fee (a gross tonnage calculation): $96.00
    Radio Frequency Fee (fixed amount): $14.50
    Pollution Certificate Fee (fixed amount): $6.22
    Security Fee (fixed amount): $0.80
    Port Office Fee (fixed amount): $12.47
    Customs Entrance Fee (fixed amount): $15.00
    Inbound Immigration Card Fee ($10 per person): $20.00 (see Note 1)
    Sanitation Inspection Fee (fixed amount): $40.00 (see Note 2)
    Fumigation Certificate Fee (fixed amount): $70.00 (see Note 2)
    Galapagos National Park Fee ($100 per person): $200.00
    Fuel Purchase Certificate: No charge
    Shipping Agency Fee: $150.00
    Other: Agency Communication and Transportation Fee: $5.00

Clearing Out Fees:
Customs Exit Fee (fixed amount): $15
Zarpe: (fixed amount): $12.47

We spoke with 10 cruising couples in Academy Bay a made the following observations: If you and one crew member stop for "Emergency Repairs" you will pay an average of around $380 for your 72 hour visit. Your agency fee will be about $80, you will skip the park pass fee, and the other fees will total about $300 USD on average. Most "In Transit" yachts paid an agency fee (about $150) and other fees which totaled around $770 for two people on a 20 day visit. This amount includes two park passes. Yachts with two people staying longer than 20 days and having an Autographo without a National Park Guide paid an agency fee ($200 to $400) and other fees totaling $850 to $1,100). Again this assume you will be purchasing two park passes. Most agents collect about four hundred dollars within a few days of starting your paperwork, and the balance is due when they deliver you your zarpe.

Note 1: You should get an immigration card when this fee is paid. It is valid for 90 days.

Note 2: We did not receive a paid receipt for this fee from our agent (Yachtgala), despite making numerous requests. This held true for many other yachts in the anchorage. Yachts which did NOT use Yachtgala as their agent seldom saw a sanitation and fumigation inspectors, and were not charged this fee. Yachtgala clients on the otherhand were always charged this fee.

National Park Passes
The fee is $100 per person and your park pass is good for 90 days. We enjoyed the National Park areas and gained valuable information from their guides and signage. ALL tourist flying into the Galapagos are REQUIRED to pay the Galapagos National Park fee upon arrival. According to some of the agents and two local travel agents we spoke with, yachties are NOT required to pay the park fee upon arrival. This holds true even if you go on "day tours" or "multi-day tours" in the national park areas, as long as you sleep on your boat or in a local hotel at night. However we were told, "if you travel on a live-aboard tour boat," you must purchase a national park pass in advance.

Paying the park fee was "mandatory for all cruisers" according to our agent. However, after talking with others we believe paying the park fee is based on an honor system for yachties. During our travels throughout the national park system we were never asked to show our park passes, nor was anyone else we spoke with. We asked several other yachties if their agent purchased their park passes? Most replied, “yes.” However, none of the other sailors received a park pass from their agents, yet were charged $100 per pass. Collectively we suspect that some shipping agents are charging yachties for Galapagos National Park passes, never purchase the passes, and pocket the related $100 per person.

When you or your agent purchase a park pass you should receive an impressive individually numbered and dated park pass. We asked our agent, Yachtgala, numerous times for our two park passes. After about a week he gave us one pass and he claimed the other one was “lost.” Because of this we informed him that we would only be paying him for one park pass. At first he said lost park passes could not be replaced. Then he changed his story and noted that it takes three days to research and replace a lost park pass. After another week of waiting he changed his story again and handed us a photocopy of a park pass without a date stamped on it and numbered nowhere near the other pass supposedly purchased at the same time.

Given the above, we recommend that sailors purchase their own Galapagos National Park passes from one of the administration offices located on Isla San Cristobal or Isla Santa Cruz. They are pretty playing-card-sized souvenirs and help support a great national park system.

Additional Charges for Out of Hours Clearance: We required our agent to conduct all transactions during normal business hours in order to avoid overtime fees which occur during weekends and holidays. If you arrive during the weekend or on a holiday it is common in Puerto Ayora for your agent to defer formalities until the next business day. All the cruisers we spoke with were free to roam Puerto Ayora and Santa Cruz once they made initial contact with their agent, which often times was days before the clearance paperwork got processed. Processing clearance paperwork during weekends and holidays will add $15 to $25 USD to your bill.

Cruisng The Galapagos
I spoke with the Port Captain in Puerto Villamil, Isla Isabela. He showed me the computerized tracking system which covered all vessels in Galapagos waters. He and his staff were not able to input, change, or delete information in the computer system. These activities can only be done by the Puerto Ayora and Puerto Baquerizo Moreno Port Captains and the Navy. This explains why you have to enter and depart from these ports. According to several agents, the computer system notes the travel plans of every vessel. I.e., the Port Captains, Navy patrol boats, local park officials, and local tour boat operators have access to the location of all vessels. The national park administrators use this information to schedule a limited number of vessels at anchor in the waters outside of Wreck Bay, Academy Bay, and Puerto Villamil. We observed Navy and harbor patrol boats during our stay. I.e., Big Brother is watching, so you would be well advised to stick your approved itinerary.

Tours
Since Puerto Ayora is the commercial and physical center of the island group, we decided to take relatively inexpensive “day tours” to the surround islands. The tours cost between $45 and $110 USD per person and include all transportation, meal(s), English speaking tour guides, snorkel equipment, etc. The tours typically have you back at your boat before 1830. We also took a three day all-inclusive tour (including hotel) to Isla Isabela for $140 USD per person, which is also considered a “day tour.” Any tour which does NOT involve living aboard a tour boat/ship is considered a “day tour.” All-inclusive live aboard trips for 3 or 4 day island tours start at about $420 per person and week long tours cost over a $1,200 USD. There are dozens of travel agencies in Puerto Ayora to choose from.

We decided to clear in with the less expensive “In Transit” status and take tours to several other islands. We found this to be advantageouss because: We are not professional naturalists and would not appreciate the minor differences in wildlife on some of the islands, even if we spent a week on a given island. i.e., a tortoise is a tortoise, regardless of his species or island location. Also, day tours take fast ferries (traveling at 20 knots) from Puerto Ayora to the other islands. If we sailed our boat between islands it would require one day to travel to a new port and one day to return to a clearance port, since the islands are typically 25 to 35 miles apart. And, you have to work with your agent to get zarpes when changing ports. You would also have to consider the light winds and counter currents when traveling in your own vessel. Once at a new port you will probably go on an island tour, which often includes the people who just got off the ferry from Puerto Ayora. If this is the case you will save only a few dollars over the tourists on the ferry. Or spent more if you motored to your new anchorage. We enjoyed our time away from YOLO, gladly left the driving to others, and found the all-inclusive meals and hotel accommodations a very good investment.

Security
We felt that security issues were extremely low in the Galapagos. We never observed a locked dinghy and walked throughout Puerto Ayora and Puerto Villamil without a concern during day and night-time hours. One cruiser had her unlocked bike stolen during the night, yet it was returned the next afternoon, so maybe someone actually “borrowed” it. Most cruisers left their unlocked dinghies in the water at night.

Dinghy Dock
You can hail a "Water Taxi" 24/7 on VHF channel 14 for transportation from your vessel to other locations (other vessels, water taxi docks, nearby beaches, etc.). The day time fee is 60 cents per person each way. Sometimes they will accept 50 cents if you are short of change. During the night the fee increases to $1 USD. Many locals flag down a water taxi by waving their arms, blowing a horn, or whistling. The west side of the main city pier is used by the water taxi’s and shuttle boats going to and from tour boats. The main city pier is located at the west end of the harbor. The Ayora Port Captain requires all people in small boats (water taxi’s, dinghies, ferries, etc.) to wear a floatation device. You can tell when the patrol boat is monitoring compliance by the amount of orange outer wear being displayed in the harbour.

If you want to use your dinghy you can tie up to the floating platforms on the east side of the main city pier, free of charge. If you selected Galapagos Ocean Services (GOS) as your agent you can use their floating dinghy dock which is located near the fisherman's cleaning station on the east side of Puerto Ayora. We never observed any wild life taking up residency in a dinghy during our visit, though we did have to shoo one off our transom steps.

Anchoring
There are numerous local vessels anchored in the west part of Academy Bay. These vessels are tightly packed together, have bow and stern anchors, and are subjected to the wake of numerous water taxi, fishing, cargo transfer barges, and ferries (which run 24/7). The vessels in the eastern and southern part of the bay tend to use only bow anchors. Those between the two groups use one or two anchors and keep a close eye on their neighbours. During our 20 day stay we experienced light winds and calm seas and there didn't appear to be any advantages to anchoring in the western part of the anchorage. On Wednesdays and Sundays over a dozen live-aboard tour boats arrive, provision, and depart the anchorage. Be prepared for more noise and water taxi wake on these days.

Puerto Ayora

The main road along the waterfront is Avenue Charles Darwin. This road is packed with tour operators, travel agencies, restaurants, bars, art galleries and gift shops. Your typical tourist district, and the prices reflect the clientele. The Charles Darwin Center is open to the public and is located at the east end of his avenue. If you enter town at the main pier and walk across the park you will see a main road heading up the hill. This street is Avenue Baltra and it leads to the open air fruit, vegetable, and meat market which is nine blocks up on your right. A littler further on is the only fuel station. If you leave the pier and walk three blocks up the hill on Avenue Baltra and turn right on Charles Binford Street you will see numerous small family run resturaunts. The daily lunch specials cost $3 USD per person and include a drink, large bowl of soup, rice, plantain, salad, and fish, chicken, or meat. All-inclusive dinners will set you back $6 USD in this part of town and a similar meal on Avenue Charles Darwin will cost about $20 USD. After lunch on Charles Binford Street, travel two blocks east and on the right to the Galapagos Tourism Office. They have great maps and detailed information about each of the islands.

Transportation: Most tourist travel by taxi in the Galapagos, unless you are taking a organized “day tour.” All taxi’s are white four door pick-up trucks. Wave your hand and they will stop to pick you up. The fare for any ride in or around Puerto Ayora was $1, regardless of the number of people in your party. If you want to hire a taxi for exploring the remote areas of the island expect to pay about $10 USD per hour. Many cruisers choose this option to avoid paying $45 to $110 per person for a “day tour.” Some taxi drivers will charge you a couple of extra dollars to transport large quantities of merchandise, water, or fuel. Most don't.

Potable Water: The locals avoid drinking tap or faucet water, and you should too. You have several options for securing drinking water. You can purchase it from one of the desalination plants (or one their retail stores) and transport it to your vessel. If you carry and use your own water jugs, and use your dingy, this solution costs 20 cents per gallon or less for large quantities. Some water taxi owners will secure and deliver water to you for around 50 cents per gallon. One shipping agent noted that the only way to get water was via his assistant and he charges $1 USD per gallon. We purchased our water at the Aqua Galapagos store on T. De Berlanga street, which is located across the street from the public library and several short blocks from the GOS dingy dock.

Laundry: There are dozens and dozens of laundries in Puerto Ayora. The ones on or near the waterfront charge $1.50 per kilo. Several blocks off the main drag the cost is $1.00 per kilo. Travel further away from the waterfront and the price drops to 50 cents per kilo at some businesses. Some of the water taxi drivers will transport and clean your laundry for $1 to $3 per kilo. The water taxi who did our laundry for $1 per kilo added five invisible kilos to our load to supplement his "free" service.

Internet: Some of the yachts at anchor use the free governmental service provider (REDGAL) from their boat. If you are having wireless issues with REDGAL, sit in the park at the main pier for better reception. Also, Internet cafes are too numerous to count. They are only exceeded in number by pharmacies. The air conditioned public library on T. De Berlanga street gives you free access to the Internet. Bring your own computer or use one of their's.

Fuel: There are three fuel stations in the Galapagos. Isla Isabela, Santa Cruz, and San Cristobal each have one fuel station. You cannot pull up to a dock and purchase fuel, or water, in the Galapagos. The government subsidizes fuel for locals. During our visit the Middle East was experiencing “riots” and the price of fuel increased substantially. The price of fuel in the Galapagos changes every Wednesday, and remains fixed for the rest of the week. If you are an Ecuadorian you would pay $1.02 per gallon of diesel and $1.45 for gasoline. The non-citizen price was $4.85 for a gallon of diesel and $3.60 for gasoline. Some water taxi’s will deliver fuel to your boat for an additional 50 cents per gallon. Some of them require you to supply the fuel cans. Some shipping agents will arrange for fuel deliveries, adding $1 per gallon to the non-citizen pump price. One shipping agent claims that only agents are permitted to deliver fuel to yachts because of "pollution regulations."

If you want to purchase fuel you must have your agent get a Fuel Permit from the port captain's office. Our agent did not charge a fee for our permit. Fuel permits specify the amount and kind of fuel you will be purchasing, so make your request an accurate number of gallons. One agent claimed that a separate fuel permit was required for diesel verses gasoline, which is a false statement. Another agent claimed that you must pay for the amount of fuel listed on the Fuel Permit, even if you take less. Again a false statement probably used to motivate you to use his fuel services. However, we did observe a governmental and shipping agent near-melt down when one yachty attempted to purchase fewer gallons of fuel than listed on his Fuel Permit. And, SOMETIMES the fuel station administrator will force you to purchase exactly the amount of fuel listed on your fuel permit during a single visit to his station.

We helped a fellow cruise get 110 gallons of fuel. With Fuel Permit in hand we rode in a taxi with 20 fuel cans to the fuel station on Avenue Baltra. Start by taking the Fuel Permit to the second floor administration office. The clerk will review your paperwork and ask how much fuel you want to purchase during your visit. She will give you a permission slip for buying fuel at the pump. Next walk outside, give the permission slip to the pump attendant, he will fill your fuel cans, collect payment, and sign off on the permission slip. Return the completed permission slip to the clerk on the second floor. She will update your Fuel Permit to reflect your purchase. Make sure you get a copy of the updated Fuel Permit AND permission slip before you leave the fuel station. A copy of the updated Fuel Permit AND permission slip must be returned to your agent, who gives it to the Port Captain prior to your departure. According to the fuel station administrator the Port Captain can authorize diesel AND gasoline purchases on the same Fuel Permit, and you are sometimes allowed multiple purchases as long as you don't exceed the total amount of authorized fuel. We were charged $3 USD for a taxi from the fuel station to the main pier for 3 people and 20 full fuel cans.

Goods and Services: Many of the goods and services are less expensive than you would think. And, an amazing variety of items are available in Puerto Ayora. Finding it will be the challenge.

A two litre bottle of Coke was $1.60, a loaf of multi-grain bread was $3.00, six 12 oz. beers were $12, and a dozen eggs cost $2 USD. Two litre bottles are hard plastic and re-cycled in the Galapagos and you will be charged 50 cents for the container when you purchase your soda pop. To get your money back return the empty bottle to the store with your original purchase receipt.

There is no local cruiser VHF net.

Trash Disposal: Most mornings “the trash barge” moves around the harbour. If you want, offload a bag of trash for a $1 USD. Flag the barge down by waving your arms, blowing a horn, or whistling.

The Galapagos are spotless compared to many parts of the world. You never have to walk very far to see a trash and recycling centre. We separated, recycled, and disposed of our trash at the main pier recycling centre, free of charge.

Jason and Karen Trautz
S/V YOLO (You Only Live Once)

Posted 5 April 2011

Dear Karen and Jason from Yolo,

My name is Johnny and owner of Yachtgala. Javier is an employee of mine and he did help me as acting Agent due that I was in The mainland Ecuador in the time you have visited the Islands and became very sick. Now I am back to the Galapagos Islands.

I am reading the comment You posted and I would Like to answer some of your comments reading from the beginning to the end.

1) You said that agents got together to set a price for the next season. This is no true, every agency has their own policy, one agent can be cheap adn other can be expensive. It's the client who select the agent for themselves.

2) You have said there are 4 ways to visit the Galapagos Island. In which one of them is not good Emergency Stop: just to let You Know an emergency stop does not last 72 hours. An emergency stop last as long as you solve your problem - could be 1 day , could be a week or could be a month. The thing is that within the 12 hours after your arrival, You are not supposed to pay anything at all, but after the 12 hours you pay the fees as a normal arriving yacht.

3) Normal Government Business Hours: Your agent will know the business hours. Make sure you tell your agent that you want all clearance activities completed during normal business hours.

This is fine, but dealing with port captain is easy but sometime in order for them to issue a clearance one must wait and sometime the internet that use the Port captain can be so slow or can be so fast, so depending of their server an agent can get a clearance fast or slow.

4) Boat Inspections: Port, sanitation, and fumigation officials board most boats clearing into Academy Bay. Your agent will often travel with the above officials to your vessel. By the regulation of the National park, a boat needs to be inspected by the quarantine System to make sure you are not bringing any pest or species that may damage the Galapagos and also need to have a fumigation certificate.

But anyhow I agree with You, the rules are not clear. To give You a clear example all these were mandatory in the beginning of this season, however in the last 3 weeks some of our clients have not been inspected by the Sanitation and fumigation official because now is not mandantory as I tell you. It does not depend on us on the regulation that these people or official set up.

Johnny Romero

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