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Galapagos: Forget Cruising Permit for Small Yachts!

By doina — last modified Nov 16, 2007 01:25 PM

Published: 2007-11-16 13:25:36
Countries: Galapagos

by Otto & Marita Ulrichs, S/Y Truant 2

Immigration and customs procedures and supposed new rules each year confuse nearly every sailor approaching the Galapagos archipelago. Agencies in the past made a lot of money by providing sailors with an official cruising permit called an "Autografo". One agency now finally in November 2007 confessed that the autografo is only suitable in conjunction with a 200$ per day National Park Guide on board, and thus absolutely useless for smaller sailboats.

(Noonsite note - larger yachts may still wish to obtain an autografo and pay to have a guide on board)

If you plan heading Galapagos the following "rules" might work with minimum trouble and maximal enjoyment experienced by us and many other boats in 2007:

  • Avoid overcrowded Santa Cruz. Customs and immigration officers are unfriendly, not to say sometimes accept gifts.
  • Check-in at San Cristobal is easy (100-140$ depending on boat for at least 10 days) and check out there with international zarpe (15$) for e.g. Marquesas. Fumigation in San Cristobal is currently not applicable.
  • Visit port captains at Isla Isabela and/or Santa Maria, and for 40 to 60$ they usually unbureaucratically will allow you to stay on their wonderful islands for another 8 to 10 days each.
  • If agencies tell you about necessary additional cruising permits ("autografo") forget it and forget them! Maybe other than those agencies can use their local connections and make your arrivals at other islands more smooth, it might work or not.
  • If you intend to visit the well marked National Parks on the different islands you have to pay the one-time entrance fee of 100 USD per person. Some island tours and volcano rides work without.

Good luck to all sailors approaching and enjoying Galapagos in 2008, have your cameras ready, forget the "Autografo", and don't believe in agents telling you other things!

Otto & Marita Ulrichs, S/Y Truant 2

On Noonsite we state clearly: Recently the authorities have been more liberal in granting cruising permits to privately owned cruising boats sailing along a predetermined itinerary. There is a very high fee to be paid for this privilege and it is compulsory to have an official guide permanently on board. The simplest, and cheapest, solution is to go as a passenger on a local excursion boat, or to charter such a boat and go on a chosen itinerary.