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Agent Recommendations for the Galapagos

By Sue Richards last modified Jul 20, 2015 06:53 PM
There are also many comments from cruisers about agents at the bottom of the main Galapagos page.

Published: 2015-04-21 08:40:00
Countries: Galapagos

Posted 19 April, 2015

We used the agent Bolivar Pesantes (E-mail, we had recommendations from at least 10 other boats that have used him.  I contacted him a month before departing mainland Ecuador and he responded within 12 hours.  Sent us his pricing and all the items it would include broken down by agency.   Since that first email we have traded at least 7-8 emails with him and always received a response within hours and the most overnight.  Excellent communication.

We emailed him a copy of the vessels documentation, copies of our passports and he sent us back an Autografo needed by our mainland Ecuador agent for checking out and creating a national Zarpe.

We emailed him our arrival time in San Cristobol and then called him upon arrival.  He came out to the boat within 30 minutes. Everything was taken care of for us and we can recommend him.  He does have other representatives on Santa Cruz and Isabella.

Description of Services & Cost
Por el servicio de recepcion y arribo - $140.00
Por el servicio de inspeccion y cuarentena - $100.00
Por el servicio de migracion - $40.00
Al Parque Nacional Galapagos - $200.00
Al Consejo de Gobierno de Galapagos - $40.00
Por copias y transporte de autoridades - $30.00
Peo el servicio de recoleccion y transporte de basura - $40.00
Por inspeccion del casco del velero - $25.00
Inspeccion del Parque Nacional Galapagos - $100.00
Por los servicios de la agenica - $500.00

Total Cost: $1,215.00

We did not have to pay the $40 migracion fee since we were on a National Zarpe.

Beware: Your bottom must be 100% barnacle free or you will sent back offshore 40 miles to clean your bottom.  We stopped a day out to give our bottom a quick clean even though we cleaned it 5 days before.  We found lots of goosneck barnacles under the counter on the transom.  Also boats have reported being sent back to sea at Santa Cruz after being inspected by divers. The vessel reporting departed San Cristobol for a day run up to Santa Cruz.  Arrived, inspected by divers and sent offshore,  ie.  Clean your bottom before departing San Cristobol for Santa Cruz.

Chuck Houlihan & Linda Edeiken
SY Jacaranda
San Cristobol, Galapagos, Ecuador

Posted 02 July 2012
Subject: Highly recomended agent in Galapagos

On our trip in May 2012 from Panama to Tahiti, we stopped for 3 weeks in the Galapagos islands. It is well known that every boat needs an agent to clear in and out. We recommend to pick your agent before you leave your respective country, so you know what to expect. Otherwise you arrive at the harbourmasters office and just get the person who is waiting around for new arrivals. In a country where the rules change frequently and where the officals are very flexible to interpret them, you want a strong agent with good connections to all levels of officialdom.

We contracted with Johnny Romero of Yachtgala S.A. Yachtservices (Tel: 00593 52 527 403, E-mail:, Web: Johhny has 15 people employed, so it is a very substantial agency. He cleared us in and out very smooth and efficient, we even were able to stay 2 days longer. He organized a computer connection per hotspot on our boat, he connected me with a fisherman who helped me find the least rolly spot and than set the necessary stern anchor with me. So we got full service attention all for the up front agreed price. His agency also arranged all our sightseeing daytrips at very resonable prices.

Wilhelm Hepfer

Posted 12 April 2012
Subject: Recommendation for Agent in San Cristobal, Galapagos

We would like to recommend Bolivar Pesantes of Naugala Yacht Agency in Baquerizo Morena. He is well informed and knows everything and everyone on the island. If you need an "autografo" to visit other islands, he is the most efficient. His wife was once governor of the island. He has connections.


Donald Turbeville

Posted 4 July 2011

Antonio at Gala Yacht Services has been excellent! He was not on island when we arrived however, had an associate meet us on board within an hour of anchoring - Conchita was professional and efficient.

She saw to our weird needs and requests (we anchored in a restricted zone as we were very low on fuel and she worked with the authorities to ensure we could stay until we were fueled up).

Antonio contacted as soon as he was back on island and worked with Conchita to see to our needs (such as day excursions, restaurant recommendations etc).

A winning experience!

SY Solo

Posted 1 June 2011
Subject: San Cristobal, Galapagos info as of 05/29/11

I would like to recommend Servigalapagos and in particular the San Cristobal representative Joseph Ortega Yepez.

We had to wait for 36 hours or so for him to show up on island. All the while having other agents either tell us they represented him, when in fact they did not, or more or less threaten us that we had to do something right away. The fact is, once you have decided on an agent you are allowed to wait for him before checking in.

When we did meet up with him he arranged everything very fast and was very straight forward. He saved us a lot of money while charging the same agent fee as everyone else.

Although there is a comment about him selling bad fuel elsewhere on this website, I believe that was Santa Cruz where a lot of boats have received bad fuel this season. I filtered all the fuel he delivered and found 1/4 teaspoon of water in 100 gallons which I gave back to him.

Joseph can be reached at 593 (0) 88266046 cell or 593 52520272.

It's not easy to find a good agent in the Galapagos. I was there 3 years ago and things are changed a lot, some for the better and some for the worse.

Dave Houston
s/v Ovive

SwissSailor says:
Jul 18, 2015 06:43 AM

Obviously, for a sailing yacht planning to cross the Pacific, there is little choice in deciding to visit here. The 850 nm distance from Panama necessitates stopping here at minimum to provision and refuel before starting the additional 3100 nm passage to the Marquesas. As long as you are here you might as well see the sights. However, who you choose to help you navigate the labyrinth of bureaucracy will test your resolve and your wallet.

Four months in advance of our arrival, I began our search for a company to assist us. If you spend much time online, you see the frustration in most sailors who plan to come here. There appear to be a number of companies ‘specializing’ in helping yachts with their activities while in Galápagos. However, almost all of them have a less than stellar reputation from the sailor community and some have been downright lambasted for their incompetency and ineffectiveness at resolving even simple issues. In short, most of them suck.

I attempted to weed through the discussions on the many forums and get the facts that would allow me to not make the same mistake as so many have. I sent email, interviewed potential companies and found a huge discrepancy between their offers. One, Galápagos Yacht Agency, offered to take care of all our needs for the princely sum of US$25,000. Yeah, right…

A sailing friend pointed me to a guy he worked with last year that worked out well for him however he never answered the many emails I sent so using him as a solution seemed doubtful. The ever popular Noonsite had many comments regarding handlers on Galápagos however, when sorting through the comments, none of them seemed competent or suitable. Several captains of other large sailing yachts I spoke with all expressed their dissatisfaction with their choices while in Galápagos so it seemed dim that I would be successful in my selection.

During yet another search of the internet for somebody that had something good to say about a company I came across one called Pacific Bound Yachts. Once contacted, they passed along rave reviews from past clients, and sent me a fancy PDF file of a tailored agenda for our time in Galápagos. I corresponded with the owner, Lisa Greenberg, over a number of weeks asking questions and getting answers in a timely fashion. Her fees for assisting us seems reasonable for what she said she was going to do and she told me she had employees on each island in Galápagos who would hand-hold us, make our clearances and refueling effortless and leave us to simply enjoy the experience with her tour guides. She alleged to have been doing this for twenty years and was an expert in taking care of yachts visiting Galápagos.

I decided to give her the business and wire transferred a significant amount of money up front to arrange for our arrival, clearance, cruising permit, etc. Upon our arrival at San Cristobal, everything started to fall apart. Starting with the local person working for Lisa, we waited all day at anchor (after our long passage) for them to arrange for our inspection and clearance. After fruitless emails to Lisa and phone calls to her local employee, we finally had our inspection and clearance procedure start at 15:30. It took 2 hours before all the papers were signed, hull inspection, etc were accomplished and we were finally able to go ashore.

Lisa’s response to this clumsy (in her words) handling was that the person taking care of us was going to be fired and we were the last yacht she would be taking care of. Lisa also mentioned she was actually located in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida and we needed to accept the lag time between contacting her and problem resolution in Galápagos (wish she’d mentioned that detail before I signed up).

I wish I could say it all got better from there however that was just the beginning of many problems. On each island, her local people were largely unresponsive to helping us and when they did, we ended up in broken-down vehicles with guides who seemed to just want to recite something they read rather than have a passion and true knowledge for their job (the exception was the guide we had on Isabella, Alfredo, who was wonderful!). The constant lag time between communicating our wishes for tours, clearances, fueling to Lisa (who insisted on this process) rather than to her local people caused unacceptable delays and sometimes entire days of missed activities.

On Santa Cruz we found out the local person she ‘employed’ was actually Johnny Romero who himself in the same business as Lisa. Apparently, her employee’s on all the islands were really not working for her but completely independent. As it turned out, we should have just hired Johnny to take care of things as he ended up doing most of the work for us during our visit and filled in a lot when Lisa failed us.

I’ve tried fruitlessly to get an final accounting from Lisa on the funds I sent her and it appears she has decided to ignore me and keep whatever money was left. This despite the fact that she told me she’d forgo her usually $1400 handling fee because of all the problems we experienced. In my opinion, **working with Pacific Bound Yachts is to be avoided**.

So, another sad story to add to this long list of experiences at trying to get a good handler for a visit to the Galápagos. My recommendation for anyone planning a visit to Galápagos is to first contact Johnny Romero to see if he is available. Then negotiate his fees, etc. before you arrive. Be sure to get a local SIM card for your phone so you can more easily communicate with him and try to have a great time!

Art s/y Feelin' Good