January, 2006
Galapagos Islands - First Impressions

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The trip from the mainland

(Click on a photo for a larger version)

We were unusually lucky with respect to the weather during our sail from the mainland. The wind was on the beam and the current favorable. The moon was 3 quarters full and rising and the stars were shining bright. This was one of the easiest and most comfortable 600 mile trips so far. Four days and two hours after our departure from Bahia de Caraquez we dropped our anchor in Wreck Bay on the Island of San Cristobal.

Marine iguana

Kicker Rock

This was also Charles Darwins first landfall in the Galapagos in 1835, but he called it Chatham. You can read the description of his arrival in this excerpt of his book The Voyage of the Beagle. Today Wreck Bay is the location of the little town called Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, which is the administrative center of the islands.

 Sea lion

Blue footed booby

The town probably has almost as many sea lion inhabitants as human population. We do not dare to launch our dinghy, fearing that it would be ruined or at least extremely messy. The sea lion are resting and basking on every possible boat in sight. Two resourceful natives have realised this obvious business opportunity and are running water taxi services, which we use when we go ashore. Apart from us and the Australian catamaran Gato there are no other cruising sailing boat at this time. We are early in the season, but soon many others will follow. The migration across the Pacific is soon to start.

The sea lion occupy every possible boat

Malla at Darwins statue in
Puerto Baquerizo Moreno (right)

San Cristobal is a relatively low and very dry island and we decided to postpone major excursions until we reach the islands of Santa Cruz and Isabela. However, during our walks on the western part of San Cristobal we were able to spot several av the endemic creatures of Galapagos. The animals' calm acceptance of human visitors makes this stay a truly impressive and moving experience. And we have only scrached the surface so far!

 Another land iguana playing statue

A better look at the blue feet

Puerto Baquerizo Moreno is a pretty little town, very different from the garbage strewn shanty towns on the mainland. It is a nice place to stroll around and to sit in the shade sipping a cool drink watching things slowly go by. At the edge of town is The Interpretation Center of The Galapagos Islands. It is designed to tell the natural and human history of the islands and to serve as an active educational rescourse for visitors, island schoolchildren, and other residents. You move from room to room in an airy building, from era to era of archipelago history.

 Sea lion hiding from the high noon sun

Even the park benches are taken!

The displays show portrayals of geological evolution of the islands and of land and marine life. The human history, told through a combination of paintings, old photographs, and re-creations of early life on the islands, is surprisingly tragic. For 150 years here existed a penal colony under appalling conditions. The stories of some of the 20th century's immigrants from Europe, with broken dreams, divided loyalities and suspected murders is intrguing and almost as from a novel by Agatha Christie.

A residence in Puerto Baquerizo Moreno 

The Flamboyant tree is common in the town

From San Cristobal we will sail further to the islands of Santa Cruz, Isabela and Floreana on our own boat. We might also visit some of the other islands on guided tours. Fortunately we are not pressed for time as we were able to get a 60 days permit for staying in the Galapagos. We are really thrilled to be here and looking forward for more exploring of the wonders of the Enchanted Islands.

Watch a video of the land iguana by clicking here

For a video of a sea lion pup on its back, unable to turn around, click here.

Stay tuned ....

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