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Mistral of Portsmouth - The Galapagos Islands… first stop, San Cristobel

We anchored in the only harbour on the San Cristobel island after a lovely motor down the coast of the isalnd … past Kicker Rock (Sleeping Lion) along with Rays, Sea Lions and many Turtles. The island is lush and green with strips of pure white sandy beach nestled into the coastline. The harbour is busy - chocabloc with water taxis, pleasure boats for tours, local motor boats and of course, the ARC fleet. As soon as we arrived we set to, to ensure the boat was ready for inspection by the authorities - we are quarantined until we have their approval. 

At 3pm, the divers arrived to inspect the hull - huge relief that they gave us the thumbs up. Next, 10 inspectors arrived at 4ish - each with forms to complete and boxes to tick. It was surreal … they inspected the fridge and freezer searching for foods that are forbidden here (we had eaten all the bacon and eggs earlt that morning so no pork or eggs on board!), they looked in the bilges, checked our medical kit, our life jackets, our garbage, our eco products, the boat papers, our paper charts … they wolfed down our biscuits and left in a whirlwind. Hooray - we had passed all tests and were now free to go ashore for happy hour at the Hotel Miconia where Rally Control were based, and to pay the boat fees for Galapagos - over $600 to be allowed in. We needed that pina colada!

We stayed in San Cristobel for 4 days. It’s unique. The town has developed quite a bit since our last visit in 2018. More tour operators, more hotels, more T-shirt shops but still undeveloped from a provisioning perspective - practically no dairy products, fresh meat hard to come by and no super markets - only corner shops with a limited supply of goods. Sealions, iguananas and pelicans continue to own the piers, the walkways and the road along the seafront. There’s a lovely walkway to the coastline with some great beer stops, beautiful views and access to different beaches. The night life is lively with lots of  live music and good restaurants … it is carnival time right now so we hit the town at the right time. As always, we spent sometime provisioning, waiting for fuel and for water. Fuel is pre purchaesd and then sent out in water taxi’s in 18 gallon drums to be pumped into our tanks. Water the same except that the huge flagons needed to be poured by hand into the tanks. We can’t use the watermaker as ironically, the water is too dirty. After alot of hard work, we have refuelled, filled the tanks with water and got enough fresh provisions for another couple of weeks.

We explored the island with a half day tour with other ARC friends - the only fresh water lagoon set in the highlands of the island where we saw frigates cleaning themselves and rolling countryside which honestly looked a bit like Devon! We visited the totoise reservation where tortoises are reared and protected to ensure the spieces survives and spent time on one of the beaches across the island  - beautiful turquoise waters, sealions, crabs and birds galore. It’s hot hot hot and extremely humid. We have had tropical downpours every afternoon so everything is sticky and damp … small price to pay to be here in this very special location. 


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