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  • Writer's pictureSanni & Gerri@

Galapagos: San Cristobal

Updated: Dec 13, 2021

San Cristobal is located in the east of the Galapagos Archipelago. In fact, it is considered the most eastern island of the archipelago. With an area of 558 km2 and 5,500 inhabitants, it is the fifth largest island in the Galapagos Islands. The highest point of the island is an extinct, heavily eroded volcano that is 730 meters high. Which seems rather small to us after the Andes. Here we like it directly at the first "step" because it offers a much more contemplative picture than Santa Cruz. There is a long main street along the bay lined up with small restaurants, mini markets and souvenir shops. Everywhere you are greeted kindly and for us a feel-good atmosphere immediately kicks-in. At the pier, the first sea lions romp directly in the sun. They do not take any notice of the arriving tourists and their luggage. At least that's how it seems. Our "hostel father" Ivan picks us up and accompanies us to our accommodation, which we reach by foot, like everything here. On the way, we are not badly surprised. Everywhere - really everywhere sea lions cross, lie around and roar. On the sidewalk, on the playground, on the park benches and of course on the beach. We are thrilled how these funny animals show us who the real inhabitants of the island are!

Arriving at our accommodation, we are even more happy! A huge room with wardrobes and storage facilities (so far this has been rather the exception). A great roof terrace with hammocks and views over the bay! Here we are served a delicious, lovingly arranged breakfast every morning. It couldn't be better.


 

Playa Baquerizo

Our first trip takes us to Playa Baquerizo. After arriving at our actual destination, Darwin Bay, we discover a narrow, stony path. A sign says that it leads to a beach in just a little over an hour. Sufficient water supply, sturdy shoes and medium condition are recommended. Oh, no... we didn‘t want to hike here, only chilling and snorkelling. Right? Of course, we can't help it and start the way to the beach. This one is really super beautiful. Sometimes we go through unreal sections of the forest, then we crawl over angular and shaky volcanic stones, pass dreamlike bays with a great view over the port of Puerto Baquerizo and find huge cactus formations.

It takes us almost 2 hours to reach our destination. Whenever a sign shows the remaining walking time to the beach, it takes us almost twice as long. Hm... are we really still so slow after all this training?! Finally arrived, a dream beach presents itself infringe of us. In addition to us, the lizards, sea lions and turtles, only 4 other people are passed by throughout the whole time. We look for a shady place under the trees at the end of the beach and start our first snorkeling adventure. We don‘t feel prepared, yet. The expectation of meeting sea lions, lizards and reef sharks underwater is still a bit scary to us. So we don't dare to go that far, which is why we don't see sea lions or sharks. But we come across several beautiful turtles and can watch them eat very closely. We don't see the sea lions underwater, but they are in our immediate vicinity of the beach. Again and again, the heads of turtles appear on the water surface. The effort to get here was worth it and the way back is much easier for us.

As a reward for the hike we have grilled plantains, corn cobs with butter and queso and a cool Cerveza at the beach bar during sunset. Of course, not without the company of sea lions here either. Even the crazy critters drive it into the bar. We laughed out loud!



 

Playa Loberia

We spend our second day at the beach named Playa Loberia. It takes us about 30 minutes by foot From our hostal. Unfortunately, the weather is not so nice. It is very windy and a constant spray rain surrounds us. However, this somehow fits in with the rough and wild atmosphere of this beach, where a large colony of sea lions can be found. That's why we still like it here and we decide to stay. Our plan is to improve our snorkeling skills. The rain doesn‘t matter since we get wet in the water anyway. Apart from us, there are only a few people around. Some of them are already in the water, but no one really swims or snorkels far from the cost. Never mind. Today we dare. After a little acclimatization in the shallow water, we immediately meet a turtle. We continue to swim further out to the sea, which will be rewarded soon. The visibility is getting much better and we meet at least nine turtles at a sandbank who seem to relax here. Just great. While swimming a little further, they are suddenly there! Two younger sea lions are approaching us. Curiously, they look at us with their big eyes and we wonder who is watching whom here. Again and again they swim around us, turn pirouettes and make a stream of air bubbles right in front of us. Obviously, this is a game for them. Wonderful. The ice-cold water and the num fingers are forgotten at this moment. We want to stay with these nimble animals forever. On land, they seem awkward and slow. Under water, they appear weightless. A very unforgettable experience.


Later, the "boss" of the beach also crosses our path in the water. We stay calm and let him pass by. It seems to us that he deliberately gets very close to us and he seems that he wants to "repel" Gerriet. No doubt, that's his territory and he didn't want to play.

As we get out of the freezing cold water, the weather is slowly getting better and we are watching sea lion families close to the beach for quite a while. How close you get to the wild animals here without disturbing them is amazing. Some don‘t pay attention to us, others are getting curious and come close.

 

Diveing & snorkeling at Kicker Rock

A day trip takes a boat to Leon Dormido, the sleeping lion also called Kicker Rock. A dream for every diver. The 150-meter-high rock formation is a remnant of a volcanic "tuff stone cone" and leads to seemingly infinite depths on a steep wall overgrown with beautiful corals. And there are also ideal conditions for snorkeling. Since Gerriet can no longer dive due to his perforated eardrum, we split up. Our respective groups are very nice, the snorkeling troop with 10 people significantly larger than that of the divers. Only 2 more comrades-in-arms force themselves into the 7 mm wetsuit for the upcoming check-dive. Equipped with above-average plumb, we go into the 18 degree cold water And we continue, directly to the rock. The divers see hammerhead sharks, reef sharks, a seahorse, octupuss, sea lions, turtles and countless schools of fish. But the water is much colder in 25 meters. The visibility on this day is miserable and the currents are extreme. Diving on the steep rocky slope without ground is rather foggy. All three, not entirely inexperienced, divers have difficulties with the current and the strong buoyancy due to the thick suits. After only 45 minutes, everyone dangles like buoys on the water surface.

The snorkeling troop comes on board only short after, also completely freezing. They saw hammerhead sharks, turtles, schools of fish and corals. From above, however, with significantly better visibility. The snorkeling route even leads through a kind of tunnel between the rock formation. Perfect! Except that Gerriet constantly has to flee from the wild paddling fins of his fellow snorkelers.

The departure for the 2nd dive is even more difficult because of the cold water and an entry against the current. After 25 minutes, she is really cold, the view gets even more foggy and suddenly she looses orientation for a moment. A panic attack hits her out of the blue! The head signals: No air! Heart rate starts pumping! There is only one thought left: Emerge! Up Up Up! Not the best idea at a depth of 25 meters. The experienced, very professional dive instructor immediately recognizes the situation and manages to calm Sanni down again. She can continue the rest of the dive. However, this doesn’t last particularly long, as the tank is quickly empty due to hyperventilation. This is the final proof: Sanni is definitely a warm-weather-diver. Next time at least 25 degrees water temperature; 28 Even better!

 

Plaza Puerto Chino

Our last destination on San Cristobal takes us to the beautiful Playa Puerto Chino. The fine, white sandy beach is located in the very south of the island and is surrounded by coal-black solidified lava rock and mangrove forests and is considered the most beautiful beach on the island. On the way, we take a walk through a breeding station for giant turtles. The "Cerro Colorado" is known to locals as Galapaguera. Unlike other breeding stations, the adult giant turtles move around freely here in a huge natural area. We follow the small hiking trail and find the gentle giants in many different places. Shortly before the end, even a whole group.

We get to the beach after a 15-minute walk, which leads us again through a surreal sceneries of cactus and bushes. Arriving at the beach, we are directly thrilled. Everywhere sea lions lying on their lazy skin or romp around in the waves and look forward to swimming in the water with people. A sea lion even joins the surfers in the water, who find ideal conditions here.

We climb the solidified lava on the sides of the beach and are rewarded with a spectacular view over the Pacific Ocean and animal life at Puerto Chino. We are even lucky to see two of the rare blue-footed boobies that breed here. A successful conclusion to our stay on San Cristobal.


 

*The English version of this blog is supported by automated translation*

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