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You are here:7.6 San Cristobal Island

7.6 San Cristobal Island

Arid zone, Transitional Zone, Scalesia Zone, Miconia Zone.

San Cristobal Island

With Puerto Baquerizo Moreno as capital and the administrative center of the archipelago, San Cristóbal has a second airport to enter the Galápagos Islands.  The land surface is 558 square kilometers with the highest elevation 730 m.  San Cristóbal is the home for not only for seven of the Darwin Finches, but also for the Chatham Mockingbird (e) and the Vermilion Flycatcher (endemic race dubius). The Vermilion Flycatcher from San Cristobal has not been seen in the last twenty five years. Should you find this flycatcher, please report it for it would be an important ornithological discovery.

An early morning start will allow the birder to visit the highlands and concentrate on the transitional zone near the cemetery, and the habitat near the “El Junco” lake.

As on Santa Cruz Island, the more adventurous birders will have many opportunities on San Cristóbal.  A visit to the highlands will require rain gear.  A Galápagos certified Naturalist guide is mandatory in order to access to all the sites inside the National Park, even for the independent birder.

Hiring a vehicle enables one to change habitat and save time.  Distances and instructions in the Galapagos Islands are for reference only, as at the moment of writing this book the visitors to Galápagos are not able to rent a vehicle and drive themselves.  However, there are many taxis and pickups with crew cabs with drivers that know all the tourist sites, and will take you to any destination.  Prices will are $1 US per ride inside the town regardless of destination and number of people. To find the cost for renting the vehicle for the day you have to negotiate with the owner.


(Click here to download Map of San Cristobal Island)


San Cristobal Island

The most interesting site is a side road some 3.2 km from Puerto Baquerizo Moreno. This dirt road begins heading to the highlands, and just at the entrance there is a parking place which is a good spot to park the vehicle and start looking for Chatham Mockingbird and many of the Darwin Finches.

Walk this side dirt road for some 0.16 km. Here on your right side there is trail that enters the forest; look for the Darwin Finches and especially Vegetarian and Woodpecker Finch. This side road eventually switches back to the main road in some 0.9 km very close to the cemetery which is a good point of reference. The cemetery itself is some 4.0 km from San Cristobal. From this cemetery you carry on for further 1.5 km or 5.5 km from San Cristobal. At this point you reach a fork when entering the small town of “El Progreso”. Here take the right hand road heading toward “El Junco Lake” and “La Tortugera”. Drive for further 0.4 km through town or 5.9 km from San Cristobal. Here the road turns to your right as you leave El Progreso. Reset your odometer to 0.0 for future references. Continue along the main road for 8.9 km from El Progreso or 14.4 km from San Cristóbal. At this point there is a gate on your right. The road beyond this gate heads toward El Junco. Continuing along the main road for 7.7 km or 22.1 km from San Cristobal you will reach to “La Tortuguera”. This is a site of the Galápagos NP where a captive reproduction program for the Giant Tortoises is taking place. At this site the Chatham Mockingbird is not difficult to encounter. Look also here for the Woodpecker Finch.

In order to visit both islands, San Cristóbal and Española, you will need to visit San Cristóbal in the early morning and start the navigation towards Española not later than midday. The boat ride from San Cristobal to Española in the early afternoon will be a great opportunity to look for Band-rumped Storm-Petrel and Galápagos Petrel.


Birds to look for

San Cristobal Island

 Miconia Zone (MZ), Transitional Zone (TZ),   Scalesia Forest Zone (SFZ), Lakes (L).

Common: Common   Gallinule (L), Chatham (San Cristóbal) Mockingbird (e) (MZ, SFZ), Small Ground-Finch (e) (MZ, SFZ), Medium Ground Finch (e) (MZ, SFZ), Small Tree Finch (e) (subspecies salvini)   (MZ, SFZ), Yellow Warbler (MZ, SFZ).

Uncommon:   Galápagos Flycatcher (MZ, SFZ), Vegetarian Finch (e) (MZ, SFZ), Woodpecker Finch (e) (subspecies striatipectus)   (MZ, SFZ), Warbler Finch (e)   (subspecies luteola) (MZ, SFZ).

Rare:   Band-rumped Storm-petrel, Galápagos Petrel (e).

Very Rare:   Vermilion Flycatcher (MZ, SFZ).



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Meet the Author

Lelis Navarrete – Birding tour leader. Lelis has 19 years of experience as a birding guide and naturalist in the field. He has led groups of birders throughout most of Latin America, guiding frequently in countries like his native country of Ecuador and in the Galapagos Islands, Colombia, Peru, Bolivia, Brazil and Panama. A Biology B.Sc. graduate from Universidad Católica in Quito, Lelis has supported Jocotoco Foundation since its founding in 1998 and was an active Board Member until 2010 supporting Ecuadorian bird and wildlife conservation. Lelis divides his time between his two great passions in life: birding and spending time with his wife Solange and son Fabian with whom he lives in Quito.


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