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Galapagos trip report #25622
03/01/2014 02:24 PM
03/01/2014 02:24 PM
Joined: Apr 2001
Posts: 483
Florida
RobT Offline OP
Traveler
RobT  Offline OP
Traveler
Joined: Apr 2001
Posts: 483
Florida
Here is my trip report from 2005 that might help.

In December we decide to go to the Galapagos Islands. In researching the trip I found out that an extension to Peru and Machu Picchu would not be too much more, so we went for it. We booked a Globus tour through Affordabletours.com. We had never had a Globus tour before, but everything went well. This was the most expensive tour we have ever been on, but with all the flights, the 4-day cruise around the Galapagos, all tours included in the cost, and the excellent hotels, it was worth it. I thought it was an escorted tour, but the escorts were only from the hotels to the airports and back. We were told every day where and when to meet the guide for the next day which was normally early in the lobby of our hotel. Every hotel had a free breakfast, all the meals on the boat were provided, and we one free dinner.

The flight from BWI to Miami to Quito, Ecuador was on time, but it did get in at 10:30pm local time, which is the same as our local time in Maryland. The biggest problem of the tour occurred at the Quito airport when we could not find the Globus representative at the airport. We did see a sign for our hotel, so we got a ride from the hotel. We got a call from the Globus representative at 11:30 in our hotel room to say he was at the airport, but that there was a 3-hour tour of Quito at 8:30 the next morning. Other had a similar problem. I highlight this as our biggest problem to emphasis that we all thought Globus did an excellent job of having people available on time and knowledgeable. The Hotel Dann Carlton was a very nice hotel but it was not located very close to anything. Fortunately, cab rides were very inexpensive, usually $2.00. By the way, Ecuador used the US dollar as their primary currency. Take lots of small US bills.

We met our tour group of 12 the next morning and had a good bus tour of Quito. My highlight of the tour was the Basilica with the turtle gargoyles. It was our first day at 11,000 feet, so we took it pretty easy. The Hilton was the upgrade for the tour and we asked to be left off there to have a late lunch at the Mare Nostrum restaurant that the guide recommended. The food was good on the trip, but that was the best meal I had for the trip. We had lunch with another couple on the tour and their two teenage daughters. The mother spoke excellent Spanish so we did not have any problems at the restaurant. I do not even remember if the menu was in English or not. Another $2.00 cab ride took us to the museum of culture which had recently moved, so the cab drives left us off in front of the old location which had a whole lot of police in riot gear. The new location was not too far, so we walked. About half way there we got directions again that were “Yes it is straight down the street you are on, but do not go that way that street is full of thieves. Go one street over.” We followed the new directions and got there fine.

The next day we met in the hotel at 6:30 am for our trip to the airport and flight to Balta in the Galapagos Island for a 4-day cruise. We were on the Coral II, a 20-passenger, 11-crew boat that cruises the islands. We met up with 8 other people who were 3 days into a 7-day cruise. Except for one or two inhabited islands, you cannot go ashore in the Galapagos without a trained guide, with a limit of 16 people per guide. We had two local naturalist guides for our excursions who spoke English. The rooms were okay for a cruise ship and the food was good. Our normal schedule was an early morning shore excursion, then a snorkel stop, back on the boat for lunch and rest during the heat of the day. Later in the day we would have snorkel or boat excursion and a second land excursion. The boat change locations during the day or at night. Most trips were under 3 hours. The boats all coordinate their activities so as not to get too crowded on shore or in the water.

The Galapagos are just what you have heard about. The animals are not afraid of humans, lots of land and sea iguanas, sea lions, land and sea turtles, and blue footed boobies. We only saw a few penguins and flightless cormorants and eagle rays. Access to the islands is very controlled to keep the place as natural as possible. The highlight was snorkeling with the sea lions. They love to play with humans. But you are not allowed to touch any animals. The only place to get souvenirs is at the airport, the Darwin Research Station, and in town. While not part of the trip, our guide took us into town on our last night to see the town and have some drinks at a local bar.

While a 7-day trip would have been better, we were satisfied with the 4 days in the Galapagos. March is one of the warmest times of the year for the water, but I would not say that the water was really warm. On the west side, the Humbolt Current hits the islands and it was really cold in the water in that area. We rented shortie wet suits for that area which really helped. We brought our own snorkel and mask, and with my big feet, I was lucky to get find a pair of fins that fit. As it was, I was a black and light blue finned snorkeler.

Last edited by Carol_Hill; 03/01/2014 06:41 PM.

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Re: Galapagos and Ecuador [Re: RobT] #25623
03/01/2014 04:51 PM
03/01/2014 04:51 PM
Joined: Dec 2004
Posts: 1,198
Devon, UK
salica Offline
Traveler
salica  Offline
Traveler
Joined: Dec 2004
Posts: 1,198
Devon, UK
Thanks for your insights Rob. I think I'm getting a wetsuit! We know that everything is well organised on the islands and are fine with that. We are having 8 days in Ecuador beforehand, travelling right through the country, and as in your experience, financially stupid not to do so on the overall cost. Hopefully we have chosen a good tour, certainly sounds excellent, but until we are there we won't really know. Did you have any altitude problems?
Looking foward to it any how.
For now, off to BVi in three weeks, for three weeks. Will be so pleased to get away from the dreadful weather we have experienced in England this winter: not the snow of USA but constant rain and gale force winds for over two months becomes rather tiring! Thanks again for your comments.

Re: Galapagos and Ecuador [Re: salica] #25624
03/03/2014 12:46 PM
03/03/2014 12:46 PM
Joined: Apr 2001
Posts: 483
Florida
RobT Offline OP
Traveler
RobT  Offline OP
Traveler
Joined: Apr 2001
Posts: 483
Florida
Quito is quite high. I am in pretty good shape, but walking up stairs can take your breath away in the first day or so at altitude.

The wet suit was provided by the boat we were on in the Galapagos. That water was cold where the Humbolt current came up from Antartica.


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