Galapagos Island Tour on La Pinta followed by 3 days on Isabela and 3 days on Santa Cruz.
Oct 24th – Nov 8th 2012
Day 1 – North Seymour || Day 2 Isabla Island – Punta Flores and Fernandina – Punta Espinosa || Day 3 Isabela Island – Urbina Bay and Tagus Cove || Day 4 – Rabida Island and Santa Cruz – Cerro Dragon || Day 5 Santa Cruz and Puerto Ayora || Day 6 Floreana – Post office Bay and Punta Cormorant || Day 7 – Santa Fe and South Plaza || Isabela Island Day Trips || Santa Cruz Day Trips || Sierra Negra
Lee and I are not Cruise People. Our vacations consist of mountain biking or skiing 5-8 hour days, sore muscles, dirt, sweat and collapsing at the end of the day. BUT the Galapagos are a place you must visit. It’s unique and relatively primitive nature makes it a place everyone should visit to experience life at its peaceful and simplest best. You can only visit the Galapagos on guided trips, whether it be day trips or a cruise. But when to go? When we travel it\s usually to a new mountain bike or skiing destination. Then FATE intervened and Lee dislocated his shoulder. Oh well, no riding for 6-8 weeks. If you know Lee you’ll know I will be in a world of WA WA if we don’t do something cool. So we look into Galapagos Cruises.
We get the email Deals from Expedition Trips. This link describes our trip. Shelley Fry was awesome at helping us out choosing the right cruise at a good price. Again if you know Lee… Our decision kept coming back to La Pinta ( click on link to see details of the boat from their website). It’s a mid sized boat, holds 48 guests and has an itinerary that included the remotest islands. If you are going to the Galapagos go to the remote islands! We found the 8 days to be perfect. The crew provided enough activities each day to keep us occupied. Our boat was only at half capacity which was nice as it allowed us to get to know all the guests. This was also the reason we probably had so much time between activities.
Three Naturalist guides were on our boat. Ramiro, Carlos King and Walter. They all spoke English and were very knowledgeable on the Flora and Fauna of the Islands. They were also as excited as we were to see the animals as they presented themselves. This wasn’t just a job for them, it was their passion. They were also very conscientious of all the guest especially the older ones who may be a bit slower on the rougher terrain.
Each day we were transported via a Panga ride to a hike or snorkle
The crew was awesome. The Panga drivers were courteous and ensured averyone was in the boot with life jackets before they puttered to our destination.
The cooks prepared ample unique food every day.
The cabin boys who cleaned our rooms folded our towels into cool animals and things each day! A very cool surprise!
Captain Patricio had an open Bridge so you too can check out the best view. He was also very approachable and offered his assistence to help Lee and I back on the boat when Lee had to come in early.
After each morning and afternoon outing, which consisted of a hike or snorkling – a hot tub, drinks and snacks were waiting for us on the upper deck.
We also had videos and eductional lectures to provide us with more information and appreciation for this amazing place.
Special thanks to Carlos, Ramiro, Walter, Macario and Captain Patricio ( Sorry for the out of focus picture)
The rest of the passengers ( sorry Lynn, Karen missed you guys)
Brenda, Tammy and me!
Our Route: We were on the 8 day tour that included Isabela Island. The Parks services now requires all Cruise ships to have a 15 day Itinerary to spread the passengers out. This ensure there are only 1 or 2 boats per area on a given day. Better for you, better for the wildlife!
Other notes on Ecuador
– They do not take Travellers Cheques. There are more ATMs now so if you need cash make sure your debit card will work! Credit cards are not always accepted so you do need to carry cash.
– Everything is really cheap! Food is about $10.00 for an entree, $3.50 for a Grand Pilsener ( the only beer it seems)
– We walked around two days in Quito, there were lots of security around and it seemed quite safe. Apparently it is more dangerous later at night. We stayed at Hotel Real Audiencia. Room 209 does not face the square but it is big with a more modern bathroom. They were great at getting us a 4:00am taxi to the airport and even gave us a bagged breakfast. A worthwhile restaurant with a great view is Cafe Mirador Vista Hermosa
– Taxi to from the Airport to Old Town is $10.00, ask the driver the price before you get in. We tipped $1.00.
– Our cruise included the air fare from Quito to Baltra, a savings of $1000.00.
– When we finished our Cruise we flew from San Cristobal to Isabela Island for $200 each on Emetebe Airlines in a Cessna. This flight was booked by Expedition Trips.
– When we travelled from Isabela Island to Santa Cruz we took a boat for $25.00 each. It took two hours.
– You can also do day tours from Puerto Ayora on these boats, it takes anywhere from 45minutes to 3 hours to get to a snorkling or short hike destination.
– Galapagos on a Budget – Lots of info on what to do and where to go, from 2006 so some info might be dated.
– Practical Travel information from Loney Planet re: money, costs, tipping
– Lonely Planet overview on the Galapagos Islands
– Another Persons Trip Report from 2009 for more ideas on what to do and where to go
– Packing List for the Galapagos
– Fodors Travel Guide – to Cruise or not to Cruise