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Galapagos Islands trip help

Galapagos Islands trip help

Old Jan 14, 2007, 3:45 am
  #1  
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Galapagos Islands trip help

Hi, I am looking to go to the Galapagos islands in March. I was hoping to do day trips from Baltra, as I'm not crazy about living on a boat. However, I keep reading that you can only reach the outer islands if you are on a cruise. Is there anyone who did day trips and was able to reach the outer islands by doing another day trip from an island closer to the outer islands? (i.e. Baltra is point A. daytrip to point B. Wanted to see point C, so overnighted at point B because a day trip from point A to C would have been impossible).

I'm a student on a modest budget, so if I can see the islands this way instead of pay for a hefty cruise, i'd prefer this. Also, I am interested in scuba diving.

thanks
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Old Jan 14, 2007, 11:01 pm
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I toured the Galapagos last July. I foolishly took the advice of the guide books and opted for staying on a boat rather than in a hotel, and for the same reason you mentioned, i.e., the difficulty or impossibility of visiting the outer islands if you stay in a hotel. However, if I had it to do over I would stay in a hotel. Why? Well, for one thing, even though I was on a 14-passenger luxury craft, I got very little sleep because the boat kept rocking all night. I don't know if this would be a problem on a large ship. I also found it hard to sleep over the roar of the boat's engine.

Unless you are a wildlife enthusiast and expert, I doubt that you'll miss much if you don't see the outer islands. After a few days, the islands all start to look the same. I suggest staying on Santa Cruz, not Baltra. There is a town of about 10,000 people there and plenty of lodging accommodations. Check the Footprint South America Handbook. From Santa Cruz you can take daytrips by boat and see most of the major wildlife. The giant tortoises, which is what most tourists want to see, are right on Santa Cruz. The other most interesting specimens, the blue- and red-footed boobies, are also within a few hours boat ride of Santa Cruz.
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Old Jan 16, 2007, 10:08 pm
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Originally Posted by wjfickling
I toured the Galapagos last July. I foolishly took the advice of the guide books and opted for staying on a boat rather than in a hotel, and for the same reason you mentioned, i.e., the difficulty or impossibility of visiting the outer islands if you stay in a hotel. However, if I had it to do over I would stay in a hotel. Why? Well, for one thing, even though I was on a 14-passenger luxury craft, I got very little sleep because the boat kept rocking all night. I don't know if this would be a problem on a large ship. I also found it hard to sleep over the roar of the boat's engine.

Unless you are a wildlife enthusiast and expert, I doubt that you'll miss much if you don't see the outer islands. After a few days, the islands all start to look the same. I suggest staying on Santa Cruz, not Baltra. There is a town of about 10,000 people there and plenty of lodging accommodations. Check the Footprint South America Handbook. From Santa Cruz you can take daytrips by boat and see most of the major wildlife. The giant tortoises, which is what most tourists want to see, are right on Santa Cruz. The other most interesting specimens, the blue- and red-footed boobies, are also within a few hours boat ride of Santa Cruz.
what boat tour did you do? did you book once you got to ecaudor or when you were in your home country?

so you don't think that the outer islands were worth your time living abroad a ship? the tour books suggest being on a small boat like yours because it says that you can go up closer to the islands or something.
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Old Mar 8, 2007, 9:23 pm
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Originally Posted by wjfickling
I toured the Galapagos last July. I foolishly took the advice of the guide books and opted for staying on a boat rather than in a hotel, and for the same reason you mentioned, i.e., the difficulty or impossibility of visiting the outer islands if you stay in a hotel. However, if I had it to do over I would stay in a hotel. Why? Well, for one thing, even though I was on a 14-passenger luxury craft, I got very little sleep because the boat kept rocking all night. I don't know if this would be a problem on a large ship. I also found it hard to sleep over the roar of the boat's engine.

Unless you are a wildlife enthusiast and expert, I doubt that you'll miss much if you don't see the outer islands. After a few days, the islands all start to look the same. I suggest staying on Santa Cruz, not Baltra. There is a town of about 10,000 people there and plenty of lodging accommodations. Check the Footprint South America Handbook. From Santa Cruz you can take daytrips by boat and see most of the major wildlife. The giant tortoises, which is what most tourists want to see, are right on Santa Cruz. The other most interesting specimens, the blue- and red-footed boobies, are also within a few hours boat ride of Santa Cruz.
I haven't been to the Galapagos Islands for quite a few years, but I remember being amazed at how different the islands were from each other. I opted for a week cruise, visiting different islands each day. However, these are far from luxury cruises. If you don't like to rock at night, don't like we landings, etc., perhaps a hotel is the best bet.
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Old Mar 27, 2007, 5:50 pm
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Since it's close to the end of March, I guess you've already left for the Galapagos. I'm sorry I ddn't see this thread sooner. Two years ago we stayed on Santa Cruz and made day trips to boats several days. We saw plenty and enjoyed the ground under us at night. Also, there's plenty to see on the main island, too. I'd like to hear how you did. I'd go back to the Galapagos in a heartbeat.
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Old Jan 2, 2023, 7:22 pm
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For anyone who might be planning or booking a trip to the Galapagos Islands, I strongly recommend a ship/boat based trip (cruise) instead of hotel based (unless extraordinarily sensitive to seasickness and/or sleeping on a boat).

I did a group trip to the Galapagos in October, spending 2 nights each at 2 different Galapagos hotels; one on Santa Cruz Island, one on Isabela Island.

Galapagos hotels are not that nice and we spent an inordinate amount of time traveling between hotels and tourist sights and between the different islands and particularly the last day traveling from Isabela to Baltra airport. There are no chain hotels, most are small, maybe 20-30 rooms with minimal furnishings and minimal benefits.

If in a hotel, one must be shuttled for 30-60 minutes to any of the tourist sites, including day cruises. On Isabela Island our shuttles were the trucks pictured below. They may look cute and the first or second time they might be fun, but after several boardings they were unpleasant and when wet they were dangerous. Our last shuttle truck ride was to (the boat to) the airport at 5:00 am after a night of rain which required each of us to basically sit in a large puddle of water to start the 26-30 hour travel day to get home. (The pick-up truck in the photo was for luggage.)

To get between the 2 islands, which are 50 miles apart, requires a 2.5 hour high speed ferry ride on a boat similar to that pictured below. BUT, they refuse to build piers (on either island) to accommodate those boats so the transit requires a 2-5 minute ride in 12-15 person motor boat similar to that pictured below at both ends. So, to get from one island to the other we walked or rode 5-10 minutes to the pier, waited several minutes to board motor boats (needed 2 for our group) and for our luggage to be moved to the motor boat, few minutes to the ferry, waited to board the ferry and for luggage to be transferred to the ferry, same process in reverse at the other island. That 2.5 hour ferry ride was actually probably a 4-5 hour process.

For the first ferry ride, we were asked for 4 people who wanted to sit on top. But no one mentioned sitting on top meant subjecting oneself to 35 knot (relative) winds continuously for 2.5 hours. The 2 photos under the ferry photo show 3 of my group sitting on top, I redacted their faces but it's pretty much like a scene from the movie Spies Like Us (pictured below). I was sitting next to them for much of the ride, was offered the seat next to the ferry Captain for part of the ride (from where I took the photo). It would have been far too dangerous to try to climb down to the main deck during the ride (at 35 knots).

For the return from Isabela to the Baltra airport, I sat main deck first row, no wind and no view. We had a 5:00 am pickup for a noontime flight from Baltra to Quito to connect to overnight international flights. We were picked up in one of the trucks, with puddles on every seat, for a 5 minute ride to the pier, waited several minutes to board a motor boat and for our luggage to be moved to the motor boat, few minutes to the ferry, waited to board the ferry and for luggage to be transferred to the ferry, then 2.5 hours to the side of Santa Cruz furthest from the airport, motor boat to pier, 45 minute bus ride across the island, small ferry boat 2 minutes to Baltra with waiting to board and for luggage, bus ride 5 minutes to airport taking 5.5 hours.

A cruise (boat/ship) would have eliminated much of that wasted transit time.





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Old Jan 3, 2023, 10:04 am
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Originally Posted by Dr Jabadski
For anyone who might be planning or booking a trip to the Galapagos Islands, I strongly recommend a ship/boat based trip (cruise) instead of hotel based (unless extraordinarily sensitive to seasickness and/or sleeping on a boat).
That is an expert suggestion and one with which I heartily concur.

My Galapagos trip was also cruise-ship based - but using one of the smaller 16-pax catamarans (Archipel 1) as opposed to the 48- or even the 100-person behemoth ships. The bigger boats sound attractive but because of their size they simply are not able to go as many places as the smaller boats and therefore cannot be as flexible in scheduling when irrops (such as weather or scheduling problems with other boats) affect your boat or really neat opportunities come up to see unusual things (out of the way spots for snorkeling/diving, whales, sharks, etc). I talked with several guides who had been on both the largest and smaller boats and all preferred the smaller boats, for those reasons but also because it allowed much more interaction with the guests and a more personal experience.

Most people are not aware the EC government strictly schedules and regulates the boat traffic in the islands. Since the smaller boats have a smaller number of pax and therefore need less time needed to cycle them through an island/stop (some islands have limits on the number of pax allowed on the island at the same time and have time limits for each boat) and because they are usually faster, the smaller boats can visit more places in the same amount of time while the larger boat groups will have less time on an island and be able to stop at fewer places).
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Old Mar 31, 2023, 12:38 pm
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I just got back from a 10-day trip to Quito and the Galapagos. I booked everything thru https://www.vayaadventures.com/

They handled everything. I requested a ship that would be family friendly since I was traveling with my daughter who turned 10 during the trip. We traveled on the Coral I by Klein Tours. I booked the international flights but they booked the Quito-Baltra flight since everyone on the ship was on the same flight.

Day 1 - Arrive Quito
Our guide met us at the airport and transferred us to the hotel. We arrived at hotel late afternoon, so just rested and enjoyed a wonderful dinner
We stayed at Casona de la Ronda in the old town. Absolutely beautiful, plant filled hotel that was built in the 1700's and once a private mansion. Only complaint was street noise

Day 2 - Quito
Our guide picked us up from the hotel for a walking city tour, cooking class, and chocolate tasting. All were top notch. I'm excited to have the recipes for what we made to cook them here at home

Day 3 - Quito
Picked up by our guide to head up to the cable card - this is where altitude sickness got us and we tossed out cookies
Coca tea and going back down to 9300 feet helped and we visited "Mitad del Mundo" and the equator
Great fun for a 10 year old

Day 4 - Fly to Galapagos
Very early 5am pick up to head to the airport. Arrive Baltra
The ship had the guides at the airport to pick us up and trans to the ship
First snorkeling adventure

Days 5- 13 Galapagos
The ship handled all meals, we did an 8 day itinerary and visited the central and western islands.
Lots of amazing snorkeling and hiking
Great food
They even made a birthday cake for my daughter and the whole ship (23 passengers) sang Happy Birthday

Day 14/15 - Transfer to/from Quito
Our guide met us at the airport and drove us to hotel (Wyndham about 5 minutes from airport) and then picked us up again early am to go back to the airport

Overall the trip of a lifetime and I would highly recommend Vaya. I'm already looking into them for an Amazon adventure
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Old Mar 31, 2023, 1:04 pm
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Thanks for the report. Glad to hear you had a good time. I'm guessing the 10 year old loved it. I am always interested to hear of Ecuadorian experiences as I did a college "semester abroad" in Quito and loved it there. And not many "Norteamericanos" ever go or even think of going to Northern South America.

I went back several years later with friends and did Quito, the Galapagos and an Ecuadorian Amazon river cruise; then on to Bolivia (Lake Titicaca and La Paz) and Peru. Would love to go back to Ecuador for llapingachos.
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Old Apr 3, 2023, 8:14 pm
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Boat - small room, noisy, no flexibility, food mediocre in comparison to land, more expensive. Always saw larger boats where our small boat was.

land - much cheaper, more time with logistics, split between 2 islands and you get more local feel and not stuck with some twits.

do a 4 night cruise and 4 night land
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Old Apr 5, 2023, 12:58 pm
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Originally Posted by ILuvParis
Thanks for the report. Glad to hear you had a good time. I'm guessing the 10 year old loved it. I am always interested to hear of Ecuadorian experiences as I did a college "semester abroad" in Quito and loved it there. And not many "Norteamericanos" ever go or even think of going to Northern South America.

I went back several years later with friends and did Quito, the Galapagos and an Ecuadorian Amazon river cruise; then on to Bolivia (Lake Titicaca and La Paz) and Peru. Would love to go back to Ecuador for llapingachos.
Yes the 10yo adored it. I've been to much of South America (Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Chile, Argentina, and Brazil). Ecuador was wonderful. We loved the food, artwork, environment and left very impressed with how well they manage the Galapagos conservation. I'm fluent in Spanish so that helped but didn't feel necessary at all
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Old Apr 5, 2023, 1:01 pm
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Originally Posted by tkelvin69
Boat - small room, noisy, no flexibility, food mediocre in comparison to land, more expensive. Always saw larger boats where our small boat was.

land - much cheaper, more time with logistics, split between 2 islands and you get more local feel and not stuck with some twits.

do a 4 night cruise and 4 night land
I spent no time except for sleeping in my room - so I didn't care that it was small. It was big enough to shower, dress, and sleep

Noise was not a problem at all. We were so tired after each day that we crashed out asleep with no problem

Food on our ship was delicious. Plus they even made the aforementioned birthday cake which was yummy. The bar was fully stocked - I enjoyed several pisco sours and a few other cocktails.

We got to see many more islands on ship. We were lucky, the other passengers were a lot of fun and had several kids for my daughter to hang with too
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Old May 8, 2023, 10:59 am
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We did a 4 day / 3 night Galapagos smaller boat on M/Y Coral I. I get that it will be more expensive then what you're looking for, but it was nice to get around to see the other islands and it minimized the boat travel back and forth. My suggestion based on your budget, would be to stay on one of the larger islands and find day trips (including 2 tank dive options) that work for you. This way down the road, you can do a Galapagos liveaboard scuba diving trip!
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