Galapagos

Dec 9th, 2004, 09:09 AM
  #1  
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Galapagos

1. What is the minimum time necessary to spend cruising Galapagos??
2. What percentage of folks got seasick; what size was the boat/ship??
3. What is the best/worst month to visit??
4. Are binoculars a good idea; binocular cameras??
5. Is snorkeling a must??
6. Is Machu Piccu a must while in the area??
ozlock is offline  
Dec 9th, 2004, 11:41 AM
  #2  
 
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1. The shortest cruises available are for 4 days/3 nights. Other cruise lengths are 5 days/4 nights or 8 days/7 nights. The 2 shorter cruise lengths are really just 2 halves of the full one week itinerary. So a 3 night cruise and a 4 night cruise on the same boat would visit different islands. When choosing one of the shorter cruises, compare the itineraries and go with the one that has the islands you want to visit. We really wanted to visit Espanola, so we specifically picked an itinerary which included that island.

2. We were on a 16 passenger catamaran and a few people got seasick. I brought along Bonine but didn't take it except for one morning. I don't usually get seasick though and thought the boat felt pretty stable. But other passengers thought the opposite. I think if you're not used to boats, it can feel pretty rough. Getting fresh air and looking at the horizon helps. The largest boat operating in the Galapagos holds close to 100 passengers but I'm not sure if that really makes much of a difference as far as motion.

3. That would depend on how you define best/worst. Both the air and water temps are warmest in the summer months (approx Jan-Mar). We went in May and thought the weather was perfect. This is the transitional season and the water was not too cold yet (but we still were glad to have a shorty). We had intermittent sunny and overcast days and needed a light jacket at night on deck. My understanding is that Aug-Oct are the coldest months with roughest seas, but this is also the time with the most plentiful marine life hence the popularity with divers. Different months can offer different animal sightings too.

4. We brought binoculars and used them a few times for bird watching. Most of the time the animals are so close you don't need them. I'm not familiar with binocular cameras but we didn't even need a zoom lens.

5. I think snorkeling adds to the experience. Certainly playing with the sea lions underwater was a highlight. But there were passengers who didn't snorkel.

6. Didn't go there so can't comment.

Hope this helps.
Patty is offline  
Dec 10th, 2004, 12:28 PM
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We went for 9 days to 6 islands on the Rina Silvia that holds about 20. It does get rocky because you are in open ocen going from several of the islands to the others. I found it a grossly over-rated experience for $6000 (1999)including air from NYC.Each island had MINOR differences in bird and sea life. I might have been much happier and found it worthwhile if it had been 4 full days/3nights vs. 8 days/9nights. Also the cost would have been 50% of ours.Our error.I hope this helps.
StanKase is offline  
Dec 11th, 2004, 11:25 AM
  #4  
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Patty and StanKase, thanks for responses; very helpful indeed. Patty, would you have been satisfied with 4/3 if the trip includes Espanola??
ozlock is offline  
Dec 11th, 2004, 11:37 AM
  #5  
 
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ozlock,
Initially we wanted to book the full week but the vessel we chose was sold out for the latter half so we settled for the shorter cruise. After returning to mainland Ecuador, by chance we ran into some fellow passengers who had stayed on board for the full week. They said that the second half was disappointing, so in retrospect we're glad we did the shorter cruise. We did feel that we saw a lot in a short amount of time.
Patty is offline  
Dec 11th, 2004, 02:56 PM
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I also want to add that if you're the type of person who usually prefers to explore on your own like we do, you may tire of the structure and regimentation on a longer cruise. Access to each landing site is strictly controlled by the national park service and understandably so. On the islands except for the beach stops, you must follow your guide at all times, staying with your group and within the trail markers. The next day's schedule is given each evening and a typical day goes something like this:

7:00 breakfast
8:00 first landing
10:00 snorkeling
13:00 lunch
14:00 second landing
18:00 briefing
17:00 dinner

All of the boats operate this way as they must adhere to the park service's schedules and regulations. So that's another factor where looking back, we're glad we were on the shorter cruise. Overall though, I thought the positives far outweighed the minor negatives.
Patty is offline  
Dec 11th, 2004, 11:46 PM
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I was on a 80 passenger boat in October because I was concerned about getting seasick on a smaller vessel. On our boat, no one I know of was sick and we did have 2 days of somewhat rough seas. Many travelers wore the "patch", including me.

I thought the 7-night cruise was too long and too costly for what we got out of it, but I wanted to see all the usual islands as this was a one-time experience. I really did enjoy it, just think the price is out-of-line. Our boat was one of the more expensive cruises, but we picked it because it was the only boat that just did a 7-night and did not break it up into a 4- and 3-night. I think that part of it was the right choice.

October is supposed to be one of the coolest months, but it was delightful and we were able to swim. We did use shortie wetsuits. We chose this month specifically to avoid the heat.

We did not need binoculars very often and since the guides have them they are available. I did use the zoom lens on my camera alot.

Our boat had a glass bottom boat and it was terrific. We went on it several times in addition to snorkeling. It went to areas where I would have been afraid to snorkel as the water was choppy and the sealife tends to congregate in the water near the cliffs. There was a lot to see underwater and we really enjoyed it.
evelyntrav is offline  
Dec 13th, 2004, 11:27 AM
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We went in April and had very pleasant weather. I agree with Patty the regimentation was unpleasant.
If anyone has a yearning to go do the 4 day on a 50+ guest boat. The money you save can be spent on a trip down part of the Amazon which was very interesting and worth every dollar.But you need 4 days for a worthwhile Amazon trip and 4 in Galapagos. The poverty in Quito was so depressing 5 years ago that a 3 hour van tour around the city is enough.
StanKase is offline  
Dec 13th, 2004, 03:19 PM
  #9  
 
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this answer depends so much upon your style of travel: if you consider yourself any bit the adventure traveller, i beseach you to check out wilderness travel for their enchanted isle galapagos trip-- we had the time of our lives on this 9 day sailing adventure on the sagitta, a 16 passenger sturdy ship, which maximized comfort and flexibility

we had a masters-level naturalist with us the entire way (who happened to be in the #1 ecudorian pop group at the time) and saw EVERYTHING-- mating albatros, highland tortoises; swam with sea turtles, snorkled with penguins, watched baby sea lions born daily...the list goes on and on

i hope i don't sound too snotty, but i could never imagine taking this trip with a large group or for fewer than 7 days-- we were the only folks on many of the trails of the smaller islands and the wilderness team was top-notch the entire way...the kind of trips dreams are made of (so moved by what i witnessed, i actually cried on a few of the trails)

we went in august (remember that the summer months bring the humbolt current from antartica, so the air temps are in the 70-80's and water temp in the 60's!)

check out their website www.wildernesstravel.com
although their prices may seem a bit steep, i would have actually paid more (no need to tell them that, i figure) truly the greatest trip my wife and i have ever taken! (feel free to email me if more specific ?s)
drharryg is offline  
Dec 14th, 2004, 08:16 AM
  #10  
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This is my second and last thank you! Your responses are great. If there are more responses I am sure they will be equally good but I don't want to clutter the site with my fawning. Thanks again.
ozlock is offline  
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