Galapagos island hopping itineary?

Jul 25th, 2010, 03:58 AM
  #1  
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Galapagos island hopping itineary?

We are finally planning a trip to the Galapagos (yea!) for the Christmas holidays. We have been getting estimates and reviewing island hopping itinearies. My husband gets motionsick easily so a cruise is just not an option. He wants me to be able to enjoy the trip even if he needs to recover on land one day.

For a tour that includes excellent snorkeling (my dream is to snorkel with penguins) and minimizes long boat trips, which of these combinations seems the best for a 7 night trip? I notice that most of the island-hopping tours return to Santa Cruz on the day that their flight to the mainland leaves--isn't this cutting it close?

3 Santa Cruz, 3 Isabela, 1 Santa Cruz

2 Santa Cruz, 2 Floreana, 3 Isabela

2 San Cristobal, 1 Santa Cruz, 4 Isabela

3 Santa Cruz, 1 Floreana, 3 Isabela

2 San Cristobal, 2 Santa Cruz, 3 Isabela

2 San Cristobal, 1 Santa Cruz, 4 Isabela
LaContessa1 is offline  
Jul 25th, 2010, 04:03 AM
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Not sure what your question is - are you planning to fly between these destinations?
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Jul 25th, 2010, 04:08 AM
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My question wasn't clear either! In your post you say that a cruise is not an option, but then ask about which itinerary minimizes long boat trips - so are these itineraries assuming flying? Are you booking yourself or are these via a tour operator?

Re your question about returning to Santa Cruz the day of the flight - if you mean a boat cruise then no it isn't cutting it tight - everybody does it that way. If it's a flight from another island that might be a different issue.

More info pls!
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Jul 25th, 2010, 05:40 AM
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Ferries or flights between the islands. We were thinking of ferries, but are open to between island flights. Thanks
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Jul 25th, 2010, 05:42 AM
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PS--the first itineary (3 Santa Cruz, 3 Isabela, 1 Santa Cruz) is from the Ecuadorian tour operator who has been the most responsive to our inquiries. The other possible itinearies are from other tour operators for a 7 night island hopping tour. Sorry was unclear. Which itineary do you suggest? Thanks again.
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Jul 25th, 2010, 06:05 AM
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We stayed in Puerto Ayora for a month and did some island hopping (Isabela) and a cruise. When we went to Isabela we looked into the ferry and fast boat but both can be very rough so I don't think there is much advantage to this form of transportation versus a larger cruise ship that has stabilizers?

We flew to Isabela and had a great time there - here's a link to our blog

http://lizandrichardsa.typepad.com/l...th_/galapagos/

The thing about flights in and out of Santa Cruz is that it's a bit of a trek to the town of Puerto Ayora where you will likely stay. So if you fly between islands I would try to schedule it so you can minimize the number of transfers to PA.

I recommend you read Barry Boyce's A Traveler's Guide to Galapagos - it goes into terrific detail about the sites you'll see in the various locations (and they do differ) - then you can see which itinerary hits the highlights for you. Also with your love of snorkeling it will also give you information re land based opportunities. Will your husband snorkel as well?
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Jul 25th, 2010, 06:09 AM
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Red Mangrove has 3 lodges in Galapagos and they run several land based tours - have you looked at them?

http://www.redmangrove.com/

Check the "Tours" tab.
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Jul 25th, 2010, 06:19 AM
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Thanks for the prompt replys. Sorry, sleeping on the boat is not an option for my husband. We have had many years of experience with his motion sickness--from flying a small plane from the Osa Peninsula in Costa Rica (pilot and fellow passengers hated him after the flight) to sea kayaking in Thailand. If he gets one of his bouts with motion sickness, it lays him out for several hours. Lying down on a non-moving surface--dry land--is really important. That is not an option on a cruise. Nights are also spent on the boat. He does use the patch, but, sometimes the motion sickness over-rides the patch.

We did look at Red Mangrove but their lodges are more expensive than the budget-moderate ones that are being quoted by others. So, their 7 night tour is more than $1000 more per person.
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Jul 25th, 2010, 06:22 AM
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PS--yes, my husband is also an avid snorkeler. We have traveled and snorkeled together in Thailand, Maldives, Palau, Culebra, Cozumel, Turks & Caicos, Grand Cayman, Hawaii, Fernando de Noronha, etc. He isn't a strong swimmer so I got him a snorkel vest. There are a few times when he thinks that the waves are too much to go snorkeling so waits on the shore while I go out with a guide or someone else.
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Jul 25th, 2010, 07:14 AM
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Based on our trip I think combining Santa Cruz (Puerto Ayora) and Isabela (Puerto Villamil) for 7 nights would be good - adding Floreana adds another potentially uncomfortable flight or boat ride for your husband.

Here is another travel agent option - Jenny is the owner of Moonrise Travel in PA - we booked our cruise with her at a dramatic last minute discount (2 for 1).

http://www.galapagosmoonrise.com/

We snorkeled with penguins and it was great fun! They are like torpedoes in the water --- my wish was to swim with a cormorant and it happened too!
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Jul 25th, 2010, 01:24 PM
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My wish is to snorkel with penguins--that is why Isabela was recommended to us as well as a possible day trip to Bartolome. Fingers crossed that it will happen. So far, Moonrise has not been as responsive to our inquiries as Surtrek (http://www.surtrek.com/index.html)
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Jul 25th, 2010, 01:40 PM
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Elizabeth_S-LOVE your blog!
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Jul 25th, 2010, 02:51 PM
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It was at Bartolome we snorkeled with penguins.....but I guarantee you will be utterly charmed by the sea lions. They were always in the water with us when we snorkeled and all they wanted to do was play. They would swim around us and pop back up and wait for us to do the same with them. How we wished we had had a tennis ball....we used pumice rock instead as it floats and lobbed it back and forth.

Re Moonrise - however you're most comfortable but as I said I think the first itinerary will be terrific.
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Jul 28th, 2010, 01:30 AM
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Thanks for the replies.Turns out that our LAN flight back to Guayaquil leaves at 9:20 am which means that we do need to have a hotel night in Puerto Ayora (Santa Cruz island) on the last day in order to be able to connect with the LAN flight the following day.

Since the flight from Guayaquil to the Galapagos arrives in the morning, we can easily connect with the boat to Isabela at 2 pm in the afternoon--so we are switching the order with Isabela first, then Santa Cruz. This gives us Christmas in Santa Cruz which will have more options.

LAN starts flying to/from the Galapagos mid-September and they are less expensive than the other two airlines to the Galapagos. With our frequent flier seats on American Airlines, we have one of the two legs already covered. Only need to purchase the one-way from Guayaquil to Galapagos.

So, it looks like our itineary is now: 3 Isabela, 4 Santa Cruz

Have you stayed at (or know of) Wooden House on Isabela or Hotel Villa Laguna in Santa Cruz?

Any particular preference for visiting uninhabited islands near Santa Cruz? Plazas, Seymour, Bartolome or Santa Fe?

Thanks again.
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Jul 28th, 2010, 06:03 AM
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I think we saw Wooden House on our way to Casa Marita - I looked at its website versus Casa Marita and would have to say I would recommend Casa Marita instead. The pricing looks similar, but Casa Marita is right on the beautiful beach. TA reviews are thin for Wooden House (only 3/one negative but it sounds like the ownership has changed).

Re Villa Laguna - apparently it's new - I can't find any reference to its location. It's just a guess but there is a lagoon in PA - we looked at staying near it but some said it can mosquito-y (is that a word?)

I've send a note to a friend in PA asking her if she knows where it is....will advise.
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Jul 28th, 2010, 10:30 AM
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Hi LaContessa1,

Philip here. I just saw your post and think I can help save you some time and worry. I booked a similar trip to the Galapagos last year, and had some of the same questions/concerns as yourself. The questions youre asking are pretty thorough, and thus, need a thorough/professional response. My advice to you, is to go to www.galapagos-inc.com, shoot them an email with these questions, and they will get back to you promptly by email or phone. Thats the same company I used last year to plan and book my trip, and they were; by far, the most knowledgeable and helpful agency. Let me know what you decide, and if this helps at all.

Thanks,

Philip
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Jul 29th, 2010, 05:31 AM
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Re the motion sickness- Been there, done that, and I can share what I learned. We were in Ecuador in 2007, and took an amazing 8 night Galapagos cruise that included lots of snorkeling- my first time, and a highlight of the trip. As far as I'm concerned, the more snorkeling the better.

Because I get motion sick very easily I brought medication with me, but when the patch started to make me lightheaded (I'm a small person and I had been told that that could happen) I took it off and switched to pills. Unfortunately we were on a top heavy, small, boat so even though the sea was very calm (March) the boat rocked when we were sleeping, racing to get to the next island by sunrise. The pills didn't stay down so I was sick off and on the whole time, including on land! The only time I had no problem was in the water.

In spite of that I had an amazing trip, and wouldn't trade the memories for anything. But since then I've found a solution. This past March we went to New Zealand and our trip included trains, vans, and boats, including overnight on a ship. All of which would have made me very sick, but I tried medication ahead of time and found that even though I got slightly light headed about a half hour after taking it, it only lasted about ten minutes, and then I was fine for the rest of the day. Thank goodness! Now I wouldn't travel anywhere without it, and make sure to start taking it BEFORE any travel.

Have your husbands Dr prescribe Scopace, and have him try it out a few weeks before the trip. He probably weighs more than my 110 pounds, so wouldn't have any reaction at all. It's such a relief to look forward to travel without worry.

Have fun! When we snorkeled near the Galapagos penguins they stood on the rocks and turned their backs to us, maybe they'll be more welcoming to you
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Jul 29th, 2010, 11:25 AM
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Heard back from my friend in PA - here are her comments re Villa Laguna

"It's a very new hotel in front of hotel fiesta. It's owned by the same people as the yacht Aida maria. I've known a few people that have stayed there and they really liked it. I haven't been inside myself but from the outside it looks nice.


Hotel Fiesta is near the Lagoon - here's a map of PA so you can see the location. Linda owns a great bar/restaurant in PA called Tintorera - recommend you try it!

http://www.galapagosmap.com/pictures/puertoayoramap.htm
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Jul 29th, 2010, 05:12 PM
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Hi LaContessa, We just did the Red Mangrove land tour in June. Pricey, but awesome, 1 day Santa Cruz, 1 day Floreana, 2 days Isabela, then 1 day back at Santa Cruz. While on Isabela we were bumped over to Casa Marita with a surprise upgrade to a suite facing the water - heavenly, just a short walk to the sand, would go back in a heartbeat, so add a second vote!! The Mangrove properties were all lovely, too.

The boat ride between Santa Cruz and Floreana was a fast boat, 2 hour ride, and then from Floreana to Isabela, again 2 hours. From Isabela back to Santa Cruz was over 2 1/2 hours. Good for a nap. Lots of folks took meds and caught 40 winks. The boats run daily, tickets sold right at the port.

Soon as we would hit the next island, we were off the boat and snorkling or on a hike somewhere. The land based schedule is morning activity, lunch, boat ride, afternoon/evening activity, dinner. The service was wonderful, the guides informative and with us the whole week. Very all inclusive, everything beautifully taken care of, delicious meals. We were very pleased with the choice, worth it considering all the people it employed to keep things running smoothly. Our group was small, too, usually less than 12.

A day in Floreana is plenty, a trip to the highlands, a walk to the sea lion nursery, snorkling with sea turtles. Isabela was our favorite, very low key, sand roads - and that is where you'll catch up with the Galapagos penguins. They're perched on rocks in a protected area, so you'll most likely just snorkle near them. At Isabela you'll be able to snorkle through a cold water channel with white tipped reef sharks, very cool. You can walk everywhere in Isabela, and there were several places to hang out right on the beach. Puerto Ayora is more developed and commercial, lots of choices, but more people. ALL of it, very memorable. What a way to enjoy a Merry Christmas. Deb
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Jul 30th, 2010, 02:46 AM
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All of you are awesome! Thanks so much for the comments and suggestions. We are getting really excited.

We are leaning towards Surtrek (http://www.surtrek.com/index.html) with 3 nights on Isabela (Iguana Crossing?) and 4 nights in Santa Cruz (Villa Laguna). Waiting to hear about hotel confirmations and final price (less than 2000 per person), but, the quotes up to now have been significantly less than Red Mangrove (about 3,000 per person). Your suggestions on which of the uninhabited islands will be helpful for us. It looks like Bartolome is a definite.

Momlyn--my husband does use the "patch" (what you call Scopace), but, sometimes his motion sickness over-rides the patch and he needs to lie down for several hours on a non-moving surface (dry land) to recuperate. Finding out that Galapagos can be seen on a land-based tour has meant we can actually think of doing this trip together--for years, he kept on telling me that I would have to get someone else to go with me. As you can tell--am thrilled there are now land-based options.

Have to say, there has been a distinctly unpleasant feel from some posters on travel boards who actively discourage folks from even considering a land-based tour. Both the land-based tours and cruises like to tell you that what they offer is more eco-friendly than the other. We aren't making our decision based on that--it is that simply hubbie won't consider going on a cruise because of his motion sickness.

Regarding eco-tourism and the Galapagos, other places, such as Fernando de Noronha, have their own way of restricting the impact on the wildlife etc. We went to Fernando de Noronha off of NE Brazil earlier this summer and found out that they charge an increasing tax per day to discourage long-term visitors, require that you use a life jacket to snorkel in certain areas so as to not possibly scrape the bottom, do not allow boats or people to go into the bay where the spinner dolphins congregate (you can watch from the cliffs above at sunrise when they come into the bay), don't allow sunscreen and limit your time in the water to half an hour in one of the ocean pools that is good for snorkeling etc. Although Galapagos is now off the endangered list, there appears to be more that can be done to limit the negative impact of tourism. Just some thoughts early in the am.

Almost forgot my next questions--which bird/nature guides do you suggest that we take with us? Which books were the best to help prepare you for your trip?

For the snorkel fins--should we take the ones that require booties or the ones that are slip ons? Is entry into the water from sand or boats or from rocky shores? Thanks again.
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