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“Galapagos islands - remote, rugged, do it right!” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Galapagos Islands

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Paris, France
17 reviews 17 reviews
Reviews in 6 cities Reviews in 6 cities
40 helpful votes 40 helpful votes
“Galapagos islands - remote, rugged, do it right!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 29, 2009

I lived in Galapagos for four years (1999-2002) and had the chance to get to know this archipelago quite well. Made up of over 100 islands straddling the equatorial line, 600 miles offshore from Ecuador, a dozen are fairly large, and each offers a distinct combination of landscapes and wildlife. Sea life is commonly underated by Galapagos visitors. Where else can you swim, at the same time, with penguins and tropical fish? Swimming is part of the adventure. When asked about the highlight of their visit, many say "swimming with the sea lions". But if you're lucky, you can also get too see dozens of giant tortoises in the wild. In fact, Galapagos is one of those very rare places on the planet where, like in the film Jurassic Park, reptiles still dominate the landscape (now more than ever, as the National Park has finally gotten rid of the thousands of wild goats that had taken over Isabela island).

80 cruises ships ranging from 8 to 100 passengers, and run by about 35 diferent operators ply the Galapagos waters. Extreme luxury, to converted fishing boat, there's a wide range from which to choose. I prefer the smaller ships, which can give you a more intimate visit. These come in all comfort levels. But larger ships provide more space and on-board services and are sturdyer when seas are choppy.

Some are surprised to learn that about 30,000 people live in Galapagos. There are 5 settlements - the largest is Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz island, with nearly 20,000 people in town and in the highlands. The government is trying to slow immigration, knowing that as the population grows, so do the threats to the fragile island ecosystems.

A typical visit to the Galapagos consists of a 7 night cruise, which give you the opportunity to explore the far reaches of the archipelago. If you want, you can extend that visit by staying on in a hotel and do some independent exploration. There are shorter cruises for those with time constraints (a pity - it's so far to come, you should make the best of it), and a recent development has been the island hopping visit, which have you zooming between the three main populated islands for a look at local attractions.

I did a few cruises while living in the Galapagos - on a big ship and on small ships - and always had a wonderful time. People on board were wide-eyed and enthusiastic and quickly developed a great team spirit. After all, we were in the middle of the Pacific together.

Was this review helpful? Yes 20
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Los Angeles
1 review
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
“Truly the most unique travel experience”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 20, 2009

The Galapagos Islands is an area definitely worth traveling to. I've had such a wonderful cruise experience there earlier this summer; truly a unique vacation! My husband and I went to Ecuador for our honeymoon (we wanted something exotic, isolated, and not very touristy) and enjoyed scuba diving, bird watching, and seeing plenty of tortoises! We were also able to see the many islands of the Galapagos with a great deal from Galapagos-Inc, $550 off! It was really an unforgettable experience...I highly recommend everyone to travel to the Galapagos Islands at least once in their life! (After all, it is the location of origin for Darwin's Theory of Evolution... ;D )

Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Senior Contributor
24 reviews 24 reviews
Reviews in 17 cities Reviews in 17 cities
54 helpful votes 54 helpful votes
“Galapagos Tour on Board the Isabela II”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 15, 2009

Our family of FIVE grownups just toured the GALAPAGOS on board the ISABELLA II. It was an 8 day cruise. We were very impressed by the ship itself and about the crew, the services, the wonderful food offered, and we will recommend it to all our friends and relatives.

Was this review helpful? Yes 5
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Valparaiso, IN
Senior Contributor
49 reviews 49 reviews
Reviews in 21 cities Reviews in 21 cities
74 helpful votes 74 helpful votes
“Absolutely Awe Inspiring”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 26, 2009

The Galapagos are like nowhere else in the world. Rich in biodiversity, they are a testament to the power of nature and Darwin's ideas. Frequent and intimate interactions with a wide variety of animals are commonplace--there is simply no fear. Because of this, an extra level of respect must be upheld when visiting.

The best way to visit is by boat--expert guides will take you to the best and safest locations and you will have an opportunity to visit several islands. Each one is unique and has its own variations of plants and animals, including many creatures found nowhere else on the planet. A visit here can be a life-changing experience!

This is not a place for the mobility impaired. As there are few docks, many islands are only accessible by panga boat. Trails are very rough and not easily traversed.

Was this review helpful? Yes 4
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Washington DC, District of Columbia
4 reviews 4 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
14 helpful votes 14 helpful votes
“Estrella del Mar - Amazing Galapagos Experience”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed June 2, 2009

My husband and I just returned from a 5 day cruise onboard the Estrella del Mar (otherwise cited as Estrella de Mar, but the boat itself is marked with the the name "del Mar".)

Our experience was fantastic. The crew and guide, Esteban, were friendly, experienced, knowledgeable, and fun to spend the week with. The boat was comfortable without being extravagant. We spent most of our time exploring the islands or resting on the shade or sun decks, although our cabins were perfectly adequate for resting each night. The food was delicious and they were easily able to accommodate vegetarians with a variety of buffet items at each meal.

The islands are simply incomparable. We had the opportunity to visit San Cristobal, Espanola (Hood), Floreana, Isabela, and Santa Cruz. We found it easier to fly into San Cristobal as the flight to/from Baltra includes a 15 min bus transfer, a 10 minute ferry crossing, and another 45 min bus transfer. Just be aware.

The wildlife and scenery is amazing. 5 days is a good length of time to visit - unlike others, I would not say "don't bother with a shorter trip" - with 5 days we enjoyed a wide variety of island settings, wildlife sightings, and adventures. May is an ideal time to visit as we were able to see many eggs and hatchlings, particularly among the Boobies and Albatross.

I'll sum up my review by saying that it was a fantastic trip, and I cannot recommend the experience or the Estrella del Mar highly enough! The only reason I do not rate it as "excellent" above is that the boat is considered a superior tourist/comfortable class accommodation, and while this was excellent for us, those seeking a luxury yacht might find it somewhat disappointing.

Was this review helpful? Yes 11
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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