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“Darwin Triangle - A voyage of discovery”
Review of Red Mangrove

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Red Mangrove
Ranked #8 of 20 Hotels in Puerto Ayora
GreenLeadersSilver level
Quito, Ecuador
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
“Darwin Triangle - A voyage of discovery”
Reviewed November 6, 2009

We were a group of 4 family members (2 visiting from the UK, 2 of us living in Quito, Ecuador) doing Darwin's Triangle through (--) for 4 nights/5 days. We stayed at Red Mangrove properties on 3 islands - Santa Cruz, Floreana, Isabela - and thoroughly enjoyed every minute. We travelled between islands on speed boats, staying ashore each night in the chain's lodges.

On arrival in Puerto Ayura, we were greeted by our friendly hotel guide Catrin who would accompany us and attend to our every need throughout our stay on all three islands. Indeed, the service was impecable - from check-in and restaurant staff, to boat staff and our excellent naturalist guide, Duncan. Both he and Catrin went well above the call of duty to make sure that we were always well briefed, happy, and generally well looked after throughout our stay. Their pleasant attitude and passion for their work was evident and certainly helped to make for a memorable stay on the beautiful Galapagos islands.

As well as nights on Santa Cruz at the beginning and end of our stay, the magical, almost eerie island of Floreana was certainly a highlight. Despite the modest accomodation on this island, this place is truly magical and we felt fortunate to be the only 8 tourists on the island for the night. Just us, another 100 or so inhabitants, and the stars. The human history of the island (as well as detailed descriptions of flora and fauna) was well explained the next day and we were given chance, over dinner, to talk and get a feel of local island life that we would never have been able to experience on a cruise ship.

Indeed, we felt that we had a good 'taste' of the islands, with our third island Isabela being a personal highlight. Getting the chance to snorkel with sharks and giant turtles on two occasions truly made for a trip of a lifetime. The accomodation was comfortable and I wouldn't hesitate in returning to Isabela for a longer stay - perhaps taking more time to enjoy the relaxed beach and nightlife scene.

Many thanks to the staff of Red Mangrove for making our stay - and my birthday on Isabela - such a special one. Highly recommended and proof that the land-based Galapagos tour can be a great success.

With kind regards, Richard.

  • Stayed October 2009, traveled as a couple
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3 Thank Rich_J_1979
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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English first
Port Moody, British Columbia
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
Reviewed September 15, 2009

I traveled with my aunt to the Galapagos in August. We chose the land-based Darwin's triangle tour offered through the Red Mangrove Lodges because my aunt was worried about sea-sickness. The tour was great; saw great scenery, ate good food, learned lots, etc...

What really stood out were the people. Gustavo was our naturalist guide and was great! - very personable and knowledgeable and always ready with a "Ok my friends, let's do this" when we started a new part of the tour. Gaby runs the Isabela lodge (I think) and what a friendly, positive, energetic, and helpful person. Pala, or "mom," as we called her, was our Red Mangrove rep and really took care of us with wake-up calls and sea-sickness pills! Such beautiful and kind people we met, all! Good hiring, Red Mangrove!

  • Stayed August 2009, traveled with family
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Helpful?
4 Thank Port_Moody_traveller
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Buffalo, NY
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
Reviewed August 10, 2009

Our experience at Red Mangrove Galapagos was truly amazing!! The staff were incredibly professional at all three resorts. My friend and I lucked out as we were the only two people in our group! (We saw the schedule and the entire month of July was completely booked!!!) So we wound up with an incredibly intimate, private tour of the Galapagos Islands.

Where to begin! We arrived at Baltra airport and we were cheerfully greeted by Jimmy our tour guide and our naturalist Priscilla. Both of them were incredibly attentive and thoughtful throughout the trip. Because our group was so small, by the end of the first 2 days we felt like we were just hanging out and traveling, with our new (very gracious) Ecuadorian friends!

The Red Mangrove in Santa Cruz was a wonderful experience. The little things throughout our stay there really went a long way. A fresh beverage (some sort of delicious spiced cider with bits of fresh chopped apples) greeted us upon our arrival...when we returned from our first snorkeling trip, a server was waiting for us at the dock with fresh towels and hot chocolate. The food at this resort was amazing as well. The menu was set but several options were offered for each meal. Looking at the menu and at what each item would have cost us individually, the Red Mangrove Darwin's Triangle Tour was certainly the most cost effective way to go. (But I do suggest laying out the $7 to try the tempura ice cream and they are also famous for their delicious and artfully crafted sushi platters) Oh and did I mention free internet access?

Sailing through the Pacific ocean to Floreana was quite an adventure. Again, our tour guide Jimmy was wonderful. He made such there was enough dramamine to go around for everyone! He was such a gentleman, helping us into and out of the boats, always providing fresh towels, snacks, pointing out interesting and relevant sites, carrying the snorkel equipment, even allowing us to stay out later at a particularly amazing dive site...I cannot say enough about him!! Floreana was a beautiful very secluded Island. I was surprised at the comfort of the rooms there, considering the island is home to only 120 people. We ate at this delightful restaurant not far from the beach front cabins where we stayed. One of the hotel managers and her husband joined us on this leg of the trip. We all had the most wonderful time just talking and laughing in Spanish and English, sharing stories, and just enjoying this slice of private paradise together.

I did not think the Galapagos could get any better...until we got to Isabela. The resort here is by far the most luxurious and amazing. We had a private beach front suite here. Like, you walk out of your room and there you are on your own private white sandy beach with crystal clear water. Not to mention our amazing private rooftop terrace with hammocks and chairs. I wish we could have chosen the Darwin's Triangle package that allowed us to spend an extra day on Isabela, because I would have liked to explore more of this little beach town's nightlife scene, but we were strapped for time.

On our way back to Santa Cruz our captain spotted a school of maybe 15 dolphins playing alongside our boat. He reduced his speed and allowed my friend and I to sit on the roof and take the most insane videos and photos of the dolphins jumping around us. It was absolutely one of my favorite parts of the trip!

Arriving back at Santa Cruz was bittersweet since we had to depart with our new friends. Priscilla the naturalist was wonderful! Her English was outstanding and her knowledge of the wildlife and the myriad of endemic species was just incredible! I never felt like she was boring me with information I didn't want to hear. Everything was interesting! And she was always ready to stop, take a picture, stay a little longer to watch the tortoises swimming or eating. Jimmy also had to join another group just soon after we docked. But we spent the afternoon shopping along Charles Darwin Avenue and we even borrowed bikes from the hotel (a service which is included with your trip).

Overall the experience was incredible. I travel a lot and this was absolutely one of my all time favorite trips that I will certainly remember forever.

In terms of the cost, we had several friends who opted to take a boat based tour and for the same amount we paid for the Darwin's Triangle trip, and they were laying in steerage so to speak, unable to sleep because of the rocking and confined to small space. We wound up spending most of our money tipping, between the wait staff at all 3 hotels, the captain, the first mate, the naturalist, the tour guide - there were just so many people that helped make the trip so special and wanted to show our gratitude to them all! Souvenirs are relatively inexpensive and most of the major stores take credit card so that was convenient.

One last word on the Red Mangrove Lodges. In the months before we booked our trip I was e-mailing back and forth with the main offices in Quito. Daniela was so extraordinarily patient with every question I had and always handled every inquiry with the highest level of professionalism. It was that, coupled with all of the other wonderful reviews I read on tripadvisor, that really prompted me to go with the Darwin's Triangle tour.

This is the only review I have ever written for tripadvisor, which is a reflection of how much I truly enjoyed my experience. So, if you are considering a trip to the Galapagos Islands, I highly, HIGHLY recommend this hotel and the Darwin's Triangle program.

  • Stayed June 2009, traveled with friends
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Helpful?
4 Thank daphwiz
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Maryland
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
Reviewed August 10, 2009

We are just returning from a 5-day, Red Mangrove Hotel based, Darwin Triangle Trip travelling as a family of 14 including 8 children between the ages of 6-16. For all of us the trip was a fantastic experience and we can highly recommend it to anyone planning to visit the Galapagos Islands.

All three hotels we stayed in were special in their own way (a slight favorite was the hotel in Santa Cruz with it's breezy deck, the iguanas visiting and the beautiful ocean view during the meals), the food was outstanding (lot's of fresh fish and local produce), and the staff was very friendly. We were especially were impressed with the two wonderful guides, Catrin and Maria, who accompanied us during the whole tour. They were highly professional, very friendly and worked really hard to make our vacation so enjoyable.

Catrin, the hotel guide, made the trip truly special with her hard work, her enthusiasm and her friendly and warm personality. She went many extra miles for us to make our trip so smooth without any problems and she accommodated all our needs- always with a smile on her face. She was particularly great with the two youngest children, who were soon very fond of her, and she was great at entertaining the youngest when she tiered during some of the activities. Since our family is multilingual, it was certainly an extra bonus that Catrin is fluent in English, German and French.

Our nature guide Maria was very knowledgeable and we learned a lot about the natural history of the islands, the plants and animals. She patiently answered our many questions and was always friendly, accommodating, very energetic and enthusiastic about her work.

The itinerary of the trip offered a nice mixture of activities that allowed us to see many different landscapes and wildlife. It was great to be outside so much, to hear the ocean every night and to get up close so many fascinating animals.

  • Stayed July 2009, traveled with family
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Helpful?
3 Thank PetraMaryland
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Wisconsin
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 11 helpful votes
Reviewed August 8, 2009

My two daughters (ages 10,9) and I traveled to the Galapagos Islands in June and opted for a land-based trip given I was uncertain how they would handle being on a boat for 8 days as we were traveling in June, which can bring choppy waters. Based upon reviews here on T.A., I selected Red Mangrove for our hotel stay as well as our outing coordinator. I was very satisfied with every detail of our trip! The details of our trip is as follows:

Upon arriving into Baltra, we were picked up at the airport by R.M. staff and taken to Aventura Lodge for check-in. We were then transported to the ferry and had a 2.5 hour boat transfer to Isabella Island. The boat was a very nice and had only one other family aboard, so we had ample room for laying down as we were a little green! Upon arrival to Isabella, we were transported to the R.M. hotel and greeted by Gabriella. I cannot say enough nice things about her as she was a pleasure to deal with. The check-in area is actually a house that also contained the dining room, which was basically a family-style setting. Given that my girls are picky eaters, I bought some food at the grocery store and the staff was kind enough to cook it for them! The rooms are located across the road from the office and have access to the beach. We stayed in a room with a beachfront view and absolutely loved it. Isabella is a BEAUTIFUL island, very quiet and remote. We would walk into town to buy our water supply every day and found the locals to all be very nice. Our schedule for day two included a trip to Tintoreras and Senderos. Day 3 was a tour of Sierra Negra. Sierra Negra crater was absolutely breathtaking. Be prepared, the total walking distance is roughly 10 miles (according to our guide), so bring plenty of water (my girls and I each carried a 2-liter camelback in our backpacks and drank every drop)! A portion of the hike is on volcanic rock, so be sure to bring hiking shoes with good support.

On Day 4, we traveled back to Santa Cruz and had to take a 6 a.m. ferry. The boat we were put on this time was completely different. It seemed to me that it was a ferry which many locals take and was very crowded. There were approximately 20 people and we all were made to wear wet, moldy life vests. As the engines were turned on, the boat was filled with engine smoke. Definitely nothing like our travel accomodations from Santa Cruz to Isabella, but I'm used to traveling in foreign countries and just deal with the situations at hand and don't stress.

Upon arriving back at the Aventura Lodge, we did the Charles Darwin Research tour. The following day we did the Beach & Bay tour and the last day we did the Mountain/Highlands tour. At the Charles Darwin station, you can do this tour actually without a guide. I personally like guides as they can provide you certain insights, however, the Charles Darwin Station was pretty self explanatory as you go through it. We loved the location of the Aventura Lodge as it was an easy walk into town for souvenier shopping and eating.

For our last night's stay, we stayed at the Galapagos camping site in the highlands and selected a treehouse for our accomodations. This place is very remote and just very peaceful, relaxing and beautiful! Our treehouse turned out to not be an actual treehouse as it was constructed upon just 4 posts, however, there were a couple that were based atop trees available. Another thing to be aware of is that after returning from dinner at night, the outdoor light to our treehouse was turned on and there were many moths flying around the doorway. As hard as I tried to clear them from the doorway as we entered, we still ended up with about 30 moths on the inside of our unit! Oh well, we just pulled our sheets overhead for the night :-). What we really loved about this place was the serenity. You are completely isolated in this camping site and given there was only one other family staying there at the time we were, there were no issues with lines for the restroom and the campgrounds were very peaceful. The dining area is great as again, it had a family style feel to it and the owner joined us as well. Definitely be aware that this place is very rustic, but if you like camping, you won't be disappointed! Besides, they carry your luggage to your "room" in a wheelbarrow...how cool is that?!

During our return from Galapagos to the U.S., we had a seven hour layover in Quito, so I arranged for a trip to Mitad del Mundo & Intanan, which is only about 1/2 hour away from the airport. This is a great way to learn many facts about the equator as well as some great photo opps!!

During all of my preparations for this trip, I worked with Jacqueline in the main office and cannot say enough good things about my experience with her. She arranged all of our outings and was very timely in all of her responses to my questions. Fortunately, I was able to meet her as she was our guide in Quito and she did a fantastic job!!

In summary, I would highly recommend the Red Mangrove Aventura and Isabella Lodges. If you have the flexibility in your schedule to visit Santa Cruz first and Isabella last, I would highly recommend that. The difficulty with staying on Isabella until you depart is the logistics of getting to the Baltra airport. In reading thru many reviews here on T.A., there are an overwhelming number of positives vs. negatives for the Red Mangrove. I would add mine to the list of positives. Keep in mind that the Galapagos Islands are in a very remote location and the primary means of touring the islands is by boat. The Red Mangrove team does an excellent job of assisting you to ensure you have a pleasant experience in visiting their islands. I would definitely say that the day trips are more expensive in going thru the R.M. (based upon other research I had done via T.A. and the internet), however, I personally prefer going thru one party to coordinate everything and was happy to pay up for the service I received. I would also add that all of the guides we had for our outings were pleasant to deal with (especially Sondra on Isabella Island) and were very patient with my 2 children. Lastly, unless your children are used to foreign travel being very active on vacations, I wouldn't recommend the Galapagos for children under 12. I'm fortunate in that I have previous travel experience such as this with my kids, so they were able to hold up very well given all the travel and hiking we did. I also would say that we still were able to view a good number of animals even though our exposure was limited to a couple of islands. Here is a link to a video which summarizes our trip so you know what to expect. Enjoy!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZudPHdtr_zE

  • Stayed June 2009, traveled with family
    • Value
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Helpful?
11 Thank kimba523
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Savannah
Level Contributor
37 reviews
18 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 25 helpful votes
Reviewed July 30, 2009

My friend and I chose Red Mangrove because of their land based tour - Darwins Triangle. All three hotels were great in their own way - the main resort was creatively built and decorated and the restaurant served delicious three course lunch and dinners, Floreana resort was rustic yet comfortable and we were able to get a more traditional feeling of Galapagos living and eating, and Isabela resort was the prettiest - right on a tropical beach. We did land based tours in the mornings before traveling to the next island and then spent the afternoons on boat tours. My only suggestion might be to replace the land based tour on Floreana with a boat/marine tour in that same area - there was not much wildlife to see in the highlands of Floreana and I would have rather seen more marine wildlife. I do think you see a lot more wildlife on the cruises, but I also think we saw at least one of everything on the land based tour. If you are looking for quantity of wildlife, go on a cruise, but if you are afraid of being sea sick and looking for comfort and to see examples of the unique wildlife in Galapagos, this is the trip for you. My friend was worried about being sea sick and from our travels between the islands, I definitely am glad we chose the land based tour because she would have not made it for 5 nights on a boat. If I had to do it over again, I might have spent an extra day in Isabella just relaxing because it is so pretty there and the little town is cute.

I have one complaint for the hotel owner - the hot tub at the main resort was broken for our entire visit. I feel like they could have fixed it within 5 days and maybe it has been out of order for a while which is not fair because it would have been great to hang out in with a drink during the afternoons after our outings.

I would like to say that as much as I consult trip advisor for my trips, I have been horrible about writing my own reviews but I promised our wonderful hotel guide Veronica that this would be my first review on trip advisor. She was great and very helpful - everything we needed was provided to us - towels, snacks, sea sick medicine, etc. Veronica took care of everything and was also very fun to hang out with. I definitely would recommend this trip to anybody!

Stayed July 2009, traveled with friends
Helpful?
3 Thank jennicamp
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Maui, Hi
Level Contributor
20 reviews
15 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 18 helpful votes
Reviewed July 24, 2009

I brought a group of 28 people to the Red Mangrove for their 5-day Darwin Triangle tour. We completely booked out their hotel. The hotel is very nice with some rooms being premium, deluxe and standard. The standard rooms might be a bit small but no one in our group had any complaints. I was in a premium room and it was set up very nice with a great patio and direct ocean view. The hotel is also situated very nicely - just a short walk into town and the shopping starts right outside your door.

The restaurant is also very nice. They did an excellent job with the food. With us being a large group we had set meals. I do believe that is how they do their all-inclusive program anyway. They were always large servings. Breakfast was set up buffet style with a person cooking up eggs to order, plenty of fruit, toast and juices.

The Darwin Triangle is a great way to see the Galapagos without being on a cruise ship. The Red Mangrove people met us at the airport and we didn't have to think. They brought us to the highlands to see the giant land turtles, walk through a cave and stopped at this restaurant for lunch. See their website for a complete itinerary of this trip.

Their accommodations on Florenea Island were very cute oceanfront cottages. We enjoyed snorkeling with turtles and then the very playful sea lions. I did have to request that we snorkel with the sea lions on our walk. They were not going to recommend it perhaps because of the rocks and the high tide and their concerns for us getting cut, but everything was fine and we really enjoyed it. Dinner that night was at the one restaurant on the island and was very good.

The following day we continued the tour to Isabella Island. My group seemed to like this island more as there was more to do with some bars and shops. The accommodations were very nice once again with an oceanfront hotel (just 2 rooms were direct oceanfront). Dinner and breakfast was served in their lobby/ restaurant which was very cozy.

Then it was back to Santa Cruz island for 2 more nights and more tours. We had a free day which was welcomed. I would recommend extending your tour at least 1 extra night since there's plenty to do on Santa Cruz island including many scuba diving shops. I would have enjoyed a day of diving myself.

One thing you should know is that there are months of the year where the water is farly rough. Our trip here in June was one of them. I understand that the summer is about the only time of year with rough water. So the boat rides to and from the 3 islands created some sea sickness with some in our group. Best to take precautions with remedies for sure. It should be a 2-hour ride but can be as long as 3-hours with rough seas. I would still go during this time of year again however since the water was warmer for the snorkeling.

All in all it was a very well organized tour. The hotel staff were all very sweet and accommodating. The guides were knowledgeable and nice. One could have perhaps smiled just a bit and showed more excitement and appreciation for her job in her presentation. Just a bit dry. They even allow their visitors to check email. I would also recommend taking some tours in Quito while you are there. The river rafting was one of the highlights as well as the horseback riding and mountain biking.

  • Stayed June 2009
    • Value
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Helpful?
1 Thank MauiBoy2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Red Mangrove

Property: Red Mangrove
Address: Avenida Charles Darwin, Puerto Ayora EC010110, Ecuador
Location: Ecuador > Galapagos Islands > Santa Cruz > Puerto Ayora
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beverage Selection Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant Room Service Shuttle Bus service Suites Wheelchair access Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
#2 Green Hotel in Puerto Ayora
#3 Family Hotel in Puerto Ayora
#4 Romantic Hotel in Puerto Ayora
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$$
Hotel Class:3.5 star — Red Mangrove 3.5*
Number of rooms: 17
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Hotel Red Mangrove is an oceanfront hotel with the best views of Academy Bay, located in Puerto Ayora. The hotel is the perfect place for Galapagos visitors to stay considering many activities like snorkeling, hiking, beaches, swimming, kayaking, and visiting the Charles Darwin Center are just minutes away. Why else is the Red Mangrove a good decision? For those who are prone to seasickness the hotel gives you a stay where you feel just like you're on the water with the option to choose different packages with the activities mentioned. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Red Mangrove Aventura Hotel Puerto Ayora
Hotel Red Mangrove Aventura
Red Mangrove Galapagos Islands/Puerto Ayora, Santa Cruz

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