We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Galapagos Island Hopping

Malaga, Spain
Level Contributor
1 post
5 reviews
Save Topic
Galapagos Island Hopping

Hello,

As many before me, I am also planning a trip to Galapagos Islands and would like to do it as economically as possible but still get good value for money! We would be going in October/November which I understand is low season so hopefully will avoid crowds and get somewhat better value.

While surfing I found a travel agency called Galapagos Options that offer an 8-day Island Hopping Tour with airfare from and to Guayaquil included with a pretty low price - does anyone have any experience of such company? The itinerary seems to be land-based but the transfers between the islands would be done with a boat or in some cases a small airplane. It notes that the local guides speak only basic English but as we speak Spanish this would not be a problem. Everything seems a bit too good to be true...

Are there any other companies you would recommend?

Any help would be appreciated!

Mentioned in this post
Guayaquil
Guayaquil
Guayas Province, Ecuador
Bristol, United...
Level Contributor
850 posts
11 reviews
Save Reply
1. Re: Galapagos Island Hopping

I don't know the company but it is certainly possible to put together a trip like this for the price. They will be using very cheap hotels (say $40 ?)and they haven't included food. Don't expect to have air conditioning. A boat from one island to another costs $30 if you buy it yourself. The places they go are not restricted visitor sites but places you could walk to or get a cheap taxi (except the volcano you need a guide).

They say they offer extensions to nearby islands and I would try and get a couple of those if I were doing this trip. Places like N. Seymour, PLaza and Bartolome are the more special islands that cruises visit that you can do as day trips. Normally about $100 each plus of course you need additional hotel nights.

In general, the cruise visitor sites have a more dense population of wildlife and you are more likely to see nesting birds, birds with chicks and eggs, courtship dances etc. Some of the cruise sites are distant islands and have unique species you cannot see with a land based trip - like red footed b00bies, albatross, thick cloads of storm petrels, flighless cormorants.

Normally I like to do a cruise for the special species and behaviours and a land based extension without a guide for flexibility. If that's outside your budget then a land based tour is certainly worthwhile.

One further point is to check the luggage allowance. The internal flights are normally 15Kg total allowance - but maybe they have chartered an entire plane and have different rules. There are no overhead compartments on these planes.

Another company that does land based is www.redmangrove.com but their hotels are more up market except for Floreana that are wooden huts.

There is also www.galapex.com who own a house called "Cactus Pad" which is very nice and they can arrange land based around this - cheap if there are several of you and still cheaper than a good hotel if you are alone.

Utah
Level Contributor
3 posts
2 reviews
Save Reply
2. Re: Galapagos Island Hopping

Absolutely do not use Galapagos Options. They are a huge rip off. in 3 islands you see the same things over and over. there is no diversity and the hotels they put you in are the pits. you could do what they offer for less than half the price. also, once they have your money, if you have questions, they will barely give you the time of day. and many of their "tour guides" were quite rude. in fact, they were taxi drivers and not really tour guides. LAME COMPANY THAT SHOULD NOT EVEN BE ALLOWED A LICENSE.

Mentioned in this post
Ottawa, Canada
Destination Expert
for Galapagos Islands
Level Contributor
3,418 posts
19 reviews
Save Reply
3. Re: Galapagos Island Hopping

Dear Sheebee -

sorry to hear about the lame experience. This is not unusual when searching for the "cheapest deal". Galapagos is not a cheap destination, and you usually get what you pay for. I hope other readers will learn from your experience - don't go to Galapagos until you are ready to do it right. You can enjoy the Yucatan on a shoe string budget, because what you're going there to see / do doesn't really cost that much - a bit of jungle trekking, seeing some mayan monuments, beach, bars etc... What people want to see in Galapagos requires a lot more infrastructure to take you there.

Maybe you can go back one day on do it on better terms.

Warmest regards,

Heather Blenkiron

Mentioned in this post
Ecuador
Level Contributor
392 posts
1 review
Save Reply
4. Re: Galapagos Island Hopping

The problem of the Galapagos is the lack of education and culture of the locals. The Government should establish an Hospitality University there to teach good maners to those people. Is hard working with galapagueños, they are not easy people and most times they believe because they live in this mankind natural treasure, they have the last word. Some taxi drivers and Guides are rude, that is true, they don't even bother to carry one of your 4 big bags when they drop you at the dock. Hostal owners (there are not really hotels there) set up the prices in terms of what they they think is right. A hostel there runs for usd 50 for a single room, which is relatevily expensive. Meals are overpriced as well. All the prices are really high in all ways, and the service in the villages (like Puerto Ayora) is not what you pay for. If you travel trough the Andes of Ecuador and then the Galapagos you will tell the DRAMATICAL difference between the service in the mainland and how cheap it is compared to the Galapagos.

Mentioned in this post
Puerto Ayora
Puerto Ayora
Santa Cruz, Ecuador
Ecuador
Ecuador
South America
Ecuador
Level Contributor
392 posts
1 review
Save Reply
5. Re: Galapagos Island Hopping

I strongly suggest people not to take the day trip options, because at the end you kill your body travelling a range of 4 hours on the sea on an small speed boat. Most travellers get sea sick and puck out of the deck, you just get to stay from 1 hour to 1.5 hours on every island and distances are too long to be covered in one day. The day starts also really early like at 5 30 am so definetely some people just get fed up with it. It's better to buy a low cost yacht, believe me. Regards

Cuenca, Ecuador
Level Contributor
47 posts
Save Reply
6. Re: Galapagos Island Hopping

After the last post, I'd just like to clarify that there is a difference between day trips and island hopping. With island hopping, you travel one way on a boat, usually 1.5-2 hours. Then you spend the rest of the day (or multiple days) on that island before moving on. Except for one day of diving when we opted to leave at 7:30AM, I don't know of departures before 8 AM.

I think it's much better than spending 1-2 hours on an island. You have the chance to really get to know it and in the case of Isabela, there are options you can do on your own.

You have great only-Galapagos experiences, sleep in a comfortable lodge, eat good food, have time to lounge or time to linger while taking photos plus almost all of the money you spend actually supports the local economy...as opposed to the 75+% of dollars spent on cruises not remaining in the Galapagos. It's also fun to learn from the residents, not just the Park Guides. Often people who buy the cheapest cruises to save money really regret it given the conditions, food, etc on their boat.

Mentioned in this post
Isabela
Isabela
Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
Ecuador
Level Contributor
392 posts
1 review
Save Reply
7. Re: Galapagos Island Hopping

Island Hopping is basically a trip where people get to see the historical sites of the islands, learn about the dramatical life of the prisioners who populated the islands in the XIX cent. To see the fauna is better to go on a cruise, the southern itineraries are the best in terms of wild life sight seeing expectations. Isabela is nice but to visit it you need 3 more extra days and you have to go on speed boat from Sta. Cruz till there. Most travellers get sea sick at the speed boat. Regards

Mentioned in this post
Isabela
Isabela
Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
Eureka, California
Level Contributor
20 posts
6 reviews
Save Reply
8. Re: Galapagos Island Hopping

when you take a cruise you spend about 80 percent of your time sailing, I beleive people get more seasick than about 4 hours (2 trips) in island hooping

Eureka, California
Level Contributor
20 posts
6 reviews
Save Reply
9. Re: Galapagos Island Hopping

One very important fact to mention is the growth of land base trips to the Galapagos has being very significative this year has grown about 15% and the Cruise trips to the galapagos have decrease by 10% this trend will continue for a very long time, The answer is that travelers are just knowing they could do land base and people are really enjoying, Lets be frank this forum is for Hotels rating not for boats rating, you could see weekly comments on Hotels, So people are enjoying the Galapagos land base, I have not see one bad coment about the Galapagos Experience from travelers, the only ones that defend the cruises are the ones that tell people how bad is to to do land base,

Mentioned in this post
Ecuador
Level Contributor
392 posts
1 review
Save Reply
10. Re: Galapagos Island Hopping

This forum is to post things that concern to travellers, is not a post to tell people percentages of growth among the boat business and hotel business in the islands. Obviously the global economy isn't that good this times, so that is why many people decided not to go on expensive holidays this year, but some others decided to just hit and go for any cheap deal that may appear good in terms of "money savings". Obviously is good to save some bucks but sometimes when people want to save they end up ripped off like the poster who complains about Galapagos Options (I don't know this company and I am not attacking it). This is why I am just advising travellers about what is good and what is bad. In Puerto Ayora the cheapest hotel goes around for usd 20 per head and with no hot water and breakfast. The breakfast time is in between 7 and 9 am and if you show up 5 min after 9 am. You just loose your breakfast, thats what happen to me in one hostel in Pto. Ayora where I stayed 6 nights. I loose breakfast twice because I was doing scuba for 4 days and when I decide to sleep 10 more min and have breakfast 5 min later the owner told me with a very rude voice to go next door to buy a 5 usd breakfast because this is the Galapagos and that's how they work. Another ridiculous thing is the check out time at this places: 10 am! Ha ha ha, not even in the cheapest hotel in Quito they kick you out of the room like they did to me on my last day. They didnt even consider that I was staying there for 5-6 days. As this was nothing in every restaurant they try to rip me off when buying food. The least expensive stuff (salchipapas-fries with saussages) goes for usd 4, rice with beef and beans goes for 8 usd, it's a complete steal comparing prices with the mainland. Apart from this all the hostel workers have no smiles and show you just miserable faces, seems like people are so unhappy to have tourists there and that they wish those tourists go instead on a boat. I bought 2 ceviches and 2 cokes at a cheap kiosk, so they charged me USD 30! Can you believe that? This are US prices, but the service is not US, is in fact a very third world style of serving food. During those days there when I made day trips I was talking to other travellers and most of them told me the food is terribly overpriced. Lots of people while we sail on the sped boat just couldnt ressist the rough ride and puck their breakfast out of the boat, when this happen the captain never stopped, because we were on a hurry to reach the island where we were supossed to do our hike. When I set up my budget I thought that I was going to save a lot of money in Sta. Cruz, but I was wrong: I certanly spent around usd 240 in one week of food plus usd 160 of 5 hostel days/nights. Then my fiancee came to the islands and I went with her on an 8 day cruise, where the story was completely different. We ate excellent food while we cruised, we had an excellent crew that was always worried about our stomachs and safety on board. Even when the ocean was rough with all the warmth that they shared with us we never feel it. Every time we landed the guide advised about what kind of clothing and shoes we had to dress. We did tons of snorkelling and saw sharks, boobies, penguins, tortoises and lots of marvellous marine life. It was really incredible. We had free water and coffee/tea on board all the time. We had buffet breakfast, great lunches and magnificent dinners, I don'regret going on a cruise because what we payed was what we got. In Sta. Cruz what we paid was just taken by hostel and restaurant owners, because I never experienced good service and never saw smiles on staff. It is a shame but it is true. Also in Pto. Ayora nobody gives you a bill, so those people never pay taxes. When I paid for my cruise in Quito they gave me a bill that included tax. This are the things that travellers have to observe before making a booking that they believe is gonna save them some bucks. My life philosophy is: pay more but be safe and happy, sometimes trying to save money could mean loosing time and having a head ache or a terrible frustration.

Mentioned in this post
Puerto Ayora
Puerto Ayora
Santa Cruz, Ecuador
Quito
Quito
Pichincha Province, Ecuador