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Trying to decide between 2 GAP Adventure Tours

Kitchener, Canada
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19 posts
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Trying to decide between 2 GAP Adventure Tours

Hello,

Can anyone offer feedback on the following 2 tours? Even if you haven't done the exact tour, I would love feedback on the particular islands. Especially feedback on must see places.

Pros that I see about the first tour (land) are:

highlands of Floreana

Sierra Negra Volcano - Isabela Island

Con is that I am interested in Rabida and the second tour (cruise) offers that but the first does not.

First Tour

Day 1 Arrive Quito

Day 2 San Cristóbal Island (B,L,D)

Day 3 San Cristóbal Island (B,L)

Day 4 Floreana (B,L,D)

Day 5 Floreana Island/Isabela Island (B,L)

Day 6 Isabela Island (B,L,D)

Day 7 Isabela Island/Santa Cruz (B,L)

Day 8 Santa Cruz (B,L,D)

Day 9 Santa Cruz/Quito (B,L)

Day 10 Depart Quito (B)

Second Tour

Day 1 Arrive Quito

Day 2 Baltra/North Seymour (B,L,D)

Day 3 Española (B,L,D)

Day 4 Floreana (B,L,D)

Day 5 Santa Cruz (B,L,D)

Day 6 Santa Fé/South Plaza (B,L,D)

Day 7 Cerro Dragon/Bartolomé (B,L,D)

Day 8 Rabida/Puerto Egas (B,L,D)

Day 9 Black Turtle Cove/Baltra/Quito (B)

Day 10 Depart Quito (B)

Edited: 28 February 2010, 22:16
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Floreana
Floreana
Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
Rabida
Rabida
Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
Santa Cruz
Santa Cruz
Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
Baltra
Baltra
Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
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Oceanside...
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1. Re: Trying to decide between 2 GAP Adventure Tours

I can offer a few thoughts. I haven't been to San Cristóbal, so I can't speak to that island. I see 1 important trade-off. You go to Isabela/ on #1 and Española on #2. We didn't get to Isabela, but I hear it's great. It's the only place you can see the Flightless Cormorant and the only place you have even a chance of spotting a Mangrove Finch. But if you're going to be in the islands between mid-March and Dec., the Waved Albatrosses on Española are magnificent. (Even if you're not a bird person, you will be amazed by these gorgeous creatures.) The scenery at Española is spectacular too.

You don't say where the tours go on Santa Cruz. If you only go to Puerto Ayora/Charles Darwin Research Station on either of them, that would be a vote against that one, in my opinion. You will see lots of Galápagos Giant Tortoises of different ages at the CDRS. However, you can't beat seeing them in the wild, which you can do in the highlands of Santa Cruz. On our trip, we went to the highlands in the morning and Puerto Ayora in the afternoon, so it's not uncommon to do both. Isabela has populations of tortoises in the wild also, but I think they can only be found in the calderas of the volcanoes there--probably not on either itinerary, since it's a bit of a hike.

North Seymour (#2) has a large colony of frigatebirds nesting, which was interesting.

It's a shame that neither goes to my other most favorite island--Genovesa. The sea bird nesting colonies there were almost overwhelming and it's the only place to see Red-footed Boobies; it was also the only place we got close to Great Frigatebirds. And Galápagos Fur Sea Lions lounged on the rocky cliffs there--again the only place we saw them.

So, to me it boils down primarily to Isabela or Española. if I had to choose, I think I'd go for #2, especially between mid-March and Dec.. But I'm a birder; if you're not, you might have different priorities.

Hope this helps a little. We were there in Sept., 2009, on the 16-passenger Tip Top II. You can read about our experiences in our trip report here: http://galapagos2009.wordpress.com/. Just click on the outing you want to see from this home page.

Tina

Mentioned in this post
Isabela
Isabela
Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
Santa Cruz
Santa Cruz
Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
Genovesa
Genovesa
Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
Kitchener, Canada
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2. Re: Trying to decide between 2 GAP Adventure Tours

thanks for your great feeback. Actually the first tour (land) explores many of the points of interest you mentioned. Such a difficult decision since we can't afford to go again for a very long time!

Here is the last half of the first tour itinerary...

Day 5 Floreana Island/Isabela Island (B,L)

Travel to the seldom visited highlands of Floreana. On our way to Isabela, we have the opportunity to observe flamingos. We make our way to the Wall of Tears built by convicts many years ago. Along the way we stop at a lookout point, visit natural pools, walking trails, beaches and mangrove swamps.

Day 6 Isabela Island (B,L,D)

A full day tour takes us up Sierra Negra Volcano, an active volcano in Galapagos with the second largest crater in the world. Experience a birds-eye view of this magical landscape on foot or horseback (optional). Visit the Breeding Center of the Giant Tortoise, the largest in Galapagos; if you still have energy you can try your luck at an optional surf lesson.

Day 7 Isabela Island/Santa Cruz (B,L)

Today we visit "Tintoreras" Shark Alley to observe the white tip reef sharks found swimming in the channels between the rocks. Get a close-up view of pelicans, frigate birds and diving blue-footed boobies. In the afternoon set sail to Santa Cruz Island Puerto Ayora. Explore this bustling town and sample some of the local cuisine, or maybe some shopping.

Day 8 Santa Cruz (B,L,D)

Visit the highlands of Santa Cruz, observing the Galapagos Giant Tortoise's natural habitat and the over 1km long lava tunnels while taking in views of the islands. Later a 45 minute walk takes us to Tortuga Bay, a stunning beach with fine white sand and very calm waters. We take the kayaks and explore the surrounding mangroves trying to spot reef sharks.

Day 9 Santa Cruz/Quito (B,L)

Pay a visit to Lonesome George at the Charles Darwin Research Station. This is a great opportunity to observe many species of tortoises and land iguanas in captivity, brought back form the brink of extinction.

Mentioned in this post
Floreana
Floreana
Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
Isabela
Isabela
Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
Santa Cruz
Santa Cruz
Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
Bristol, United...
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3. Re: Trying to decide between 2 GAP Adventure Tours

The second option is by far the best for me. If you must see the highlands of Floreana, stay on after the cruise on Santa Cruise in the town of Puerto Ayora and get a day trip to Floreana for about $65 which will get you a highland tour, boat ride around the shore and snorkelling devils crown. You can do the last morning trip on the cruise with everyone else and then when everyone else gets the ferry to Baltra, you get a taxi back to Puerto Ayora (cost $15). You may also be able to do Isabela as a day trip - I am not sure. Otherwise, you need at least 2 nights on isabela to do it by public ferry. Any hotel on Isabela should be able to arrange the volcano hike - or you can do it on horseback.

The flightless cormorant is mainly on Fernandina and although you might find it on the west coast from Punta Moreno upwards, you will not be able to get there on the land based tour. You have about as much chance of seeing a mangrove finch as winning the lottery.

N. Seymour is a good place to see frigates up close, Espanola has the albatross in season and is the best place to see blue footed boobies courting. Floreana cruise sites are in my opinion missable but you should see flamingos, turtles in season and the unique "post office". Santa Fe has a unique land iguana, Bartolome has the best volcanic view in Galapagos.

Mentioned in this post
Floreana
Floreana
Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
Baltra
Baltra
Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
Isabela
Isabela
Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
Fernandina
Fernandina
Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
Espanola
Espanola
Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
Bartolome
Bartolome
Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
4. Re: Trying to decide between 2 GAP Adventure Tours

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