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“Great experience in Galapagos with GA”

Galapagos Alternative
Certificate of Excellence
More attraction details
Attraction details
Owner description: At Galapagos Alternative we specialize in personalized land-based tour packages. We offer unique experiences of the islands the way we see them: as locals. Choose the sights and activities most interesting to you, stay at local places, eat at local restaurants, and of course, get up-close experiences with the amazing animals that make the Galapagos Islands so special. We can help you find the best options to fit your timeframe, budget and preferences. We can help with all aspects of your trip, from booking unique accommodations to daily activities and transport between the islands. We are Jill and Javier Moreno, and we'd like to welcome you to our home. We look forward to treating you like family, showing you our favorite places, and ensuring that you have the experience of a lifetime in the amazing and beautiful Galapagos!
Useful Information: Activities for young children, Activities for older children, Wheelchair access
Reviewed 6 July 2013

A visit to Galapagos Islands was on my bucket list and I had always planned on doing a ship based tour. One of the members of our group came upon the GA website, proposed the land based experience and I am so glad we went this way. The experience of staying on the islands and mixing with the locals was a big plus for the trip. From arrival the GA folks were friendly, efficient and willing to help in any way. We had the right mix of activities with a little time free during the day and then our evenings to explore the islands. We were set up with great guides and had just the experiences we wanted and more. We spent time on both Santa Cruz and Isabella. I felt that having our days planned and organized really maximized our time and yet we were with different guides and sometimes other tourists which gave a variety of experiences.
I can't say enough about Jill and Javier. They were tested by an unforeseen health issue that arose with one of our group and they gave 110% to assist us over the course of several days. I left feeling like they had a great business going but more than anything when you're so far from home it is good to know that you're not just a client but someone they really care about!

3  Thank zilch47
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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170 - 174 of 292 reviews

Reviewed 15 June 2013

I went to Galapagos because this island is a destination of my dreams for many years. I highly enjoyed the stay - also thanks to Galapagos Alternative Tours. The tours were great and my itinerary was crowded with onceinalifetime experiences. I felt very well cared by GA and their representatives. No problems occured - Everything worked very well.

Sure there were some things that happen when you go for an adventure abroad. For example seasickness is pretty common if you go for a boatride during stormy and rough current season. The boats are not that big so they surely find every single wave to hit and stomp. On the other hand it was unbeliveable when we took the ride to Batholome Island and dolphins came to join our route and jumped out of the sea directly next to our boat! Obviously all in life has a price. For such a great experience some have to pay with an irritated stomach. Sure you can also go for Orlando and see dolphins there but ...!?

If you are in a country that is far from home it's also likely that you catch some kind of minor illness as your body must somehow adjust. Most common are digestion problems. But that shouldn't stop you from trying the local specialities.

As traveller to Galapagos you should be prepared to find a paradise (Animals, landscape and people are great!!) with the usual problems/challenges that occur during life. Best preparation is to have a reliable partner on hand (Galapagos Alternative Tours) and for everything else it's best to use your head for more than just looking good :-))

2  Thank Earlthebear
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 1 June 2013 via mobile

I found Galapagos Alternative (GA) through Trip Advisor and chose it based on all of the positive reviews on here. I wanted to give them a positive review, but there were just too many issues with this company for me to be able to do so. I want to be honest because our experience with them was not great. We dealt with a lot more stress than necessary on our vacation. The overall professionalism of the company, as well as the reliability of the transportation, was lacking.

The booking process - It took on average two days at a time to get responses on our emails. I noticed other people on TripAdvisor had this same experience with delayed responses, so I recommend calling them directly and hopefully GA will improve their booking process.

Hotel downgraded from what was offered - Our hotel was downgraded on Isabela Island when we went to confirm our itinerary. We were supposed to be booked at Casa De Marita and then were put in Casita De La Playa. I was told there wasn't availability at Casa De Merita anymore for the room type we wanted, but had contacted the hotel that very SAME DAY separately and was told there was in fact availability in the room type we requested. I don't know the reason for this but it was frustrating. I also noticed another TripAdvisor reviewer had this same issue.

No transperency in pricing - The pricing changed without clear explanation as to why. It went up about $200 during my phone conversation with the GA representative that booked our trip. I was told the increase in price was because of a mistake and that was all the explanation I was given. I wish I had asked for a clear breakout of the pricing because again this was frustrating. I recommend that if you book with GA - you ask for a price breakout on all trips so it is transparent what you are paying for.

Unreliable/Unsafe transportation - The transportation we were booked on was unreliable and potentially unsafe. We were booked on the public ferry going to and from Isabela island. The ride out to Isabela was extremely choppy and the boat was hot. Several people, including ourselves, got sea sick on the trip. We asked to take the small plane back to the island instead of the boat but were told the night before a piece of the plane broke off so our flight was cancelled. We had to take the public ferry back to the islands and it literally RAN OUT of gas on the way to the airport. We spent our last half day in the Galapagos floating in the middle of the ocean while the boat waited for someone else to show up with gas. Another couple that was travelling with Galapagos Alternative on the boat with us missed their flight to mainland Ecaudor. It was stressful to say the least and all we got from the company was a quick apology when we got to shore. The other couple asked one of the agents for $1,000 back for the stress they had to go through and was laughed at by the agent in front of us. My friend also asked for a refund and was told by the owner that this would be considered but never received a response. Given the unreliability of the plane and local boats - I WOULD NOT recommend island hopping through the local transportation.

General unprofessionalism - Our Galapagos Alternative Agent on Isabela Island was not particularly helpful or professional. She didn't offer much help at all other than going over the itinerary and she was late for a meeting. We didn't have this issue with the agent on Santa Cruz, just Isabela. There was also an incident where I lost a snorkeling mask in deep water at Concha De Perla. I was told it would be $50 to replace the mask because it came in a set. I gave her $50 and asked for a receipt so I could claim it on my trip insurance. I also asked the owners for a receipt but never received one. It's now too late to make a claim on my insurance. She also told me that she was going to keep the mouthpiece for the mask herself. I told her if I was paying $50 for it, I'd rather keep it. She said she'd have to find out if that was okay and then never brought it back. It was very strange.

The good -

We liked our itinerary a lot and had good guides from the National Park. The other issues though and the unresponsive of this company would keep me from going back with them and I definitely don't recommend them.

13  Thank Ann R
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
jilapagos, Owner at Galapagos Alternative, responded to this reviewResponded 4 June 2013

Thank you for taking the time to leave us your honest feedback about your experience with Galapagos Alternative. This comment came from the same group as the previous comment with the lost bag issue. I understand to lose a bag on day one is a horrible way to start your trip. I am glad they were still able to enjoy the itinerary and guides that Galapagos Alternative helped them organize.

We are constantly trying to improving our services based on feedback. We are currently working on streamlining the reservation process and a service training that will raise the level of our professionalism to North American standards. Emails can be delayed a day or two while we are personalizing your itineraries. Every itinerary is defined by what you want the experience to be. Our internet service in Galapagos is slow and unreliable. We try our best to respond quickly and these are some factors to consider while booking.
We are more than happy to call you or receive your calls if you have a quick question that you would like answered.
A breakdown of the prices is something we can easily send upon request.

Casa de Marita is our preferred mid-range hotel. We have had issues with their website that holds certain rooms to cover the website's commission that we, as an agency, do not have access to. If this issue was brought to our attention we could have ask Marita to open the website's block on the room so we could have it for our guests to avoid problems. They are usually accommodating. They also book up quickly and we offer upgrade or down-grade options since nothing is quite in the same range this hotel. Isabela Island is very limited when it comes to hotel options.

I remember this group calling from Isabela and letting us know how sick they were on the boat over and that they would like to try to book the small plane for the return. Unfortunately the plane was not available. For this reason we give a very clear description of what the boat ride is, listed below, and recommend the small plane between islands if you are not up for the local experience.
These boats may not be up to North American standards but there has never been a report of any dangerous accidents in the past 13 years since Javier has been working in tourism in Galapagos.

Transfer to Isabela Island by boat
(Hotel pick-up 1:30 PM - boat leaves 2:00 PM)
Moderate - Strenuous:
Bumpy ride anytime of year
Rough seas June to November – very bumpy!
*Transport to Isabela Island on a narrow 30 ft. outboard motor boat (approx. 2-3 hours)
*Enjoy the local experience being with up to 20 passengers on their way to Isabela
*Poor ventilation and choppy seas can cause nausea, make sure you bring sea sick medication

The plane option is obviously a more enjoyable ride. We recommend you book the plane during the reservation process and not at the last minute. We also recommend staying away from alcohol the night before the boat ride, these girls were out late at the local bar the night before their boat ride to Isabela. Most people don't get sea sick if they take precautions.

We made sure both groups made their flights to the mainland that day. The other couple did missed their flight but they were moved to another flight out that same day.

There was no base for a refund for either of these groups. We are very accommodating when a refund is due. I apologize if any of our representatives were unprofessional in dealing with this request.

I must also apologize for not sending the receipt for the mask. This was briefly mentioned to me but I never received an email followup and was not aware of the urgency. If this person was not able to claim a refund for the mask because we didn't send a receipt in time I would have sent her $50 with an apology.

We are pleased to know the issues this group had with our company did not interfere with their overall enjoyment of their itinerary and their time in Galapagos.

We aspire to make the entire process of booking and traveling enjoyable and care free for you. Thank you for pointing out these issues so we can continue to work on improving our services for future guests.


Jill Blythe
Galapagos Alternative

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 31 May 2013

I went to Galápagos with a friend and we had some ummm...problems with Galápagos Alternative. We flew from Ecuador into the Baltra airport and met our GA guide at the gate. Unfortunately the good times quickly went downhill. The guide put my suitcase on the roof of this water taxi, and I proclaimed to her, "argh, no!!! Please don't separate me from my suitcase!!! It might get taken!!!" For some reason, she totally ignored me and put me on another taxi. And sure enough...it got taken. So, there I was, on a remote island on the equator for six days with practically no possessions. Although his guide lost the suitcase, Javier (the company owner) claimed no responsibility for what happened. Oddly enough, someone turned the suitcase in after I left the islands and returned to the US. I emailed Javier twice to ask if he could help get it back to me. He didn't even respond.

So, that's my story. Other than that, GA isn't anything special - the guides on the islands are all employees of the national park. So, if you want a travel agency to help you plan the trip, find the one that's the cheapest, because it's all the same once you get there. Or, if you're looking to save money, you don't need an agency, you can just get a hotel and book your tours directly.

6  Thank GoFech
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
jilapagos, Owner at Galapagos Alternative, responded to this reviewResponded 4 June 2013

I just wrote an email to the person who wrote this response to make sure she did indeed get her bag. The last email she sent to our company, the day after they left, reported that the local airline was going to mail the bag to her. I haven't had a response back but I let her know we are here to help if the airline hasn't followed through.

This was a very rare case of a lost bag during the transfer from Baltra to Santa Cruz Island. The boat crew has control over which boat the bags are loaded on and which boat the passengers go on. Sometimes it happens that the passenger is separated from the bag because the boat is full but there has never been a case of lost or stollen bags until this occasion with this unfortunate guest.

Here is a list of the efforts our company made to help recover the lost bag - which in the end was found the day after she left. It had been returned to the airline office.

The guide and taxi driver searched the dock and questioned various sources but the bag did not appear at the dock and was declared lost.

After checking into the hotel, Javier personally took her to several stores to get a few necessary supplies and clothes to get her though the next few days.

Javier also paid for a radio report to go out to all the taxi drivers offering a reward for the lost bag.

He also had the navy send a radio report to all the live-aboard boats in the harbor to make sure the bag was not mistakenly collected by one of their guides.

I personally called every hotel on all three populated islands, 200+ hotels, just to make sure the bag was not mistakenly delivered to the wrong hotel.

Javier filed a police report in the guests name so it would be returned to our agency if found. The police report could have been useful if this guest had travel insurance she could have been refunded by the insurance for the $1500 she was requesting for lost bag.

During the reservation process we recommend that all our guests get personal travel insurance.

The bag did turn up the day after this person left the islands. We will continue to follow up and make sure the bag was returned as we had assumed per our last communication.

Our company has since created a list of procedures to follow in case of emergencies. We understand that even these minor emergencies can make or break a trip for some people. Galapagos Alternative always goes above and beyond any other local agency in these types of situations.

Thank you to TripAdvisor for allowing us to respond to these comments that sometimes need clarifying to future travelers.

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviewed 19 May 2013

We found Galapagos Alternatives on trip advisor and were not disappointed. They were very easy to with. I really appreciated all the pretrip planning and communication. Our initial hotel had a mix up and Galapagos Alternatives fixed the problem very quickly by transferring us to a new hotel without any problems. They met with us every night and went over the next day's activities. It was wonderful to have the planning done before you arrived. We had a trip with a lot of activity but also with some down time to relax. The trip was very personalized and has left lasting impressions on our family. This was a great way to see the Galápagos Islands! We have a 10 and 8 yo and they enjoyed all the activities and tours and the guides.

3  Thank todd m
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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