Turtle, Ecuador

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  • Reviewed May 2019
    Sarah Novelli

    Galapagos

    The most fabulous trip, worth every penny, saw so much , great accommodation, well organised trips ! Two weeks spent with a lovely bunch of people seeing

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Seeing the wildlife up so close and personal

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Pablo was an amazing group leader in every sense of the word. Everything well organised, always on hand to help . Very good communicator, with a fabulous sense of humour...

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Although the trip says leisurely/ moderate due to the humidity when we travelled some may find the walking harder than they expected.. never underestimate the strength of the sun ( as Pablo would say)

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Go for it !!!!
  • Reviewed April 2019
    Robert Hales

    Galapagos

    An enjoyable trip

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Walking

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Excellent

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Enjoy the trip

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    An enjoyable trip
  • Reviewed March 2019
    Margaret Shaw

    An amazing adventure with awesome wildlife

    This was a full-on trip, early morning starts with full days of activity - but SO worth it! Each of the 4 islands visited were very different in both their landscape and wildlife. Tourism in all but the last island (Santa Cruz) was very low key and I felt privileged to be there and see all that I did.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    There were quite a few inspirational moments, snorkelling with rays, sharks, turtles and sea lions, dolphins swimming at the side of the boat, but for me seeing a huge manta ray jump completely out of the water right in front of our boat was the moment I shall never forget.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Pablo was a great guide, he was very keen to share his huge knowledge with us all, had a passion for all the wildlife and was extremely proud of his country. He even managed to smile through our incessant barrage of stupid questions, ie ‘will there be a toilet?’ ‘Do we get changed now?’ ‘Do we need fins?’ ‘Do we need to take everything with us?’

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Be very aware of the sun whilst snorkelling, a few in our group did get sun burnt. When there are such fantastic things to see it is so easy to forget that you are sometimes in the water for an hour or more and even the best sun creams struggle in these salt water conditions. My advice would be at the very least to take a rash vest or rash suit. One or two in our group after being burnt even snorkelled in their pyjamas! They worked perfectly. Others in our group hired wetsuits, our guide, Pablo always wore one. I took my own very lightweight 1mm wetsuit and was so glad I did, not only did I not have to worry at all about the sun, it also protected me from the biting flies when we were above water listening to our guide. For the hiking, I managed mostly in shorts but long trousers were a good call when we descended into the volcano to view the fumaroles, the path was very overgrown with thorny bushes.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    If you are reading this review then you are obviously considering doing the trip yourself ~ stop dithering, just do it, it’s amazing and you won’t regret it.
  • Reviewed March 2019
    Elizabeth Jones

    Spectacular Galápagos

    From snorkelling with sharks, sea turtles and sea horses to watching giant tortoises, swimming iguanas, dancing blue-footed boobies, leaping manta rays, penguins and mating eagle rays, to trekking around a huge caldera and steaming volcanic vents… this island-hopping adventure to explore the Galápagos by land and by sea was a spectacular and unforgettable experience. The range of activities and places visited in this trip allowed us to fully experience and be captivated by the unique biodiversity and landscapes of the region. The wildlife of land, sea and sky is so abundant and diverse and allows for many magical interactions. It is fascinating to learn about the culture and history of the islands to more modern conservation efforts, such as the numerous breeding programmes of the different giant tortoise species. We got the chance to meet local people, taste local food and get off-the-beaten-track to be further immersed in the traditions of the different islands. It was truly an experience of a lifetime.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Inspirational moments were bountiful, but particular highlights were: swimming with many Galapágos sharks and a hammerhead at Kicker Rock (San Cristóbal) seeing Galapágos penguins, manta rays, dancing blue-footed boobies and swimming marine iguanas around Las Tintoreras (Isabela) snorkelling with many Pacific green turtles, sleeping white-tipped reef sharks and a sea horse at Los Túneles (Isabela) trekking up to the rim and around the impressive caldera of Volcán Sierra Negra to see many lava formations, steaming fumaroles and mineral deposits (Isabela)

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Our Tour Leader was Pablo Montalvo from Ecuador. He is a very friendly and caring person and was very passionate about his role as a leader, giving time to everyone in the group. He worked hard to keep the trip running smoothly, coordinating with the numerous local people that assisted us. Pablo's knowledge and passion for Ecuador and the Galápagos Islands was exceptional. He explained in impressive detail about the marine life, plants, geography, history and culture in superb English, whilst joyfully helping a few of us hablar Español! Pablo went above and beyond to make the trip an enriching and unforgettable experience.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    It was great to have your own snorkelling gear (mask, snorkel, fins) for comfort in knowing they fit well and how to use them. Snorkel gear was readily available for hire on most islands. A rash vest and/or wet suit was a good idea for sun protection and to be warmer when snorkelling (45+ minutes in the water can be cold at certain times of the year). Cotton scarf/ sarong and secure, wide-brimmed hat were very useful on boats when you might be more exposed to wind and water spray and the sun. Waterproof jacket/ poncho and non-waterproof ‘wet’ shoes were useful in tropical downpours and wet-landings and walking on the islands. Take a good camera and underwater camera, with a lot of memory and rechargeable batteries. Take a good wildlife guide to help identify the many amazing animal and bird species. Take plenty of high factor sun cream as it is expensive to buy locally. Read the book ‘Floreana’ by M. Wittmer before visiting Floreana for the fascinating history of island life.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    For the March 2019 trip, the 2-day camping trek to Volcán Sierra Negra on Isabela was modified into two one-day treks due to recent volcanic activity (Exodus had fully informed us of this before the trip). The second day was a longer trek of 24 km and some members of the group chose to do local activities and relax around Puerto Villamil instead. For those of us that joined the trek, it was an exciting chance to see many lava formations, steaming fumaroles and sulphur deposits, and enjoy a good physical challenge! The modified itinerary allowed for an additional snorkelling trip to Los Túneles, a series of interesting lava formations and the chance to see many marine species. Whilst I would have loved the chance to wild camp on the volcano, the alternative activity was a fantastic experience and became one of the highlights of my trip.
  • Reviewed November 2018
    Heike Vehling

    Fascinating wildlife on land and in the sea

    Loved this island hopping adventure exploring the Galapagos on land and by sea. Going snorkling for the first time I was apprehensive but ended up loving it. This is not a trip to rush around, you truly get to appreciate the animals by taking your time and studying the differences or simply soaking up the colours and their playfulness.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Each island and activity on this trip was well worth doing. Snorkling with sea lions, sea turtles, the many colourful fish and underwater landscape - especially Kicker Rock and La Loberia beach. Strolling along the beach in Isabella seeing blue footed boobies and pelicans diving to feed on a shoal of fish was one of many highlights. The panorama walk along the volcano crater on Isabella.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Pablo looked after us well and made sure everything ran smoothly. He had good knowledge of all the areas visited and ensured the best local operators were used for boat trips etc. In addition we used local guides as required by the National Park.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Take plenty of sun cream - it's very expensive to buy in Ecuador. The weather in October is mild to hot (20-30degC) and remains warm overnight (~20degC) but if you go on the wild camping trip on Isabella then overnight is likely to be much colder! If you don't want to buy a wet suit investing in a rash vest is a good idea as this gives you your own clothes under wet suit and makes taking it on/off easier + you will be warmer. You will spend ~1 hour snorkling at a time and being cold is not much fun. Depending where you sit you can get quite wet on some of the boat trips.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    On our trip the 2-day wild camping trip to Sierra Negra Vulcano, Isabella was replaced with doing same trek on one day due to volcanic activity (Exodus had notified us before the trip) - this is a much longer walk. Having walked along the crater the previous day I opted out and appreciated having free time in Puerto Villamil. On the other day we had a boat trip to Tunneles - which are volcanic rock bridges followed by snorkling. Everyone in our group agreed the alternative itinerary did not take away from the overall experience.
  • Reviewed March 2017
    Jonathan Dusheiko

    Galapagos March 2017

    An enjoyable trip through a special part of the world. Snorkelling or swimming almost every day was the highlight.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Dawn over Sierra Negra volcano.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Pablo was excellent, organised our own tents for all solo travellers which was a bonus.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    I found it easier to bring all my own snorkelling gear including flippers. You can't hire on Floreana and also you know your own is of good quality. The water was not cold at that time of year, long sleeve rash vest with some insulation was enough. Gaiters are useful for dense wet vegetation near second camp on the trek. I found a 45L packable duffel fine for the trek. Poncho and non-waterproof boots and walking shoes are cooler options compared to jackets and lined footwear. There are frequent heavy tropical downpours.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    The storage of valuables in the safe at The Wooden House needs improving. Had an a anxious few hours after other travellers took my Exodus document wallet with passport by mistake as identical to theirs. Should be sealed in an envelope and you should sign in and out.
  • Reviewed March 2017

    Galapagos Wonderland

    When this trip was advertised on the site at the end of last summer I booked straight away,something about this magical place appealed to me. Everything you see on the TV is there, it is all around you, from the first steps on the Islands you see Iguanas, Finches, Fly catchers with their brilliant yellows and oranges. Our first introduction to the Galapagos is a boat trip out to the locally known Kicker rock and our first snorkelling, our first Turtles, rays and for the lucky few even Shark.Blue footed boobies on the rocks, with Frigate birds filing the skies and Sea lions filling the seas. It was like everywhere you looked there was more to see and marvel at,birds so close Iguanas round almost every corner. Then came what we all wanted to see the Galapagos giant tortoises, the breeding programme is well established and it is great to see the work they are doing. After a few days and a change of Islands we began our trek up the Sierra Negra volcano. The feeling you get from the rim of this enormous crater is one of awe and power. the next thing was to see the steam coming from live vents on the mountain side, imagining what life was like thousands of years ago.We then walked up to the vents and the smell of sulphur was really strong but again the feeling of power was still there. Onto the rest of the trek with camping on the rim,well looked after by our helpers who with the horses got everything we needed to the rim and cooked us all very good meals, thanks. This trip is very full on and every day so far we have an early start and either walked or took boats to visit many islands and wildlife areas. This trip exceeded all of my expectations and with a great leader in Pablo who`s knowledge of the Islands was fantastic, we the group who all got on so well together, cared for each other, they helped make this whole trip the best ever. Although it did seem a awfully long way back home!!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    This is easy for me it has to be going up Sierra Negra, a real live volcano, awesom power from the very heart of the earth.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Pablo, the leader for our trip was the best his knowledge of the islands was amazing and with the help of the local guides including Joceleyn (not sure of the spelling there) we could not have been looked after better.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Prepare to be amazed at the beauty of this amazing place.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    I would like to add my thanks to all at Exodus for allowing us the chance to visit these marvellous places wherever in the world they are.
  • Reviewed January 2017
    Jackie Hamnett

    Galapagos, in Darwin's Footsteps - Amazing!

    This was to be our "holiday of a lifetime" - I was slightly concerned it might not live up to my expectations as I had wanted to visit Galapagos for many years. However I was not disappointed! Every day I thought it couldn't get any better, but it did. The wildlife was all fantastic. I didn't expect to do so much snorkelling, but it meant we were swimming with turtles, sealions, sharks and many colourful fishes :)

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Highlights for me were Floreana (especially meeting the Wittmer family), camping and walking up Sierra Negra, and swimming with turtles.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Fabian was excellent! He pulled a very diverse group of people together and made sure no-one was left out. His knowledge of the islands and the wildlife was great.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Read the book "Floreana" by Wittmer before you visit the Island of Floreana. It is a fascinating story and you will look at the island in a different light! Buy a wildlife guide book before you go. I expected there to be a wider choice of guides on the islands, but there is in fact very little choice.
  • Reviewed January 2017

    Galapagos trip

    I travelled in november 2016 to the galapagos. I had a great trip. There were fourteen in the group. It was a mixture of couples and singles. The days were spent either travelling by boat , swimming/ snorkelling . Or some walking. The snorkelling was amazing. It was more difficult than i had anticipated. The snorkelling at kicker rock was really cold and not for the faint hearted. The walking was easy. It was very dry and dusty on the hike. It wouldn't have taken much rain for the trail to become very muddy.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Loved all the snorkelling. My favourites were santa fe and floreana. There was a mix up with bookings - at the end of the trip we went to santa fe instead of bartholome.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Fabian was knowledgable and very patient. There were also galapagos guides who were good. You just had to turn up and everything happened.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    I took my own snorkel and mask. I was glad i did as i could make sure it fitted properly before i went. You can hire them though. The water was cold and some days you did need a wet suit. I hired one. For the hike i had walking boots and a walking pole. I carried the pole like an ornament most of time. However i think it could get very muddy on the trail. If it is muddy, A walking pole would be handy. The trail down to the suphur mine was steep. You don't need to buy much water. All the hotels had water fountains with filtered water. Souvenirs were more expensive than i thought they would be. I waited until santa cruz to buy things. I got a few bits from darwin research centre. The bus ride from the airport to the hotel can take ages. Sometimes the traffic was horrendous.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    No
  • Reviewed January 2017
    Jill Bobek

    Galapagos in Darwins footsteps

    A few days spent on each of four slightly different islands allowing you to see lots of wildlife and some interesting geological features.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Snorkelling with sea turtles ( never seen so many) rays and sea lions and the trek up to the rim of Sierra Negra. View of the caldera was amazing.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Fabian was very knowledgeable , had a great sense of humour and the patience of a saint.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    With hindsight I wouldn't have bothered to take my own snorkel gear - there was plenty available to hire .

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    A trip to Galapagos had been on my bucket list for years - I'm not a good sea traveller so opted for this land based trip - it didn't disappoint.