My two star rating doesn’t reflect the Galapagos Islands themselves, which are a potentially five star destination. Rather the rating is of this particular trip to see them. As you’d expect, the Galapagos are a wildlife lover’s dream, particularly if you like marine wildlife. Whilst the variety isn’t massive, the numbers are and the ease of seeing things is unmatched , and many creatures can’t be seen anywhere else. The snorkelling is outstanding with excellent visibility and huge numbers of fish etc. as well as lots of exciting bigger things like turtles and sealions that will happily swim right up to you.
Unfortunately this Exodus trip did not feel like the best way to see this incredible place, particularly not for the very high cost, and I was very glad to return home. The tour leader was poor, which greatly affected the quality of the experience. The first nights in Quito were on my own – there was no group – which is not what I expect from a ‘small group’ tour. I knew there wouldn’t be any trip leader accompanying us (me) but I did expect there to be other travellers.
The boat is very cramped and uncomfortable and if you are a solo traveller and have to share it is really difficult even if you get on well with your roommate (thankfully I did). For two nights the air conditioning wasn’t working meaning I was unable to sleep and ended up trying to sleep on deck in the rain. If you sleep in the top bunk it is a vastly inferior experience as it is very hot and cramped and hard to climb up. There were spare cabins on the boat but we were not given the option to use them, not even for an additional fee. There were also bigger cabins upstairs but those were allocated to others despite us being the only pair sharing with a stranger. There was a sense that Exodus passengers were second-class.
The trip is mis-graded as ‘leisurely’ when it is far tougher than the moderate trips I have taken with Exodus recently. The trip notes at the current time do not accurately describe the level of fitness required or that you need walking boots etc. I could have been much better prepared had I known. There is very little leisure time, which is fine if that’s what you are expecting but is not indicated by the trip notes at the time of writing.
I would definitely not recommend the trip to solo travellers or even friends travelling (unless you are happy sharing a double bed). For solo travellers it might be better to look at land based itineraries. For couples it this trip might be worth it, provided you are fit and don’t mind short walks in difficult situations and if the tour leader was different from the one I had.