Replies: 8 - Last Post: Jul 31, 2012 8:59 AM Last Post By: El_Capitan
Jun 26, 2012 8:56 AM
Island Hopping?Hello everyone!
I´m currently living in Ecuador and am planning to fly out to the Galapagos at the start of August for 10-12 days. I was wondering if it would be possible to do things quite indepentently. Right now I´m thinking about flying to Santa Cruz and staying in Puerto Ayora for a three days, including a day tour to Bartolome, then catching a water taxi to Isabela and staying there for a few days, before making my way to San Cristobal and staying there for a few days (I thought that maybe I could do days trip to Española and Fernandina from San Cristobal and Fernandina independently, but that doesn´t seem to be the case :( ).
I know a lot of people recommend cruises, but it seems to me that the majority of them offer itineraries that I could do myself for the most part. However, I would loveeee to see whales, sharks and dolphins!
P.S. If anyone has any information on what it is and isn´t possible to do without a guide on the inhabited islands, I´d really appreciate it :)
Jun 26, 2012 11:42 AM
Jun 26, 2012 7:09 PM
2Hello Helen. It is possible, and even easy, to organize your trip and stay on the islands and see a lot without going on a cruise. Please read my post of my trip report for further information. It is a few pages back in these postings, actually on May 26, and is titled "Trip Report - Good Time in Galapagos May 2012" There you will find my itinerary and the hotels I stayed at and any other information you may need, including the tour company I booked my day trips through, which is Moonrise Travel, who I highly recommend. Hope you find it helpful! Have a great time!
Jun 27, 2012 10:08 AM
3I am not sure how the darkglob came to his information, which is not accurate.
there are several islands you can explore independently - Isabela, Santa Cruz, San Cristobal, and you can take a day trip to some others- Floreana, Plazas, Bartolomeo.
do a search for a posts by pigletinoz who posted great info on the independent travel, as well as Tkbell2001 who just returned from there few weeks ago.
Jun 28, 2012 10:16 AM
4To transfer from Isabela to San Cristobal is either all day on a speedboat or a very expensive one way flight with a weight limit of 20 lbs of luggage. By speedboat you first depart at 6 AM for Santa Cruz and then from Santa Cruz to San Cristobal at 2PM.
There are no days trips to Espanola (except diving upon occasion, but no landings) and certainly no day trip to Fernandina from Isabela. Fernandina is accessible ONLY from cruises.
Do you dive? Whales will be tricky as the best place for viewing is west of Isabela which you can only get to via cruise. It takes approx.6- 8 hours to reach Fernandina from Puerto Villamil in a speedboat and then, you can only do that with special permission from the Park.
Tkbell2001...you do understand that Steve Divine is a naturalist guide, yes? Most places in Galapagos are off limits unless accompanied by a guide. There are a few 'open recreativo' sites where you can go on your own...like Tortuga Bay on Santa Cruz or Wall of Tears, Concha de Perla on Isabela. But for the most part, you do have to be with a guide.
Day trips to Bartolome, N. Seymour, Santa Fe and Plazas are available from Santa Cruz.
Please do remember that the Park is constantly tightening up on regulations, so what may have been true six months ago does not necessarily apply now.
Helennn, you can snorkel Los Tuneles from Isabela and see sharks, eagle rays, mantas, turtles, fish, penguins and eels. It's an amazing trip. You can go to any of the agencies in town to put your name on a list. They work together cooperatively to get enough people to make the trip. If you snorkel Kicker Rock from San Cristobal, you'll usually see sharks.
Dolphins are trickier. You often see them sailing to Bartolome or around Floreana. Day trips to Floreana are a bit dull on land, though snorkeling Champion (islet off Floreana) is great. Tons of sea lions.
Jul 5, 2012 12:18 PM
5apparently i'm not the only one who views the galapagos as a protected place requiring guides, Coleslaw (er, Boleslaw). see this from a fellow poster:
"Most places in Galapagos are off limits unless accompanied by a guide. There are a few 'open recreativo' sites where you can go on your own...like Tortuga Bay on Santa Cruz or Wall of Tears, Concha de Perla on Isabela. But for the most part, you do have to be with a guide."
Jul 5, 2012 3:26 PM
Jul 5, 2012 4:49 PM
I just got back from a 2 1/2 week trip to Ecuador, including one week in the Galapagos. YES, you can do Galapagos "independently," which means showing up without a plan and booking day trips to islands or a taxi to some of the sites on Santa Cruz or Isabela. I didn't do a cruise, and don't regret it, but think it would have been great. However, we did day trips to Seymour Norte and Bartolome (on a boat with a naturalist guide), around Santa Cruz by taxi (the driver acted as a guide, without us asking) and to Tortuga Bay by foot, and a 2-day tour to Isabela on a package that was cheaper to do through a travel agent than independently (the Sierra Negra hike had a guide). It's not like the guide on a European vacation...you need these guides to explain the wildlife, show you where to go and hopefully protect the island from the sometimes careless human tourists that visit.
No day trips to Espanola or Fernandina (or many of the other remoter islands). They had day trips to Floreana, but looking at the itinerary it didn't go to any of the major sites (Devil's Crown, Post Office Bay or Punta Cormorant) so we skipped it. I missed San Cristobal but you have extra time so I would recommend it. Our Isabela trip could have been extended an extra day (at our own cost of course) but the return trip by boat would have been whenever we wanted. If I had more time I would have stayed an extra day there too.
I will post a trip report eventually, but go for it. There are plenty of day trip options and shorter cruises that might work for you. It's surprising that the information is so scant about doing Galapagos independently, but then again that could be a good thing! As it was, I met a lot of other travelers on the plane ride over that were all doing the same thing: showing up and booking what they could find. Eventually it may change but that was my experience in June 2012.
Best of luck,
Jul 31, 2012 8:59 AM
8I just did 12 days independently in the Galapagos because I am very prone to sea sickness and I enjoy walking around and exploring the towns. I was able to see plenty of the island and did some day trips as well. From Isabela, booked a day trip to the "Canales" for snorkeling. From San Cristobal, booked a diving/snorkeling trip to "kicker rock (leon dormido)" easily. I dove while my gf snorkeled. The other sites we were able to get to on our own. Tortuga bay, Charles Darwin reserach center, las grietas (snorkeling) and lava tunnels from Puerto Ayora, from San cristobal: la loberia, cerro las tijeras and punta carola, and from Isabela: concha y perla.
As far as travel logistics, we started in Puero Ayora and caught the 2pm boat to Isabela (2.5 hours). Buy this ticket in advance as we wanted to go to San Cristobal first but tickets were sold out (but we tried to buy an hour before). From Isabela, insteading of doing 2 boats (back to Puerto ayora first) we caught a 30 minute flight direct to San Cristobal, cost about $100. I can't remember the name of the airline right now but they had a ticket office in Puerto Villamil.
One other tip, pick up the black Guia Informativa Turistica (touristic informative guide). Its a small black, spiral guidebook that we picked up for free at our hotel in Puerto Ayora. It has maps of the main port cities and all the major sites. Very handy.
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