Galapagos: What do you miss if you choose day tours vs a cruise
Replies: 7 - Last Post: Dec 12, 2012 9:45 AM Last Post By: ztsipapu
Dec 5, 2012 3:49 PM
Galapagos: What do you miss if you choose day tours vs a cruiseHello,
I am finally going to realize a life-long dream of visiting the Galapagos. I plan on visiting for roughly 2 weeks. The first 8 days, I would like to do a diving live-aboard that goes towards the north. I have been told that these no longer offer visits onto the islands, so the remainder of the trip, I would like to spend time visiting the islands and terrestrial environment. I have spent a fair amount of time researching and looking over posts on this forum regarding the 3 main options for exploring the islands: on a cruise, via day trips, or independently.
I definitely understand that the cruise goes further out and lets you visit islands that you cannot visit via day trips. What I am wondering and have not been able to find out is: What specifically do you miss in terms of wildlife or unique sights if you choose to do day trips as opposed to a cruise? I need to weigh the cost of a cruise vs spending a couple days doing day trips/independent trips from the population centers. Is the main benefit of the cruise being that you go to remote places, less visited places, and see more islands, or do you also actually see more wildlife?
If you do the cruises do you just end up seeing the same wildlife as you would if you do day trips, the difference being that you see different island landscapes, or when on the cruises do you actually see a lot more types of wildlife?
I am specifically interested in seeing the giant tortoises (in the wild, not a breeding center), land iguanas, Galapagos penguins, frigate birds, and albatrosses. I would also love to swim with (or just see) the sea lions and dolphins.
Thanks so much for any advice!!! I greatly appreciate it
Dec 5, 2012 7:57 PM
1Taken from my “Trip Report - Galapagos Islands 5 day cruise on Fragata”
“If you want to see something specific (eg, penguins, red footed boobies, land iguanas, hammerhead sharks, land tortoises, a specific type of volcanic formations or vegetation) there are places where you are more likely / only going to see them, and you may need to take a cruise to get there. If you are just after a general Galapagos experience, then it is NOT important where you go – basically, ANYWHERE in the Galapagos you will see sea lions, marine iguanas, frigate birds & sally light-foot crabs, and in many places you will see sea turtles and blue footed boobies. In fact to see any of the aforementioned wildlife, it is absolutely not necessary to take a cruise. But if you have a specific interest, you may well need / want to take a cruise.”
The only place you can see land tortoises are in the wild is on Isabella at Bahia Urbina, which you can only get to on a cruise (it is not on the populated part of the island).
You can usually see penguins on day trips, but for a more 'guaranteed' sighting we went to Punta Moreno on Isabella, which can also only be accessed on a cruise.
But to be honest, if you’ve already shelled out for a dive trip, I think you’ll be more than happy taking day trips. You see so much wildlife EVERYWHERE that you have to ask if it’s worth the extra money just to see the land tortoises!
Dec 6, 2012 6:48 PM
2The other big advantage of a cruise is that frequently your boat will moor off the island overnight so that you are the first on the island before the day trippers arrive.
Some of my animal encounters included:-
1. Snorkelling with penguins on Bartolome Island
2. Snorkelling with sea lions on Santa Fe Island
2. South Plaza Island: frigate birds, blue footed boobies, land iguanas, seals etc
I recall a local guide telling me that to see the land tortoises in the wilds of Isabella Island you need to do a 2 day hike/camping trip.
Dec 8, 2012 12:29 AM
3Many thanks Pigletinoz and Chris!! I also appreciate the helpful trip report Pigletinoz
It sounds like the majority of the wildlife can be seen via day trips. And even sounds like a potential to see penguins from day trips. I may have to look into the overnight hiking trip to see the tortoises as they are sort oa a galapagos icon.
Dec 8, 2012 12:34 AM
Dec 8, 2012 12:40 AM
I was there in may as well, which was not shark season. However, you can dive with hammerheads at that time (maybe all the time?). We attempted to snorkel and see them, but the water is too deep - you really need to dive. It is done at Leon Dormido rock, which I'm sure would be offered on your dive trip? If not you can do day trips.
I don't think there are dolphins anywhere.
Dec 9, 2012 3:04 PM
Dec 12, 2012 9:45 AM
7Absolutely no need to hike and camp to see Giant Tortoises. You can easily see them living free in the highlands of Santa Cruz--an short day trip via taxi from Puerto Ayora with no need to be on a naturalist cruise.
On our trip, we saw dolphins only out in deeper waters. They often showed up to jump the boat's wake while we traveled. We didn't see them in any of the areas we snorkeled.
Another disadvantage of land-based trips is that the only places you can get to exhibit a much heavier imprint of human traffic than do the landings that can only be reached by naturalist cruises. We visited both day trip sites and cruise-only sites, and the difference in how the wildlife lived was clear to us all. The wildlife live much further from the paths in the areas where both day trips and cruises land. On the islands reached only by cruises (and, therefore, having less human traffic), the wildlife consistently live amazingly near--and at times, actually ON--the paths. It's truly stunning. You'll see wildlife pretty much anywhere you go. But on cruise-only landings, you'll be able to stand in the middle of wildlife living their lives as if you weren't even there. Unlike any other experience on the planet.
Also, a cruise gets you to 2 landings, along with 1 or 2 snorkeling opportunities, each day. With land-based trips, you can only get to 1 island a day, given as much as 2+ hours of travel (one way) on a small speedboat. In addition, the day trip landings tend to put you on the islands later in the day, when the light is harsher and less good for photography.
trip report at http://galapagos2009.wordpress.com/
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