Date of Trip: September 2009
We traveled with the Elderhostel (now, Exploritas) organization on a trip from Sept. 9 – Sept. 18, 2009. To avoid missing connections, we headed to Quito 2 days earlier. In those “pre” days, we spent 1 day touring the northern part of Quito (near our hotel the Sheraton). There, we visited the Jardin Botanico de Quito and the fascinating museums of the Fundacion Guayasamin. During the 2nd day, we took a day trip to Bellavista Cloud Forest Reserve, about 2 hours northwest of Quito. The guided hike through the thick vegetation, the extraordinary bird life, and the hummingbirds fantastic!
Once the rest of the group arrived, we traveled around the Galapagos Islands on an 8-day/7-night cruise on the Tip Top IIa 16-passenger, 8-crew boat (first-class category). The boat was sparklingly clean, comfortable, and cozy (might be a bit small for some people, but we loved it). The food was exceptional plentiful (5 meals/snacks a day!), local, and delicious. The crew was perfection patient, attentive, funny, helpful. The naturalist guide was beyond wonderful (but then, almost everyone who had a good trip to the Galapagos Islands thinks their naturalist guide was the absolute best and we are no exception). In addition to the inner islands, we visited the northernmost island (Genovesa) and the southernmost island (Espanola). (The Tip Top II’s itinerary doesn’t get to the westernmost islands (Isabela & Fernandina).) Genovesa and Espanola were definitely the highlights, due to the extensive sea bird nesting colonies on the former (only place to see Red-footed Boobies) and the Waved Albatross nesting colonies on the latter (again, the only place to see them, but they are only there from March – December). If you’re considering a trip to the islands, I heartily recommend seeking out an itinerary that goes to both of those islands.
I could go on and on and in fact, I have! I’ve written a detailed trip report here: http://galapagos2009.wordpress.com/. You don’t have to read it all; you can click on individual links from this home page. In addition to write-ups and photos of each outing (including those in Quito), I’ve written pages about life on the boat, decisions we made in arranging the trip, and things to bring along. You can find those under the “Practicalities” tab.
It sounds hackneyed, but it truly is a trip of a lifetime. If you’ve been longing to do it, just make it happen. What on earth are you waiting for?