I think the trip was an incredible experience overall.
Booking process - The travel company was great at crafting an itinerary to suit our activity levels and interests. Communication was good and, most importantly, they could work around any timeline you gave them. This is the #1 reason why I chose to go with this company. Our flights were predetermined and many other agencies wouldn't work to craft a plan around our dates. We also were able to select days where we wanted to do private tours which was also great.
Transportation logistics - we never had to worry about getting from point A to B at any moment in our trip which made things incredibly easy. This is a big selling point for using companies like this agency and I think they did a great job with transfers/pick ups/drop offs. Everyone was extremely friendly and dependable.
Guides - The guides were the highlight of this trip. Our hosts each day were fantastic, knowledgable, and extremely passionate about their work and educating visitors.
Timeline of events - Every day was laid out with the perfect amount of activities to keep up with our high activity level, but we still had plenty of free and/or rest time to explore on our own and venture out.
Areas for improvement:
Overall trip logistics - there were several instances where I was really disappointed in the dollar amount paid and things falling off the radar.
On arrival, the printed itinerary we received had several discrepancies from the Voucher of Services we received at payment (and agreed upon plan). One stop on our first day was completely missed. The guide had to contact the travel agency to figure out if we'd get to do it or not. We did get to make up for the missed stop which was nice. The last day, our flight out on the printed itinerary was wrong (despite me attempting to correct it with the on-island contact) and were slotted to go to the airport 3 hours before our flight departed. I'm not really sure how the schedule go so disorganized by the time of executing it.
Our Kicker Rock tour was cut short by a few hours because other guests paired in our group in the day tour needed to return to port for transfer to another island. The rest of the day tour was upset that our time was cut short because of these three, but nothing could be done to alleviate it.
There were several days where meals didn't match up to what the itinerary reflected (i.e. lunch was included, but not listed as included, our travel agency sent us to our day tour with box lunches, but the day tour already had meals for us, etc.). Not sure where the disconnect was there, but it was a little strange. Not to worry, we were never left without food!
In my booking process, I was down to two agencies and I chose to move forward with this company despite the higher price point with hopes that logistics and expectation of accommodation and service would be seamless. Unfortunately, there were a few times where that didn't happen and I was disappointed. I hover between a 3 and 4 star overall, but I think the guides and responsiveness of the travel agency was what leaves me with a 4.
Lodging - Our hotel in Santa Cruz was great! I did take too long to confirm payment for the trip, resulting in our hotel changing from a level 4 to level 3 (which I understand), but I feel like the level 3 hotel we stayed in was an extreme step down from what I expected. The hotel change did decrease, but but by enough to reflect what we ended up with.
1) If you love wildlife and adventure, this trip is for you. My favorite part, by far, was experiencing all the flora and fauna that the Galapagos offer. You really get a deep dive. The exceptional guides only made the experience that much better.
2) Despite a higher level of activity, we felt like our travel agency lined up our days so well that we still had time to relax and casually explore. On our return home, we didn't come back feeling exhausted because we were still able to get 8-10 hours of sleep a night. This was an ideal balance for the trip and I was extremely pleased.
3) The willingness of locals and guides to offer quality suggestions for food and activities during free time. On other trips, people have offered suggestions but have only turned out to be "tourist traps" or "meh" suggestions, but they get kick backs. I never once felt that this was the case on this trip.
Out of my two areas of critique, I would have done more lodging research to hopefully fix that. I'm not sure there's anything else I could do to tighten up logistics, but the agency was very responsive when I started flagging issues.
Travel Company Comments
Thanks for taking the time to write such a detailed review. This is very helpful for us since it helps us do better every time.
I'm sorry to hear you were frustrated. Honestly, I was a little shocked to hear some of these issues while reading the review since I checked in with you at many points during the trip. Every time you told me everything was going well. The one time you told me about a problem - due to one of our guides missing a point of the itinerary- I had the operations manager in the Galapagos meet you in person at the hotel and figure out a change in the itinerary to accommodate this missing tour.
For the hotel, since we received a delayed payment confirmation, and this trip took place during the high season, we were left with very limited room options. We obviously did not charge the same price as a higher hotel category from the initial itinerary.
I'm happy to hear our guides did an excellent job. We do pride ourselves to have the best team of guides in Ecuador.
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