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Is this June land itinerary realistic?

Gin
San Diego...
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8 posts
1 review
Is this June land itinerary realistic?
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Hi Everyone,

This is my first post on Trip Advisor and to start I want to thank the contributors for posting so much great content here. I don't think I would be even considering this trip at this time without your input.

I recently booked flights to the Ecuador/Galapagos and I'm trying to decide if my itinerary makes sense. My mom and I are flying out of Quito on Friday June 18th and landing in San Cristobal at 12:18PM. We are flying out of Baltra on Thursday June 24th at 1:24PM. I understand this is not a lot of time to see all three islands but I'm trying to make the best of it just in case I don't get the chance to come back in the future. Below is my itinerary. Let me know if I'm crazy. :)

Day 1 (San Cristobal): Land at 12:18PM in San Cristobal. Drop off bags at hotel and explore the surrounding until sunset.

Day 2 (San Cristobal): Dive Kicker Island. My biggest goal is to see hammer sharks.

Day 3 (Santa Cruz): Take 7am ferry to Santa Cruz. Drop off bags at the hotel and explore the island. Go to Las Giergas to snorkel.

Day 4 (Santa Cruz): Take a day trip to Bartolomé

Day 5 (Isabela): Take 7am ferry to Isabela. Relax, explore the island. Perhaps get a bike and see the Wall of Tears.

Day 6 (Isabela): Los Tuneles

Day 7 (Santa Cruz): Take 7am ferry back to Santa Cruz and depart from Baltra airport

My biggest concern is the 7am ferry from Isabella to Santa Cruz to catch the flight at 1:24PM. Is it common for people to do that? Are there usual delays?

I'm considering booking the dive prior to arrival, but thinking of waiting to book the two others until I'm there in person the day before. Would I be risking it? I read posts from several people saying that the tours are much cheaper when booked on the islands.

Finally, we arrive to Quito the night before (8:55PM). We plan to stay near the airport to get some sleep and catch the 9:45AM flight to San Cristobal the next day. Do most people give themselves at least 2 nights in between. Is this risky?

I will continue reading through the forums to get more tips on different day tours to see if something sounds better. This is quite a last minute booking for Galapagos so I'm scrambling to get all the details. But I'm very excited and I am very appreciated of any suggestions this community has. :)

Top Animals that I'm hoping to see on this trip:

- Hammerhead Sharks

- Tortoises

- Blue footed bobbies

- Penguins

- Marine Iguanas

- Flamingos

- Galapagos sharks

14 replies to this topic
Quito, Ecuador
Level Contributor
2,383 posts
139 reviews
128 helpful votes
1. Re: Is this June land itinerary realistic?
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Gin,

Your itinerary is pretty hectic but realistic.

In my opinion you should book all the ferries in between islands in advance as well as all of the navigation and scuba trips. Since you are moving so fast you won't have any time to shop around in every island town in order to buy tours.

Look online in here for great recommendations for reputable Ecuadorian owned and based agencies in order to book, in this way you will be saving your self some dollars and you will be protecting the local economy which is been devastated by the pandemic.

Saludos cordiales,

Dennis Yépez

Guanguiltagua Expeditions

Charlotte, North...
Level Contributor
114 posts
6 reviews
4 helpful votes
2. Re: Is this June land itinerary realistic?
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The ferry from Isabela to Santa Cruz is at 6 am. (We just took it a few days ago.) It arrives by 8 am. You will have plenty of time to make your flight. (For reference, we left our hotel in Puerto Ayora at 7:30 am yesterday for an 11:40 flight and stopped at both El Chato and Los Gemelos along the way and got there with time to spare.) Have a great trip!

Charlotte, North...
Level Contributor
114 posts
6 reviews
4 helpful votes
3. Re: Is this June land itinerary realistic?
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Also... we arrived in Quito around 8pm and had a 8am flight to Baltra the next morning. I don’t think it was too risky. We didn’t want to give up a day on the islands. We stayed at the Eb Hotel right near the airport and really liked it. (So much so that we ended up booking it for our 8 hour layover before our red eye flight on the way back just so we had a nicer place to relax than the airport.)

Adelaide, Australia
Level Contributor
416 posts
4. Re: Is this June land itinerary realistic?
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Gin,

Uffff... a bit of a whirlwind tour of the GI. You are certainly going to be tired by the end of it (and very likely have developed a deep hatred for speedboat travel that will stay with you for years to come).

Is your itinerary doable? Yes absolutely. Is that final ferry a bit of a worry? Unfortunately, yes it is.

Look, there is a high probability that there will not be a problem. That being said, the risk remains and because you are leaving it to the last moment you can't get any "do-overs" or have a backup plan.

As much as I hate to say it (because as I said you are going to really dislike ferries by the end of this just because you will have to take so many in quick succession)... but if you insist on adding Isabela to your trip then I would advise that you consider that you do the thing that I always tell people NOT TO DO, and catch the afternoon ferry to Isabela on the same day that you arrive at Santa Cruz from San Christobal. So 2 ferries in 1 day.

Then move all of your Santa Cruz stuff to the end of your trip rather than the middle. That way you completely negate the risk of anything going wrong and you are assured to make your flight with no problem.

Saying that, I completely understand if you choose not to do that and gamble on the significantly good chance that nothing will go wrong on your last day because NO-ONE wants to do the 2 ferries in 1 day thing if they can avoid it. I'm just putting it out there as a less than optimal option.

However, 1 night in Quito before your flight is unlikely to be a problem as long as all your Covid-19 stuff is done in advance according to what they require.

I don't know about what the situation is like at the moment in "post-Covid" Galapagos regarding scuba tours. I was told that you need to have these fully organised at least 1 day before the tour... but then other people said you could just do it on the day without issue. Difficult to know who to believe... but perhaps it is safer to book ahead of time for scuba tour even though they are pretty much the most expensive day tours on offer. Or you can roll the dice and take your chances. It is up to you.

However, scuba diving at Kicker rock is your best chance to see Hammerheads, which are by far the most elusive thing to see on your list of "hope to see" animals. I lucked out and saw some really close just snorkeling there... but apparently I was unbelievably lucky and that rarely happens. So scuba will increase your chances greatly.

Regarding your other "hope to sees"...

You will not have to worry about not seeing Marine Iguanas, Tortoises and very likely Blue Footed Boobies. These can found found with little effort. Flamingos also often hang around in specific areas which locals can point out to you as long as it isn't at some kind off "offseason" for them while you are there.

Galapagos Sharks might require more effort to see and a little bit of luck.

Penguins are really "hit or miss" unfortunately you might see heaps or you might see none at all. I went on 2 tours in Isabela and saw groups of families both times and even had 1 family swimming around me and got really close. While people I talked to the next day did exactly the same tours as I did with only a 24 hour difference and saw none at all.

Hammerheads will be the most difficult of all to see. But with scuba diving involved you will have increased your chances dramatically.

Best of luck to you and I hope that you see everything you hope for and much more.

Gin
San Diego...
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8 posts
1 review
5. Re: Is this June land itinerary realistic?
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Dennis thank you for the feedback! I extended my Ecuador trip by 1 day and I'm currently trying to change our flights from Baltra back to Quito so we have one more day. If that works out, I think we'll use that extra day in Isabella. :)

When you said to book the ferries between islands in advance did you mean the ferries between the three main islands or the day tours? If it's the first, is there website for that or do I have an option to do that in San Cristobal?

Also, I wanted to ask your opinion on dives. I probably will only have one dive while there. I only have 12 logged dives. I would really like to see hammerhead sharks but any shark encounter would be amazing. I was initially set on Kicker Rock, but I see now that a lot of people choose Gordon Rocks as one of the best dives sites for land based divers. Given it is more for advanced divers would I be able to book a dive?

Gin
San Diego...
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8 posts
1 review
6. Re: Is this June land itinerary realistic?
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TravelingMomfromNC Thank you so much for these details! I now feel SO much better about staying that last night in Isabella. Btw, what did you guys do with your bags while visiting El Chato/Los Gemelos?

We booked Las Hortensia's Casa De Huespedes in Quito near the airport which seems to have excellent reviews. Their transfer is $8 each way which I thought was a good deal. Does Eb Hotel include the transfer in the hotel price?

Gin
San Diego...
Level Contributor
8 posts
1 review
7. Re: Is this June land itinerary realistic?
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Snaek29 First of all thank you so much for the detailed info in your other posts. I'm definitely printing your tips before my trip and taking them with me!

It's funny because I initially booked flights into and out of Baltra and then changed them last minute in order to see San Cristobal, not fully realizing how tiring the ferries might be. You live and you learn. :)

I definitely want to see Isabella, so I'll have to make it work somehow. I hope I'll be able to add one more day to the trip. I'm waiting for the flight confirmation right now so fingers crossed.

I'll need to consider the two ferries is one day, although I'm leaning towards taking the risk and going in the morning. I'll make sure to report back!

Adelaide, Australia
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416 posts
8. Re: Is this June land itinerary realistic?
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Oh, if you CAN add another day to your trip then that will fix everything and you can forget about my advice about the 2 ferries in 1 day.

DEFINITELY do that if it is all possible and then your trip (while still exhausting by the end of it) will be completely solid without any probable risk whatsoever :)

Jake

Quito, Ecuador
Level Contributor
2,383 posts
139 reviews
128 helpful votes
9. Re: Is this June land itinerary realistic?
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Gin,

You are welcome!

I meant you should book everything in advance since your time frame in every island is too short so you won't have time to go and book anything once you are in the archipelago, when I say everything I mean you should book dives, day trips, hotels, transfers and ferries.

I am an Scuba Diver, If you only have twelve dives then my advice for you will be to just go to Kicker Rock, on that dive you will see on a good day four species of sharks: hammerheads, Galapagos shark and black tip/white tip reef sharks. Apart from that you will see green pacific sea turtles, mobulas, sting rays, tropical fish, sea stars, and of course nudybranks (this is the only place I've seen those in the whole archipelago) at the wall of the old parasitic cone of the ancient Kicker Rock extincted volcano.

For Gordon Rocks you need to have at least 30 dives, that will give you the experience and confidence to dive inside of this washing machine colapsed volcano, the currents there push you down, then up, then side way and then it gests repeated... so I think you should just go first to Kicker Rock which is a more friendly place for beginners. In Gordon you get to see normally big hammerheads, rays and a bunch of beautiful tropical fish.

Saludos cordiales,

Dennis Yépez

Guanguiltagua Expeditions

Charlotte, North...
Level Contributor
114 posts
6 reviews
4 helpful votes
10. Re: Is this June land itinerary realistic?
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We used book-ec to arrange all our transfers (to/from the airport and inter-island ferries), as well as our day tours from Santa Cruz. Our driver picked us up from our hotel and he waited in the car with our luggage while we explored (30-40 minutes at El Chato and 10-15 at Los Gemelos).

Yes, Eb Hotel’s rates do include airport transfer. They were waiting for us when our flight arrived and then picked us up after we got our covid tests at the airport during our layover before our red eye. They are less than 10 minutes from the airport.

Let me know if you have any more questions!

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