We recently returned from an week on the M/Y Letty. As you may be aware, Ecoventura operates three sister ships which are virtually identical. Apparently Ecoventura also tries to match up guests with similar profiles onto each Yacht, i.e., we were switched from the M/Y Eric to the Letty and were with a group of active adults, the families with children where on the Flamingo, and a whole family group was on the Eric. We rarely overlapped on land or snorkeling with the other boats. That was a great service provided by Ecoventura and made our trip one of the best of my lifetime.
We arrived in Quito two days before our sailing and toured Quito and Otavalo in the Highlands. (I will review that in the Quito forum.) We stayed at the Mansion del Angel which was also wonderful. We dined at the Theatrum, which was very nice as well. Upon delivery to the Quito airport, an Ecoventura representative was at the ticket counter to take care of us and our bags. Everything flowed seamlessly. We were given our ship assignments and airline tickets as well as park passes, etc. The flight from Quito to Guayaquil to the Galapagos was fine on Aerogal, even serving a breakfast along the way!
Arrival at San Cristobal was again well organized with the Ecoventura Naturalists there to escort us to a bus and then to the ship. After clearing the airport we were on the M/Y Letty for lunch and off to our first snorkel within the hour. Our bags were taken care of by Ecoventura from the time we got to the Quito airport and were waiting for us in our stateroom on the Letty. We were on the Dolphin deck and the stateroom was more than adequate for being on a yacht. One suggestion would be to bring a duffel bag type luggage that does not have a hard bottom. Ours had a wheeled hard bottom that did not store well in the closet. The M/Y Letty was excellently maintained, clean, and spacious. The sun deck had plenty of shade or sun as you desired. Adequate storage was in our stateroom with a few underbed drawers, a nightstand and a closet with a couple of shelves. Hanging hooks are in the rooms, but we did occasion stretch out a clothes line to dry undies and socks. (The high tech travel underwear from packlite.com are really comfortable and clean and dry quickly. I brought three pair for the trip and it worked out great. I was concerned with the price initially, but I think they are worth it if you travel.) Hanging out wet clothes on deck, or in the sun dried things amazingly fast despite the high humidity. We took mostly very light weight, high tech, UV resistant clothes, which dried quickly and packed well. No need for formal attire, spent much of the time in a bathing suit.
The first stop was to get into the water and try out your snorkel gear. The beach was nice and we were met by sea lions. After the beach we headed out to view the sunset and Split rock and it’s birds. Then it was cruising the night away on the way to Genovesa. The yacht does rock and roll a bit across the open ocean, so if you are prone to seasickness, take your appropriate medication, just remember some of them give you a bit of drowsiness (which can help you sleep) but also give some people a ‘hang-over.’ We have no problems with seasickness and did just fine throughout the trip, but there were a couple nights when you felt like you might get rolled out of bed!
Each day we had a pleasant wake up call over the PA, breakfast and then off to snorkel or hike. The island landings were simple, some wet and some dry. One gentleman with a lot of large expensive camera equipment apparently didn’t understand that a wet landing meant that you might get wet and did not bring any bags for his camera gear! Please bring a water proof backpack or bag with some large plastic bags to protect your gear. He did end up dropping one camera in the water, but he had several back-ups. Lesson learned! The staff really tries to make it easy and safe for you, but these are rugged islands and a very active vacation!
The hikes were hot and humid, but the pace was very acceptable. Neither my wife or myself are in the best of physical condition, but we had no problems keeping up. Did occasional feel like we were melting however! It was quite enjoyable to have a snorkel trip after working up a sweat while hiking. We wore either tennis shoes or Keene closed toe sandals (water-proof) and had no problems. Water shoes for the wet lands or beach walks were good as well. On board we either went barefoot or wore flipflops. Some people were happy with hiking boots, but I don’t think they are required for the trails.
Animals, fish, plants & landscapes of the Galapagos are amazing. If you are a person who likes to take photos, expect to take a thousand photos over the week. Some people seemed to take that many a day! Just depends on your interests. I took a small netbook and downloaded photos each night as a backup, as well as a flashdrive. Taking decent photos is pretty easy when you have such cooperative subjects.
Each day we generally did two activities in the morning and again in the afternoon after a short siesta. It is a very ACTIVE trip. The ongoing joke was “ you have 15 minutes to get ready for the next adventure.” Our guides were Gabby and Ceci and they were out-of-this-world fantastic! Their knowledge, caring and concern were unbeatable. They were always available to answer any question, provide some entertainment at the briefings each night, or just lend a hand with anything. Hat’s off to their professionalism! We enjoyed their company and knowledge. It was also very nice having a naturalist to guest ratio of 10:1 which makes it more personable than the standard 16:1 of most other trips. Each night they did a briefing of the next day’s activities which was always entertaining.
The itinerary with Ecoventura was comprehensive and wonderful. We were able to see most everything that the Galapagos has to offer. We have absolutely no complaints about the entire trip. The crew of the M/Y Letty were super. The hard working crew were there to clean your stateroom, make you a refreshing drink or snack and good meals. The deck hands and Captain were there to see to your every need and keep you safe and happy. The food was very good, maybe not gourmet, but certainly very good with a daily selection of fish, chicken, pork or beef. Lots of vegetables and fruits as well. We certainly never went hungry!
They provided wetsuits and snorkeling gear that was of good quality. We never used the wet suit as the water was comfortable in all but one location. A rashguard suit was adequate and really helped with the sun protection. I would highly recommend taking a rash guard suit for snorkeling. Some guys wore their baseball caps turned backwards while snorkeling to prevent a sunburned head. The sun was quite intense. Bring plenty of sunscreen. I used a Canon underwater Powershot D10 camera and it took great photos and videos. It was definitely better than the disposables, especially if you can surface dive down a little way. Do bring several cleaning clothes for your camera lenses. ( I used a digital 35mm SLR Canon on land with a 70-300mm zoom that worked well, and used the point and shoot pocket camera for larger landscape type photos. While I brought a small waterproof set of binoculars, I rarely used them. A waterproof backpack from Cabela’s served me well and made carrying lots of drinking water, photo equipment, towels, etc. easy and safe.)
I am very glad that we chose Ecoventura. The ship size was perfect for us. Twenty passengers with two Naturalists aboard was great. We made new friends that hopefully we will see again. I would not have been comfortable on a 100 person ship. They provided us with truly a trip of a lifetime.
I also want to recognize and acknowledge Heather from CNH Tours who did all of our trip planning with us. She was a great asset and worked with us to set up the perfect trip. She arranged everything from our pick up at the airport in Quito until our departure. And everything went smoothly and flawlessly. A huge Thanks to Heather. We could not have done it without her. I would recommend both Heather and Ecoventura without reservation!