I've found previous posts on trips very useful so thought I'd share my recent trip
KLM flight from Norwich to Guayaquil via Amsterdam, note the plane stops in Quito on the way then it's a short hop to Guayaquil, this is better as the Galapagos connection goes via Guayaquil anyway so there's no benefit to staying in Quito which is also at altitude. (tip-if you fancy splurging then see if there's a deal to upgrade to business at the Amsterdam transfer desk, you may be able get a deal on a late upgrade)
Spending a full day in Guayaquil is recommended as it helps you get into the time zone (also if your luggage gets delayed by 1 day like mine was you have a bit more leeway). I had an enjoyable day wandering the city, the Malecon walk along the river is good and there is also a small free park with Iguanas adjacent to a fantastic Cathedral. Stayed the 2 nights at Hotel Oro Verde, great hotel with a fantastic choice for breakfast; the other real bonus here is the great Wifi which made FaceTime home very easy.
The boat stops in Santa Cruz on the last day after the diving has ended and I highly recommend jumping ship there and extending your stay for 3 or so days to do some land tours rather than overnight back to San Cristobal for the flight home
I did the Plaza tour and Santa Fe tour, both were very similar and if I chose again I would only do Santa Fe, on both tours we saw similar; I would replace one with North Seymour which has a larger breeding colony of Boobies.
Note the tours seem to consist of circa 1.5 hours on the island & always a snorkelling trip so if like me you've been diving for a week try and get a tour without this!
Isabela Island is highly recommended by most travellers I met if you can spare the 2-3 days needed to get over there and sightsee
Experience of current diving, negative entries and backward rolls from pandas (ribs) are essential.
Nitrox certified whilst not essential given how far you are from the nearest recompression chamber is highly advised especially with up to 4 dives per day, also makes it easier for the crew refilling cylinders as they only have 1 gas to contend with.
You do feel an element of responsibility toward the whole group as any incident up at Wolf/Darwin would effectively wipe out 2 full days of diving for everyone.
Water temperatures range from 17 to 22 degrees (at least 3 dives were 17 degrees for the full 45 minutes).
Dives are limited to 45-50 minutes which works well as that generally ensures the whole group (max 8 per DM) ascends at the same time. I used a 6.5mm semi dry in May for every dive with Lavacore hood & gloves (mainly for holding on to rocks in the current) and nearly all the other divers used similar protection or 2 piece wetsuits, don't underestimate the cold as you can be stationery for some time.
Galapagos Sky Boat
Fantastic service, the food is extremely good and evening meals are not repetitive, the crew work extremely hard to make sure you have a great experience and the camaraderie between them is obvious and makes for a great week.
After every dive there are dry towels, a hot shower available on the dive deck and one of the crew waiting with a hot drink and home-made nibbles!
Truly amazing, the Galápagos exceeds expectations; after the week we tried to come up with our number 1 experience and failed, there were 5-6 outstanding moments and everything else wasn't too bad either.
19 dives in all including 1 night dive with 11 of them at Wolf & Darwin, these 2 islands are the main reason for going and stand head & shoulders above the other dives.
Always luck of the draw but we saw over 20 hammerheads in one school, loads of Galápagos Sharks, Silkies, a 10 metre Whaleshark, massive shoals of tuna & jacks being fed on, snorkelling with dolphins.
The other highlights were Red Lipped Bat Fish, Marine Iguanas, Rays, 1 Mola Mola and interactions with Sea Lions.
Safety was taken very seriously with comprehensive briefs and all divers issued with GPS trackers and air horns that attach to your bcd hose
The crew and dive guides often went the extra mile with little things such as the snorkelling with Dolphins & Silky sharks and a panga ride to some caves, though we were blessed with some pretty calm seas making this possible. I suspect this isn't offered on every trip as it depends on the crew and importantly the nature / behaviour of the guests towards them.
You also get a tour to see the Giant Tortoises and Bartolome island which are both well worth it.
Go Pros were used by a number of the group and I would certainly look to take one in the future on the top of my camera housing as the majority of the fish / marine life can be fast moving, my EM10 with 12-40mm lens coped well & was a good compromise as I did not think very wide angel was needed often, managed to get some reasonable shots (for me anyway)
The only minor niggle in my opinion is the implied 10% tip, whilst I recognise this is apparently industry norm I’d suggest the majority of live-aboards cost nowhere near as much and tipping is so subjective (why tip in one area of industry but not another?)
Edited by grahamz, 05 June 2016 - 09:09 AM.