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non-diving Galapagos tour


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#1 wetpixel

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Posted 01 May 2003 - 01:27 PM

Hey, guys -

My family wants to go to the Galapagos during early August. Any tips on cruises or vacation packages? They are non-divers, so... it probably will not be a diving trip.

However, I may stay on after they leave to do some diving. Any tips on who I should be contacting? :D

thanks!
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#2 Gerb

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Posted 01 May 2003 - 02:23 PM

We've booked the last week in August on Galapagos Aggressor.
Contact Ken at ultimatedivetravel, Very helpful and professional.
They can probably help you with the land package too.

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#3 MikeO

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Posted 01 May 2003 - 04:13 PM

Ken Weemhoff at Galapagos Adventures is another helpful resource. He has relationships with all the high-priced and standard boats and, if you're more adventurous and cost-conscious (don't know why I'm even saying the words "cost conscious" to a person who owns a 1Ds, but :P . . .), he knows of some of the more "value-priced" options as well. Keep in mind, however, that some of the "value-priced" yachts are not nearly as fancy and may not always be equipped for diving. I booked a trip on Guantanamera with Ken for about $1200 less than what the Aggressor would charge for a 11 day trip. However, there wasn't much area to get onto the pangas to dive and the compressor was strapped onto the back of the boat in a somewhat temporary arrangement (needless to say, no Nitrox, either). Rooms were adequate (latex paint in the showers but a decent enough amount of room and working A/C) and the food was good. It was worth it at the time 'cause there was no way I was going to be able to afford the Aggressor or the Peter Hughes boat. I would think you'd want something a little fancier than that boat for your family unless you enjoyed family camping trips while you were growing up. Ken also has a line on the best guides. However, some of them can be quite "interesting", too. Our guide was quite the schmoozer with the locals in Porto Ayoro, but knew where the Mastercard office was in Guayaquil and knew a good place to eat mud crabs there as well -- long, long story. Buy me a beer sometime and I can tell you all about it . . . Tell Ken exactly what you want and he can find it for you.

Mike

PS Now i suppose your going to say you just have to have a 400mm f4 DO lens for this trip . . . :D

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#4 gofigure?

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Posted 05 May 2003 - 05:06 AM

I'm not sure if you are asking about advice on the non-diving portion, or your possible add-onn adventure, but if the opportunity is there, you MUST take advantage of the diving option.

My last trip there was October '02 and I lead a group aboard the Galapagos Aggressor II. This is a place not to be missed!

Definitely try to travel through Guayaquil instead of Blatra for your connections. Baltras volcanoe (the one they weren't monitoring) upon our departure out of the islands. There is no reason this may happen to you, but Baltra's location is know for weather, geological delays throughout the years. The TAMI flights will bring you through Guay either way, so it saves you a connection by going through there. Have cash ready for the ground crew service fees (pay-offs) for the weight of your luggage - you cannot get around it. Have lots of cash $100/per person for the Island permits upon arrival.

I'm not sure of your research so far, but if you'd like a lot of information on the area, the boats - we checked out Guantanamera, Nemo, Peter Hughes, and Aggressor, and our topside and aquatic experiences, I'll be glad to share. (MikeO, did you happen to have a resident sea lion in the Guantanamera's panga?).

Our trip was really incredible, and if you are staying for the diving, YOU ABSOLUTELY MUST be on the boats that travel to Wolf and Darwin!! The more time there, the better! Our trip there was 2 weeks and was filled with Seal Lions, Penquins (though very few), Fur Seals, Whale Sharks - 14 encounters, some multiple on each dive and 8 differnect species), the Frog Fish were really amazing (even after places like Bonaire), sea horses multicolored, Mobula Rays, Eagle Rays, Cow Rays, Manta Rays, Hammerheads, Whitetips, Galapagos Sharks, Dolphins, photo loving eels, and millions of all kinds of fish inbetween!

I had huge expectations for myself and for the group I had along after 2 years of planning and it was the one place that totally delivers! I can't wait to go back!

Let me know if you want more info, or PM me and I'll get together a thorough report, my advice, etc. Whatever I can do to help, you all have been really great to me on the forum, it would be my pleasure to offer something in return.

#5 MikeO

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Posted 05 May 2003 - 03:59 PM

Definitely try to travel through Guayaquil instead of Blatra for your connections



Actually, this statement is incorrect. Baltra is the airport in the Galapagos that TAME flies into. No way around flying into Baltra. Did you mean to say connect through Guayaquil instead of Quito? While it is true that the TAME flight goes from Quito to Guayaquil and then to the Galapagos (Baltra), Quito still has a bit more to offer a tourist wanting to spend tim on the mainland than does Guayaquil. If you have no desire to explore mainland Ecuador, then you might as well spend the night in Guayaquil to avoid having to get up so early to fly out. However, Guayaquil ain't a real pretty place . . .

No resident sea lion on the Guantanamera panga . . .

I concur on the baggage charges. Our guide promised to take care of the luggage charges upon departure. However, there was this guy from New Jersey on our trip who was a bit, how to put this, forceful. He was ahead of me in the "scam the luggage people" line and managed to upset them slightly. So, our guide, having worked the luggage folks for Mr. New Jersey, had to work for quite a while to get me through for $30. Not bad considering it cost me much more than that at the luggage counter in Guayaquil going out there.

Wolf and Darwin are pretty incredible. However, there is a lot to see on the other dives as well. For example, I thought Cousins Rock was quite nice as there were tons of sea lions there and lots of long-nosed hawkfish as well. You can't go there and not dive . . .

Mike

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#6 gofigure?

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Posted 06 May 2003 - 04:46 AM

Oops, my bad. That's what I meant to say, go through Guay. instead of Quito. (Everyone must go through Baltra) It's early and switching to decaf on a day of a post is not a smart idea. (Decaf, doesn't cut it!) For a stay in Quito to see the sights is nice, though I just assumed that he was spending enough money to take his family to the Islands in the first place. The possibility of staying on for diving would be a better way to spend his funds (IMHO), than for an extended stay, extra time spent, the extra flight connection, all related to Quito. Sightseeing then can be planned with yet another trip, but instead to Costa Rica with your family and then an extra add-on to Cocos island for your diving. :P

Letting our transfers representative talk with the airport baggage crew really made the difference in our favor in the cost of the extra luggage weight restrictions. On the way back, the Aggressor crew was also very helpful in being the negotiator. Being humble, kind, and respectful of others and their country goes a long way to being treated well, I think all would agree?!

I agree, Cousin's Rock is a great spot. At Cousins we we're able to find many sea horses, frog fish, and turles galore! Also both sea lions and fur seals, and a verfy large school of cow rays there (16-18 caught on video). We also did a night dive there, and it's a perfect spot for it and multlevel your profile. Also in the south we found eagle rays (as well as in the north) and 2 mantas who loved coming close. All the dives have some really great video, and the opts are abundant. But having said that, my opinion is that it is still much more rewarding in the Northern Islands because of the overall variety and abundance and the underwater action clearly outweighed what was in the south. (Others traveling at different times may have other experiences). The northern islands though being centered around diving (which is why I went to the Galapagos) really put an explanation point for making making the journey. If the possibilty is there, spending as much time at Wolf and Darwin is great for the time of year that you are there - it is Whale Shark season. You will have spent a great time with your family topside in the southern islands, and so you will have had your fill - now you just need to add diving. More time spent in the south means going on even more land excursions. When will be the next time you have the opportunities and the time of year, and the money to see the northern islands? If not any time soon, take advantage of it, it could really pay off!

#7 wetpixel

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Posted 08 May 2003 - 05:08 PM

THANKS, guys, for all your help. I'm close to figuring something out. :P
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