I would totally recommend the Anahi catamaran boat cruise. It hosts 16 people which makes for a nice small group while your cruise the Galapagos Islands. Great food and service. For a boat cruise, it was very clean. This particular boat has a bar, jacuzzi, and a sun deck up top if you just want to laze around.
Best part about this boat is that it's spacious so even if you want some alone time to capture some of the great views out on the waters you can do that.
If you are doing a land based trip this is the place to stay.
The rooms with Red Mangrove were all very clean, comfortable and spacious. The lodges on Santa Cruz and Isabela Islands had remote controlled air conditioning, a twin and a double bed and a large shower with a great shower head. The meals served as a buffet at the Red Mangrove were all delicious with a nice variety. I especially enjoyed all the fresh fruit everyday!
The little cabin on Floreana Island was harder to keep cool, but still had an air conditioner, two twin beds, a smaller bathroom and less water pressure. The food on Floreana Island was provided by the Cruz family at their restaurant in town (just a short bus drive from the cabins) and was excellent. If you get to stay on Floreana for several nights be prepared to have the same meal (tuna, rice, vegetables, salad, soup and fried yucca) each night.
Great views were found at all three Red Mangrove Lodges. On Santa Cruz a couple of sea lions and a dozen marine iguanas and sally lightfoot crabs spend quite a bit of time hanging out on the deck outside the restaurant, so that offers some nice close-up shots! On Floreana the cabins are facing the pacific ocean so the views are gorgeous and offer opportunities to see pacific green turtles poke their heads up on a regular basis and a nice variety of birds can be seen around the cabins. On Isabela the resort is on beach front property, so you have a very short stroll to the ocean and are sure to see a variety of birds and maybe even a sea lion or two!
Sometimes I mark the box next to "Luxury". We explored the Galapagos on the Expedition, a small luxury ship that only has room for 96 passengers. When we arrived there was chilled champagne waiting for us in the room. This made unpacking less of an annoyance. I was also able to test out my new GoPro camera. Which is why the wall looks like it curves. I am sure there are more expensive ways to explore the Galapagos. There was one yacht in the harbor with its own helicopter.
We were very happy indeed with our choice of the Angelito for our Galápagos cruise, as were all the others in our group it seemed. She isn’t a luxury vessel, but she is solidly built (entirely from wood), owned (and crewed) by locals, and provides a friendly, comfortable setting that we believed helped our group to gel and absolutely fitted the unique atmosphere of this special part of the world.
The Angelito accommodates 16 passengers in 8 cabins, all of which (at present) have bunk beds. This is one factor that keeps the price of her cruises lower than it might otherwise be. The interest-levels of the itineraries and quality of guiding, the two most important factors in your enjoyment of a Galápagos cruise, are undoubtedly high. Unusually for a boat in her class, the guides are qualified to the top level (level three) and the boat can and does travel to some of the further flung islands (such as, in our case, Genovesa). Almost as important, the service you receive on board is of a similarly high standard, with plenty of tasty food served by a super-friendly chef and a helpful and ever-smiling crew. The shared public areas are more than adequate for the number of passengers, with a lounge space inside and seating on a covered aft deck and open foredeck. There’s a bar with an honesty system for drinks, including a ready supply of beer, and a small reference library of wildlife guides and other reading material.
The boat is due for a refit next year (2013) so this description will inevitably become out of date, but in November 2012 when we stayed on her, the Angelito’s eight cabins were split between four on the lower deck and four on the upper, with the lounge, dining area, bar and galley on the main deck in between (I understand that the plan is to move all cabins to this deck, the shared areas to the upper, and expand accommodation for the crew to fill all of the lower deck). Cabins cannot be pre-booked but are allocated on arrival on board. We were given one on the lower deck, #2. In some ways I was disappointed not to have the large window of an upper deck cabin (we had only two small portholes) but that was the only disadvantage, and on the plus side, these lower cabins are considered to be more stable during a heavy swell. Chris quickly claimed the upper bunk, which I was glad to agree to. We found we had just enough storage space for our belongings, and soon settled into the space. The cabins are compact but you really won’t spend a lot of time in here, other than when sleeping – the public areas are generous enough that you’ll always find somewhere peaceful to sit on the rare occasions when you’re on board and not eating or socialising. My favourite spot to relax and catch up with my diary or read became the aft deck, where the loungers were shaded and the view of Frigatebirds and others following our wake always enticing.
Although on the basic side, all cabins have a small bathroom with toilet, washbasin and shower, and hot water was plentiful at all times. Sheets were changed once during our stay, and towels were generous, both in the cabins and when needed after snorkelling or swimming. If you’re looking for a luxury cruise, the Angelito won’t suit you, but if you want a friendly welcome, top-notch guiding and a genuine Galápagos experience, it’s hard to think it could be bettered!
Next tip: worries about ”Seasickness”
I think it is one of the oldest boats sailing in Galapagos, but it was good enough and the crew and guide greats.
I liked my room at The Jungle Hostel. It was on the second floor with two windows from where I could see the sea. There were two beds, a table, a TV, a bedside table with a lamp, hangers and a bathroom with hot water. And it was very quiet. The price of the room for one person was $20 (July 2011). There are also cheaper rooms available at the hostel.
A good breakfast with bread, butter, jam, eggs, fruits, fresh juice and coffee was included in the price. The fruits were grown on their own land, and the last day I also got a passion fruit.
The Jungle Hostel is situated in the outskirts of Puerto Villamil, on the road to Centro Crianza de Tortugas and only 50 metres from the long white sandy beach.
When I arrived to Villamil and was waiting for my bags to arrive from the boat I heard someone call out my name. To my surprise it was a taxi driver and I got a free ride to The Jungle Hostel (there were also three paying customers in the taxi going to another hotel). Leaving the hostel very early another morning I paid $1 for the taxi ride to the harbour.
La Peregrina was the most expensive place I stayed in during my Ecuador trip, but I wanted to book in advance via email and I also wanted a good location, and I had difficulties finding a cheaper place. The location of La Peregrina is very good. It is located on Av Charles Darwin, near the fish market at Pelican Bay.
The breakfast, which is served between 7 - 9 is also good. There was fruits, fresh fruit juice, eggs, bread, butter, jam and coffee or tea
The room and bathroom was clean and had good space. What I didn’t like was that too much light was coming in to the room from the porch during the night and walls were also quite thin, so I woke up one night only by someone walking by on the porch. A single room was $32 (July 2011).
There is a nice garden with hammocks and there is laundry service.
We spent 4 nights and 5 days in the islands. The food was great, fantastic crew, we saw a huge variety of landscapes and animals and got to snorkel a lot. Every night our guide explained what we'd see the next day and gave us the schedule. The pace was perfect, really active but had a little down time too. We loved our guide! I think it was good value for the money as we did a lot of research before booking. They were really helpful when we emailed or called with questions as we were planning the trip.
The boat was very comfortable with a sun deck on the front where we liked to hang out. Plenty of bottled water. You could refill your canteen for free. Drinks were cheap, about US $2 for a beer. Check out the Comfort Class level, it was really nice. It's not the cheapest but there a many others that are about double this cost.
I paid $1600 for an 8 day stay on the Encantada which includes all meals, guide, facilities and tour of islands. It does not included alcoholic beverages or soda, the entrance park fee ($110 for foreigners) or the flight (depending on the season, $360-400 return on Aerogal, NOOO, or Tame, slightly better).
There are 6 double-share cabins with bunk beds and private bathrooms. There was no hot water when we were on board. AC is central.
Our guide Juan was really great and had an enthusiasm for the islands and its animals and landscape that is impressive for someone who has been guiding for over 30 years! The crew was also really great as well. The food was heart and filling and they were happy to accommodate vegetarians though the options weren't as various or delicious in those cases.
Its a bright red schooner! Only allows for 12 passengers plus 5 crew and guide so it is very intimate and you get more attention from your guide and staff and deal with less crowdy groups when exploring the islands. The passengers tended to be fairly young people (20s and 30s) and we had a great time together!
We had some ideas of where to stay on Isabella but we had run into a couple of Israeli guys we had done a boat trip with on the ferry and they were raving about a camp on the beach that was the cheapest in town. Rather than go through the ordeal of looking for a room again we decided to go with them as the owner offered a “free” ride to her place that was a bit far from the center of town. We were not enthralled with the idea of camping but she had a decent double room for $20 so since our “new friends” were camping there we stayed too. It was very close to the beach and as it turned out virtually right next to the walking path to the tortoise breeding center which went right by the flamingo salt pools. These were after all two of the bigger attractions of the island!
The room was certainly comfortable enough though it was a bit damp due to it not having a proper window (very typical in the Galapagos rooms we stayed) and it being on the beach. Still, it was pretty quiet and the private bath had good hot water and even free shampoo. Breakfast ($2.50) was extra but worth it especially the fresh white pineapple which had to be the best we've ever tasted along with an egg, some bread, butter, and assorted jelly. The coffee, however was typical lame South American fare. Stick with the assorted teas.
After our nightmare night at Hostal Flaminog, I'd found a much better place for $15. It was on the road that we had taken via bus into town but on my way back to get my wife, I stopped in a nice looking place a bit closer to the water. It was called Sir Francis Drake. Again, the woman renting the rooms tried to steer me into a more expensive room but I pressed on and she was down to $30. After some haggling and telling her I would stay for three or four nights, she relented and said $25. Ah, the power of negotiating without your backpack!
The room was very nice with a clean private bath, nice covers, and a table and chairs at which we could have breakfast or enjoy an evening beer if we liked. There was even a TV to watch crazy Ecuadorian soap operas if we got bored! We made sure to set it up so that we could return to the same room on our return from Isabella a couple nights later.
Finding a decent room at a fair price takes more in the Galapagos than any other part of Ecuador. The rooms as a rule are not as good value. From what guidebooks said it would be possible to find a double room for $15 but once on the island I found that to be not the case. All the places mentioned seemed to have doubled their prices since the then one year old guidebook had been published. But I persevered and kept looking. What I found was hotels would have two tiers of rooms to rent. Being gringos we were always offered the higher priced ones but if you pushed a bit you would be shown the rooms without air conditioning. For the record, the Galapagos Islands are not the hottest place on the planet and A/C is not necessary especially during the October cooler period that we were visiting. This was certainly the case with Hostal Flamingo. We had tried the very popular Hostal España only to find them offering us a room for $35 and decided to check this similar looking place across the street. At first, the owner offered us a room in the same price bracket but once we started walking she showed us a cheaper and admittedly decrepit room for $20. Tired of looking and carrying our packs we took it and figured we could find something else easier sans our luggage.
The room seemed okay in the daylight but once the sun went down the awful fluorescent lighting showed it to be a pretty dingy place. The shower in particular was pretty bad. Let's put it this way, it wasn't the kind of room you wanted to linger in! But we made it through the night and the next morning I went out to find better digs.
This was our first cruise. My wife and I loved it. It was only 5 day 4 nights...and boy was it packed. Each day there were two excursions ashore, as well as wonderful meals. We were so busy we hardly had time to visit other aspects of the ship. One night we did lay out under the stars for awhile and tried to figure out what the heck we were seeing (being from the northern latitudes the stars are totally different!).
highly recommend the 110 passenger Legend Cruise Ship. It was expensive...no doubt...and you probably could get by with the 4 day 3 night trip also. I think it would be hard though (and expensive) to take a full week - personally whilst I loved the Iguanas, seven days of them would probably be too much. We definitely loved it...but we were also ready to go when we went.
In addition to your cruise in Galapagos, get a flight to Isabela and stay at Marita's house. What an escape! The folks there speak mostly Spanish but someone will speak whatever you are speaking. We had dinner in 5 languages. They even helped me when my travel plans got twisted. You become a touristy local, which is fun. The food is fresh and delicious. I met terrific people here, making my Galapagos dream amazing even before my cruise. We saw tons of iguanas, swam with sharks and rays, and even saw groups of penguins.
When our boat, the M/C Anahi, broke down due to bad fuel, we had the opportunity to switch to a tourist class boat, the Estrella del Mar... and I strongly suggest you book your cruise on the nicest ship you can afford (or one even nicer). The Estrella del Mar was awful. The guide was burnt out ("I see these birds all the time - I just don't understand what the big deal is"), there wasn't any hot water (the Galapagos is often cold, so this is worse than you might imagine), customer service was almost non-existent, and the food was so bad that after the first meal, my vegetarian beau told them he'd eat anything. The rooms are definitively worse than Motel 6, and the beds don't even have real mattresses. When we arrived, most of the guests were throwing up (the guide's explanation was, "It's a boat, it moves!"), so we made a prompt getaway. The money you'll save on this ship isn't worth it!!
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