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The boat is due for a refit next year (2013) so this description will inevitably become out of date, but in November 2012 when we stayed on her, the Angelito’s eight cabins were split between four on the lower deck and four on the upper, with the lounge,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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
In the Galapagos most people take a yacht. After much debate I went on an 8 day 7 night cruise on the Darwin yacht and I found it to be an excellent choice. No luxury here, as it is a tourist class boat, but it was impeccably clean and the service of the friendly staff was excellent.
Rooms are cramped and you sleep in narrow bunkbeds, showers have hot water and there is electricity from a generator 24/7. Great value for money.
The guide was excellent.
We booked the boat via Zenith Ecuador Travel agency www.zenithecuador.com - their prices are very competitive and they were really helpful in arranging the trip and finding the options best suited to us.
CONTINUATION OF THE TRAVEL SLUT'S TOP 25 TIPS FOR CRUISING THE GALAPAGOS ON ISABELA II
14. Each cabin has plenty of storage space for both luggage and clothes and having your snorkel gear remain outside on the deck means no wet spots in the room (hopefully). Also, all electrical plugs are U.S. 110 Volt and there is a great hairdryer in each room
15. A dryer is located on the sun deck behind the Jacuzzi and near the storage area where wetsuits are hung to dry. You can use it for your swimsuits or towels.
16. On one of the days you will probably experience an authentic Ecuadorian lunch which will include such unusual lunch items like suckling pig, popcorn, fresh milk chocolate cookies, baked chips, yellow rice and cerviche.
17. There is a 24 hour coffee machine, cookie box and purified water jug located in the bar area. The ship’s water system makes 7 tons of water daily and water is safe to drink on board.
18. The library contains a TV, DVD (and some DVD movies) and VHS (plus some VHS movies) machines for complimentary use along with many books on the Galapagos Islands and Ecuador.
19. All three of the naturalists are very knowledgeable, easily approachable and always available. (Thanks Jean, Aura and Antonio!)
20. You will experience either “wet” or “dry” landings during excursions to the various islands or to ports. A “wet” landing simply means the panga boat (a 10-12 passenger zodiac, rigid floor pontoon raft) will drive up onto a beachfront area as close as possible to let passengers off. Passengers will sit on top of the pontoons en route to their destination (feet and legs inside the boat) and upon arrival will swing their legs over the side of the pontoons and step into the water which may be knee deep or ankle deep. You will want to have watershoes or aquasocks or some waterproof footwear for this. A “dry” landing means the panga boat will pull up to an actual dock area or location where your 1st step off the boat will be on either dry land or a pier.
21. Cash is required for gratuities for all the naturalists (USD $10/day is suggested) and the bartender ($7 per passenger is suggested) but your crew gratutities can be added to your shipboard account.
22. Try to stargaze with the naturalists one clear night while on board. It is an amazing experience to be able to see both the Big Dipper system from the Northern Hemisphere and the Southern Cross from the Southern Hemisphere at the same time in different parts of the night sky.
23. The Captains farewell dinner is nicely presented and you will be seated with at least one member of the ship’s crew.
24. Remember also that an Ecuadorian departure tax is required and must be paid in cash USD $37.90 at the airport.
25. The time it takes to disembark, panga-ride to the Baltra docks, bus to the Baltra airport, check in, and fly to either Quito or Guayaquil, is nearly a full day so don’t have anything major planned.
The Travel Slut® Top 25 Tips for the Yacht Isabela II- Galapagos cruiseship for 2007
I was a guest in Cabin #2 from June 12 to June 17, 2007 and here are some suggestions or comments for anyone that might be considering a trip on the Isabela II ship (yacht)
1. Wake up calls consist of soft music over the in-room public address system speakers at 7 a.m. each morning. You cannot stop it or turn it down for 10 minutes and it is much more pleasant than a startling phone call, buzzer or alarm.
2. To obtain very hot shower water, be sure to retract the black button on the right side (cold) shower faucet while turning the left side (hot) fully until it stops. Otherwise you will be showering in lukewarm water.
3. Use caution on the cabin deck stepping over the hatch doors leading upstairs to the sun deck or downstairs to reception as the thresh holds are over 12 inches high.
4. There is free internet on board with 2 computers located in the library between the dining room and reception area. There are no rules for use (open 24 hours) but it is always busy before and after meals and first thing in the morning, last thing at night.
5. When the ship is not docked or at anchor, the engine noise at cruising speed is quite loud in the bar area making conversation difficult. However, I did not experience any significant engine noise on the cabin deck in my cabin #2 (near the bow and bridge) and would recommend you book a room at the front of the ship rather than at the rear. Always bring earplugs just in case and they may also used for airplanes, etc.
6. The ship has a well-stocked bar and very friendly bartender (thanks Lelis!) and it is open all evening. There is also a gift cabinet (shirts, hats, souvenirs, etc) and sundry cabinet (medicine, toiletries, sunscreen, etc.) near reception.
(SEE BELOW FOR CONTINUATION)
7. Be sure to check the daily schedule on the bulletin board in the reception area near the entrance to the dining room for all daily activities and announcements The hotel manager is VERY nice and VERY helpful when needed (thanks Macario!) and all announcements are also made on the Public Address system as they occur.
8. There usually is a full-time medical doctor on board and there is no charge for any of his limited services (seasickness, minor cuts, etc).
9. An ice machine is located under the sink in the sun (top) deck outdoor kitchen at the ship’s stern. There are also adequate tables and chairs plus chaise lounges.
10. There is an “open bridge” policy 24/7 and also an open door policy to all cabins. There are no locks or keys to the cabins but safe deposit boxes are available inside each room. You should not be packing expensive items like jewelry for the Galapagos anyway.11. After all water activities, the hot tub/Jacuzzi is fully occupied rather quickly with people warming up so if you really want to hot tub, be sure to be one of the 1st to get onto one of the panga (zodiac) boats back to the Isabela II, remove your life preserver and wetsuit quickly, stow your snorkel bag, rinse off all sand and salt water, grab a towel (or take yours with you) and then proceed upstairs to the sun deck as quickly as possible.
12. The ship is easy to get around as there are really only three decks and the orientation to the ship and procedures the first day were both extensive and informative. 20 cabins, 40 passengers, 27 crew.
13. Breakfast and lunch are always buffet style and dinner has a sit-down menu with complimentary wine poured. The service was very attentive, meals delicious and beautifully presented.
CONTINUED ON NEXT TIP
Cant complain about the accomodations. We were on the Sky dancer which is a Peter Hughes charter. The food was good enough, and the boat ran on a tight schedule. So most every day during the week was full of diving, snorkeling hiking, followed by dinner and an open bar. Well worth the $$$$'s spent on this outing.... (and being there is nary a hotel most of the islands we visited, a live aboard was pretty much the only option out here.....)
Some of the divers who would be on our dive boat were booked at this hotel instead of the Solymar, so although I didn't stay there, I got a good look at the place. It's somewhat more expensive than the Solymar, but the facilities are a little more upscale.
This is a pleasant looking hotel both from the street and inside the grounds. When you step in off the street you are in the open-air bar/restaurant part. Passing behind this public area you come to the swimming pool, indoor dining room and the guest wing. It is on the opposite side of the road from the bay.
The photo was taken from the door of the dining room.
This hotel has the convenience of an on-site restaurant.
This is a very simple place with just a few rooms accommodating from two to four or five people. Some of the rooms have ocean views, and all have private bathrooms.
The hotel is located on the shoreline road between the pier (a ten-minute walk) and the Charles Darwin research station (a five-minute walk). Restaurants and shops can be found along the road in either direction.
The sundeck in front of the block of rooms is a great place to sit and get your first impressions of Galapagos wildlife. Marine iguanas bask on the concrete, brown pelicans perch on the pilings, and a great blue heron patrols the entire patio area.
The boatramp in the photo lies between the two decks of the hotel. One deck is visible in the background, and I was standing three steps in front of the door to my room on the other deck when I took the picture.
Because we planned to visit the far northern islands of Darwin and Wolf, requiring a 20-hour voyage from Santa Cruz, we needed to be on a liveaboard dive boat. Liveaboards, are, in fact, the most common way to visit the islands.
The boat we sailed on, the Daphne, is neither a backpacker-class boat with shared bathrooms nor a luxurious boat with waiters in the dining room, but the crew will do anything and every thing to make your stay aboard enjoyable.
The Daphne has 8 cabins with bunk beds and private bathrooms. I think the best cabins are the ones aft on the bridge deck since they have both an ocean view and a somewhat larger bottom bunk bed (two can actually sleep in it if they cuddle). I had a cabin on the bridge deck, but fore, and as I had the top bunk, I was in the highest place in the boat to (try) to sleep. When we sailed overnight on rough seas, I didn't get much sleep because I was always thinking I was going to be jolted right off the very narrow bed and onto the floor. (You can see how narrow the bunk is for me by checking out the photo.)
The boat has a lounge/living room area where there is a small collection of nature and fish books about wildlife in the islands. There is also a television/DVD player if you feel like watching a movie to pass the time while covering the distance between one island visit and the next.
The dining room serves as the bar area when meals are not being served. Sometimes the DM rigs up a boom box for some salsa dancing (not so easy on a rocking boat, but fun), and if you get some of the local cane rum while you're ashore, the barman will fix up buckets of caipirinhas to make you believe you're a better dancer than your are, LOL.
And last, but not least, there is a small dive deck with racks for the air tanks and places to hang wetsuits as
well as to store fins, booties, and other essentials.
Although this is technically not accommodation in the traditional sense and is more a tour I would still like to recommend the M.V. San Jose boat as a brilliant way to see the Galapagos Islands.
It is a modern First Class vessel and has a comfortable lounge and dining area, as well as a sun deck where you can view the wildlife or just kick back and relax. It has eight air-conditioned twin cabins with private facilities and yet, at 34 metres, it was small enough for us to offer an individual level of service. It’s just perfect for a more personal look at these amazing islands.
You may be able to sail on the San Jose through other companies, but we booked through Peregrine Adventures/Geckos.
Lindblad and National Geographic offer a remarkable Galapagos experience. The MS Islander is a luxurious and intimate way to experience the best of what these Islands have to offer. Go out and experience the best of nature and then come back to the boat to be pampered!
The itinnerary was immaculately planned, with each day better than the one before!
Sort by: Most recent | Most helpful