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The GalapagosI had the opportunity to travel to the Galapagos. The experience took me out of my comfort zone. It was inspiring to see the natural world and I really really enjoyed my time there.
Between the islands of the archipelago was open ocean - I couldn't see land in any direction. The waves were so big, the experience redefined my definition of turbulence - my body literally went flying. At the same time It was cool being out in the south pacific.
South American cuisine was interesting - it was a combination of fruits I've never had before with fresh sea food and rice. Empanadas were cooked right on the street and were fantastic.
The animals of the Galapagos were rather tame, I literally swam with sea lions, sharks, penguins and sea turtles. Landing on the island was surprising when the flight crews sprayed bug spray in each of the overhead compartments to prevent us from introducing invasive species to the islands - so the entire time one must question and be aware of your impact to the environment. Tourism is limited to a few hundred thousand people each year.
The local population is rather poor. It really made me appreciate things we take for granted. Things such as clean water, modern septic systems, and institutions we have in the United States such as the SPCA.
Leaving this place did leave a mark on me, since it was so beautiful and unspoiled.
I recommend to you:
1. Bring a Camel Backpack - you need a LOT of water
2. Ensure your group leader has a plan for fresh water - a hotel provided my group with bad water one night
3. Ask for more free time. You'll be very busy.
The trip of a LifetimeEf is incredible, I have to say. Three islands in the Galapagos and all their biological diversity. Hikes, the Darwin center, incredible snorkeling. I saw almost all the wildlife I hoped to see (Galapagos Penguin, Blue Footed Boobys, Giant Tortoises, Marine Iguana, 8 species of Darwin finches. There was a host of other wildlife too, the only things we missed were the Land Iguanas and Flightless cormorants (went to the wrong are for that). We ALSO saw Green Sea turtles, White tipped sharks, large rays, and I counted a total of 40 birds species (both on the mainland and the islands) including Condors (very lucky). A great guide to top it off. The hotels were fair to excellent. Then there was the mainland. My students had a great time.
The only negatives included a missed return connection (nothing to do with EF) and a rather poor offering for our non-meat eaters. Hopefully that will be corrected on future tours. Oh, and the crossing between the islands was rough, I mean REALLY rough. Even though we brought medication about a 1/4th of our members got seasick and on the other EF boat like 3/4th were so. Again, not an EF issue, blame Poseidon.
I'm so glad we pulled this off. Thanks a million to all of you at EF for making such a fantastic trip.
IncredibleThis tour was amazing. The guides we had through EF and Galapagos National Park were outstanding and so knowledgable. They gave us so much information about the city of Quito and the islands, but some of my favorite conversations were just the friendly ones we had in passing. Hiking and swimming with animals that I have only dreamed of seeing was an unforgettable experience. The food, the culture, the nature...all of it was vibrant and exciting. Ecuador is an amazing country with so much to offer. Overall, this tour was certainly worth the price and I recommend it to anyone interested.
It's an experience, that's for sureBefore I went on this trip, I was a little nervous with what other people had said about EF and the trip. To be honest, the traveling is necessary to get where you needed to be and see what you needed to see. I felt like it was done very efficiently too. Some of the food did feel a bit "Americanized" but I don't blame them. Some may be picky eaters and may not be as open as they would think about trying new foods. Besides, Ecuadorean pizza is not as bad as you may think. There is always the option of going out on your own and finding your own meals too. As for the trip and what we did. It was a blast. As a young biologist just getting started in the field, I saw animals that I didn't think I would see this early in my career. I would recommend this trip to any young scientist.
Good experienceThe tour was good, but was not prepared for the under development of the areas visited. Also was not prepared for the boat rides between the islands that were so rough most everyone was either sick or not feeling well. On one island the majority of assigned rooms did not have ANY HOT WATER and several rooms had NO air conditioning.Christian, President
EF College Study Tours
Thank you for your feedback about your experience on the Galapagos program. I am sorry to hear that your group did not feel prepared enough for your experience and the travel accommodations like the hotel and transportation did not align with your expectations. I understand that a rough boat ride can be uncomfortable. We always strive to provide the best experience for every traveler. We understand that there is always room to improve communication during the planning process and before your departure. We would love to hear more from you to continue to improve our customer experience and your feedback is very valuable to us. Please don't hesitate to give us a call at (877) 485-4184 or to email me at Christian@ef.com.
Need to be better preparedGalapagos is exciting, but participants need to be prepared for an undeveloped country with poor infrastructure. Also, travel between islands in a small boat can be very rough and create sickness.Christian, President
EF College Study Tours
Thank you for your feedback about your experience on the Galapagos program. I am sorry to hear that your group did not feel prepared enough for your experience and the travel accommodations did not align with your expectations. We always strive to provide the best experience for every traveler. We understand that there is room to improve communication during the planning process, and your feedback is very valuable to us. We would love to hear more from you to continue to improve our customer experience. Please don't hesitate to give us a call at (877) 485-4184 or to email me at Christian@ef.com.
Greatest Trip EverI thought that this trip was amazing. I seriously enjoyed every minute of it. The wildlife was amazing, the landscape was beautiful and the culture was fascinating. The only complaint that I have, is that it was a lot of traveling in such a short time span. I wished there was a day on the tour to just relax and do whatever I wanted to do on the islands. I would love to go back to Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands one day!
Cool tripThis was a really great trip with many great experiences. The guides, the main guide especially, really made this trip. They made all the experiences very enjoyable, and prepared us well.
Islands of awesomenessOverall, we had a fantastic experience. I mean you can't walk away from snorkeling with sea lions and sea turtles and not have an amazing experience. The guide was incredibly knowledgeable and had a great rapport with both students and leaders and kept everything organized and that kept stress levels as low as possible for myself. The local guides were also excellent.
The activities and breaks were well paced. Most activities were either fun, informative, or both.
My suggestions for improvements would be to (1) have more endemic foods and (2) include more trips related to the interest of the students. Several nights we had pizza or spaghetti and we are in the land of ceviche! I would have cut out the trip to the museum at the Equator. If anything, maybe someone that can speak about being a native Ecuadorian. And, in the Galapagos, more of the endemic creatures!
Outstanding AdventureThis trip was amazing. We arrived a week earlier than the rest of the group so that we could spend a week in the rain forest of Ecuador. When we finaly met up with the main group we had already been in Quito for a day so the next day of sight seeing and going to curches was a bit much for me. Once we got to the Galapagos though it was game over. Our guides brought us through several areas, however the last island we went to, San Cristobal was by far the most impressive. I have been snorkeling and scuba diving all over the world and this was by far one of my favorite places. The waters were rich with life and the skies were the same. My only complaint was that we didn't spend enough time in the water, though I may have to save that for a return trip. There is a lot of traveling between islands, but that was to be expected. The tour guide was very knowledgable and we even had a delightful staff member of EF join us on our journey.