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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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
BEST TRIP EVER!!!!!! I want to go back!I LOVED THE TRIP!! Our tour guide was phenomenal, and was extremely attentive and taught me so much about Ecuador and the Galapagos! I felt super safe under his care, and would one million percent recommend the trip to others, and go back again! Great Service, thanks so much.
Worth it- if you're willing to fight for itThis was an amazing trip...when we didn't follow the EF itinerary. My group fought for months to be able to go scuba diving in the islands, see Tortuga Bay and generally have the trip we paid for. The EF itinerary was mostly looking at churches and villages (all ~2 hours from the hotel, hello long bus rides). The EF food was a lot of sandwiches and semi-american food with some plantains thrown in; best food of the trip was street food when we skipped out on the EF dinner. The significant amount of planned time in the gift shops of the places we ate, or the villages we visited, was odd. Our last day consisted of visiting a hummingbird forest, walking along an Amazon tributary, and relaxing in volcano heated hot springs - the EF plan was to drive two hours to see yet another village.
TL;DR it's a great trip if you fight EF to put fun things on the itinerary.
Great experience, but room for improvementThough this tour presents a wonderful opportunity to visit the Galapagos Islands, three days at the actual islands is not enough time to see much of the natural beauty and fascinating wildlife to be found there. Adding to this problem is the fact that almost half the time available for daylight activities is spent on a boat being transported between islands.
After my trip I feel that I have seen a good portion of the towns and outskirts of towns of the main islands, but not much of the wild places. I would suggest to either extend time spent on the islands, and/or make the trip yacht-based as opposed to hotel-based. This way much of the travelling between islands can be done at night while people are sleeping.
I do understand the added expense that will be involved in making the trip yacht-based, but in my view, if you are going to go to all the effort and cost to get people to the Galapagos in the first place, you might as well present them with an experience that won't leave them wondering about what lies beyond the town's horizon.
These criticisms should not be taken to mean that the overall experience is a negative one. The towns, breeding centers and swimming beaches that we did visit were all wonderful and enjoyed by everyone, but it was the wild places that we were most yearning for!