The islands are beautiful! The accommodations are very basic - if you like nice hotels, not the place for you. I would suggest not getting the food package... the food is very basic and repetitive. Same meal almost every time.
The Galapagos is amazing! Go! I believe this tour company farms out to local tour groups. My day tours were great and I LOVED snorkeling and hiking each day. But communication on the 2nd part of my tour wasn't always the best. And dinner is at the same 2 places. I would have liked a variety of restaurants instead of 1/ island you stay on. I'd do it again in a heartbeat! My only regret is not spending more time there!
We were very impressed at the way they kept all the various people going to their various activities! Food was simple and plentiful. Rooms were roomy and comfortable, but don't expect five star by American standards, plumbing, etc. is NOT the same. All the staff went out of their way to make sure we were well cared for. Even though we booked English speaking the accents can be tough, but remember they are doing you a favor speaking a foreign language so you don't have to learn Spanish! We thought they were great!
For a first time trip to the Galapagos, the tour could not have gone smoother. The itinerary was accurate and the tour handlers and guides were prompt, attentive, polite, courteous, and incredibly helpful. Our contact, Theo, was there to greet us at the airport and made sure we made it to Puerto Ayora. Our hotel in Puerto Ayora was the Hotel Fernandina. The hotel was quiet, clean, and comfortable. The staff were incredibly friendly and helpful. The meals were tasty and filling.
Our first tour to the Charles Darwin Research Station was on our first day. Our guide, Cesar, was very friendly and informative. He pointed out all the various flora and fauna along the way and made sure we got to see everything we could. The Charles Darwin Research Station was a great introduction to the islands. We got to see the various baby tortoise populations -- the younger ones age 1-2 were all in covered pens for their safety and the older ones age 2-4 all had their color coded numbers on them and were roaming around their habitats. There were several older tortoises there too as part of the breeding center. Make sure to get your passport stamped at the interpretive center. The tour consisted of just my wife and I and Cesar.
Day 2 - snorkeling at Santa Fe-our tour guide, Wlison, met us at the tour shop where we got wet suits and snorkels. We boarded the boat with a group of 8 adults, 3 children, and 3 crew. It took us about 45 minutes to get out to the island. The seas were a bit rough, so if prone to seasickness, take medicine. We cut the motors near the shore and we drifted past several of the native birds that nest on the rocks: blue footed boobies, Galapagos gulls, and a few others. We dropped anchor and snorkeled just off shore. The rocks near shore were teeming with all sorts of fish. It was like swimming in an aquarium. Amazing. We stayed there about 45 minutes or so, got back on the boat and moved to the bay on the island. This tour didn't have a permit to go ashore, but we were able to snorkel in the bay near seal lions. We ate grilled tuna on board before heading back. The seas were too rough to dock at the hidden beach, so we returned to Puerto Ayora. We explored the city with our free time before dinner. The Laguna de las Ninfas was a hidden gem!
Day 3 - Tortuga Bay - Cesar was our guide again for the trek down to the beach. It's about a 30-40 minute walk through the dry forest to the beach. The initial beach is ocean facing with rough waves. There were several abandoned sea turtle nests. At the end of the beach there was a big population of marine iguanas. Just through the mangroves was the beach in the bay -- calm waters and soft sand! A sea lion swam parallel to the beach about 10 meters off shore. Very pleasant.
After lunch we took the boat to Isla Isabela. Again, take medicine if you get sea sick. This was a rough ride due to the winds and sea end of June. We arrived in Puerto Villamil and we were greeted by our guide, Josef. We dropped off our luggage at La Laguna Hotel and went over to the Flamingo Lagoon on the west edge of town. Lots of other birds were there too: moor hens, stilt birds, various ducks, as well as several flamingos. La Laguna Hotel was very nice - again the staff was wonderful, and the room was clean and comfortable.
Day 4 - a bit of sea sickness caused us to skip the volcano hike. We revisited the flamingo lagoon and hiked all the way back to the tortoise breeding center 1km Here were several species of tortoises from Isabela -- breeding pairs, babies, and adolescent tortoises were there - covered pens for the 1-2 year olds, and large open air enclosures for the others.
After lunch we snorkeled with Josef in the Concha de Perla lagoon. Saw marine iguanas swimming, sea lions, rays, and several species of fish. Mostly calm, some areas of currents fun! and some really deep areas.
Day 5 - Wetlands -- a slight mix up with another set of travelers getting on the wrong tour caused a slight delay, but all good. We drove out west of town and hiked out towards the Wall of Tears. Several stops along the way for beaches, marine iguanas, and lava tunnels before we got to the tortoises. Saw 2 in the wild!
After lunch, we took a boat out to the Tintoreras Islet. On the way we saw penguins swimming with sea turtles and sea lions, and a colony of blue footed boobies close to the harbor. On Tintoreras, we hiked to the fissure where the white tipped sharks were relaxing. Tiny fissure, but filled with sharks! More than a dozen just floating around. Around the corner, we came across a beach with several adolescent sea lions and their parents. Snorkeling on the way back was in the bay and saw several sea turtles and a sea lion.
Day 6 - Back to the airport with a stop at Los Gemelos -- cool collapse craters overgrown with lush greenery. Saw a Galapagos owl here!
Overall, a great introduction to the Galapagos!!
A great way to visit the islands if you are on a budget. A very active itinerary, which I loved, allows you to maximize your time and see a lot in 6 days. Rebecca Adventure Travel does a great job and your guides help you every step of the way during your trip. You won't be disappointed!