Galapagos Trip Report - Eden Yacht
After finally making it to Antarctica earlier this year and having it exceed all our expectations, my wife Laynni and I, along with her parents, were pretty excited to embark on our 8 day Galapagos trip at the beginning of March. We had originally planned to pick up a last minute trip as we had heard that was the way to get the best deals but in the end our planning natures wouldn't let us pass up the trip we found earlier that seemed to meet all our criteria for timeline, price and itinerary. After much deliberation we decided on an eastern route which started at the Baltra airport and included Genovesa, Bartolomé, Floreana, Española and San Cristóbal as the highlights. Basically all the trips include the main island of Santa Cruz (including ours) but the major islands we missed out on were Isabela and Fernandina. Obviously I can't speak to what we may have missed out on but I can tell you the following as far as itineraries go:
1. Bartolomé had the most impressive viewpoint of the entire trip.
2. Devil's Crown off Floreana was probably our best snorkelling experience (plus we had dolphins chase us in the zodiacs).
3. Kicker Rock (called León Dormido, or Sleeping Lion, in Spanish) off San Cristóbal was the best combination of unique scenery and amazing snorkelling.
4. Genovesa might have been the best all-around island for us, and definitely would have been if the snorkelling hadn't been murky (which could change daily). It was a big part of why we chose the route we did as very few itineraries include it, probably because it is so far from everything else and involved 2 night journeys to get there and back. It was an amazing experience for our first significant landing (we had a brief stop at Playa Las Bachas on Santa Cruz the first afternoon). It had beautiful scenery and had a ridiculous variety of birds and wildlife.
The ship we were on was called the Edén, which is classified as "tourist superior", and held a maximum of 16 passengers (although we never had more than 15 at one time). The Edén, like most of the ships, does two different routes, one east and one west. One couple on our trip did both so were on for a full 2 weeks, but of the rest of us about half did the 8 day trip like us and the other half just did 4 days. When we arrived at Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz halfway through we had a bit of a changeover. Obviously money and time are going to be determining factors but in our opinions 4 days would not have been long enough. Better than nothing but just a taste of what is available. If you definitely can only do 4 days I would recommend the Floreana, Española and San Cristóbal leg. The couple that did 2 weeks found that just a bit too long and said they were having a hard time keeping up the necessary energy and enthusiasm towards the end. Be prepared, this is a busy trip. Up early every day and squeezing in as many activities as possible every day. All of which are terrific, but exhausting. If you really want to see it all and time is not an issue I might recommend doing one week, taking a break to relax on one of the islands for a few days or a week, then doing the second itinerary.
Our guide was Rubén Montalvo and he was great. Very knowledgeable and entertaining, and he worked tirelessly to make sure we saw and did as much as we could. The Edén crew of 6 was also outstanding, making our time on the boat as enjoyable and efficient as possible. The ship itself was small but comfortable and had a wealth of good lounging areas (in sun, shade or air conditioned, depending on your preference). The cabins were tiny as you would expect from a boat this size, but they were comfortable and everything worked well. We noticed that on some other boats of equal size, it looked like the rooms were bigger but they had fewer common areas (i.e. the 5 loungers in the shade) and since we spent most of our time in these areas we preferred them to having slightly larger rooms. There was a large area to hang up wet clothes at the back of the boat which very handy considering the number of times we snorkelled. The very top of the boat didn't really have seats (or good railings) but was great for having coffee/tea and watching the sun come up or a pre-dinner drink and watching the sunset. There was air conditioning in all the rooms which you controlled by opening or closing the vents or, in one case, stuffing a plastic bag in the vent to not have any air conditioning at all and keeping the window open. The door of the cabins didn't have locks but this wasn't a problem for anyone on our boat.
When it comes to choosing a room, the top floor rooms (where we stayed) are closest to the shaded loungers (which were in high demand during down times and travel) and have big windows that open so were bright and breezy. They had bunk beds and a few people complained about having no railing on the top bunk, which made it feel a bit precarious while crossing some of the rougher waters at night on the way to and from Genovesa. The top floor also has more movement so if you have sea sickness issues the lower floors may be a better choice. The 2 rooms on the second floor have 'double' beds which are really in between a North American single and double. Pretty close sleeping arrangements for a couple. The rooms on the bottom floor have two single beds but not a real window (just a porthole, I think). That floor is the most stable in rougher seas but the people in those rooms mentioned the noise from the engine and the anchor dropping on the nights that we travelled while sleeping (3 nights on our itinerary). Each type of room has their pros and cons but we chose the top floor rooms for the light/windows but Laynni's mom ended up moving her top mattress to the floor on the nights we were travelling to feel more secure.
There was a fairly roomy dining and lounging area where we took our meals, bought drinks ($2 for pop, $3.50 for beer, $7 for a glass of wine or cocktail, $40 for a bottle of wine) and enjoyed our nightly briefings with Rubén. He did an excellent job of preparing us for the following day's activities and making sure we knew what we needed to bring for each outing. I also thought the food was exceptional, especially considering the tiny kitchen and minimal kitchen staff. And they generally had snacks and juice waiting for us when we came in from snorkelling. Water, tea and coffee were free and always available. In general, we were fed vast amounts of food early on but for a couple days later in the week the portions became a bit limited. Still enough for us but only barely. Probably a good idea to bring a few snacks just in case, or pick some up in Puerto Ayora on changeover day.
Dinojay2, 19th December 2017