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Top Trip Memories

  • Getting closer to wildlife than at any other place on the planet, on islands where animals have no fear of humans.
  •  Viewing the mesmerizing courtship “dance” of the blue-footed booby, in which the two birds lift one foot, then the other, and peck at each other with their bills.
  •  Snorkeling among sea lions, sea turtles, barracuda, and (harmless) sharks in crystal-clear, warm waters.
  •  Spotting the world’s most northerly -- and some of the world’s smallest -- penguins, frolicking in the water.
  •  Marveling at sleek black frigate birds – known as the “pirates of the sea” – as they swoop down and steal food out of other birds’ mouths.
  •  Stepping carefully amid hundreds of marine iguanas as they emerge from the sea where they’ve been feeding, then scurry up on the rocks to dry out.
  •  Watching as colorful red-orange Sally Lightfoot crabs skitter across a shallow tide pool.
  •  Climbing a volcanic hill via boardwalk for a panoramic view, which astronaut Buzz Aldrin once compared to a moonscape.
  •  Sharing a field with dozens of giant tortoises as they inch along, looking like they just emerged from the dinosaur era.
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Tour Tips

  • Guided tours are essential if you want to see Galapagos wildlife; even private yachts are required to hire guides if they wish to tour the islands.
  •  Small ship cruises allow you to make more island landings than big ships, and they can also get much closer to land to view penguins and other creatures visible mainly from the sea.
  •  A Galapagos tour can be expensive – when you add up flight costs from the Ecuadorian mainland along with flying to Ecuador and the cost of the cruise and park entrance fee – so choose your tour company carefully.
  •  Don’t even think about bringing home lava rock or other natural features from the Galapagos – you’d be subject to a $3,000 fine if caught.
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Galapagos Islands Travel Reviews & Ratings

4.9 out of 5

99%

recommend

110 Reviews

  • Excellent 97
  • Great 11
  • Average 1
  • Disappointing 1
  • Terrible 0

Rating Details

  • Value
    4.9
  • Guide
    4.9
  • Activities
    4.9
  • Lodging
    4.9
  • Transportation
    4.9
  • Meals
    4.9

Tour Reviews

Impeccable trip with Allie's handling.

Classic Galapagos: Cruising Darwin’s Enchanted Islands

5.0
December 2016
Myths and Mountains
Recommend: Yes
Even with the minor hiccups, this entire adventure was impeccable and that is an understatement.

Myths & Mountains team were fantastic in helping us with all the planning.

Classic Galapagos: Cruising Darwin’s Enchanted Islands

5.0
November 2016
Myths and Mountains
Recommend: Yes
Years ago my wife and I took an amazing trip to Peru that was planned by Myths and Mountains. So, when we decided a couple of years ago that we wanted to see the Galapagos Islands, we again turned to the “adventure travel experts”, Myths and Mountains, and were not disappointed. Life conspired to make the planning difficult; we had to cancel and reschedule the trip more than once. Finally, we saw the Galapagos in October, 2016. Allie, Jen and their team couldn’t have been better to work with. They were fantastic in helping us with all the planning. They know the islands, companies, the venues, the facilities and the cruise companies.


They were terrific about working with us through the cancellations, and they were always there for us. We would contact them with the silliest questions, and they always had time for us and had the right answers. They spent enough time with us to understand exactly what our needs were, and they accommodated them perfectly. The itinerary was exactly what we wanted to see. A couple of weeks before departure, they initiated a conference call with us to go through the trip in infinite detail. When we headed for the airport, we knew exactly what to expect every step of the way.

Upon arrival at the airport in Washington, DC, we determined that our flight was very late and that we would miss the connecting flight to Ecuador from Miami. After working with American Airlines, we called Allie to let her know the new flight arrangements. Effortlessly, she had our transfer guide waiting at the airport when we landed at 2:00AM. She had also rescheduled our ½ day city tour for the next day to the afternoon so that we could sleep in.

The hotel choices were excellent, as was the ship. We thoroughly enjoyed everything about the “Eric”, from the boat itself to the terrific crew and naturalists, who absolutely made the trip. We are both vegans, and as Allie & Jen assured us, that was no problem. In fact the food was terrific. They even made sure that the birthday cake prepared for me was vegan!

We’re sure we could have put together an enjoyable trip to the Galapagos “on our own”, but we are also sure it would have been much more work, and we are certain that we could not have done nearly as good a job as was done by Myths and Mountains. They have our hearty endorsement, and we encourage you to contact them and say hi from Barry & Rita.
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Tour Leader & M/M are super awesome!

Classic Galapagos: Cruising Darwin’s Enchanted Islands

5.0
November 2016
Myths and Mountains
Recommend: Yes
Allie & M/M are the best. Allie couldn’t have been more professional, friendly and extremely helpful. We wanted to take an adventurous honeymoon to the Galapagos but we wanted to make sure that we had a first class trip as well. Allie arranged all of our accommodations on land & abroad the luxury yacht M/Y Grace and she got us an upgraded cabin too. Since there are only 9 cabins it took a little magic to get us a bigger one for the same price. That was only the beginning of the magic, the drivers, guides and crew aboard the M/Y Grace were fantastic, friendly , knowledgeable always accessible and approachable - you can tell that they loved what they were doing. We took Allie’s all recommendations without question - and we were happy that we did. She made our trip of a lifetime a reality. Allie got all the big things right from logistics and restaurant recommendations while adding very special touches of thoughtfulness. After a long flight from San Francisco to Guayaquil Ecuador, we were taken to our beautiful room at the Wyndham Hotel. Champagne and rose petals on our bed with a nice note from Allie congratulating us for our honeymoon were waiting for us as we arrived. The little things were not forgotten. We loved every minute of our time on board the Grace. What sets Allie & M/M apart form any other tour companies that we’ve used is that we knew that Allie was checking on us routinely with the hotels, the Grace and with us directly when we had email or cell coverage. We would come to appreciate how important these check ins were. On April 16th, our travel day home, Allie had arranged for a hotel room in Guayaquil for about 6 hours for our layover on our return trip home to San Francisco. Our flight was delayed in the Galapagos for about 3 hours, we landed in Guayaquil at a little after 6pm local time, we were met by our M/M driver, waiting patiently for us. It was only a 15 min drive from the airport to our hotel. Our driver told us that he would return at 8pm to collect us for the return to the airport. At 6:58 pm local time a 7.8 magnitude earthquake hit Ecuador with the epicenter 200 miles north on the coastline. The tremors lasted for almost 60 seconds. We were on the 6th floor of the hotel when we felt our room sway back and forth as if we were still on bard the Grace. We had never been in an earthquake before and this was a harrowing experience, We left the hotel with the help of a security guard who was very calmly checking every room on our floor. Luckily there was no damage to the hotel as it was “antisesmic” as the guard kept telling us. The hotel structure did its job - not even a broken window. Can’t say the same for the older infrastructure surrounding the hotel. An overpass next to the hotel collapsed killing two people in a a car below. There were several immediate aftershocks that were very noticeable but not as strong as the initial shock. Shortly after a headcount of all guests & staff at the hotel was completed we were allowed back into our rooms. We retrieved our bags and made a decision to head to the airport assuming that it might be the safest place to stay during the aftermath of a earthquake. The airline was reporting that our flight was still “on time”. At 8pm, just as he said he would, our driver found us in a fairly chaotic hotel lobby. He grabbed our bags and we drove to the airport, seeing first hand the damage done to the city of Guayaquil. Power outage, collapsed overpass and road closures - including the road to the airport. The airport itself appeared to be open so we continued, with his local knowledge, we were able to take an alternative route to the airport and pulled up to an open gate were were able to walk to the terminal. Our driver took us to an airport official would said that the airport was damaged and was closed, but may reopen soon. He told us to stay near the official and that she would signal when the doors would open. About an hour later that is what happened. We were first in line at the unmanned American Airline counter waiting to get the next flight out. We made our calls to the airlines as we waited. While waiting we heard our names being called. Javier from M/M identified himself and said that Allie had called them to go find us at the airport…… truly above and beyond! Javier confirmed that there would be no flights that night but had us wait to check in with American anyway. We did and booked the first flight out in the morning to New York. Javier then arranged a room at the Hilton not for from the airport. He drove us there , made sure that we were checked in and arrived safely in our room. All this during a historic earthquake which we would learn would claim 650+ lives and cause a state of emergency in Ecuador for weeks to come. I offered Javier some money for his help; he declined. We made it back to San Francisco about 24 hours later. First call that we received was fro Allie making sure we were alright. I think we’ll use Allie & M/M again not to mention recommend them, highly. A trip of a lifetime to say the least. THANK YOU ALLIE!








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5.0
September 2016
Myths and Mountains
Recommend: Yes
Allie and her crew were very easy to work with and clearly knew what they were doing. I would definitely use them again.
5.0
September 2016
Myths and Mountains
Recommend: Yes
After cancelling a trip to South Africa due to the Ebola epidemic, my daughter and I chose the Galapagos as our substitute destination in January 2015. I had often longingly perused the Myths and Mountains travel brochures, but didn’t feel I could afford the custom travel they specialized in. Instead, I usually planned my own custom travel. Since I knew nothing about the Galapagos and even less about boat trips, I decided to contact Allie Almario, as I knew she was “the” expert in the field. It was the best decision I ever made regarding any travel I have planned.

Allie knows just the right questions to ask to get all the information she needs to plan a trip that matches your exact travel desires and needs. She knew that cost did matter to us, but that we also wanted to be comfortable and well cared for on this adventure. After our initial conversations, I was completely secure in turning all arrangements over to her. She gave us three boats to choose from, telling us the positives and negatives of each one. The Guantanamera fit us to a tee. We loved the crew and the international passengers of all ages. The activities and tours gave us just the right mix of adventure and relaxation. Allie even let the crew know it was my birthday trip, and they presented me with the most delicious homemade banana cake I have ever tasted.

Don’t hesitate to use Allie to plan your trip of a lifetime. You won’t be disappointed. Her great pleasure is to help you find yours.
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Top Tour Operators and Travel Companies


Classic Itineraries

Galapagos in 1 Week

Day 1-2, Quito: Take a tour of “Colonial Quito”, see La Compania church and the city of San Juan

Day 3-4, San Cristobal Island: Visit the Interpretation Center to learn the history of the islands. Playa Mann, spot the famous blue footed boobie and other indigenous bird species in Punta Pitt. Take zodiac rides around the island.

Day 5, Isla Espanola: See more rare and significant bird species including Darwin Finches. You’ll also see sea lions in Gardner Bay, and have the opportunity to go sea kayaking and snorkeling to view wildlife under the water’s surface.

Day 6-7, Santa Cruz Island: Las Primicias tortoise reserve, visit the Darwin Research Station. Spend some time in Puerto Ayora.

Trips that follow this itinerary:

Galapagos Coral East with Tucan Travel - 7 Days, basic trip

Galapagos Multi-Active Private with Butterfield & Robinson - 6 Days, luxury trip

Galapagos Islands Cruise with ROW Adventures - 8 Days, premium trip

Or see All Galapagos Islands in One Week Trips

Galapagos in 2 Weeks

Day 1-2, Quito: Explore Quito’s old town and discover the colonial history. See La Compania church and the city of San Juan. Visit the nearby cloud forest

Day 3, Isabela Island: take in the volcanic structures, explore Tagus Cove, observe marine iguanas, blue footed boobies, and sea lions. Visit the Giant Tortoise Breeding Center.

Day 4-5, Isla Floreana: Green Beach with it’s olivine crystals, snorkel with sea turtles, visit the “highlands”.

Day 6-7, Santa Cruz Island: Las Primicias tortoise reserve, visit the Darwin Research Station. Spend some time in Puerto Ayora.

Day 8, Isla Santa Fe: More snorkeling and wildlife viewing! Take a hike to see the prickly pear cactus forest.

Day 9, Punta Morena: See amazing lava formations, observe Galapagos penguins

Day 10, Isla Espanola: See more rare and significant bird species including Darwin Finches. You’ll also see sea lions in Gardner Bay, and have the opportunity to go sea kayaking and snorkeling to view wildlife under the water’s surface.

Day 11, Santiago Island: Puerto Egas, wildlife viewing

Day 12-13, San Cristobal Island: Visit the Interpretation Center to learn the history of the islands. Playa Mann, spot the famous blue footed boobie and other indigenous bird species in Punta Pitt. Take zodiac rides around the island.

Trips that follow this itinerary:

Classic Galapagos Southern Islands with Peregrine Adventures - 10 Days, premium trip

Galapagos Wildlife Adventure Cruise with Mountain Travel Sobek - 11 Days, premium trip

Galapagos West Islands with G Adventures - 10 Days, premium trip

Or see All Galapagos in Two Weeks Trips

Galapagos & Machu Picchu in 2 Weeks

Day 1-2, Cuzco: Take a walking tour, and use this time to acclimate to the altitude. Visit Plaza de Armas and take a Sacred Valley tour.

Day 3-4, Machu Picchu: Take the VistaDome train to Machu Picchu and explore the town of Agua Calientes. Get a good night sleep before the dawn bus up to the ruins for an all day tour learning the history of the famous site. Climb Huayna Picchu for spectacular views.

Day 5, Lima: Tour this colonial-era city

Day 6, Quito: Explore Quito’s old town and discover the colonial history. See La Compania church and the city of San Juan. Visit the nearby cloud forest.

Day 7, Santa Cruz Island: Las Primicias tortoise reserve, visit the Darwin Research Station. Spend some time in Puerto Ayora.

Day 8, Isla Espanola: See more rare and significant bird species including Darwin Finches. You’ll also see sea lions in Gardner Bay, and have the opportunity to go sea kayaking and snorkeling to view wildlife under the water’s surface.

Day 9, Santiago Island: Buccaneer Cove, incredible rock formations

Day 10, Bartholomew Island: Penguins, lava lizards, and beautiful white beaches

Day 11-12, San Cristobal Island: Visit the Interpretation Center to learn the history of the islands. Playa Mann, spot the famous blue footed boobie and other indigenous bird species in Punta Pitt. Take zodiac rides around the island.

Trips that follow this itinerary:

Machu Picchu & Galapagos with Exodus - 15 Days, value trip

Machu Picchu & Galapagos Cruise with SmarTours - 16 Days, premium trip

Machu Picchu and Galapagos with Explore! - 15 Days, value trip

Or see All Galapagos with Machu Picchu Trips

Galapagos Islands Trips & Tour Advice

The Galapagos Islands, which lie more than 600 miles off the west coast of the Ecuadorian mainland, were formed by lava flows millions of years ago. Most of the animals and birds that call it home swam, flew or were swept here by “rafts” of vegetation floating on the ocean. The Galapagos ecosystem is probably the best preserved in the world, partly because of its remoteness.

Nowhere else is the evolution of species as clear as here; the Galapagos are a natural laboratory, as Charles Darwin quickly discovered during his 19th-century expedition aboard the Beagle. (Finches evolved from one species to 13 here, due to differing conditions for survival on each island.)

The islands’ animals and birds display little or no fear of humans, which means you can get very close to them – as long as you don’t touch or disturb them or leave the designated paths.

Strict Enforcement

The Ecuadorian government enforces strict environmental codes on the Galapagos, a national park. Only a comparatively few visitors can go ashore on each island at one time.

With 140,000 total visitors per year, the Galapagos present a complex juggling act to tour operators, who must time their visits exactly or risk losing key stops on their itineraries. So you’re expected to rise early and be on time for excursions to shore.

Groups visiting any one site are limited to eight each, so even small ships carrying just 15 or 16 passengers must divide up and take separate trails. Of the eight most visited islands, just two – San Cristobal, site of the airport, and Santa Cruz, site of the largest town and Darwin Station -- are populated by humans, mostly island natives or long-term residents.

The rest of the islands are reserved for the wildlife: everything ranging from marine iguanas to sea lions, giant tortoises to sea turtles, penguins to albatrosses, red-throated frigate birds to blue-footed boobies (given to doing a courtship “booby” dance that entrances onlookers).

Small Ship Cruising

While some people visit the Galapagos by staying in one of the few towns and taking day trips by boat to other islands, the best method is to tour by a week-long small ship expedition-style cruise. (Large ships do cruise the Galapagos, but can’t visit as many sites, some of which are too fragile for large numbers of visitors.)

Taking a small ship allows you to visit up to two islands in a day as well as go snorkeling or diving for close-up views of sea turtles, tropical fish, and sea lions.

A number of tour operators run small ship cruises through the Galapagos, and, by government decree, they must hire local guides and ship captains. Staying on trails is paramount, so as not to disturb the fragile environments. Except for the tropical heat, most trails are easy for anyone to navigate, and being aboard a ship allows plenty of time to cool off between stops.

The Wildlife

Galapagos wildlife is truly extraordinary. Each island has its own signature type of bird, reptile or other creature. For instance, Genovesa Island is home to red-footed boobies – it’s the only island where visitors can view them -- but lacks the land reptiles found on other islands. 

Charles Darwin, whose Theory of Evolution and ideas about natural selection emanated from his trip to the Galapagos, first became intrigued by observing the varying species of mockingbirds on the four islands that he visited.

Other notable bird species include Darwin finches (whose beak variations and food-gathering sources from island to island also aroused Darwin’s interest), flamingoes, flightless cormorants, Galapagos penguins – the world’s most northerly penguins, found here right on the Equator – storm petrols, frigate birds, lava gulls, albatrosses, pelicans, swallowtail gulls, owls, hawks, herons, and Nazca, blue- and red-footed boobies, among many others.

Marine life is abundant: sea lions, fur seals (actually a type of sea lion), giant sea turtles, Sally Lightfoot crabs, marine iguanas (the world’s only marine lizards; they number in the hundreds of thousands here), and many species of tropical fish.

“Galapagos” means “islands of the giant tortoises,” and they’re a huge attraction on Santa Cruz Island. Galapagos tortoises can weigh more than 600 pounds and live to age 150 or longer. (One that recently died was present when Darwin landed here.) Their top speed is about one fifth of a mile per hour, so they’re very easy to photograph. The late Lonesome George, the most famous giant tortoise, was the last of his subspecies when he died in 2012. He refused to mate, despite valiant efforts by naturalists to find him romantic pairings.

Ready to head to the Galapagos? Rely on Stride to help put you into cruise control.

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