Galápagos Islands: Cruise or Land-Based Tour?
When I scouted the Galápagos Islands in Ecuador to add to Llama Expeditions’ guided trip offerings, I went twice. The first time I took a cruise. The second time I did a land-based, island-hopping tour. I greatly preferred the island hopping. Here’s why.
On the cruise:
1) I got seasick. The Galápagos Islands are in the middle of the ocean and that ocean moves around – a lot!
2) I spent a lot of time motoring to and from land for our twice daily excursions. In fact, it seemed like we spent as much time in the panga (small rubber dingy) going back and forth than we did on some of the excursions.
3) I didn’t sleep well. The Capitan moves the ship at night while the passengers are supposedly sleeping. The boat’s engine was surprisingly loud.
4) I felt cooped up. The boat was fairly small and the excursions pretty sedate. I ached to really stretch my legs and move about.
In addition to the shortcomings I personally experienced, I later learned that you could sign up for one ship only to be put on another. Companies can change the ship if they want to put it in dry dock or have an opportunity to make money on a lucrative charter.
In contrast, on the land-based island hopping trip:
1) I was much more active. I hiked, kayaked, dived, snorkeled, and swam. I spent most of the day interacting with animals and nature on the Galápagos Islands.
2) I explored local towns and hung out with local people. We exchanged stories and I had a chance to learn a little about their lives.
3) I contributed to the local economy by patronizing hotels, restaurants, and stores on the islands.
4) I enjoyed a greater variety of food from freshly caught fish to lava-roasted chicken.
And, of course, I didn’t get seasick!