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Just returned: Land based AND Nemo II

Marlton, New Jersey
Level Contributor
22 posts
6 reviews
Just returned: Land based AND Nemo II

Hello all!

This board was so valuable in planning my trip that I thought I'd write up some details to hopefully help others. There is always talk about land based vs cruise. I did both. And I can say unequivocally I saw much more on the cruise.

I'm 55, traveled solo as I do on most trips. That said, the world is full of friends I haven't met yet and I met many more friends this trip and was rarely really alone.

I stayed at Hostal Espana for 3 nights prior to my cruise. Basic, barebones hotel. Didn't return to it after my cruise.

To and From The Airport

This is anxiety producing when you read about it. bus/ferry/bus or taxi ....but in reality it was quite easy. Everyone is going where you are going. LOL

The busses to and from Puerto Ayora to Santa Cruz port where you catch the ferry only run very specific times.

I used the bus once since the times were in line with my travel plans. On my initial arrival to Santa Cruz Island I took a taxi $25. He offered to take me to 3 sites on the way and in the highlands for an extra $35. I did it. English is not widely spoken and luckily my high school spanish worked. :)

I saw Los Gemellos, walked through one of the lava tunnels and went to one of the two Nature parks. It was great and well worth the $35.

I visited the Darwin center that afternoon not realizing/remembering I'd be there with Nemo II in a few days. But without a guide I missed alot and didn't get the commentary a guide provides. Did visit the two beaches briefly that are within the Darwin area.

Day Tours

You really need to shop around for day tours. Prices do vary. Unfortunately you really don't know what you're getting until you're on the boat. People who used online booking before they arrived seemed to have paid the most. It pays to wait to get your tours when you arrive. There are so many small boats doing them.

I did a day tour to Floreana. Really enjoyed myself, became friendly with 5 others and we all had dinner that night together. This boat was well organized, good guide. Lunch provided very good. We were supposed to snorkel at a beach but no fins or life vests provided. The surf was pretty rough and no way was I going in there without fins/lifevest. But I did enjoy my day and saw lots of wildlife. The travel time really cuts into the day. For Floreana it was @ 1.5 hours there and back. I never get sea sick but there were those affected by the motion of the small boats so plan accordingly.

The next day I did a day tour to south part of Isabella Island. This boat was not so organized as the day before. Lunch was included again and very good. Saw many great things and enjoyed it very much. Snorkelling here provided the snorkel gear, fins and life vests and it was in an area where it was pretty calm. The only downside is the travel time; 2.5 hours to get to the island.

Eating in Puerto Ayora

Los Kioskos is the only place I ate dinner each night before the cruise. I loved it that much. The street atmosphere, fresh seafood. Loved it!

Nemo II Catamaran Northwest route 8 days

Having experienced the day tours, boarding the catamaran was like a different world. We were SO ACTIVE and did and saw so much. I'm glad I did both to have the comparison but if I were to do it again, I'd book both a Northbound AND Southbound cruise back to back.

The Nemo II was fantastic! I submitted a review to TA. I traveled solo and booked knowing I would be paired with a room mate. When I arrived I had a solo cabin. :) There were 12 people (out of max 14) on our sailing. The catamaran was beautiful! Very clean, well maintained. The crew are what makes a sailing and these guys were excellent. Captain Antonio, Jario our guide, Raul our bartender, Jimmy the chef. The food was excellent and varied and plentiful.

Our daily schedule was something like this:

breakfast

nature walk

break

snorkelling

lunch

snorkelling

break

swimming/snorkelling/another walk.

You go to bed tired. It's VERY active. I loved it. Everyone used the wetsuits. The water was chilly if you did not. Snorkelling with sharks, penguins, sea lions, sea turles was amazing. The colorful fish were beautiful! We saw so many birds, sea lions, owls, blue and red footed boobies, great and magnificent egrets, tortoises, marine iguanas.........and so on. Just incredible wildlife photo opportunites.

Was so sad to leave the catamaran. Most of the boatmates and I were staying on again in Puerto Ayora. So we met up for dinner my final two nights.

I booked Estrella de Mar hotel for my final two nights. Cost more than Espana but so worth it for the view alone. I booked an ocean view room and had a corner room with two sides of windows which had ocean views. The balcony was one long shared balcony and had chairs. I heard the waves every night. Most say you don't spend alot of time in your room and this is true. But I was so tired from my week on Nemo II I actually enjoyed my room and view more.

I visited Lago de las Ninfas one afternoon. Pleasant boardwalk through mangrove forest around a brackish lake. Was nice.

My final full day in the Galapagos I walked to Tortuga Bay...ALL THE WAY to Playa Mansa. It was, for me, a 50 minute walk ONE WAY from the entrance to the park where you sign in. It was hot. Bring LOTS of water. Playa Brava is what you arrive to first after walking through the cactus groves. It was GORGEOUS but red flags and signs marked it as dangerous to swim because of currents and waves. I continued on to where I knew I'd find the glorious, calm bay of Playa Mansa. It was just beautiful. I got there very early, not many people. just sat in the calm water watching marine iguanas swim past. After about an hour and a half, I began my trek back. It was very difficult with the strength of the sun. I just don't tolerate heat that well. Everyone else seemed fine. When I arrived back to the entrance I said in the guard room and just drank lots of water and bought a cold gatorade type drink. I spent the rest of that afternoon resting since it really dehydrated me and I got a bit of a headache. There IS a $10 boat that can take you each way to the beach from the main pier in town but I was determined to walk it if it killed me. LOL

My final night was dinner with 4 other boatmates at La Garrapata. Good food; cost a little more than Los Kioskos.

The next morning I took the bus to the ferry terminal, making my way back tothe airport for my flight back to Guyaquil. My flight back to the states was not until close to midnight so I had many, many hours to kill. I booked ahead of time a private tour with Edoardo Menenses of Guyaquil - A Guided Visit. I spent 5.5 amazing hours with him. My favorite was the cocoa farm which included a delicious lunch. I had real hot cocoa made from fresh roasted, ground cocoa beans! His passsion for his city is so clear.

It was a lovely end to an epic vacation. Any questions I'd be happy to help if I can!

Maria

15 replies to this topic
Toronto
Level Contributor
59 posts
17 reviews
1. Re: Just returned: Land based AND Nemo II

Thanks for the information! We leave tomorrow to do the same tour on Nemo II. It is reassuring to know that it is good. Did they have snorkelling vests for weaker swimmers?

Ottawa, Canada
Destination Expert
for Galapagos Islands
Level Contributor
3,560 posts
19 reviews
2. Re: Just returned: Land based AND Nemo II

Thanks for this Maria - nice to get comments from someone who had the opportunity to do both some land based and cruise ship based visits.

BTW - my son was 2.5 years old when he first walked to Tortuga Bay - all the way, and back (I admit, it was a bit slow going - but he did it!).

Warmest regards,

Heather Blenkiron

Marlton, New Jersey
Level Contributor
22 posts
6 reviews
3. Re: Just returned: Land based AND Nemo II

Kevin asked: Did they have snorkelling vests for weaker swimmers

Yes! That was me! I asked for and I wore a bright yellow vest in addition to the buoyancy the wet suit gives you. I just felt better that way. I was the only one who needed it. Lol

Toronto
Level Contributor
59 posts
17 reviews
4. Re: Just returned: Land based AND Nemo II

Muchas gracias, Maria!

Macerata, Italy
Level Contributor
47 posts
33 reviews
5. Re: Just returned: Land based AND Nemo II

Hi Maria,

I'm fascinated with the n/w itinerary of the Nemo II(looking into it for July) but I also think the southern one is great. However the company doesn't seem to offer 15 day cruise options. Since you stated that if you were to go again you would do both itineraries back to back, have you inquired with the company or do you know of anyone who has done a two weeks cruise?

I'm really eager to discover the islands and 8 days(6 1/2 in reality) don't seem enough.

Thanks for your reply.

Tucson, Arizona
Destination Expert
for Quito, Ecuador
Level Contributor
11,269 posts
101 reviews
6. Re: Just returned: Land based AND Nemo II

This is such a useful report. I'll add it to the Top Questions.

Edited: 28 January 2018, 13:05
Marlton, New Jersey
Level Contributor
22 posts
6 reviews
7. Re: Just returned: Land based AND Nemo II

Hi! It's not a matter of them offering this as an option. Since they alternate North and South itineraries every other week on Nemo 2, you would simply be booking 2 cruises in a row. This is called doing a back to back. Usually a small discount is offered on the second week on most Cruise Lines. I used Nemo Galapagos. Com also known as Latin tours to book. They are the owners of the three Nemo catamarans.

Edited: 28 January 2018, 19:54
Santa Cruz, Ecuador
Level Contributor
16 posts
12 reviews
8. Re: Just returned: Land based AND Nemo II

Hi Maria,

Thank you so much for sharing your experience. It's great to hear that you had a wonderful time in Galapagos.

I would just like to point out that there are much more in-depth and active land based tours that offer a fuller experience than being based only in Santa Cruz for comparison purposes. I'm happy to expound on that if there are any queries. Disclaimer: I run a Galapagos land-based tourism company.

And I'd love to know how to get in touch with the guide you had in Guayaquil. We are always looking for great people and tours to recommend.

Many thanks,

Crystal

Marlton, New Jersey
Level Contributor
22 posts
6 reviews
9. Re: Just returned: Land based AND Nemo II

Hi Crystal, I enjoyed my day tours. But it does take a whole day to go to Floreana or Puerto Villamil and do a day tour that included snorkeling, walking, lunch, etc. I specifically chose to go visit islands/parts of islands that were not on my Nemo II itinerary. But compared to the ship, it's alot of wasted time and like I said I saw MUCH MORE on the boat.

For Guyaquil, Eduardo Menenses is listed here on TA as http://www.guayaquilaguidedvisit.com/

Santa Cruz, Ecuador
Level Contributor
16 posts
12 reviews
10. Re: Just returned: Land based AND Nemo II

It does take a bit a time to get to Floreana and Isabela. That's why we don't do day tours there. Instead we spend a night or more to completely explore those islands in particular.

Many thanks for the link!

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