Join Early Retirement Today
Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
Galapagos Islands
Old 01-25-2014, 12:16 PM   #1
Recycles dryer sheets
 
Join Date: Nov 2013
Location: Chapel Hill
Posts: 96
Galapagos Islands

Just got back from a trip to Galapagos Islands, one of the best trips I have ever taken (and I have traveled a lot). We flew into mainland Ecuador for one night, took a small plane out to the Islands the next morning and were on a small cruise ship (40 passengers) for a week. The ship (Isabella ii) was very nice and the food excellent but this was not a luxury cruise. We had 3 naturalists onboard. This was a trip sponsored by the University of North Carolina alumni association and we had a professor on board who is an expert on the region who gave several lectures. Before hand the tour company (Orbridge) sent us about 10 books (including 2 of Darwin's books) that we read before the trip.

It was a very active trip with a lot of hiking (some fairly steep hills), GREAT snorkeling and kayaking. This is a trip you need to take while you are still in good physical shape. Not everyone on the trip was able to do every activity, but those who did not (especially those who did not snorkel) really missed out.

The animals were the highlight, especially while snorkeling. Seals, sea lions, penguins, giant marine turtles, iguanas, colorful fish, snorkeled all around us. Because the islands are for the most part uninhabited the animals have little fear of humans. The naturalists were with us on all the tours and had to caution us not to touch the animals but often the animals touched the humans and wanted to play!

It was an expensive trip, but it was a once in a life time trip and well with the money. I highly recommend it for those of you who love the outdoors and animals.

Jo Ann
__________________

__________________
golftrek is offline   Reply With Quote
Join the #1 Early Retirement and Financial Independence Forum Today - It's Totally Free!

Are you planning to be financially independent as early as possible so you can live life on your own terms? Discuss successful investing strategies, asset allocation models, tax strategies and other related topics in our online forum community. Our members range from young folks just starting their journey to financial independence, military retirees and even multimillionaires. No matter where you fit in you'll find that Early-Retirement.org is a great community to join. Best of all it's totally FREE!

You are currently viewing our boards as a guest so you have limited access to our community. Please take the time to register and you will gain a lot of great new features including; the ability to participate in discussions, network with our members, see fewer ads, upload photographs, create a retirement blog, send private messages and so much, much more!

Old 01-25-2014, 12:31 PM   #2
Thinks s/he gets paid by the post
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 2,555
Sounds like a wonderful trip and hope to do it some day.
__________________

__________________
Dreamer is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-25-2014, 12:40 PM   #3
Thinks s/he gets paid by the post
MooreBonds's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: St. Louis
Posts: 2,091
Quote:
Originally Posted by golftrek View Post
This was a trip sponsored by the University of North Carolina alumni association and we had a professor on board who is an expert on the region who gave several lectures. Before hand the tour company (Orbridge) sent us about 10 books (including 2 of Darwin's books) that we read before the trip.
Sounds like an amazing time! Thanks for mentioning it! Just bookmarked it for my "seriously look at" list for future trips.

Was this trip exclusively for NC Alumni, or were there some on the trip that weren't alumni?

Is it basically this trip that Orbridge offers:

Orbridge - Travel with Friends - The Galapagos Islands

Or did they adjust the itinerary at all? (except for the naturalists on-board...or were the naturalists part of the standard Orbridge tour?)
__________________
Dryer sheets Schmyer sheets
MooreBonds is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-25-2014, 02:57 PM   #4
Recycles dryer sheets
 
Join Date: Nov 2013
Location: Chapel Hill
Posts: 96
Morebrands, the trip I was on was sponsored by UNC alumni Association, but there were some folks from a couple of other Universities there too. The Orbridge trip you linked to looks pretty much like the trip I was on. I think the naturalists are on every trip. Galapagos is an Ecuadorian National Park and all tours are required to have naturalists onboard and they must accompany all excursions. Our Naturalists (all Ecudorians but spoke very good English) were excellent.

The only real difference on our trip was Prof Stephen Walsh from UNC. UNC has a joint program in the Galapagos with a University down there so that part of the program would not be on the normal Orbridge tour. It would still be a great trip, however.
__________________
golftrek is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-25-2014, 03:42 PM   #5
Recycles dryer sheets
 
Join Date: Jun 2013
Location: N/A
Posts: 55
Golftrek,

There are 5 places on my list of places I would like to experience in my lifetime. The Galapagos islands is one of them. It's a long story, but my father did business with the government of Ecuador and they needed his company's assistance in the Galapagos. My father could not make the trip and regretted it. He sent a friend that he trusted could handle the job. That friend spent two weeks in the Islands with the government giving him total discretion. He had the time of his life and said it was the greatest experience of his life.

Is this a trip that UNC conducts on an annual basis? I am not an alumni but I do business with the University. Btw, Chapel Hill is a great place (I will be there this week, Brr cold).
__________________
Balance is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-25-2014, 04:20 PM   #6
Recycles dryer sheets
 
Join Date: Nov 2013
Location: Chapel Hill
Posts: 96
The last time UNC did the Galapagos trip was 4 years ago. I don't know if they will only do it more often But the people on the trip all loved it so maybe they will do it more often. Don't wait too long to do this trip--you need to be in good physical shape to really enjoy it.

I live in Chapel Hill and it is a very stimulating place to live, although fairly expensive. We are having a very cold winter (some winters it never gets below freezing here but it has gotten cold this year) BUT we have no snow.

Jo Ann
__________________
golftrek is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-26-2014, 10:18 AM   #7
Thinks s/he gets paid by the post
sengsational's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2010
Posts: 3,837
Quote:
Originally Posted by golftrek View Post
The animals were the highlight, especially while snorkeling. Seals, sea lions, penguins, giant marine turtles, iguanas, colorful fish, snorkeled all around us. Because the islands are for the most part uninhabited the animals have little fear of humans.
Did they give you a wet suit? Holy crap that water was cold! (Humbolt current). We swam with the fur seals when we were there...cute and curious, whizzing around us clumsy human creatures. But my cousin and I were the only ones in the water (the two youngsters [high school] on the ship). Nobody else got in the water. Yeah, don't go there if you're not into wild animal watching. I liked the land iguana battles! The sea iguanas were sorta gross, with their salt spitting. But I must admit, as a kid, I sort of tuned-out on the shape of the finch's bill and all of that. Lots of boobies there, but not the kind a high school kid is interested in.
__________________
sengsational is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-26-2014, 12:24 PM   #8
Recycles dryer sheets
 
Join Date: Nov 2013
Location: Chapel Hill
Posts: 96
On our trip we were all given Shortie wetsuits for snorkeling. Everyone wore them. There were 40 people on our trip, mostly retirees in their 60s to early 70s. I would guess that 75% of the people on the trip did some snorkeling. Some snorkeling was easier--from a calm beach, but we also had some deep water snorkels in choppy water, probably only about half of us did those snorkels. My husband and I did EVERYTHING, we definitely got our moneys worth but we have been resting some since we got back home. This was the first cruise I have ever been on where I actually lost a couple of pounds. The food was good, but healthy and I exercised so much on the trip I lost weight.

Snorkeling was by far the highlight of the trip.

For those who did not snorkel there was a glass bottom boat, but I am sure the snorkelers saw the most.
__________________
golftrek is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-26-2014, 01:56 PM   #9
Recycles dryer sheets
 
Join Date: Jan 2014
Posts: 243
Wow sounds incredible. Never heard of this place. Thanks for sharing.

Sent from my HTC One using Early Retirement Forum mobile app
__________________
Turboslacker is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-26-2014, 08:42 PM   #10
Thinks s/he gets paid by the post
robnplunder's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2013
Location: Bay Area
Posts: 2,124
Putting this in my bucket list.
__________________
Pura Vida
robnplunder is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 01-26-2014, 09:10 PM   #11
Recycles dryer sheets
 
Join Date: Nov 2013
Location: Chapel Hill
Posts: 96
For those who don't know about the Galapagos Islands--these are the islands visited by Charles Darwin when he came up with the theory of evolution back in the 1800s.

The islands are about 600 miles off the coast of Ecuador. The islands were made by volcanoes, they were never connected to the mainland. Until fairly recently the islands were not occupied by man.

The animals and birds that occupy the Galapagos Islands flew, swam or drifted there from far away places. But all these animals and birds evolved very differently to adapt to the Galapagos environment. Consequently, there are animals and birds there not seen anywhere else in the world. Such as giant tortoises, birds that cannot fly, birds that can use twigs as tools, large iguanas that can swim. And because these birds and animals had no exposure to man they are totally unafraid. You can get very close to them, in fact you have to be careful where you walk or you will step on sea lions and iguanas.

A truly unique and fascinating place.

Jo Ann
__________________
golftrek is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-26-2014, 09:49 PM   #12
Recycles dryer sheets
 
Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: Rural
Posts: 120
I want to see this place some time! Sounds awesome!
__________________
dontworry is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-27-2014, 06:48 AM   #13
Thinks s/he gets paid by the post
grasshopper's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2010
Posts: 1,670
I had a little chat with the owner of the small ship cruise company we like. He wants to offer the Galapagos Islands as a destination. Lindblad Expeditions, would be my next choice. Road Scholar offers a trip that includes Machu Picchu, that could be interesting.



Sent from my Nexus 7 using Early Retirement Forum mobile app
__________________
For me experiences are not good or bad, just different
grasshopper is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-27-2014, 02:12 PM   #14
Moderator
rodi's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2012
Location: San Diego
Posts: 8,817
Galapagos is on my bucket list. (Just posted that in the bucket list thread, then saw this thread.) My dad and step mom went in 2005 or 2006. They were both in their 70's but fit. My step mom had some issues getting ashore, scrambling over rocks, due to some neuropathy, but had no problem with snorkeling. It sounded amazing.

Since travel to that part of the world is fairly pricey - I've got it on my list to combine a trip of the Galapagos and Machu Pichu. But it gets pretty darn pricey, so I'm OMY'ing that trip.
__________________
rodi is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-27-2014, 02:56 PM   #15
Thinks s/he gets paid by the post
 
Join Date: Jul 2005
Posts: 3,862
On our list of things to do, and Stanford U. has similar escorted tour. However, DW is a little leery of "lifetime diarrhea" and a few other diseases she's heard about from that area.
__________________
Animorph is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-27-2014, 03:57 PM   #16
Recycles dryer sheets
 
Join Date: Nov 2013
Location: Chapel Hill
Posts: 96
We had no stomach issues and we did not hear of anyone else on our trip having any. BUT we were advised not to drink tap water (not even to brush our teeth). The ship we were on, Isabella II, furnished very good water.

I also did not eat any fruit or vegetables that had not been peeled.

Jo Ann
__________________
golftrek is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-27-2014, 04:17 PM   #17
Thinks s/he gets paid by the post
Eagle43's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: DFW
Posts: 1,883
Quote:
Originally Posted by golftrek View Post
Just got back from a trip to Galapagos Islands, one of the best trips I have ever taken (and I have traveled a lot). We flew into mainland Ecuador for one night, took a small plane out to the Islands the next morning and were on a small cruise ship (40 passengers) for a week. The ship (Isabella ii) was very nice and the food excellent but this was not a luxury cruise. We had 3 naturalists onboard. This was a trip sponsored by the University of North Carolina alumni association and we had a professor on board who is an expert on the region who gave several lectures. Before hand the tour company (Orbridge) sent us about 10 books (including 2 of Darwin's books) that we read before the trip.

It was a very active trip with a lot of hiking (some fairly steep hills), GREAT snorkeling and kayaking. This is a trip you need to take while you are still in good physical shape. Not everyone on the trip was able to do every activity, but those who did not (especially those who did not snorkel) really missed out.

The animals were the highlight, especially while snorkeling. Seals, sea lions, penguins, giant marine turtles, iguanas, colorful fish, snorkeled all around gus. Because the islands are for the most part uninhabited the animals have little fear of humans. The naturalists were with us on all the tours and had to caution us not to touch the animals but often the animals touched the humans and wanted to play!

It was an expensive trip, but it was a once in a life time trip and well with the money. I highly recommend it for those of you who love the outdoors and animals.

Jo Ann
DW wants to go there, she loves all animals. Would you estimate the cost? Did you schedule the trip, airfare and cruise through UNC alumni? I'm wary of showing her this thread, she will wanna go next week. we are in our 70s now and good enough shape (I think).

Sent from my AT100 using Early Retirement Forum mobile app
__________________
Resist much. Obey Little. . . . Ed Abbey

Disclaimer: My Posts are for my amusement only.
Eagle43 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-27-2014, 06:31 PM   #18
Recycles dryer sheets
 
Join Date: Nov 2013
Location: Chapel Hill
Posts: 96
Eagle43, the UNC package included everything except the flights to and from Ecuador. All other flights and the excursions were included. The only extras we had to pay for were wine and beer.

The total cost for the 2 of us was (gulp) around $15,000. Like I said it was an expensive once in a life time trip that had been on my bucket list since I was a youngster. This will be our only big trip for long while.

I plan to spend the next couple of days while we are snowed in working on a slide show of our photos and reliving the trip. The average air temperature in Galapagos while we were there was mid 80s.

Jo Ann
__________________
golftrek is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-28-2014, 10:01 AM   #19
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
kcowan's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2006
Location: Pacific latitude 20/49
Posts: 5,725
Send a message via Skype™ to kcowan
Its on our bucket list. But we would like to combine it with a trip to Chile and other desirable west coast destinations. Any ideas on that?
__________________
For the fun of it...Keith
kcowan is offline   Reply With Quote
Galapagos Islands
Old 01-28-2014, 12:53 PM   #20
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
 
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 11,018
Galapagos Islands

Quote:
Originally Posted by kcowan View Post
Its on our bucket list. But we would like to combine it with a trip to Chile and other desirable west coast destinations. Any ideas on that?

I have not been to the Galapagos but I visited Chile as part of a South America tour in October 1997. Of the three countries I visited, I liked Chile best. Santiago has a bad rap as a polluted city but its location nestled in the Andes is very scenic. An earthquake livened things up on our first evening in Chile! Valparaiso, the old port city, was worth a visit and I understand it has had many infrastructure improvements since I was there. Vina del Mar is a pleasant seaside resort town. In central Chile, you can visit vineyards and orchards. But the most wonderful part of the country IMHO was the southern end. Puerto Montt (the city of the roses) resembles Newfoundland and has many people of German origin, mostly Mennonites. I spent a wonderful (wet) Sunday afternoon there in a music shop learning about Chilean folk music and history from some delightful local people. Puerto Montt is the departure pint for the "cruise across the Andes", which hops, skips and jumps across lakes and mountain passes to Bariloche in Argentina, using boats, hydrofoils and buses. Along the way you see Mount Osorno, which inspires Japanese people to cry out "Fuji!"...... and many other sights. To me, this was the highlight of my trip. I found Chileans to be very friendly.

You could also combine the Galapagos with a trip to Peru including Macchu Picchu. I haven't been there, and I imagine one needs to be in fairly good shape to do both of those.

Would you fly south from Puerto Vallarta? Presumably it would be cheaper than flying from Canada to South America.
__________________

__________________
Meadbh is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply


Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Mariana Islands replace Illinois as #1 Chuckanut FIRE and Money 0 05-24-2012 09:30 AM
Back from Macho Picchu and the Galapagos Islands Brat Travel Information 11 02-05-2009 09:03 PM
Machu Picchu and the Galapagos Zoocat Travel Information 13 02-14-2008 11:25 AM
Snowbirding to the islands LeatherneckPA Life after FIRE 8 09-28-2007 01:54 PM
Galapagos tour recommendations please Sandy Other topics 17 02-02-2007 09:00 AM

 

 
All times are GMT -6. The time now is 05:15 AM.
 
Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.