We were looking for an exploration trip toGalapagos which was on my bucket list. National Geographic has an excellent reputation. A friend had gone on the Endeavor several years ago and described it as the trip of a lifetime. We choose the Islander for its size, thinking we would receive indiviualized attention. We choose the date knowing there would be less children. We elected to take the extention to Mashpi which greatly exceeded my expectations. There were 6 in our group and we had 2 guides who made sure we were safe and saw everything! We hiked, rode the Dragonfly, climbed the observation tower, rode the Skybike, hiked to the Life Center, and did a night hike. Very active. Ana, the manager, did a great job with her young staff. They were there to assure that everyone had an unforgettable time.
Metro Touring also exceeded expectations. They answered questions, gave instructions, were punctual. They had a knowledge of their country and a pride that they wanted to share.
We were met in Baltra by a naturalist whose reason for being a naturalist was to travel to Galapagos. He even acknowledged that this tour group met his requirement for the year. He was more interested in getting everyone on the bus then assuring everyone was present. This set the tone for the trip. The first stop was North Seymour and we quickly learned there was no time to lag as the naturalist would continue on. No problem, I am a fast learner and knew what to expect. The Naturalists were very knowledgeable about the islands, vegetation, wildlife. They appeared to have a passion for the islands and wanted to share their passion. However, I was disappointed in some attitudes. For example, several years ago I broke an anke causing me to have some balance issues, and being slower. But that doesn't mean I can't do something, it justs takes longer. Unfortunately, that wasn't tolerated. My friend doesn't swim and wasn't comfortable snorkeling in deep water. I would not snorkel without a buddy, something that goes with my diving training. We had a brief intro to shallow water snorkeling. Time was not spent with individuals who were uncomfortable. In fact, I was assisting another indiviual who had never snorkeled, trying to get her comfortable.
We paid extra for a balcony and larger room. 403 was the last room available in the catagory. We did not realize that it would be significantly smaller then the others in the category with a small balcony that was useful for storing luggage and equipment. We saw the others in this category had a table and chairs so you could sit on the balcony. I feel there should have been a difference in cost, perhaps $500 per person.
The temperature fluctuated from very cold to stuffy.without changing the thermostat our room would be very stuffy at night.