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Incredible, once-in-a-lifetime trip!This trip is truly phenomenal. Our guide was accommodating, very hard working, kind, friendly, and managed trip hiccups with ease. We were able to do and see some really amazing things (snorkeling in the Galapagos, seeing the tortoises, rafting in the Amazon!). It was an adventure packed trip that I won't forget.
Dream tripI had asked my parents if we could go to the Galapagos when I was very young as I had read many books about it. It was a trip they weren't sure that they could afford to do. When this came up they decided to do it. It was so great to see everything I had been reading about up close. The tortoise habitat was one of my favorites and I really liked white water rafting. I also liked our guide on the trip. He spent time talking to everyone. I really would like to go back to Ecuador and the Galapagos again some day.
Beautiful EcuadorHaving traveled with EF for 10 years, this was my favorite itinerary. We had so much fun in beautiful Ecuador- hiking the cloud forest, the lava fields of the Galapagos, and Cotopaxi national park. We snorkeled in the Galapagos, had a wonderful white water rafting trip, and spent a morning in an indigenous Amazon Community. Be prepared for lots of travel, but it is the only way to see so much. I would have given this trip five stars, but we did have a hotel snafu that was not EF's fault, but still impacted our trip. If you love nature, the outdoors, and adventure, this is the trip for you.
Amazingly Diverse EcosystemsOur trip was top notch. The exposure to the amazing variety of ecosystems in a country the size of Colorado was unbelievable. In the course of 24 hours, we would transition from a tundra like zone on a stratovolcano to the Amazonian basin rain forest after having passed through an upland desert region. Of course, the Galapagos is a bucket list experience all of its own. In addition to the ecosystems and wildlife, we had wonderful cultural experiences as well. On top of that, our tour director was amazing!
Ecosystems of EcuadorThis was a whirlwind experience and we saw a lot of Ecuador. Pros are that you get to do a lot in a short period of time. Mountains, beaches, rain forests. That was really awesome. The guides were all fantastic. Cons are that some of the accommodations were sub-par. Lack of hot water in a few of the hotels. Also, the food was basic. Chicken fish or steak for every meal. No real variety. Kept it very safe and predictable. For what the trip cost, better accommodations and better food should be provided. Also, a little more free time would be nice. Hurry up and wait happens a lot. I am glad we went but I feel I could have done as much myself and stayed in better places and ate better food for less money.
Fun adventersthe trip and activities were incredible. The tour guide however was not. He was late to pick us up, he did not take his time to get to know any of the students, he refused requests to stop at important monuments, and his personality lend itself to the group having fun.
Excellent adventureThe Ecology tour of Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands was my first trip to South America and my first EF Tour.
It was an excellent experience.
Our Tour Director, Edison, was beyond compare. He was knowledgeable, friendly, and felt more like an old friend than a tour director. Edison went above and beyond on several occasions to straighten out issues like left behind baggage and an overtired slightly ill student traveler. He brought Ecuador into focus for us, and he made the trip exceptional.
The itinerary was VERY fast-paced and active. Thankfully our "lead chaperone" (trip sponsor) had prepared all of us (students and adults) before departure for the "athletic tour" into which we were heading. Although none of the walks were a long distance, we had to negotiate many steep inclines, uneven, wet, muddy trails, stone steps with no handrails, and slick rocks. The beautiful thing we saw required these type of hikes, but those in poor physical condition be forwarned!
As a biology teacher, I was enchanted by the Galapagos Islands. I would have loved a few more days there!
The food and accommodations were better than expected. All hotels were attractive, clean, and convenient to our activities. One of our hotels (on the Galapagos), was way beyond expectations, genuinely first class and I am glad we had two nights there. The quality of the provided meals ranged from okay to very good. With a few nights being quite exceptional!
My two minor quibbles or suggestions:
1. The 6-hour bus ride to Tena to visit the rainforest. I enjoyed the destination, but the long hours on the bus were draining. I understand that the trip was longer than usual due to local flooding and washed-out bridges. And Edison did a great job of breaking up the journey with plenty of stops for snacks, restroom breaks, and some sightseeing. However, I think perhaps some thought should be put on that leg of the tour.
2. The white water rafting in Tena. It was exciting to raft in the Amazon jungle, and the water was more waves than rapids and acceptable for inexperienced or beginner. But our adventure was much wetter than any white water rafting I have previously done (including class 5 rapids!). The problem was we had to pack everything very early the following morning and get on a bus (see 6-hour ride comment above). There was no way for the wet clothes to get even somewhat dry before departure (rainforests are humid!). Perhaps going forward the itinerary could be switched up, (or clothes dryers found), so we don't have to pack sopping wet swimsuits, etc.
I would highly recommend this trip for anyone wanting to learn more about the ecosystems of Ecuador!
"Wow" is just not enough!My son's trip was more than we ever expected. He suffers from depression and anxiety but the pictures, text messages and similar that he sent showed a happy child. He has been home 3 days now and still cannot stop talking about the amazing trip and all it included.
Most amazing, educational trip!Of all the EF trips we have traveled on, the Ecosystems of Ecuador was the best! From cloud forests, Galapagos Islands, hiking by a volcano in the Andes, and rafting in the Amazon jungle, this trip had it all. Our guides were top notch and we were constantly amazed at their in depth knowledge about their country. Would recommend this trip for sure!
Great ExperienceThis trip was a great experience. Our tour guide was fantastic and always made sure we were having a great experience and were safe. The activities were fantastic- especially those in Galapagos. However, some recommendations. First, it was really tough to get up early, tour an indigenous village, and then drive 6 hours to return to Quito for our flight. Taking a red-eye back home was not ideal. One really bad problem was that we had a water activity the day before we returned home. Since we were in the Amazon jungle and the hotel had no laundry services, there was no way for group members to get their clothes dry before packing for home. This really needs to be considered in how the itinerary is built. Either the days need to be swapped so this location/activity falls earlier in the trip or there needs to be laundry services made available to at least dry the wet clothing before packing up. Also, some things labeled as "hikes" were more of a nature walk. Most group members bought expensive hiking boots for "hiking" while typical tennis shoes/sneakers would have been sufficient. Another thing to include in the pre-trip planning is that towels are not provided for the water activities, so travelers need to know that they will need to have a towel with them for this particular trip.