Galapagos Islands - M/V Samba Trip Report

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After meeting our guide for the week Juan and the first mate Camilo; we fetched our bags, gave them to Camilo, and then boarded a TAME bus with Juan to head to the port--our bags would meet us on the boat.

At the port, you're immediately greeted by these sea lions:


We hopped in the dinghys and boarded our home for the next week, the Samba.  We were joined by twelve other touristas.  We were the lone members in their 20's, but the 30's, 40's, 50's, 60's, and 70's were all represented.  Also the lone Americanos--Australia, UK, and the Netherlands rounded things off.

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This ain't the QE2, but it was perfect for our tastes.  The big winning criteria in our selecting this boat was the itinerary.  If you're looking to visit the western islands, your options are immediately narrowed down.  Cross off the uber-expensive and the mega cruise ships and you're left with the Samba and Cachalote.  Then it came down to availability and the Samba won out--we booked in January and snagged the last two spots.  If you want a good boat like this, you really have to plan ahead.  Many on the boat had booked a year in advance.

Here's the itinerary we cruised in a clockwise direction departing from Baltra.  From our research, the only big thing you won't see is the red-footed booby--you'd need to visit Genovesa for them.  Next time, I guess.

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Let's say right now that we give the Samba huge thumbs up in every regard.  Great itinerary.  Three tasty meals a day that showed incredible diversity and creativity given the conditions.  And a spectacular crew.

Now we'll single out the guide Juan.  It's safe to say that everyone aboard had crushes/man-crushes on him.  Twenty-six years old, born and raised on the Galapagos, university in Quito, speaks English like he's from California, and seems to know everything there is to know about seemingly everything.  Throw in his ability to explain things like vulcanology in a way everyone could understand, and he was a real gem.  Other groups would stop to eavesdrop, marvel, and compliment us for being so lucky to have such a great guide.

If you're interested in learning as much as possible about this archipelago (instead of just laying around in the sand), you would be well served to go through the effort of finding out Juan's guiding schedule on the Samba.  "Sadly", he has a kiddo on the way so it will be throttled back a bit.  It was awesome to hear him talk on the last day about him and the crew of the Samba doing everything they can to ensure their future generations enjoy the same Galapagos they know.

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