Your tour was… I don’t have the words. Andrew and I find ourselves still staring out into space sometimes weeks later remembering. It wasn’t so much that we got to experience the Galapagos as it was that there was a joy among the people and animals there to experience us! I actually began to feel sorry for the groups of tourists we’d glimpse being herded around on buses or boats, isolated from the experience we were having. Thank you Rick. Your Galapagos touched our hearts.
Come To Galapagos, Tati and Company,
My wife’s family is wonderful and profoundly dull. I wasn’t really looking forward to attending the family reunion. Galapagos had never been on my radar and I imagined I’d be spending most of the ten days half drunk. Your tour just blew our sox off and now, getting together with them, all we talk about is that trip. “Remember the giant tortoises that made us get off the path so THEY could pass…”, “When Suzy kept yelling about the seal pup that kept chewing on her swim fin and you wouldn’t believe it, so you went in the water to see and the pup came up to you and blew bubbles in your face…”, “What was that guy’s name, Javier? the way he serenaded the family after diner…” It just goes on and on. Thank you so much.
Name and home town withheld to protect the innocent.
We all agreed we had a phenomenal time. The consensus, after discussing with ourselves and talking with several other travelers who had done mostly cruise tours during our travel days, was that if we had taken a cruise we would have seen more–but experienced much less. All five of us agreed that the experiences were so worth it. Spending the whole week with Daniela (who was great), hanging out with you and B and Roland, dinner at the Miramar with sea lions making a constant racket below, our animated bilingual conversations with Nelly, dinner with her whole family Javier pulled out his guitar and sang “Let It Be”, the visits to the farm, walking the dirt streets of Isabella at night during an island-wide blackout, going to bars with Daniela and her friends, were all things that we’ll all long remember–along with the lobos, iguanas, tortugas, and boobies.
As soon as we can get them downloaded and organized, we’ll post pix and videos on Facebook, and I’ll post my comments as well on TripAvisor.com (and other travel sites).
We had a great time! We were so happy to have done a land based Galapagos tour because we got a much better “feel” of the islands themselves and all of our hosts were so welcoming. As I’m sure you expected, there aren’t enough superlatives to describe Pepo. What a terrific guy. His family must be wonderfully proud of all of the things he’s done in his young life and that he is such a warm and caring person.
I’ve told a number of people how much I felt I learned on the trip. I learned so much about the climate, and geology of the islands that I’m sure I wouldn’t have realized had we stayed on a boat. Plus, we had so much fun–snorkeling, watching birds and trekking around the highlands. As recommended by Pepo, I read “Curse of the Tortoise” on the way home and realized how hard it was for all of the early settlers–voluntary or involuntary–to actually live on the islands. It’s quite a place and I’m so happy I came to visit.
So that’s about it. Thanks for all of your time in arranging the details of our trip. I’m sorry we didn’t get more time to spend with you and meet your little boy. And, again, if anyone would like information, please give them my email address.
See ya soon! Sue
My time on San Cristobal and in Casa Nuestra was, without doubt, the happiest of my life. The opportunity to spend time on the islands with the people who live there and have made the enchanted islands their home is incredibly powerful. It opens up the Galapagos to you in a way few tourists get to see. It is an incredibly open and wonderful community. Casa Nuestra especially so. I have so many amazing memories from my time there. In addition, walking to the store past lounging sea-lions and nesting boobies makes the average day extraordinary on San Cristobal. The Galapagos are truly magical and spending time on the islands is the only way to really experience that magic.
New York NY
Glad you’re considering a trip to the Galapagos – it was the most fun trip we’ve had as a family. The Come to Galapagos tour was absolutely the best choice for us and probably a great choice for you considering the similar ages of your children (ours are both 10).
So here’s the scoop as we experienced it, hope it answers all your questions:
-The Come to Galapagos tour is great for families because you are not trapped in a group agenda that may not suit you. The tour and schedule are completely flexible and suited to the daily needs of the family (Ex. One day our kids were just exhausted so Rick quickly changed the agenda to include an afternoon nap and free time on the beach, by dinner everyone was back on track). If there is something that is not turning out to be enjoyable, you leave. If there’s something that is super fun, you stay longer or do it again.
-This trip was also well suited to our family as we prefer activity and adventure over luxury or fine dining. Our accommodations were clean, lovely and simple. The meals were tasty and plentiful and well suited to our likes and dislikes, but you will not find four star accommodations and dining on the island (and we liked it that way!)
-With our kids, snorkeling was a big hit. We were glad we waited until they were pretty strong swimmers before making a trip like this. We wished we had invested in spring wet suits for them as they were not able to tolerate the water for as long as they would have liked to snorkel.
-Another big hit with our kids was the art lessons. When we go back, they requested that they do art every afternoon. Senora Jackie and Senor Pabo are both lovely and gentle souls. The art was a great wind-down activity toward the end of the day after big adventures in the morning.
-We wished we had known more Spanish! The people of San Cristobal are so friendly, welcoming and interesting – it was frustrating not to be able to chat more with them. On the other hand, having a guide around helped us enjoy a great deal of interaction, despite the language barrier.
-We wondered if we would enjoy having a “guided” trip with a stranger there with you for much of your family vacation. We found that Rick has an incredible insight into this dynamic and has set up these trips and trained his guides beautifully. We loved having someone plan everything and just tell us where, when and what to wear. At the same time, he was never intrusive and just seemed to appear when we needed something. This was a great help when traveling with kids. It really allowed me as “Mom” to relax and not feel responsible for every detail.
-Don’t miss the farm or the fishing trip. They provided fun activities that were also educational and enriching for us all. We had the children journal during the trip and make scrapbooks when they got back. They each gave presentations to their classes at school and their teachers were blown away by the insights they had into the people, animals and history of the islands – all without cracking a book!
-Lastly, Rick is truly incredible and visionary. The heart with which they established Come to Galapagos is so evident in everything they do. They are truly committed to bringing the islands and tourists together in a new way that benefits both. We were so touched by our interactions with the people of San Cristobal. But what really blew us away was that they were touched that we came and spent time on their island and were interested in their lives and stories.
I can sum our experiences up with this – by the end of the trip, Rick had so accommodated our every wish and anticipated our every need that we truly considered having Come to Galapagos t-shirts made that said “Thank God for Rick!” on the back!
Please let me know if you have any other questions – I hope you get to go!
Now that a few months have passed since August, this is a good time to look back on what a wonderful time we had during our visit to San Cristóbal. Our stay on San Cristóbal was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. As our children, Seth and Molly, grow older and eventually leave the nest, I have no doubt that our time in Galápagos will stand out among memories of our family’s time together.
I know I do not need to tell you that the Galápagos Islands are like no
other place in the world. The islands are unique in their natural beauty and resources, and it was an extraordinary privilege for our family to be able to witness the spectacular wildlife and land and ocean habitats of San Cristóbal. Your expert guidance enabled us to see and appreciate the natural beauty of the island as we could never have seen it on our own.
We were also privileged to have the opportunity to meet and get to know Galapagueños, not only in town, but also on a farm, a fishing boat, or a coffee plantation. We are deeply grateful for the kindness and hospitality extended to us by the Agama family, Jairo, Jaqueline, and others, and last but not least by the two of you.
You truly are masters at the art of introducing visitors to the beauty of a place while being respectful of its inhabitants and protective of its
environment. Liz, Seth, Molly and I thank you for an experience that we will never forget. Our warmest wishes to the two of you, to Erey, and to everyone in Puerto Baquerizo Moreno for a joyous holiday.
With our affection and gratitude,
Andy Montgomery and Liz Lawrence
Notes on trip to Galapagos with Cometogalapagos.com
A land based Galapagos tour was on our list of important things to do, and when we decided the time was now, I did a search and came upon www.cometogalapagos.com . The site looked promising and I soon engaged in an email exchange with Rick Schleicher that allowed him to outline an itinerary that best met our interests. The choices were many, including visiting the islands from one of the many tour boats that carry most of the visitors to Galapagos. We opted for a land stay, and were delighted with our choice.
I am not usually one to write trip reviews, but this trip was so well planned and executed by Rick Schleicher and his wife Bere, who is an Ecuador native, that I feel compelled to highly recommend them. Here is a summary of the trip which will explain my recommendation:
Trip planning: Rick communicates extensively by email and clearly wants to understand what we want to get from our trip to Galapagos. This eventually results in a highly customized trip that precisely meets our objectives, in terms of activities and schedule. The fact that Rick lives in the Galapagos gives him a unique and expert knowledge of these lovely islands.
Arrival in Quito: although the AA flight is 2 hours late, our driver is waiting for us at the airport.
Quito Hotel: the patio Andaluz is perfectly located in the old town, and precisely fits the description provided by Rick. The accommodation and service are first class.
Quito tour: the driver is on time and the guide very knowledgeable and very accommodating. Throughout the day, both are eager to please and anxious to show all that Quito can offer.
Their English language skills are very good.
Flight to Galapagos: driver on time and remains at the airport with us until all steps leading to boarding are complete.
Arrival in San Cristobal: Rick is at the airport to meet us and introduce us to our guide; Fernando. Fernando turns out to be a fully licensed Parque National Galapagos Guide and very knowledgeable in Galapagos fauna, flora, history and culture. Additionally his language skills are great and his interpersonal skills outstanding. We greatly enjoy our time with him. He is also a keen snorkeller, hiker, and always ready for more activities. On the afternoon of our arrival we hike to a superb snorkeling location and within minutes we are swimming among a giant stingray, sea wolves, and other wonderful sea life. Fernando will be the highlight of our trip.
San Cristobal accommodations: the Casablanca B&B is run by a very nice lady. Its location is outstanding, directly in front of the harbor. It is clean, and the breakfast is great. Everybody wants to know how they can better please. We are delighted. The hotel is not luxurious by any stretch, but it is functional and very charming.
Diving: the dive master Angel and another dive master meet us on time at the dock, and we are off for a day of diving and snorkeling. Angel is very experienced and we start the day with a checkout dive. We then proceed to the sleeping lion rocks, where we dive amongst a school of hammer heads. We also on the same dive meet with silk sharks, and white tip sharks. We also observe a rich array of marine life like I had never seen before. We stop on a great deserted beach and lunch on a picnic basket prepared by Rick. Our guide Fernando continues to describe the fauna and flora as we explore the deserted beaches.
Trip to the farms: this is a must do activity. We are chauffeured (on time) to an inland farm where we are hosted by Don Angel Villa. He came to San Cristobal 17 years ago and is exploiting a 90 hectares property, which produces milk, a variety of fruits and vegetables as well as great coffee. We sample everything and fully enjoy our host’s warm hospitality and extensive knowledge of his products. I never thought I would enjoy a farm tour as much.
Trip to the giant tortoise’s center: another must do activity, and a unique opportunity to see those historic animals, once again guided by Fernando, our very knowledgeable guide.
Fishing day with a local fisherman and dinner at his house: this is a great addition to the trip, and starts on time as usual. Our fisherman is accompanied by his son and we quickly catch our daily quota, of 5 fishes which we will eat at night at his place. During the trip we are escorted by as many as 20 dolphins at one time, as well as numerous sea lions. This trip is highly appreciated for its authenticity. Dinner was in a village home where Carlos’ wife and daughters prepared an authentic and succulent meal made of ceviche with the freshly caught fish, and fried fish with platanos and rice. This was the best ceviche we had ever had due to the freshness of the fish and the preparation skills of the fisherman’s family.
Shore dive: this was a great experience for me, as I was met on the diving platform by a young sea lion who accompanied me across the bay, all the time swimming around me and attempting to burst my scuba bubbles. He seemed disappointed when we finally exited the water across the bay on a lovely beach. I was again accompanied on this dive by Angel, our dive master as well as Chai another dive master.
The rest of the trip included numerous snorkeling trips to new sites, where we observed marine iguanas, sea turtles and a number of interesting fish species. Fernando continued to provide valuable info on all the fauna and flora.
Meals: lunches and dinners were provided by the Miramar restaurant, which has a world class chef, and demonstrated superb cuisine skills, as well a surprising variety.
Back to Quito: Fernando accompanies us to the small airport of San Cristobal, and we depart on time. We feel sad to leave the island and our guide, but we feel fulfilled…the Quito hotel is great.
Again, if we sound enthusiastic about this trip, we were. The level of attention and care as well as expert island knowledge was unmatched in my opinion. We are glad we opted for the land accommodation and we would not see the Galapagos any other way.
George and Murielle