Review Of Andando Tours: Galapagos Luxury Worth The Cost?

The Galapagos Islands are not an easy place to describe because of all the places I’ve been to, I’ve never been anywhere quite like it. When Andando Tours invited me to try one of their tours, scheduling conflicts nearly had me declining what turned out to be a trip of a lifetime. No, I was no paid to write this and it’s not an advertisement. There are other ways to visit the Galapagos on a budget but this particular $4500 Andando trip, onboard the Mary Anne sailboat, ends up being a value if you can afford the upfront cost. Watch the video above or read on to find out why.

Comparing The Competition

No matter how you get to the Galapagos, there are costs upfront: tickets – and visa if you need one – to Ecuador (flights to the Galapagos can only leave from their mainland) and the Galapagos permit required of all visitors. Round trip flights from Ecuador to Galapagos plus the permit will be at least $500 total. Once you’re in the Galapagos, you’ll have to take a small dinghy to the only major settlement, Puerto Ayora. Without opting for a cruise, add in hotel (minimum $60 daily) and meal prices as well.

andando tours mary anne

The Galapagos are an archipelago of 21 islands spread over several hundred kilometers in the Pacific. Not all of them are easy to get to but there are 4-5 points which can be done as day trips from Puerto Ayora. Those would be primarily hiking trips, with a guide, leaving around sunrise and returning at dusk.

I’m laying all of this out to because the most frugal ways to visit the Galapagos limit what you can see with day trips to select spots on nearby islands, for roughly $1500 for 8 days if you’re very careful with spending. Other Galapagos cruises tend to stick to those primary islands as well, running about $2500-$3000 for short 3-5 day trips, or closer to $4000 for trips of a week.

What You Get With Andando

Given that the cost of the Andando Tour onboard the Mary Anne is just above those prices ($4500), these are the three area you’re really paying for broken down:

  1. The Boat
  2. The Experience
  3. Time

andando tours review

Let’s start with the boat. The Mary Anne is a former German racing sailboat, the only sailboat operating in the Galapagos. There are 14 tourists on the boat and roughly that many crew. The vessel is spacious, comfortable, and doesn’t feel like a floating hotel. The rooms are spartan, beds and small bathroom pretty much, but the rest of the boat is where you’ll be spending a most of your time. There’s a short boat tour in my video here.

2. The Experience

Again, I’m referring you to the video but the 8-day trip is broken down daily by your guide. In my case, our guide Fernando Ortiz whose credentials are impressive to say the least, split the days into several activities. Andando it seems gets priority in scheduling island visits (they’re limited to avoid over-tourism) and hiking activities are generally arranged to avoid the hottest parts of the day when the equatorial sun is especially strong.

nazca booby

You’ll hike, snorkel, kayak, see unique wildlife close up since they have no natural fear of people, across 2-3 activities a day. Between each activity you return to the boat for a meal or snacks, giving those who want to stay behind an chance to do so. Which basically was just this blogger and this one staying behind once or twice to shoot videos for their travel blogs.

The efficiency in which all of this is coordinated, the boat transfers, the rooms being clean whenever you’re not in them, the timing of the meals, when to snorkel with seal lions at their most playful, all of it was very, very impressive. I kept looking (and expecting) cracks in the presentation. You know, crew that looked miserable when they thought nobody was around, dinghies being late, a guide who bull-shot the occasional answer to a question – and encountered none of that. There was a warmth and personality of the crew, guide, and Captain Mario whose authenticity could not be faked, even for our benefit.

3. Time

Many of the outlying islands of the Galapagos archipelago cannot be done as day trips from Puerto Ayora because of the distances involved. Andando offers several itineraries, and the eastern route I was on covers many of them. Because of the biodiversity of the Galapagos, you often find multiple ecosystems within a very small area. The spots you’re taken to are planned for the best time and the efficiency of the route, day planning, and crew ensure in 8 days you see a lot.

andando tours blogger

Cruise Options

To compare everything, I planned out an individual trip for myself to see what it might look like. There are two major constraints I found. The first, is reaching the outer islands. Missing those mean you would miss albatross returning to land, for example. Additionally, trying to recreate this route using Puerto Ayora as a base would make each activity of the Andando trip (2-3 daily) a trip of an entire day. Not to mention most of the sites are limited to certain cruises, so individually they wouldn’t be as accessible (i.e. you would need to opt for one of the higher-end tours from any company to reach those destinations).

Ultimately, if an Andando Tour is way out of your budget, then there are alternative ways to visit the Galapagos Islands. But if their prices are just a bit higher or around what you were planning to spend, I can certainly recommend their tours. Galapagos is a special place and suggest you treat this as a once in a lifetime type of trip – if you have the opportunity and the means, it’s not a place you want to skimp on.

Which One Of These Sweet 16 Will You Vote Best City To Visit In 2019?

best city 2019 sweet 16

It was a very tight Round of 32, with several cities squeaking by, plus Galle and New York City making it through by winning a tie-breaker. The North Americans are dominating the lower right of the brackets and one U.S. city is guaranteed to make it to the Elite 8. And although they’ve been quiet so far, Seville faces a strong Lisbon in a battle of the highest voted cities in the Best City contest thus far.

Readers, it’s time to vote! Click your favorite cities before this Sunday, March 17th, 5pm US EST (-5 GMT). Final vote results many not be visible, check for updates in the comments below or on Facebook.









Remember, the next round of Elite 8, begins next Tuesday, March 19th, 2019. Good luck everyone!

A Short Film To Inspire You To: Travel More

I hope this short film I made encourages you to do just as the title says, Travel More. Pass it along to all the people in your life you want to take a trip with or anyone who might need a little encouragement to start their next adventure.

Things Get Serious From Here: Vote In The Best City 2019 Tournament Round Of 32!

best city 2019 round of 32

The first Round of 64 cities in the Best City to Visit Travel Tournament are a crowded blur but since you’ve voted half of them away, contenders are starting to come into focus. Spain’s Seville might want to take the prize from 2018’s best Granada, New Orleans could be America’s first, and Istanbul is off to its annual strong start. And although there’s no possibility of a back-to-back winner, there might be another repeat – here’s a high-res image of the brackets shown above to guess where.

Your votes determine which of these 32 cities move on from here. Voting is open through this Sunday, March 10th, 5pm US EST (-5 GMT). Good luck to each of these cities!

















Should any of the votes be tied at the end of a round, I’ll be the official tie-breaker. The Sweet 16 begins Tuesday, March 12th, when you can see if your favorite cities advanced or were eliminated. Thanks for participating!

Romania’s Bigar Waterfall Is A Remote Pitstop Photoshopers Will Love

bigar waterfall

Sitting along a winding, scenic, and out-of-the-way road cutting through the southwestern corner of Romania is Bigar Waterfall. An impressive sight but not one particularly worth going out of your way for – it’s not really close to any other major attraction. You may have seen the pictures and be asking, wait, doesn’t a glowing waterfall warrant a 3 hour drive from the nearest big city?

I’m sorry to disappoint you. The water isn’t illuminated in colorful hues using natural magic or artificial lights.

bigar waterfall

The main draw of Bigar is most certainly the highly colorized and edited photos of it floating online. I’m not going to link to them here, because this is what it will look like when you arrive. Not to say this isn’t impressive, however, if you were waiting for pulsating H2O radiating an alien blue – these images will gently refine your expectations.

Without a doubt many pictures (as these are) have corrections made to them, although where the spring water meets the stream below does not luminesce. There’s a massive artistic license being taken by photographers and clever tourism promoters so keep this in mind if you’re driving around Timisoara, former best cities Craiova and Targu Jiu, or even Belgrade nearby. The drive is beautiful, sights serene, yet Bigar Waterfall is actually water behind a lovely backdrop of green.

One Of These 64 Cities Will Be Named Best To Visit In 2019: Time To Vote!

best city 2019 64 bracket

The Best City to Visit Travel Tournament has officially begun with this group of 64 cities you’ve selected. I’ll keep it short as it’s a long list below – all you have to do is scroll down and vote for your favorite cities in the match-ups below. The winning 32 cities will advance to the next Round of 32. (Here’s a large resolution version of the bracket above.)

You have until this Sunday, March 3rd 5:00pm US EST to scroll down and vote for your favorite cities. You can check back throughout the week for live vote updates.

































Should any of the votes be tied at the end of a round, I’ll be the official tie-breaker. Cities were grouped roughly by geographic location. The next Round of 32 begins Tuesday, March 5th, when you can see if your favorite cities advanced or were eliminated. Thanks for participating!

About Anil Polat

foxnomad aboutI'm the blogger and computer security engineer who writes foXnoMad while on a journey to visit every country in the world. I'll show you the tips, tricks, and tech you can use to travel smarter. Read More


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