Advice about Clothing, Shoes, Etc.

I would like to get some recommendations about the type of clothing, shoes, and other essentials for this trip. Do you recommend any kind of walking stick? Also, on this tour, if you do not snorkel, what is offered for you to do? However, I noticed that on the tour with the Isabella II, there is a glass bottom boat. Is one also available on any of the islands for this tour? What kind of camera? Any tips or recommendations are appreciated.


  • edited January 2019
    HuntNfun wrote:
    I would like to get some recommendations about the type of clothing, shoes, and other essentials for this trip. Do you recommend any kind of walking stick? Also, on this tour, if you do not snorkel, what is offered for you to do? However, I noticed that on the tour with the Isabella II, there is a glass bottom boat. Is one also available on any of the islands for this tour? What kind of camera? Any tips or recommendations are appreciated.

    Walking can be challenging at times at Machu Picchu and on the Galapagos, especially on the lava flows. But, unless you have stability/walking issues, forget about taking a walking stick, especially if you don't use one regularly. It is not really needed in Peru and the ship will likely have some you can borrow (the Isabela II did). If you bring your own, if it has a metal tip, you must remove it or cover it or the bottom of the pole with a rubber tip at both Machu Picchu and on the islands. The problem with a walking stick is it can be a real trip hazard to those around you if you don't use it properly and carefully.

    Don't snorkel?- swim, float, kayak, sunbathe, alternative panga (zodiac) trip (usually offered) or stay aboard the Silver Galapagos for its piano bar lounge, library, Jacuzzi, beauty salon, massage room, and fitness center.

    There is absolutely nothing, no signs of human habitation, on the islands where the boat anchors offshore and you swim/snorkel/walk (the Galapagos has only four inhabited island- Santa Cruz, San Cristobal, Isabela, and Floreana). There are no unaccompanied walks. At all times you go ashore to either snorkel/swim or for nature walks (which will be on established trails only), you must be accompanied by an official Galapagos guide/naturalist.

    Take a camera that you are knowledgeable, experienced, and comfortable using- avoid seeing your entire trip through a camera viewfinder! It sounds like you won't need a waterproof or underwater camera. However, you might consider getting a drybag and use it to transport your camera, etc. on panga trips to/from the ship and the islands, in case you catch a wave, or stumble in the shallow water while getting into or out of the panga- you'll have "wet" and "dry" landings.

    The bamboo walking sticks shown in the last two photos were ones provided on the Isabela II. My photos give an idea of clothes worn- it is a very casual tour (at least it was on our original tour on the Isabela II which is an "expedition" ship. I can't speak to what it is like on the Silver Galapagos.) Shoes- Machu Picchu- shoes with soles that grip well, same goes for Galapagos + get a pair of water shoes for the Galapagos.

    There are some minor slopes, but quite a few stone steps at Machu Picchu:


    Typical gravel/sand/coral trail on the Galapagos. Our head naturalist, Dennis, getting down and dirty for a photo op:


    A "dry," but a bit hazardous, landing. You can see how it might be difficult to carry a walking stick if you are trying to hold your camera or day bag in one hand while a guide holds your other hand to steady you. Often you will pass your day bag ashore first.


    Portions of a number of the nature walks are on very rough, but sometimes slippery (if near the water or there has been a rain shower), and uneven lava flows:

  • We took this trip in October of 2017 on the Isabella II and loved it. I used a walking stick although I never used one before this trip. I found it very helpful because there is a lot of rough walking without handrails! But, as Alan said, you really need to be mindful of it. There was a person on our trip that between his tripod and walking stick he was a real hazard and everyone avoided him at all costs! My girlfriend and I have never kayaked and so we thought why not try it in the Galapagos. We had a riot and are still laughing about our lack of co-ordination. The panga is nearby so there wasn't any fear.
    I always split the packing of my clothes and my husbands between two suitcases. We were able to leave suitcases behind in Ecuador since the cabins are compact. I packed one duffle for my husband and one duffle for myself. Well, there were quite a few people whose luggage did not make it to the Isabella. Oops. Fortunately it was my husband's bag ;) The missing luggage traveled all over South America before it was finally delivered by panga in the middle of the night. Our tour director and guides met the delivery boat with the luggage in the middle of the sea in the middle of the night. All's well that ends well, but I learned a lesson.
    If you are a shopper - and I am - take advantage of any opportunity - they are rare. And, if you are lucky enough to encounter Kevin Costner, the street vendor, by all means buy something from him!
    I bought a disposable underwater camera that my friend's husband used when he snorkeled. The water is murky and was a waste of money and effort. Unless someone has a high end underwater camera it probably isn't worth it. I do have a Nikon super zoom point and shoot camera that worked for taking pictures of faraway birds.

    It's a great trip and nothing compares to the sites you will see.
  • edited February 2019
    Another comment about U/W cameras. First the conditions- visibility, wave action, depth, varied from day to day and place to place. Visibility ranged from less than 12' up to 100.'

    Taking photos of fish, etc. while snorkeling on the surface in most part is a waste of time, unless you are in VERY shallow, clear water. With most U/W cameras you must get extremely close, 1' to 5,' away for a decent shot. If you are a competent swimmer/snorkeler and dive down it is easier to photograph fish- but they likely won't look like the same fish you see in identification guides because with every foot deeper, the water filters out more and more of the reds and yellows from the visual spectrum, so you are quickly left with everything washed-out dull blue/green. I have done quite a bit of SCUBA diving and snorkeling and U'/W photography, and am a very capable swimmer, but even so it was a challenge to get good photos while snorkeling. Fish don't like to stay still and pose! On this trip I shot U/W videos only using a GoPro and an LED array underwater light (which unfortunately quit on me after just a few dives. I also wore a weight belt (20 lbs?) to counteract the buoyancy of my warm water skin suit (I did not wear the supplied wetsuits- too buoyant) to make it easier to dive down- typically to 5' - 12' to capture fish shots. The naturalists and I used camera poles sometimes to get closer to fish, but they make it hard to accurately aim the camera. I ain't as young as I used to be so my typical photo plunge was around 30 seconds before I had to head to the surface and gasp for air. By the end of each snorkeling session I was pretty winded and tired.

    Update: I extracted a bunch of stills from my videos and posted them here. I don't know what the naturalists will do on the Silver Galapagos, but our crew on the Isabela II made a slide show with stills and videos taken of us, our surroundings, and the land and water critters. They edited them into a nice slide/video show and put it on a DVD. They showed it on our last night aboard and gave a copy to our TD who had it duplicated in Guayaquil and gave everyone a copy at the farewell dinner.
  • Alan, I thought for a minute these were our photos! We only did the Galapagos tour exactly a year ago in February 2018, but not M-P. On our tour there were several people who did not snorkel and they were bored but did read a lot of books. Yes there are hikes, lectures, the glass bottomed boat was out a few times, but this is a small boat so there aren't a lot of lounge around areas. We were snorkeling about twice a day on many days. If you're going to both places, then it would be OK, but if just Galapagos I'd think twice. That said, there are many places where snorkeling is in shallow waters and could be fun. My husband used his U/QW camera a lot primarily for videos of sea lions, penguins and turtles. So we have the turtle barreling straight toward me while I froze not knowing where to go, on film and I can relive the terror. She went below me, by the way, and tickled my flipper. There was a lot of turbidity in the water, so these are not Nat Geo photos - but there are fun.

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