Traveling to the Galapagos Islands with my Stepfather: A Conversation with Cori Dossett
This month we’re interviewing women from all over the world and asking them about their experiences traveling to the Galapagos Islands. We had the privilege of speaking with Cori Dossett about her experience traveling through the Islands. Here’s a glimpse into our conversation.
Tell us about yourself! What do you do when you’re not traveling the world? Where do you live? What made you decide to go to your most recent destination?
I reside in Dallas, Texas, but I feel transient by choice since I’m able to travel. Conferences Designed, a professional meeting planning company, is my passion. It combines my loves of reading, research, details, learning and travel into one. When not “at” work, I love to travel, cook and drink wine, do yoga (both restorative and more intense), take the dogs to the park to swim, write and research.
My stepfather is on a new mission with his bucket list, and the Galapagos Islands were number one on the short list. And, lucky for me, my mother did not want to go, so I went along with him. Next up – China!
How long did you go for? How did you spend your time?
We were technically in the country of Ecuador for 12 days. The Galapagos cruise portion was one week. The first day in country we enjoyed the luxury of laziness, taking a few naps and resting from the prior day’s travel. We were planning to go out on a walking excursion, but it was raining, heavily at times, so we were forced by nature to take up residence in the concierge lounge (which was well-worth the fee for a night to camp-out, and have access to snacks, bottled waters and juices (and rich South American coffee) all day.
The second day, we ventured into the heart of the city and walked a few miles on the Malecon 2000, a fantastic riverside park with museums, restaurants, playgrounds, tall ships, a magnificent Moorish clock tower (yes, in the heart of Ecuador, resides a Moorish tower). The highlight of the walk was seeing the large and magnificent Catholic cathedral, highlighted by Iguana park. Hundreds of critters, varying sizes and colors roamed freely in the park, at home with the locals, tourists, and turtles.
Pre-dawn, the following morning, we flew to the Galapagos Islands, about 500 miles west of mainland Ecuador, where we boarded the national Geographic Endeavor for our week-long sail. Not your typical cruise, the Endeavor is rustic but classily appointed. The food was very good (we thought that the buffet breakfasts and lunches were exceptionally good and the plated dinners were a bit more boring and not as good (in quality) as we had hoped.
However, one does not travel to far West Ecuador on a small ship for the food. The highlight, of course, was the animals, in their natural habitat. Beautiful birds – three types of boobies, frigates, and many more), sea lions, extensive marine wildlife and of course, iguanas.
I did not even like lizards or ever gave them much thought prior to going to the Galapagos. I now have a secret crush on those Galapagos iguanas. They won my heart. Who knew?
Each day we had activity choices – hiking, beach, kayaking, snorkeling, and swimming. There was not a dull moment – I did not even get though my second magazine with all the activity. By the time my head hit the bed each night, exhaustion took over and sleep came quickly. As did the 6 a.m. alarm.
We spent an extra night in Guayaquil upon our return to the mainland, which I would not recommend, as it was not needed. However, to get a better deal out of our frequent flyer miles, this was necessary.
What were your most memorable experiences? What were the biggest disappointments?
Most memorable was definitely the animals, including swimming with sharks, giant sea turtles, and a plethora of delightful and colorful fish . The experience almost made me turn from being a long-time pescatarian to a full-time vegetarian.
My biggest disappointment was the staff at the Hilton and the day excursion we had to go on to the giant tortoise farm that was accompanied by a horrible tour guide. At a restaurant stop for lunch I became violently ill and received bad advice from a guide to not “waste your time” going to the Charles Darwin research station. This day was terribly disappointing – but all other days of our trip were great.
What do you wish you knew before you went?
I needed just a few more shirts, as we were in and out of the water so often. And, I wish I had gone to the Charles Darwin research station—I guess I wish I had known how good it would be. I let the tour company know how disappointed we were that we chose not to visit it based on their staff recommendations but the excitement and photos from fellow travelers told a brighter tale. Some had even visited it prior and wanted to return. Other, that that, it a great trip!
Any favorite restaurants/hotels/hostels/
sites you’d like to recommend? Tell us what made them great!
We only stayed at the Hilton Colon Guayaquil so I do not have any comparison in Ecuador. However, as an experienced traveler I can say, it was a typical big box hotel, most expensive and nicest hotel in Guayaquil. We were very impressed with the concierge lounge and loved the food in the market café better than the fancy buffet. The jazz band that played in the bar was stellar, the spa and the pool were all exceptionally nice. We did not have an opportunity to eat outside the hotel this trip.
However, the front desk staff were not great, making a few charge errors on our credit cards, and one gentleman that helped us was inadequate and most unhelpful. I followed up with Hilton after the fact and am still awaiting a reply.
Is there anything that women specifically should know before they travel to your destination?
As I was not alone on this adventure, it made for a different spin, and one of our sights seeing days in the city was omitted due to the rain. I am adventurous and a walker and typically would set out on a walk to explore but was forewarned by the hotel that was not really safe. Walking in the more popular parts of town was very safe during the day. It is not a city women should be out and about in alone, and even as a pair or small contingent of tourists and it is not recommended at all in the dark.