Sustainable Summer is not for everyone. In addition to the age requirements (15 – 18 years old), in general, you should have a strong interest in environmental sustainability and the requisite physical and emotional maturity to handle the experience of traveling with your peers in a developing country. In general, the Galapagos is an easier place to travel in than other Sustainable Summer programs. Our 10-day Galapagos program, in particular, is a great introduction to travel in Latin America. Our 14-day program is intended to be a more immersive and intense experience, although is still a great choice for first time travelers.
Our 10-day program was initially conceived as an optional "extension" program for students participating in a program in mainland Ecuador that wanted to experience the Galapagos. We continue to think that this program works best as an extension program, and we encourage students looking for a "stand-alone" program to consider the 14-day option. However, due to date conflicts, time or financial constraints, and other factors, we typically have about 50/50 "stand-alone" vs "extension" students in the program.
The 10-day program features 7 nights in the Galapagos, with visits to San Cristobal, Santa Cruz, and Bartoleme Islands (Baltra, too, but it's notable only for its airport). This makes for a really excellent, albeit short experience in this remarkable archipelago. The accommodations are in small, locally operated hotels, one night on San Cristobal and the remaining nights in Puerto Ayora, the main settlement in the Galapagos. The accommodations are the equivalent of a 2-star hotel in the US. Breakfast and dinner are served cafeteria-style at the hotel. We take a packed lunch with us into the field most days.
Our 14-day program features visits to Baltra, Santa Cruz, Bartoleme, Santa Fe, and Pinzon Island. This is not only a longer (10 nights vs 7) Galapagos experience, but a more dynamic itinerary, including 3 boat trips to outer lying islands, instead of only the 1 (to Bartoleme) on the 10-day itinerary. Additionally, the accommodations are more remarkable. On the 14-day itinerary, we stay in truly unique accommodations, at an organic farm and eco-lodge in the Santa Cruz highlands. Students live in luxury safari tents and enjoy the tranquility of the Galapagos Park (as opposed to the urban surroundings of our hotels on the 10-day program). Meals are taken at the lodge's main gathering area and students have the opportunity to learn traditional culinary techniques from the lodge's chef. In general, the accommodations and food on this program are consistent with that one would find at a top eco-lodge. So, you can expect exceptionally fresh food, prepared in innovative ways; intense natural harmony; and an altogether more unique living experience. Additionally, the longer duration of the program affords a more in-depth exploration of the archipelago and a more intense engagement with the course subject matter and fellow program participants.
Ultimately, both program options have their merits. The 14-day program is a better value, in our opinion, but for students that are looking to extend their Sustainable Summer experience, or that are not able to participate in a longer Galapagos program due to time or financial constraints, the 10-day program is an outstanding option that is a guaranteed to deliver a once in a lifetime experience.