This is my 4th trip with Contiki but I feel I need to review the Ecuador part of the trip separately to the Galapagos Islands part of the trip as there was just such a big contrast.
We had a different tour manager on the Galapagos section and the Ecuador section. The group was around 14 people in total, about 7 did Ecuador only, 7 did Ecuador and Galapagos and 7 did Galapagos only.
Ecuador food: I thought it was really poor quality and was very disappointed with some of the places that we were taken to eat. The tour guide's recommendations really were not very good in terms of food quality. I feel like a tour guide should be competent in knowing the local areas. For example in Guayaquil, the tour guide took us to the restaurant when it was closing?! They then had to barter with the restaurant staff to keep the place open for us and the restaurant restricted the menu that was available for us. This is not what I would expect from a Contiki tour guide. A lot of people on this tour also got food poisoning which meant they had to miss out on activities.
Galapagos food: The food in Galapagos was unflappable. Fresh local sushi, incredible tuna steaks, well cooked beef etc etc. The tour guide recommended some amazing places to us that we would not have been able to find ourselves. This was a real value adding service from the guide.
Ecuador Activities: There were a lot of extreme sports and good challenging things available, however, almost all were me time add ons. The me time add on were excellent value for money and really great fun. In total I spend about $300 on the Ecuador activities. However, one should note that there are not many included activities in Ecuador. So that meant that people who did not participate in the extreme sports really didn't have very much to do. Our tour guide also added on an activity to see a local football match in Guayaquil. This was really nice of him as he didn't have to do that for us.
Galapagos Activities: A lot of these activities were included and very inclusive for the whole group’s ability. It involved things like snorkling, boat rides etc. They were very relaxing activities and really put us in touch with nature.
Ecuador Accommodation: The accommodation was generally hostels below average quality when compared to the UK/Europe etc. For example, we rarely had hot water. It didn’t really bother me too much though, and I think the reason we didn’t have hot water is because everyone seems to shower at the same time when they get back from an activity.
Galapagos Accommodation: I thought this was poor quality. For example, we were mean to be staying at the Albemarle hotel but they replaced it with a hostel when we arrived. The hostel was significantly worse quality than the hotel we were meant to be staying at. For example, when we were playing cards, we were told to keep the noise down and finish at 10.30pm by the hostel owner.
I think that a lot of the trip really was very good but there were a few fundamental things which should have never happened on a Contiki tour that let it down.
I would certainly recommend the Galapagos Islands section of the tour but unfortunately I don't think I would recommend the Ecuador section.