Without a doubt, the biggest draw of the Galapagos Islands is the wildlife.
The islands are home to the highest percentage of endemic species anywhere in the world. According to the Galapagos Conservancy, about 80% of the land birds, 97% of the reptiles and mammals, 30%+ of the plants and 20% of the marine species are only found in these islands. Favorites include the Galapagos tortoises, land and marine iguanas, the flightless cormorant and the Galapagos penguins, the only penguin found in the Northern Hemisphere. Of course there are also other non-endemic favorites, like the blue footed boobie, fur and sea lions.
My Southern Loop cruise itinerary in early June took me to the islands of North Seymour, South Plaza, Santa Fe, San Cristobal, Santa Cruz, Floreana, Isabela and Española Islands. Seeing wildlife is never a guarantee, but this is not a problem in the Galapagos. I spotted just about every favorite on the list somewhere along this itinerary. The naturalists told me no matter which itinerary you take you'll see most of the favorites. (If there is a specific species you want to see check with your travel agent to see which itinerary best meets your wants.)
Bottom line, a cruise through the Galapagos Islands is an incredible. My photo story follows.
Seeing wildlife in their natural habitats can be a life changing, soul stirring experience, especially for lovers of "wild things" but equally so for travelers who are simply curious and seeking a bit of adventure.
Wildlife themed itineraries should be experienced in small group settings – whether they be on small expedition and adventure ship cruises or private and small group land tours. Small groups and ships lend themselves perfectly to a better learning and observing environment and offer access to areas that bigger groups and ships just can't. Smaller groups also contribute to the conservation and protection of species. Sustainable tourism - the best way.
Following are 9 top itinerary picks – one (or two) on every continent. Photo credit above: Lindblad Expeditions
Photo courtesy of Lindblad Expeditions
Visiting the Galapagos Islands is unlike any other travel experience. This remote archipelago of volcanic islands west of mainland Ecuador has long attracted travelers interested in Darwin, evolution, volcanoes, nature and wildlife. The biodiversity of the region is incredible.
The biggest draw by far are the unique and iconic species of this protected UNESCO World Heritage site. The animals are completely unafraid of humans, which makes them easier to find and observe. Encountering fur seals on the beach or snorkeling with the frisky sea lions can be especially fun!
When thinking of South America, Peru, Brazil and Argentina often get the most attention. But don't overlook Chile, a country with a diverse landscape north to south and ample things to see and experience.
It's no secret. I fell in love with this country over 10 years ago when I visited via a cruise from Valparaiso to Rio de Janeiro. Warm and friendly people, great food, wine, interesting history. The absolute best for me was the amazing scenic beauty and wildlife. There is no doubt I'll be returning.
My top 9 reasons to visit:
Sometimes a rail trip is just what is needed to thoroughly enjoy the scenic surrounds. No driving, no constant stopping to get that photo, travel through areas where roads don't or can't go. Sit back in luxury, relax and enjoy the ever changing scenery and wildlife (instead of watching the road).
10 epic train adventures to inspire you:
Whether you are looking for a short getaway, to tick off a lifetime dream experience or explore new destinations, there are no shortages of beautiful golf courses around the world for you to enjoy. Fun and exciting trips just waiting for you to create lifelong memories – for yourself, with family and friends.
There’s a reason the classics are the classics. We love the romance and filtered light of Venice, Kyoto’s temples and gardens, that view of Machu Picchu. But with popularity comes the strain of overcrowding: stress on fragile environments, landmarks, and local infrastructure – and an annoying lack of elbow room. Seasoned travelers know how best to see the favorites, visiting in the off-season, taking two wheels, hiking hidden trails.
But for many iconic destination, there is a place less traveled that is just as cool.
Here are 7 less-explored counterparts to popular destinations that are just as fascinating and fun – proof that when it comes to where to go next, there’s always a new hit to discover.
Who knew there were so many options to think about when planning a Galapagos cruise? Cruise vs land? Sailing yacht or small ship? Which itinerary? What time of year?
Argentina is a fascinating country - distinctly Argentinian style and culture with a strong European influence. This influence is not a surprise given that 86% of the population is of European descent. Although Argentina became independent from Spain in 1816, they were still very reliant on foreign investment in those days, which led to a large influx of European immigration. From Spanish
Laurie Marschall - Owner and Founder