Galapagos Islands Travel Blog

Welcome to the Galapagos Islands Travel Blog. We provide unbiased opinions on the best travel ideas, sales, specials across all islands. If you want to arrange a private tour contact 201-688-7170

Monday, July 20, 2009

Travel Galapagos - James Bay

James Bay travel in the Galapagos Islands

If you travel to Galapagos make sure to make a stop in James Bay… This bay, on the northeast side of Santiago, is a lovely stopping place in itself, but its chief function is the starting point for three visitor sites: the salt crater, the fur seal grottos, and Espumilla Beach, with its flamingo lagoon. The first two are reached from the same anchorage, and Espumilla Beach is a short boat ride to the northern end of the bay.

Before moving to the visitor sites themselves, it’s worth noting that this Galapagos bay usually offers a particularly good chance to savor the sea life around you. If you travel there in the early morning or late afternoon, sit on deck and watch what goes on around the boat. The boobies plunge for fish, and the pelicans dive and then swim along the surface, followed closely by the brown noddies, who hope that fish will spill out of the pelicans’ pouches. Sometimes a noddy even sits on a pelican’s head to be really close to the action. Sally lightfoot crabs scuttle over the exposed black rocks near the shoreline. (They’re especially easy to see on the rock protruding, fingerlike, above the surface near the point where you will disembark.

When I was there in an El Niño year, this Galapagos anchorage was the place where I saw the most storm petrels (Oceandroma castro) at once, flitting and dipping over the water’s surface as they fed. The water was so calm that in the flat light of evening it gleamed as though dark oil had been poured on it. Only these tiny birds, themselves nearly completely back, relieved the unbroken somberness as I peered down onto the water.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Travel Galapagos - Santiago and Nearby Sites

Travel Galapagos suggests touring Santiago’s numerous visitor sites and its location in the center of the islands make it one of the most familiar islands of a Galapagos travel. You go from site to site on Santiago, learning about the human history of the islands and seeing the fur seals or Galapagos hawks. Some of the shoreline was created by lava flows just a hundred years or so ago. You will take a quick jaunt to Bartolome’s Pinnacle Rock or pull into the quiet cove of Sombrero Chino to anchor in a storm. But wherever you go around the island, the cone of Santiago’s Sugarloaf Volcano or the sweep of black volcanic rock on its shores will appear again and again, giving you a visual anchor for a major part of your visit.

If you travel to Santiago-Galapagos it may wind up being the jumping-off point for the very long trip northeast to Genovesa, home of the red-footed boobies and thousands of storm petrels. It is also an important example of successful eradication of introduced species – with pigs eradicated in 2001 and the goat population soon to follow.

Travel Galapagos - Santiago (San Salvador, James)

Your itinerary is likely to bring you back to Santiago (James) Island several times. Its visitor sites are on the east and west sides of the island, and its central location in the archipielago means that your route will pass it often as you criss-cross to the more distant islands or to the numerous visitor sites on nearby islands.

This island has powerful evocations of past human use, including the extraordinary ravages of introduced goats and the remains of several attempts at salt mining. It also has some of the most impressive natural sites: the fur seal grottos, a flamingo lagoon, and the geologically recent lava flows at Sullivan Bay. At each of the sites, birdwatching is particularly rewarding, with sightings of flamingos. Galapagos hawks, or vermilion flycatchers likely. Migrating shorebirds are seen regularly also.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Travel Galapagos - Plaza Sur

Traveling the Galapagos Islands without visiting Plaza Sur would be a huge mistake. There’s a lot to see for travelers. Plaza Sur is a tiny island, the southern one of a pair of crescent-shaped islands not far-off of the east side of Santa Cruz. Plaza Sur is just 130 meters wide and a kilometer long. Unlike the conical volcanic islands, it is the effect of shifts in the earth’s crust, which have lifted it on top of the surface of the water. It is like a tilted tabletop, expanding gradually from the beach to cliffs of about 20 meters on the south side.

I like to emphasize Plaza Sur for those of you who travel Galapagos for a number of reasons. For instance, landing on the islands usually is trouble-free because there is a small cement jetty to which the panga can pull up. If the water is calm, you should be able to make a dry, sometimes slippery landing and then take the easy walk of about one hour. The only problem to landing is that sea lions also love to lie on the jetty. The guide usually has to clap or make other noises to make them go away, usually rather grumpily.

Once you reach the island, the first thing you will notice is the vegetation. This is one of the islands with tree sized opuntia, or prickly pear cactus. They are very handsome with their bright russet bark, textured in a mosaic of elongated diamond-shaped plates. Growing from the bark are veritable explosions of gray spines, more than three centimeters long. Along the branches and at their tips are great fleshy paddles. These green paddles are a source of food for the finches and the land iguanas that are common here. It is wonderful to see the sturdy, pink tongued iguanas stand on their hind legs to munch on those spine-laden pads. Leathery gums seem to be their savior.

You see… Why would you travel Galapagos without checking out this fascinating island?

Monday, June 22, 2009

Travel Galapagos - San Cristobal

Travel Galapagos

San Cristobal, Galapagos is becoming a major tourism site now that its airport is being used as the arrival point for many travelers. The port, Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, is the organizational center for the islands. A stroll down the main street can be enjoyable, and a cool drink often is welcome. Travel Galapagos should include birding in the hills behind the town can be rewarding too. Your group is likely to be taken to several visitor sites in the higher elevations.

Directly south of San Cristobal is Hood Island. It is the nesting site of the waved albatross, and there are colonies of Nazca and blue footed boobies. When you arrive on Hood you are greeted by some of the largest and most colorful of the marine iguanas and usually by lots of sea lions.
When you travel galapagos try to go West of Hood is Floreana, where there’s a good chance to see flamingos and migrating shoebirds in its large, brackish lagoon. For human history, Post Office Bay is the place to go. It’s a place that reminds you that Darwin came to this spot, and you’ll see mementos of many more recent visitors.

For snorkelers, one of the best moments of the trip can be a quick visit to Devil’s Crown, just a few hundred meters off Floreana. This ominous looking, partially submerged lava cone provides a protected area for swimming. If the weather is good and the sea calm, you’ll want to get into your panga for the short trip to the middle of the Crown and slip over the side for a few minutes of underwater beauty.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Travel Galapagos - Top 10 Interesting Facts of the Galapagos

Travel Galapagos list the "Top 10 Interesting Facts of Galapagos" as follows:

1. Remoteness. There are almost no other islands off the western coast of South America and no easy means of rapid communication with the outside world.

2. Strong Currents. Many underpowered ships were carried from the central or South American coastal waters to the Galapagos

3. Inaccessibility. Despite the natural tendency of a boat to drift in the direction of the Galapagos, access to the islands has been for the most part tricky due to their remote location.

4. Tactical location. The Galapagos Islands are an ideally located supply port and lie directly in the entrance path of the Panama Canal. These facts were not lost on the major international powers

5. Dry Conditions. Many visitors arrived in search of water. Most of the early arrivals failed in this quest. A seemingly disproportionate number came to Floreana Island, due to the known water supply.

6. Safe Haven. The Galapagos was thought of and used as a haven by many. Most were disappointed with the reality of the harsh life.

7. Exploitation. The influence of man has brought several wildlife species, notably the giant tortoise, sperm whale, and fur seal, to the point of extinction.

8. Unprofitability. Repeated attempts at commercial use of the islands have met with failure. Tourism and modern day commercial fishing are proving to be the sole exceptions.

9. Surrealistic image. The islands have always been perceived as a blend of the angelic and demonic. Before the tourism industry referred to Las Islas Encantadas “The Enchanted Islands”, the correct translation and initial use of the expression meant “The Bewitched Islands”

10. The Galapagos Islands are often referred to as Darwin’s “living laboratory of evolution.”

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Travel Galapagos – Trip Duration

Most Galapagos tours usually travel for eight days, seven nights. In reality, only seven full days are spent traveling the islands, since typically the first and last days are partials, with an early afternoon arrival and departure. My blog refers to these as one week travel tours. The itineraries are, for the most part, well organized, and a diversity of flora and fauna can be observed. I would classify this as the minimum recommended travel duration that’s if you want to come away with a good feeling for the Galapagos. Unfortunately, I must say that there are a growing number of people who take a three to four day Galapagos travel tours. These travel tours cannot be recommended since travelers will spend so much time getting there, unpacking, repacking and ready to leave the irritations of travel, especially South American travel, will most likely overshadow the short experience itself.

In order to travel Galapagos well, a two week travel of the Galapagos Islands is suggested for those of you who want to get the max in regards to observation, photographic opportunities, and just plain enjoyment. I mean that why we’re traveling to Galapagos in the first place right? Let me further explain… Each island is different with its own matchless ecosystem and wildlife division. Not only are many species prevalent to the Galapagos Islands, they are also prevalent to a specific island. In other words, each island has plants and animals that you’re not going to see on any other island. The idea is, the more islands you travel too the more unique wildlife you’re going to se. If you want to see the redfooted booby, you have to travel to either Tower (Genovesa) Island or Punta Pitt on San Cristobal Island. If you want to see the waved albatross, you have to travel to Hood (Española) Island. If you want to see the flightless cormorant, you have to travel to Isabela or Fernandina Island. Trust me the list goes on and on…


Travel Galapagos - Quick Cost Run Down

Travel Galapagos
There are so many ways to travel the Galapagos and have an exciting one or two week experience. In terms of cost it really depends on your interest, comfort level, amount willing to spend, and creativity to avoid unnecessary costs. You can seemingly travel Galapagos by cruise at a cost around $90-$600 a day per person. It doesn’t matter what your range is since all meals are included and the boat is fully crewed with competent guides that are trained at the Charles Darwin Research Station in the Galapagos. The travel cost depends on a number of factors that will be discussed further in the blog and will force you to make a number of decisions.