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Iguana´s Paradise

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The world renowned geologist Teodoro Wolf states that the iguana that abounds in South America is the last living representative of the dinosaur age that dates back millions of years ago. In the Enchanted Islands there are two types of iguanas: the marine and the terrestrial, both very distinctly different in size and general appearance.  Let’s take a look

The Galapagos marine iguana is an endemic variety that flourishes in the rocky areas of the island’s north and south. Scientifically known as Amblyrhynchus cristatus, this scaly reptile species is unique to say the least. This reptile has the ability to remain under water for 45 minutes, at a depths of 15 meters in search of fresh, green aquatic vegetation that is its primary source of food.. It is truly an amazing sight to admire this prehistoric creature sunning its self, or gorging on algae along the spectacular beaches that surround the islands.

Iguanas with their flat tails, long claws and three sharp teeth have the ability to attach themselves to the rocks and not be swept away by the tides and currents of the sea. Their bodies measure between 80 to 90 centimeters in length, and are covered from head to tail to protect themselves.  Perhaps this is how they were able to survive. Making them even more adaptable, they possess a smooth snout and dorsal fin allowing them to glide through the water like a fish making them even more elusive.

Marine iguanas have the ability to move blood away from their outer protective layer like a cold blooded fish to keep warm. And also has the ability to dramatically reduce its heart rate to conserve energy in a dormant state. They also possess the ability to separate salt from the ocean waters through a gland near their nose.

The land iguana starkly characterized by brilliant colors of yellow, red and brown tones is an entirely different looking cousin of the aquatic lizard. It has an entirely different preference for its’s diet. Cactus, Palo Santo leaves and plants of the insular area like algae and Muyu are among some of its favorites. Also in contrast, with lizard protects it’s self from foes by hiding in burrows they dig deeply in the arid desert like portions of the islands. Alarmingly, this land based variant’s numbers have been decreasing, but still flourish in Fernandina thanks to the tremendous conservation efforts.

The land based iguana being an endemic reptile, is more commonly seen in the arid environments of Isabela, Santa Cruz, Fernandina islands and Plaza.

The most colorful variations with brilliant colorations of reds and greens, reside in Española Island; however the largest of the land based are typically seen on Isabela and Fernandina Island, and for some reason their smaller cousins preferring Genovesa Island.

Manmade issues constantly pose a threat to both land and marine iguanas threating their numbers. That dwells on and off the water creates problems for them. Fishing nets can be deadly for the marine breed, while plastic water bottles, and other debree is a issue for the land based lizards.  Please keep this in mind during your visit, and help perserve this one of a kind creature.

Iguana´s Paradise

Iguana´s Paradise

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The preservation of Galapagos Island

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The preservation of Galapagos Island

The preservation of the environment is one of the issues that most attracts the attention for visitors and residents of Galapagos Islands in Ecuador.
Lately have been positive changes towards their maintenance, including the removal of alien species, limited number of people inside the islands, and the creation of important programs for the maintenance of this wonderful natural treasure that is provided with a number huge spectacular flora and fauna that make tourist fall in love as soon as the arrive to this paradise specially in cruises as Stella Maris.
However, it is worrying that the islands face a major threat to global biodiversity loss : invasive species. These species are the second leading cause of biodiversity loss on the planet and in the Galapagos have been the main cause of l extermination of entire populations of plants and animals.
Unsustainable use of natural resources, such as illegal fishing, especially lobsters , sharks and sea cucumbers to meet the demands of the Asian market, affecting the beautiful Ecuadorian islands. Similarly , human settlements exert great pressure on ecosystems . To this we must add the global climate change as responsible for the severity and occurrence of phenomena such as El Niño, which have a dramatic impact on the Archipelago and climate of the region in general.
Currently there project that aims to control selected in the Galapagos Islands introduced species as well as the sustainable development of local communities is developed.
Among the strategies developed for this purpose are creating a system that extracts selected introduced species on farms of farmers on private land, the construction of a small mobile plant to process plant materials; and the production and sale of a variety of organic products including handicrafts, essential oils, dyes, plant extracts, resins and herbs.
With the profits generated by these products organic crops are grown on farms providing farmers with a source of income, regrowth of problematic species is prevented; systems reforestation with native species increases; you educate communities about the problems faced by their environment, improving their ability to protect and conserve them. Also there are many programs to boost tourism fishing to catch fish and then return to their habitat.

In this regard several tourist companies as Galasam care about the ecosystem while respecting the environment. Thus when tourists visit the Galapagos Islands are aware of proper care and protection of natural species one of the most beautiful places are there in our planet and worth to know and love as the first sight.

Diver swims through tropical fish on coral reef

The preservation of Galapagos Island

The preservation of Galapagos Island

Carnival in Galapagos

All listen up: Carnival season is almost upon us. This popular festival season is celebrated around the world from Venice, Italy, Rio in Brazil and the infamous Mardi Grass in New Orleans. This grand festival is also celebrated in Latin America with a vengeance, and people flock to places like The Galapagos Islands in Ecuador to celebrate Carnival Season surrounded … Continue reading →

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Carnival in Galapagos

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Charles Darwin station

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Charles Darwin Station

If you are wondering how the Galapagos Islands were named and its origin, the answer is very simple: from the tremendous amount of Galapagos turtles that inhabit the islands.

Scientists, volunteers and students from around the world flock to the islands to study about the majestic creature called the Galapagos turtle. Any trip to the Galapagos islands will certainly including watching this creatures in amazement, and what better way to learn about these magical islands including, the conservation efforts to preserve the islands, the issues threatening the eco-system all while having the opportunity these giant Tortoises in their natural setting.

If you choose to stay in Puerto Ayora, before casting off in your boat of choice, be sure to make time to visit the Charles Darwin Research Station. Here you will gain an amazing education of the islands’ geography, eco-system, wild life, and climate as well as a up close and personal view of some of the most amazing wildlife that has made these islands the go to destination for some many wild life lovers.

CharlesDarwin Research Centre is located on Santa Cruz (a very cool and one of kind destination).  The research center is a foundation and driving force of the conservation, environmental and biodiversity efforts to maintain the islands in their pristine state.  The research center plays a crucial role educating the public the role all must play in the conservation efforts of this one of a kind destination

Another of the research center’s efforts is to collect some of the tortoise eggs and raise them until they are large enough to survive own their own. Evasive creatures such as dogs and rodents, brought ashore from mankind, pose a threat to the young turtles, and the research centers efforts insure a viable future for the turtles inhabiting the islands. While visiting the research center, you can see the baby turtles being raised before being released in the wild. Also, large orphaned pet are adopted by the agency, and set free to roam the islands. Once released, the animals are tracked by the research center to monitor their activities for research purposes providing additional knowledge required to ensure the longevity of the wild life here.

I highly recommend a visit to the research center. It offers viewing of some of the most spectacular wild life on the planet without the zoo like feeling.

At the end of the tour, don’t forget you’ll have some fantastic photography opportunities where you can pose with some of the gentle giants.  This is the place to come to get up close and personal with a giant tortoise and to pose for that classic photo of a lifetime.

If you closely, you may notice that the tortoise has a number etched into its carapace. I have seen people going around checking tortoises’ numbers to find their lucky to take a photo of themselves with the lucky numbered turtle. I’ve already got plenty of pictures of myself, so I’m giving the next opportunity to take the next photo with some lucky and sexy turtle.

The most notably and popular turtle in the world was Lonesome George, the last giant turtle species who lived 130 years, but unfortunately he pasted away two years ago. Poor George!

  

For more information visit our websites:

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Packing to the island

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Gucci Bikini to Galapagos
Due to the tropical environment of the Galapagos island
in Ecuador,  informal attire is most common for visitors
and residents alike. Casual or sport clothing in cotton and other light fabrics
are the rule during the day.
 Depending on your preferences, you can still
opt for the latest fashions but keep in mind; these are tropical islands with a
tropical and humid environment.
Jeans, shorts, Polo tee shirts, sandals,
sneakers and boat shoes are norm and are perfectly acceptable at most
establishments. While Gucci bikinis, or other swimwear are
perfect for the beach or for a refreshing sail on the crystal blue ocean that
surrounds the landscape, but  it’s best
to the swimwear at the beach, and cover up a little more while walking through
town.
In the evenings, women tend to kick it up a
bit opting for a little more formal attire when visiting the restaurants or
clubs.  As for the men, ties and jackets
are rarely seen.  Dress pants such as
Dockers with a nice shirt are perfectly acceptable.  Go Tommy Bahama!

 

Shirts, tops & dresses for women, fresh tunics & dresses
for casual dinners and the beach. Jumpsuits, shorts & pants for running
around town.
 Topless swimming is not a common practice at
pools and beaches and may be frowned upon at some locations.  It’s better to check with the facility first,
or keep this activity for more remote locations.
 A Panama hat, Tom Ford
sunglasses and sunscreen are recommended during the day for protection from the
abundant sunshine you’ll enjoy.
 

 

Consideration for when you’re ready to
pack: 
1. A 110-220 voltage converter and a plug adapter for appliances if needed.
Depending on where you’re planning to stay, this may come in handy.
2. The Essentials (see above) plus your
clothing, phone, toiletries, swimsuit, and lots of sunscreen.

 

3. A camera with a lot of memory storage for taking all the memorable photos
during your stay at this tropical island oasis..
4. A Spanish pocket dictionary with some
common phrases.  Or you can do like me, and meet a beauty lovely Latina to teach you.

 

5. Mosquito repellent.
6. More sunscreen, lip balm and your
favorite tanning lotion.
7.
Sunglasses and nice hat.
8. Sandals & sneakers.

 

9. Binoculars.
Travel
trip

 

If you check all of your luggage with an airline, there is a small possibility
of delays or being lost.  You wouldn’t
want something like that to prevent you from enjoying a trip of a life time, so
experienced travelers keep their essential items in a carry-on bag. Travel as
lightly as possible and always with a good travel agency like Galasam
Check with your airline for maximum sizes, weights and restrictions, and enjoy
this amazing tropical paradise.
For more information visit our websites:

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Exploring the Pacific Ocean

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Queen Of Galapagos
Imagine spending a spectacular week sailing the warm waters of The Galapagos Islands
a genuine jewel of Ecuador. Imagine watching nature in their natural and
pristine environment; indulging yourself in a tranquil cruise surrounded by the
blue waters and islands of this tropical paradise. It’s all possible here in
this one of a kind tropical oasis. There are many options to choose from to
plan your dream getaway depending on your tastes, and your budget. Let´s
explore some options…

 

The Queen ofGalapagos

The ultimate
luxury vessel designed to give you the privacy and ambiance as if it were your
own personal luxury yacht, giving you the feeling of a sultan of the seas. All
the luxuries you expect are built in to enjoy the most spectacular vacation in
the ecuadorian paradise. 
 
A perfect collection of shore excursions tailored
precisely to your desires. E
njoy meals prepared by a premier
international chef and served in an intimate, impeccable style along with a
superb collection of fine wines or other top shelve beverages of your liking.
 
The Majestic of Galapagos is a yacht full of comfort and elegance, featuring 9 double
cabins with all the comforts to make your vacation an unforgettable and magical
experience with all the privacy you expect.
 
From the indulgent luxury of your own suite, to your
favorite spot on the deck bathing in a large Jacuzzi where you can  enjoy a glass of champagne  while working on your tan watching wild
turtles, dolphins and marine iguanas that will surround you.
But if you feel like ditching the luxury for some
adventure, the options are endless, like sailing on the crystal clear waters of
the Pacific Ocean, or the exhilarating feeling on board the catamaran Darwin, suitable and seaworthy for families and adventurous enough for the
adults.
 Walking on the
mystic lavas, jogging along the spectacular beaches, snorkeling, diving,
swimming in the ocean with the abundant sea lions, watching the penguins frolic
or just lying on the sandy beaches admiring the wildlife of the Galapagos
Island
s enjoying the most adventurous vacation of your life.
 
You may also want to consider some time on The Lonesome George, a charming catamaran design to explore The Galapagos on a budget
with all the scenery of the more expensive options.  It’s perfect for the family on a budget.
 

 

The choices are
unlimited  ailing in The Galapagos. All
you need is Ecuador. All you need to do is contact the most capable and
experienced travel agency serving the Galapagos, contact Galasam they
are the best.
 
For more information visit our websites:

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Humboldt Explorer

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Humboldt Explorer
Allow a day or two in Guayaquil or Quito and then again on San Cristobal as a buffer,
just in case; would not want to miss the boat.
This was part of a two week trip, which included another
boat, Coral II, for land and snorkeling adventures to other islands. All good
stuff plus exploring San Cristobal and Santa Cruz on our own. But you go to dive
Wolf and Darwin. This is as I had always heard, bit, cold, tough diving. Strong
currents, most dives were get to the bottom fast then grab a rock. After
settling into a hole, or nestled against a big rock you watch the parade go by.
Hammerheads, Galapagos and Silky sharks cruise by like high school band parade.
They are generally on the edge of good visibility but somewhat regularly one
or
more will come closer to the reef for a look at us. When
working along the reef there were more morays and turtles than I have ever seen
anywhere. The morays were often out, never timid. You had to check out your rock
for scorpion fish and morays before grabbing on. Smaller fish, often in large
schools, were everywhere. Simply the greatest display of fish life I have ever
seen. The capper was a whale shark that swam through six of us as we were
ascending one morning, totally unexpected in Feb.
William and Jimmie were our dive guides, 15 divers split
into two groups. Both were bi-lingual Spanish/English, excellent divers, and
excellent spotters. DM’s rotated between our groups everday. William is a superb
videographer. What he produced far surpassed any photos that the rest of us
took. He offered us the video for $50, half of which goes to a Non Profit
teaching local kids to dive. Well worth it. Boat was fine. Cabins were big
enough for two, clean, although the hanging disinfectant in the bath was
obnoxious, we threw ours away. Dive area was great, setup gear once, tanks were
refilled after every dive,pretty much everyone dove Nitrox 32. We only had to
reattach the regs and weights. Good storage for wetsuits, fins, etc. A camera
rinse tank and bench. Cabin lounge and top deck were both popular places. Good
buffet style food with plenty of variety for both protein courses and
vegies/salads. My wife thoughtthe desserts were too sweet and cloying. Unlimited
drinks at no extra charge, including a decent pina colada.
Guests were a great international mix, all fun, good
divers.
Not cheap, not easy, and worth every cent.
————————————
“If you like to see large
pelagics, this is a ‘must do’ trip”
Humboldt Explorer in Wolf & Darwin mostly, Apr 2015
(Rpt #8220)
by W
Stanley Wilson

(Email author),
MD, US. 2 reports filed. Dive Experience: 251-500
dives.
Where Else
Diving:
Caribbean, Great Barrier Reef, Kona Coast, California,
Florida Keys, Fiji, Flower Garden.
Airport: San Cristobal. Getting There:
Miami
direct to Guayaquil (or Quito), then to San Cristobal.

 

Galapagos Islands: Liveaboard:
386/1.004
 
For more information visit our websites:

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Quito opened its new International Airport

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The President, Rafael Correa, and the Mayor of the Metropolitan District of Quito, Augusto Barrera, inaugurated the new international airport Mariscal Antonio Jose de Sucre in Quito on 19 February.

Both the technical conditions of the new Quito airport, instrument procedures as approach and departure to apply from February 20, ensure the safety of operations at the new terminal that will meet the demand of more than 5 million passengers, in its first year of operation.

The new terminal has 300 meters guardbands on each side and 800 on the north and south end of the runway. Stripes wider than the current airport.

Procedures achieve a better situation than they had in the old airport, as the track of the new terminal of Quito is 4100 meters long, 980 meters longer than the track of the old terminal, ensuring greater security of flights and connections direct between Quito and other cities in Europe, nonstop.

In addition, the new airport is located 400 meters below the current terminal, which enables aircraft may take off from the new airport with the highest passenger capacity and cargo without scales, said Freddy Egüez, manager of the Metropolitan Public Airport Services (EPMSA).

In the old air terminal the planes made a stop at Guayaquil and other cities on the continent to advance to more distant destinations. For example Guayaquil-Quito-Guayaquil-Quito Amsterdam or Madrid.

For the President, Rafael Correa, the inauguration of the new airport in Quito is a sample of the dynamics that are involved in the city and said he knows of no other city in America that is doing so many mega works in such a short time.

1. GENERAL INFORMATION:
Name: International Airport Mariscal Antonio Jose de Sucre
Location: Parroquia de Tababela, East of Quito
Distance: 37 km from the urban area (North Sector, ciclista roundel)
Estimated Time: 1 hour (North Sector, ciclista roundel)

2. INFRASTRUCTURE:
Length: 1,600 hectares
Runway: 4,100 to 2,400 feet long above the sea, 400 meters lower than the current airport, with capacity for a second runway
Category: B (as Ezeiza airport in Buenos Aires, Sao Paulo Guarulhos in or JFK in New York)
Terminal Area: National and International with 38,000 m2
Passenger handling capacity: Up to 6 million passengers a year.
Certifications: quality, environmental and safety standards
Time of entry and exit of passengers:
National average arrival: 13 minutes maximum time: 25 minutes
International arrival average: 35 minutes maximum time: 65 minutes
Number of Immigration Counters with new and more efficient systems:
Outbound passengers: 14,
Arrival passengers: 20
Safety filters: 7,
Custom Filters: 4
Baggage system with 4-band fully automatic long (two times larger than the current)

3. ADDITIONAL SERVICES:
Over 900 m2 of Duty Free
More than 20 businesses: shops, restaurants, bookstores, souvenirs
A mid-year will open a shopping center next to the terminal

 

4. ADVANTAGES Quito’s new airport has the technical and security infrastructure for higher capacity aircraft and allow aircraft to take off with the full capacity of passengers, cargo and fuel, in order to reach more distant destinations without scales
Expected new frequencies and direct flights to U.S. and Europe
With the new Quito Airport, the city will be more competitive for the quality and safety of airport services and tourism.
We went from having an airport in the middle of unsafe city, a safe and modern airport outside the urban area
Is the largest civil aircraft of Ecuador, one of the most modern in the continent

 

5. ACCESS
Access 1 (central and northern Quito)
For Oceanic Avenue to connect to the E35 and then the connector Alpachaca
Access 2 (south of town)
By Simon Bolivar to the waterway E 35
Access 3 (South City)
For the E 35 (Pintag) to Pifo and then the connector Alpachaca
From the north:
On the north via the Panamericana and connector Quinche Alpachaca
From the East of the country:
For the Interoceanic up Alpachaca Pifo and connector
On the E35 (Píntag) to Pifo and connector Alpachaca
From the South:
For the Pan South to Simon Bolivar Avenue, toward Interoceanic or via a Sangolquí, diversion to Píntag to Alpachaca connector.

 

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Sharks are tagged with chips to know their habitat in Galapagos

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The sharks, still feared by swimmers, are being marked with chips to identify their habitats within the marine reserve in the Ecuadorian Galapagos archipelago, where there are have been protected and identified 33 species, many of them endangered.

“We want to know what are the areas of growth for the main species of sharks,” said Eduardo Espinoza told AFP while extending a 100 by 3 meters in Puerto Grande, a bay in the center-east of the island of San Cristobal, for another of its routine monitoring of the presence of sharks.

“We are identifying sites where sharks live their early stages,” the Marine Research responsible for the Galapagos National Park (PNG) while getting ready for placement of juvenile sharks microchips to track them in the marine reserve of the island region – of 138,000 km2, the second largest in the world, including at the satellite.

Monitoring, which always takes an hour and who had access to AFP, gives results quickly, to get caught in the net three animals, two females and one male of the species blacktip (Carcharhinus Melanopterus).

“Shark, shark. All batteries (tuned)” exclaims Espinoza, who from the bow then allows the boatman to come closer to the mesh. With skill, a shark biologist grabs two assistants to take their weight, height, sex and verify identify with an implant in the dorsal fin.

The work, which involved Brazilian biologist Talita Gomes-Vieira (voluntary in PNG), involves collecting a sample of tissue from the same fin for genetic studies and the introduction of the electronic circuit under the skin of the back.

The exercise takes just two minutes and the shark is subjected to a process of “resuscitation” by movements for water to circulate through the bronchi, before releasing him.

“It always does to make sure it’s okay,” says Yasmania Llerena, PNG Ecosystem instructor, the last to have in his hands the shark, that free feeling away shot of the boat. “That’s a good sign because when they are weak stand still in the water,” he adds.

The operation is repeated with two other black tip, including a male born about six months ago that weighed about 10 pounds (4.5 kg) and measured about 85 cm. “This species is slow growing, can reach two meters in length and reaches sexual maturity at 18 years,” says Llerena.

But before examining the latter, the situation is altered by the network to be a sea lion, which ran the rig for fish.

“You have to release it fast, go, go”, launches Espinoza, who throws a garment on the face of the mammal to avoid being attacked while helping to unravel. “The wolf is more dangerous than any animal, is like a dog bite is released” he says.

The researcher collects and replace the mesh to complete the monitoring of an hour, although there were no more fish when on other occasions have caught 40 sharks.

Sharks are highly pelagic and migratory animals and their presence in the Galapagos marine system “denotes a healthy state of the ecosystem,” said Espinoza.

Studies reveal seven years maintaining the levels of “plenty” of sharks in Galapagos where 33 species have been identified as whale (Rhincodon typus), oceanic whitetip (Carcharhinus longimanus), hammerhead (Sphyrna lewini), tortoises ( Carcharhinus galapagensis, native of the archipelago) and silky (Carcharhinus falciformis), which are on the Red List of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

“In Ecuador, the sharks are protected, but no longer prey to the marketing of their fins,” said Espinoza, who notes that a set of fins can cost $ 150 in the Ecuadorian market.

The world practice of shark finning involves cutting off the fins of the animals to be highly valued in Asia and Eastern restaurants operating in the world.

In Galapagos seeks to “identify plenty” of sharks genres beyond that “there has been demonized shark in the seas as the aggressive animal nature,” says Espinoza.

“Despite beliefs, is one of the shyest animals of nature,” he adds, while stressing that part of the attraction is diving with Galapagos sharks.