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Trip Report -Galapagos Islands and Napo Wildlife Center June 2011


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GALAPAGOS ISLANDS CRUISE - Trip Report

 

Enough can't be said about Ecoventura and the visit they provided these past two weeks in Ecuador. The trip consisted of 4 nights in Quito, the Galapagos Islands Cruise aboard the Flamingo I, and 4 nights at the Napo Wildlife Center. Everything happened on schedule and expectations were far exceeded.

 

Ecoventura provided a list of hotels, Le Parc was chosen and it was not disappointing. Over the course of our 4 nights at the hotel all three of their suite layouts were experienced.

 

The trip included a visit to the market at Otavalo, plus shopping and lunch in Cotopaxi. Lunch was at a very unique resort called La Mirage, which provided some great food and had some nice gardens to walk through.

 

Now to the focus of this trip Galapagos Islands. The cruise was aboard the Flamingo I, a sister ship to the Eric and Letty. All three ships owned and operated by Ecoventura. There were 17 passengers aboard the ship, 2 singles had travel partners who cancelled for various reasons at the last minute or there would have been 19.

 

Two Naturalist Guides from the National Park were also on board. When leaving the ship there were usually two groups of either 8 or 9 each. Once again Ecoventura went beyond expectations in providing the guides on board the boat. Ivan and Harry were the best. Their depth of knowledge was just remarkable. They were humorous, serious about the take at hand, and most of all very engaging. They really made the trip!!

 

The islands visited were in order are: San Cristobal (embarkation and a visitor site), Genovesa Island (2 visitor sites), Fernandina, Isabella, Santiago Island (Eger's Point and Chinese Hat), Kicker Rock, Bainbridge Island from the boat as there is no landing site, Bartolome Island, which we climbed via stairs, Baltra to re-fuel, North Seymour Island, Port Ayora on Santa Cruz Island where we visited the Darwin Center, the Galapagos Tortoises on a farm, and a lava tunnel, Espanola Island (Suarez and Gardner Inlet visitor sites and back to San Cristobal for disembarkation.

 

The animals seen were three species of boobie, Darwin Finches, Giant Tortoises, marine iguana, land iguana, juvenile boobies, boobies laying on eggs, frigate birds doing their mating ritual as in some cases were the boobies, lava lizards, brown pelicans, a variety of smaller birds and of course sea lions.

 

Once our luggage was aboard the Aerogal Jet at the Quito Airport it was not handled again until arrival on board ship where it was delivered to the cabin. The reverse was true upon disembarkation; luggage was taken from the cabin and not seen until arrival again in Quito.

 

The food on the Flamingo I should not be ignored. It was top notch, breakfast and lunch were served buffet style and dinner was served to us as well as dessert every night. Everyone also got to sit with the captain at his table for dinner one time.

 

Also it should be mentioned that snorkeling was available for those who wished to do so at every visitor site except Santa Cruz Island. Snorkeling was done off the beach mostly but on 2 or 3 occasions it was done off the panga.

 

The boat one day was also visited by a stubborn sea lion that refused to disembark. Quite amusing.

 

The final part of this trip was a stay at the Napo Wildlife Center. This is a wonderful facility about 120 miles or so from the town of Coca. It is reached by a 3-hour river cruise aboard a motorized covered canoe, followed by what should be an hour trip by paddle canoe. This trip actually took about 2 hours due to stopping several times to observe birds.

 

Napo consists of about 12 cabins with more being built to accommodate about 25 to 30 people. Cabins sleep anywhere from 2 to 4 people. The staff is very good and took care of every need. The food in the dining room was also very good, I would have to say it was close to being as good as any 4 star hotel.

 

Each morning a trip was taken by canoe with a group of 4 in this case to observe mostly birds, but also 4 species of monkeys were seen. Each afternoon about 4 p.m. another paddle canoe took us out again to see birds and sometimes monkeys. Two hikes were taken, one in the dark and those two hikes were the highlight for this writer.

 

The only complaint about Napo Wildlife Center is they seem to cater to bird watchers and if other animals like mammals or reptiles are seen well that is a plus. Napo has lists of animals to be seen on their website, however, again the concentration was on birds. This writer is not a serious bird watcher and would have preferred an effort to see other animals as well. Just an opinion.

 

In summary, this overall experience was the best ever. If it were to be done again in 3 or 4 years it would be with Ecoventura as they delivered everything they promised and more.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Thanks Art. We are doing Galapagos only on the MS Evolution -- a boat probably very similar to your trip. We booked ours through International Expeditions because this will be our 3rd trip with them and they handle trips wonderfully well. Your report is getting me excited -- only 29 days to go. How was the water for snorkeling? We bought "spring" shortie wetsuits for ourselves in that I was afraid that the wet suits available might not fit me.:eek: Found they stretch!:p Anything else we should know? Especially how did you pack for this trip? I'm thinking just t-shirts, swimsuits, water and hiking shoes and shorts. We have good hats. Is it hot and humid? Thanks! You who have gone before:rolleyes:

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  • 4 weeks later...

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