Recommend July 2015 - (Page 33)

latinamerica onboardreview F E B R UA RY 2 015 Small Boats & Big Tortoises in the Galapagos CAROL LOFTUS Writer Ed Wetschler poses with Galapagos' famous tortoises. ed wetschler When my friend Larry returned from Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands, he told me (repeatedly) that he'd found the water too cold for snorkeling. A few months ago, when I returned from the Galapagos, I told him that his skinny pal had felt warm enough. How could this be? Had Ecoventura, the company whose boat my wife and I sailed on, managed to divert the Humboldt (i.e. Antarctic) Current? Or maybe they'd found some way to heat the ocean? Probably not, although our boat and crew did make us feel good in the water-and out of it-and they helped us squeeze a lifetime of memories into seven days, albeit with an assist from Galapagos National Park, a bucket list UNESCO World Heritage site. This archipelago hundreds of miles off the coast of Ecuador is home to creatures found nowhere else on earth. Some of the islands' inhabitants (e.g. penguins) have no business even living on the Equator, yet here they are. Moreover, many of the fauna have never had to worry about predators, so they're unafraid of bipeds. One hour watching some of the oddballs, such as iguanas that swim to get food (try finding that anywhere else), and you can see how these islands upended Charles Darwin's thinking-so much so that his insights into evolution changed the world. Ecoventura operates one live-aboard dive vessel and three identical, 10-cabin yachts that sail 7-night itineraries. (In January 2016, the company will launch a new boat; see "Letty Details and Origin of the Origin.") Even though our boat, the Letty, and its sisters moored within sight of each other have a combined capacity of about 60 passengers, it's still smaller than that of some other Galapagos vessels, so we never had to walk or go snorkeling in a crowd. Moreover, the boats stagger their visits to spots on each day's itinerary, so we never crowded around outnumbered critters, as happens on many safaris. Each 10-cabin boat has two naturalist guides who usually divide the passengers on walks, which further ensured that our groups are small. So what do you see and do on this Galapagos cruise? From the very first day, when we landed in San Cristobal and a bus took us to the dock, sea lions greeted us. Naturalist Orlando Romero told me, "We had to build platforms for them in the harbor because they kept jumping into people's boats." About Orlando: Like all Ecoventura guides, he is a professional naturalist. He is so admired by other Galapagos guides that Ivan Lopez, our other guide, declared, "He is like my father. I am his july 2015 31

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Recommend July 2015

Editor’s Notes
Hotel Desk: Starwood Hotels & Resorts and Loews Hotels & Resorts
Tour Talk: Goway’s IslandsEscapes
Adventures in North America
Romania: Superbly Scenic, Marvelously Medieval
Central Europe With Adventures by Disney
Get Off That Beach Chair!
Off-Beat Adventures
INDABA 2015 (With a Taste of Durban)
A Treasured Journey Into the Past
Small Boats & Big Tortoises in the Galapagos
Windstar Cruises’ Star Breeze
Hapag-Lloyd’s Europa 2

Recommend July 2015