Go Go Galapagos!

As the first to bring non-scientific explorers to the Galapagos in 1967, Linblad Expeditions, the venerable 50-year old adventure outfitter, has amassed over 40 years’ experience there and they are keenly focused on the preservation of this remote and unique site.  Together with National Geographic they have raised and donated more than $5.5 million for vitally important local protective projects in the Galapagos National Park Service and the Charles Darwin Foundation.

An isolated archipelago, the Galapagos are set in the Pacific Ocean more than 500 miles west of Ecuador.  Over the course of many millennia, great numbers of large birds, reptiles, insects, and plants drifted or flew in to create its fragile and unique flora and fauna.  Their remote, pristine beauty beckons to us as it did to the British geologist and naturalist, Charles Darwin, who first arrived on the HMS Beagle in 1831. He landed, camped there, left and returned, studied, researched and conceived his earth-shaking theory of evolution, On the Origin of Species, in 1859.


Today the Galapagos are a designated UNESCO Natural World Heritage Site. Who’s home?  A great variety of unusually tame animals in big numbers such as the amazingly curious and seemingly fear-free (so far) gigantic turtles, huge iguanas, penguins, dolphins, sharks, colossal manta ray, fat sea lions and the rock-star locals: blue and red footed boobies (seabirds).

Cruise with them in the 56-cabinEndeavor -like a small, comfortable, mobile hi-tech beach town. In addition to seeing and barely believing the animals so up- close, anEndeavor expedition offers long and short hikes, coastal explorations by kayaks or Zodiacs, swimming, snorkeling, or floating in a glass bottom boat for amazing undersea viewing.  The Endeavor also offers a good library, a wellness spa and massages on a floating platform. In addition to staff naturalists, National Geographic Certified Photo Instructors are always aboard and available to photo enthusiasts at every skill level, ready to help capture fantastic images and document bragging rights.

Rates begin at $4,990 pp, double. And Happy New Year: A GOOD DEAL alert – Linblad is offering free roundtrip airfare (Miami/Galapagos) on 5 select trips if you reserve by December 31, 2012.



Real and Live

Every fall, Great White Adventures offers tours to the rocky Farallon Islands located in the Pacific, 26 miles west of San Francisco.  Their professional crew and staff have created tours whereby one can actually witness the ferocious drama of great whites feeding on elephant seals.  Whew.

You can view too from the comfort of their modern, well-equipped “Superfish” dive boat, or if that isn’t wild enough, you can be plunked down into the deep waters in a diving cage (breathing via a “hookah” line.) Although you might imagine that people are “beating down the doors” to sign up, the cage only holds 4 divers at a time. Space is thus limited.

Farther afield than the Farallons, the highly experienced Great White Adventure also runs their tours near the Isla de Guadalupe off the coast of Baja, and in the Galapagos off mainland.  Click on: www.greatwhiteadventures.com