Tiny Ecuador, no larger than the state of Nevada has it all! Think of it divided into 4 distinct north/south bands: The lush rainforest and indigenous cultures of the jungle in the Oriente (east) The Andean spine is the seat of the capital city of Quito, the world-famous Otavalo Indian market, and elegant 300+ year old Spanish haciendas, reborn as boutique hotels. The western slope of the Andes is shrouded in cloud forests and cascading waterfalls, lush habitat for wild orchids and hundreds of exotic bird species. And 600 miles off shore, the Galapagos Islands continue to evolve, to educate mankind in evolution, and the sheer, stark beauty of Mother Nature at work.
Guides in the Galapagos
Galapagos naturalist guides are rated according to the grading system that designates a Level 1, 2 or 3 (the best) guide. An important difference in yachts and prices on Galapagos tours is the level of guide. At Wildland Adventures, we only use first class yachts with Level 2 or 3 guides. Essentially, the difference in the levels is academic achievement, experience and language capabilities. Level 1 and level 2 guides have some college education, some local training by the Charles Darwin Station and some speak a second language. However, a Level 2 or 3 guide will have at least 3-4 languages, and a minimum of 10 years guiding experience in the Islands. There is a world of difference in how you will experience the Galapagos with a higher level guide. I am proud that we work with the best and brightest naturalist guides in the Galapagos Islands.
Every trip to the Galapagos at any season brings its own surprises. On a trip I took in May, the male Magnificent Frigatebirds were staking out their territory amongst the jagged black lava rocks. Inflating their brilliant red throat pouch, and fully extending 4-6ft wide glossy black wings, the frigatebird emits an eerie, high-decibel song - all to attract the female frigatebird, cruising the thermals above. On another day dozens of blue-footed boobies dive-bombed the waters all around us in a feeding frenzy. Just below the surface, a pod of dolphins stirred up more and more grist for the feast, their dorsal fins periodically cutting the waves almost within arms reach. My last sunset onboard the Eclipse we were accompanied by a mother Brydes whale and her calf swimming alongside for almost an hour. Toward the horizon, at least 4 other blow spouts raised vapor into the long golden light of the waning day.
No wonder I have an obsession with the Galapagos!
Your friendly Ecuador expert,