I’ve had several weeks to reflect on my recent trip to the Galapagos Islands and the Napo Wildlife Center Amazon jungle lodge in Yasuni National Park, and remain more convinced than ever that the tiny country of Ecuador is one of the best travel destinations in all of South America for its ecological diversity and rich cultural heritage.
I voyaged through Galapagos onboard one of our three most popular yachts, the 20-passenger Eric, Flamingo and Letty. I consider these vessels to be one of the best values in Galapagos for their exceptional guides, lowest passenger-to-guide ratio at 10:1 (or less), and multiple cabin options with corresponding prices to fit every traveler's needs. These yachts also rank high on our sustainability goals with their Smart Voyager certification. Right now, our Thanksgiving voyage from November 21-December 1, is offered at 5-15% off the price of your cabin choice on our popular Northwestern Islands itinerary. You must book and deposit by July 31. And if Thanksgiving doesn’t work for your travel plans, this promotional price can be applied to a number of other sailings throughout November and the first half of December. Check out the rest of our Galapagos Summer Specials
Or, take your aspiring young naturalists on our Galapagos Family Research Adventure, featuring outings with Ecology Project International. Our young travelers work alongside local Ecuadorian students on conservation and science research projects in the field and cultural exchanges in the town of Puerto Ayora. Every one of these departures SOLD OUT in 2014, so check our 2015 dates and call if you want to share this terrific experience with your family.
All flights to Ecuador and the Galapagos fly through Quito and Guayaquil on the mainland. I spent more time in Guayaquil, Ecuador’s major port city, on my recent visit this spring, and left more impressed with this city. Travelers with elevation sensitivities may be more comfortable at Guayaquil’s sea level location than in Quito at 9,350’ in the Andes. And while we all celebrate Quito’s sparkling new airport, until the connecting highway is completed into the city center, it requires a much longer transfer, 1-2 hours, traffic depending, compared to the relatively simple 10-15 minute transfer in Guayaquil.
Quito is a UNESCO World Heritage Site with its colonial heritage on brilliant display and offers ease of access to the Andean highlands with fascinating indigenous villages and beautiful 16th century haciendas. But Guayaquil has its own laid-back tropical vibe, a reinvigorated, restored port city where you can join locals walking the waterfront Malecon, wander up the steps of Cerro Santa Ana and through the historic neighborhood of Las Penas, a colorful amalgamation of boho-chic shops, musicians and working class families.
The Solution: Come early or stay longer to experience one city before Galapagos, then fly back from the islands to the other city to expand your horizons in Ecuador.
Imagine river otters as big as small sea lions. Swimming in a pack they are among the most formidable predators in the Amazon. These endangered species are my favorite jungle animal, and they're alive and well in Yasuni National Park. After seeing the endemic wildlife of Galapagos up close and personal, the Napo Wildlife Center is one of our favorite ecolodges in the Amazon where you explore one of the world's most diverse rainforest habitats with the indigenous Kichwa guides who own and operate the accommodation.
See for yourself why Ecuador’s diversity makes it a perfect destination to explore sparkling Andean peaks, the prolific wildlife of Amazon's Napo Wildlife Center, the Galapagos Islands, and all that lies between.
Keeping it wild,
Wildland Adventures Ecuador Specialist