Up-close with Galapagos Tortoises

The Galapagos tortoise is one of the iconic animals of the Galapagos Islands, and what gave the islands their name. It is easy to appreciate these giant tortoises in the highlands of Santa Cruz, where tortoises roam freely between the National Park, people’s farms, and tortoise reserves. All our Galapagos cruises stop at one of the reserves during our itineraries to give our guest a chance to get an up-close experience with these giant animals.

Back from an Amazing trip around the Galapagos aboard the Cachalote!

We just got back from an amazing trip aboard the Cachalote and would like to tell you a bit about our trip. As owners and operators we try to join trips whenever possible to make sure everything is working as it should and to keep ourselves up to date with our own product. It has been three years since I personally had the chance to take a trip around the Galapagos Islands on the Cachalote, and it was one of my most memorable.

Cachalote yacht

Cachalote yacht in front of Kicker Rock, Galapagos Islands

During this trip I was reminded that Cachalote offers a unique and completely different experience compared to the majority of other boats operating in the Galapagos. Being a motor sailor, it attracts guests that are looking for a more adventurous cruising experience and are willing to let go some of the amenities offered by the motor boats. Our group was made of of a wide variety of ages and nationalities, but all were energetic and full of enthusiasm. Most importantly, all the guests on board agreed that they wanted to be on a boat like the Cachalote.

The enthusiasm of the guests and combined with our experienced guide allowed us to make the most of the day. Getting up slightly earlier to get on shore was a real treat, as all of the animals are more active in the morning; taking longer hikes gave all of us more chances to get the perfect photo. We also went a bit off track from the regular snorkeling zones, meaning the guide was able to take us into deeper water enabling us to see larger sea life including: hammerheads, dolphins, spotted eagle rays, and many other marine life that are not always seen. Oh, and by the way, this was my first time snorkeling with dolphins! Something I have dreamt about for a long long time.

I now realize how important it is to differentiate between the type of boat that one selects to visit the Galapagos Islands and Cachalote is the perfect boat for the adventurous traveller looking for an authentic experience wanting to focus on seeing a lot of wildlife and spending as much time as possible on shore or in the water. She also offers a first class service with excellent guides for a reasonable price. At least once during the cruise the crew will hoist up the sails (more for show as we all know how bad the wind actually is in Galapagos for sailing) giving guests the chance to experience sailing in Galapagos with the engines off and enjoying the sounds of the waves hitting the hull.

If you would like to view a photo gallery of this trip please click here.

Thanks to all of you!

Tatjana from Enchanted Expeditions

Albatross Nesting Season in the Galapagos

Enjoy Albatross Season Aboard the Cachalote!

The albatross have all returned from several months at sea and and the nesting season is now in full swing on Española Island!Española is the oldest of the Southern Islands and is the southernmost in the archipelago. Because of its remote location a unique range of endemic species evolved here; such as the Española mocking bird, the Española lizard, and the Española marine iguana . It is also the only island where the waved albatross can be seen during the breeding season, April to December.

Albatross-pair-galapagos-enchanted

Those who have been to Galapagos before know that albatross nesting season is quite a spectacle to watch and often described as one of the highlights of visiting the archipelago. Nearly the entire population of 25,000 to 30,000 return to Española from April to December.

These birds mate for life and perform an amazing courtship dance that can last up to 5 days. This dance includes beak fencing, honking, bowing, swaying and more. Each pair produces one egg, and both birds take responsibility in incubating the egg.

We would like you to know that we have several spaces available onboard the Cachalote during the month of June, one of the best months to watch these beautiful birds do their mating dances! Please contact us for availability.

Update about Ecuador’s Earthquake

The figures keep changing. The number of dead has so far come up to 587 and the injured have reached 8340 people who have received medical attention at one of the improvised mobile hospitals that the authorities have been able to procure during the emergency according to the information issued by the National Department of Communications. As per the latest reports, 113 have been rescued alive, 153 are still missing and 25376 have been taken to provisional shelters.

According to the official source, these are the current numbers of victims after the 7.8 degrees earthquake  that took place last Saturday at 6:58 pm off the Pacific coast of continental Ecuador, one of the worst earthquakes produced by plate tectonics that hit the country during the last decades.

The epicenter was located near the provinces of Manabi and Esmeraldas where the level of destruction reached its highest expression while other coastal provinces such as Los Rios or Guayas received  lower  impact.

The Andes highlands went almost unharmed in comparison to the coast. The Galapagos islands were not affected by the earthquake while populations in the Amazon Region have not reported any severe consequences.

Apart from the destruction of houses and buildings, many of the main roads leading to this area as well as the basic services of electricity and potable water network have collapsed. Groups of professional rescuers and volunteers are being organized to help the victims, along with the collaboration of the rest of the local population who have not been so drastically affected by the earthquake, as well as the international aid from many countries that continues to arrive.

The task of reconstruction will be enormous but we are confident we will manage to cope with this crisis and the towns and villages that have been destroyed will gradually be rebuilt.

Below this communication, you will find a short video that illustrates the present situation of our country and information on how to increase the humanitarian help to all these homeless people who have lost everything and have now been displaced. If you are able, please help us spread this message to help Ecuador receive the aid it will need.

Please take the time to watch the view below. We at Enchanted Expeditions thank you for your time and attention.

Cotopaxi National Park Reopens after 120 Days of Closure

Cotopaxi Volcano Ecuador

Cotopaxi National Park will is now reopening after 120 days of closure. The official announcement is based upon the thorough monitoring of the situation by the Ecuadorian Institute of Geophysics who determine a steady reduction in the internal and superficial activity in the past few weeks. Consequently, the Risk Assessment Bureau has decided to lift the ban on visiting this national park under special security measures and supervision of qualified local staff.

As part of the increased safety measures, park rangers have received adequate training to deal with emergent situations and they will be in constant radio communication with official authorities in order to receive information on any sudden changes in the volcanic activity as long as the Yellow Alert remains active. This will be in addition to the siren alert system installed in place.

All these measures are intended to provide early warnings to visitors and park rangers in case it is necessary to evacuate the area. The identification of safe places and refuges has been established and displayed in case of emergencies. The Cotopaxi is one of the best monitored volcanoes in the world with the the most modern technology equipment available. However, all these preventive measures might not be sufficient to foretell a sudden increase of activity.

Therefore, it will be important to recommend all clients to bring their own hat or cap, security goggles and masks among other items that will be necessary to take with them and will be checked upon entering the park. All this information, among other things will be explained again at the time of booking. Later on, more specific information will be given to our clients by their local guide.

The approved timetable for visitors will be from 09:00 (am) to 14:00 (pm) and the ascent to the Jose Rivas refuge or the summit remain banned. It is imporant to mention that despite the volcanic activity has decreased and visiting the Cotopaxi national park is now allowed (with certain restrictions), the eruptive process continues.

Please feel free to contact us if you have any further questions

Wolf Volcano in the Galapagos Islands is erupting!

Another attraction adds up to the uncountable highlights of the Galapagos Islands!!

The famous archipelago that inspired the English naturalist Charles Darwin to develop his theory on natural selection and evolution is once again hitting the news.

Galapagos Volcanic EruptionLocated in the Pacific Ocean, about 1000 km from the coast of Ecuador, these volcanic islands that are home to a great amount of endemic species of flora and fauna, have reported the recent big eruption of Wolf Volcano on Isabela Island.

Isabela, also known as Albermarle, is one of the youngest, and more active islands in the archipelago. It is on this same island where the Sierra Negra Volcano erupted for the last time about 10 years ago and which has presented seismic activity for the last few months. Now it is the turn of Wolf, with its highest peak of 1707 m, that started erupting once more in the early morning of last Monday 25 May after 33 years of inactivity. The magma flow, slowly moving  to the southeast, has not reached the coast and it is now decreasing in intensity. This new eruption does not pose a risk to the human settlement at Puerto Villamil located in the South of Isabela; however, potential damage to the unique fauna of the island is yet to be determined.

According to preliminary information issued by the Galapagos National Park authorities and scientists from the Charles Darwin Research Station, the impact on the ecosystem on the Southern flank of the volcano will be minimal and the small population of the rare and unique species of Pink Iguana (Conolophus martae), endemic to this particular area of the archipelago, would not be at risk.

The passengers on the cruise boats visiting this area within the next days will be the lucky ones to witness the unusual event.

The Enchantment of Africa

When you visit Africa, you feel as though a part of you stays behind when you leave, or a part of Africa leaves with you, depending on how you look at it. Africa gets into your soul like no other place quite does. It is almost as if you are waking up from the most wonderful dream, only to realize that it wasn’t a dream and that you were actually there in the flesh. Then it all seems even more magical. You may look back at your pictures in disbelief, because it is hard to imagine what it was like to see a herd of elephants travelling past, or a lion feasting on a fresh catch, but yet it was real and you were there to bear witness.

Young lion in AfricaAfrica is known for the wildlife; the favorable conditions of this continent and the vast forested areas have given wildlife large areas to hide from man and survive for many centuries. Amongst the animals you may see are cheetahs, gorillas, hippos, leopards, giraffes, zebras, and so much more. The thrill of spotting a unique animal you have never seen before will leave a memory and excitement matched by very few other experiences. Besides, where else might you watch a family of ostrich sipping at a water hole while you are having breakfast, or a giraffe crossing the road while you are headed into town?

The wildlife in Africa is astounding, and something that you may see over and over and never get tired of. But it does not end there. The people of Africa have some of the brightest smiles you will ever see, and these smiles are contagious beyond anything. Africa has an incredible diversity of cultures and exciting traditions. And if you visit a school, chances are you’ll find yourself surrounded by excited children who will want to know everything about you. On any trip to Africa you will have the opportunity to interact with these cultures, learn about their customs, visit their communities, try their food, and experience their hospitality.

Child at a school in Namibia

That takes me to the African sunsets, which are matched by few in their intensity and beauty. Chances you will find yourself standing somewhere out in middle bush, sipping on a gin and tonic, while you admire how the sun brightens up the African sky with hues of deep orange and red. What a remarkable way to end a day of game drives.

There are many other reasons to visit Africa such as the rich history, the archeology, the diversity of land and landscapes, the art and crafts, and more. Africa is the second largest continent, and has more countries than any other. As you can imagine, the opportunities for a traveller here are endless. From the souks of Marrakesh, to the impressive churches of Ethiopia, to great migration in Tanzania, to the san dunes of Namibia, there is something for everyone, and I am certain Africa’s spell will enchant you where ever you are.

Guyana: Home to one of the last unspoiled stretches of Amazon Rainforest

I visited Guyana recently on a family trip. My mother is originally from there and she had not been back in over 30 years; my siblings and I figured it was time to take her back to her roots and her upcoming 60th birthday was a fitting reason to plan such a trip. We embarked on what would be one of the most memorable trips we had ever been on as a family.

Having been raised by our Guyanese mother, my siblings and I already knew quite a bit about the culture, traditions, music and food of this country, and many experiences felt somewhat familiar.  But what we surprised us more than anything on this journey was an untouched hidden beauty: Guyana’s pristine forests, with 80% of the land remaining as virgin tropical rainforest. No where else in South America you will see this. The wilderness has not been affected by mining, logging and wildlife trading, and we hope it stays that way.

What surprised us even more was the local Amerindian community initiative to preserve this forest and implement conservation projects. The introduction of eco-tourism has empowered the Amerindians, and allowed them to take control of their pristine areas, participate in the future development of conservation projects, and benefit from these economic opportunities. As a result several lodges have sprung up that offer visitors the opportunity to stay in these pristine areas. To add to this, the Amerindian community has also introduced youth training and educational programs that focus on conservation. Where once Amerindians would trap animals and sell them to zoos as the only economical option, they are now becoming guides, conservationists, researchers, and employees at the eco-lodges.

Buro Buro River in Guyana

We realize now how important it is to support these projects and these communities. As a traveler, you have a chance to leave a positive footprint behind. If you do visit Guyana, be sure to stay at one of the eco-lodges, where you can participate in outdoor and cultural activities, enjoy Amerindian hospitality, while supporting these conservation efforts. And if you are lucky, you might even spot the elusive jaguar, seen more in Guyana than in any other area of the Amazon.

Moderate Earthquake in Northern Ecuador

A moderate earthquake of 5.1 magnitude struck the Northern part of Ecuador yesterday afternoon.

No serious damage  to the city infrastructure or highways in the country has been reported and all activities were back to normal within 2 hours after the tremor. Also, the new Quito airport remained closed for about an hour as a preventive measure until evaluation of possible damage was complete.

Two people died and a few others were wounded in a  big landslide that took place in a quarry north of Quito. According to the authorities, this was due to the weakened soil as a result of excessive or imporper mining. This landslide was also the main cause for a large dust cloud that hung over the city which dissipated later in the afternoon.

A few minor aftershocks with no consequences were monitored during the rest of the evening.