April 12, 2012 § 1 Comment
Living Galapagos the project from the journalism school at UNC Chapel Hill has released a number of trailers from their work in the Galapagos Islands. The films feature a number of different subjects and do a remarkable job telling the story of the people who make the Galapagos their home.
The site and full versions of the videos are scheduled to be released in early May currently the videos and blog posts can be seen at Livinggalapagos.org
April 11, 2012 § 1 Comment
Ecuadorian Airline SAERO S.A. has announced they are to begin inter-islands service within the Galapagos Islands. There are currently three airports in the Galapagos the largest on the island of Baltra, one on the island of San Cristobal and a third which is exclusively used for inter-island flights on the island of Isabela. Travel between these islands is currently limited to either a fiberglass speed boat or EMETEBEE airlines which operates 7 and 9 passenger Britten-Norman 2 Islander planes.
SAERO which currently offers flights within Ecuador and to the beaches of Northern Peru has a fleet that includes a Turbo Commander 840, Helicopter, BeechCraft 1900 Embraer 120 and Leer Jet. SAERO’s entry into the Galapagos inter-island market will make more options available and it more convenient for travelers who wish to travel between the islands by plane.
December 13, 2011 § Leave a Comment
A good article on Island Based Travel….enjoy!
By Gabriela Supelano / Ecuador
This archipelago, Ecuador has no comparison. It is unique for its number of animals, diversity of landscapes and isolation. The perfect place to understand the evolution by Charles Darwin.
The landscape of the Galapagos Islands may well have come from a science fiction movie. It is barren, dry, low vegetation and little green. It is also full of volcanoes and lava dry. Next to the alien land is a deep blue sea. It’s a no man’s land, or rather, a land not owned by its human inhabitants it’s owned by nature.
The islands have much to offer. Therefore, it is best to plan to visit ahead of time, although in a few days can also make a nice trip. There are 13 large volcanic islands, 6 smaller islands and 107 rocks and islets. So much to explore and learn.
Each island is very different from the other, so much so that large Galapagos tortoises are several species that evolved by isolation and climatic conditions of each site.
The airport is located in the small island of Baltra. On arriving there, tourists should take a ferry to transport them to one of the most important islands, Santa Cruz. In the upper parts are two huge craters called Los Gemelos. These are formed when several underground lava tubes collapsed.
Moreover, in Santa Cruz is a giant tortoise reserve and Charles Darwin. This site is intended for research and conservation of the giant tortoises and that’s where Lonesome George, animal emblematic of the islands.
George is the last specimen of its kind. For this reason, researchers at the Charles Darwin Station are trying to reproduce with females genetically very similar species.
In Santa Cruz is also Puerto Ayora, the largest town in Galapagos. It is a perfect place to stay. From Puerto Ayora you can take boats and cruisers for all the islands and diverse infrastructure and hotels.
From Santa Cruz you can go to San Cristobal, a small island but definitely missed. In Santa Cruz there are nature walks in the vegetation of the area and beaches. In addition, sea lions are everywhere, from the pier to the beach. Its small size also means it has less flow of tourists. It also has cabins and small hotels for those who do not want to move there.
The other big island is Isabela. This is much younger than San Cristobal, which has beautiful beaches, lots of wildlife and several volcanoes that can be crossed on foot or horseback.
Isabela also has a huge area for snorkeling, where there are reefs, fish and you can see another turtle or a sea lion. It is the perfect place to appreciate the huge marine iguanas characteristics of small islands and penguins that inhabit them.
The Galapagos Islands are a point where biodiversity operates, so much so that looks like a zoo without cages or bars. Animals are masters of the rocks and beaches, and you have to ask permission to walk on their land. It’s a unique place, which also stands at the center of the world along the equator.
November 28, 2011 § 1 Comment
LAN Airlines the leading South American carrier has begun operating two flights weekly to the island of San Cristobal in the Galapagos.
“By opening this new route, the island of San Cristobal will be connected not only to Ecuador, but to the world, through the different international destinations reached by LAN Ecuador, LAN Airlines and its other affiliates, as well as by other airline members of the oneworld alliance,” said Maximiliano Naranjo, general manager of LAN Ecuador, in a written statement.
San Cristobal is one of two airports in the Galapagos Islands. Prior to the operation of LAN, San Cristobal was served by TAME and Aergoal who operated several flights per week. LAN provides much needed space on flights to the Galapagos.
“The community is looking forward to our flights, and we want to respond by delivering the world-class service we are known for,” added Naranjo.
The flights will be operated with a fleet of modern Airbus A320 aircraft, whose fuel efficiency allows them to produce less noise and CO2 emissions. Approximate flight time from Guayaquil to San Cristobal is two hours, and flights will operate on Wednesdays and Sundays.
November 9, 2011 § 2 Comments
Since the beginning of the 2011 breeding season, scientists from the University of San Francisco de Quito have observed mass mortality of newborn pups, miscarriages and stillbirths on and near San Cristobal Island in the eastern region of the Galapagos Islands.
Mortality rates for pups have reached almost 60% compared with an average of 5 – 15% in a normal year.
The Galapagos National Park (GNP), with help from the Charles Darwin Foundation (CDF), the University of San Francisco / Galapagos Science Center and Agrocalidad are urgently trying to determine the main reason for the deaths.
The need for a quick diagnosis is clear – the Galapagos Sea Lion (Zalophus wollebaeki) is already classed as endangered and the spread of this disease to other islands in the Archipelago carries a serious threat to the species. Although the cause of this mass mortality remains unknown, the clinical signs point to a variety of diseases, some of which may have the potential for transmission to and from other mammals, or possibly even humans.
The scientists at CDF are acting with great urgency together with their partners and have requested the support of the Galapagos Conservation Trust to aid:
- the identification of the disease agent
- the formation of an action plan to contain the disease
- the monitoring of future pup mortality, sample collection and analysis
- the sampling of sea lion colonies on other islands for comparison and to identify the spread of disease
- the protection of public health
- the planning and implementation of health surveillance to identify and mitigate disease threats in the future more rapidly
October 5, 2011 § 1 Comment
On the island of San Cristobal, the Galapagos National Park Service is working to control the number of introduced species in the islands specifically the rat and cat population. This increased effort to eradicate these species is being done after monitoring of visitor sites on San Cristobal showed the presence of these animals.
Scientists have long agreed that introduced plants and animals are the single greatest threat to the Galapagos ecosystem. Black rats are responsible for killing of the sharp-beaked finch population on the islands of Santa Cruz. Park officials say there are a total of 50 bird species currently endangered by rodents, 8 of them critically as well as giant tortoises, iguanas and a series of plants. Rats are omnivores and will eat whatever they encounter including animal eggs.
Similarly feral cats have been known to endanger a range of species. Park officials have previous stepped up their eradication efforts after finding feral cats were preying on colonies of iguanas on Santa Cruz and Baltra, red-footed boobies on San Cristobal and penguins on Isabela.
In San Cristobal the rodent bait is being placed at 83 stations near the Interpretation Center and Isla Lobos. Additionally 160 stations of baited sardines are being established to control cats from Punta Carola, Frigatebird Hill, Puerto Chino and La Loberia. Park authorities say approximately 70% of the traps are currently in place and daily monitoring of the sites has already began.
September 30, 2011 § 1 Comment
Red Footed Boobies are the smallest member of the booby family at only about 28 inches in length making them a couple inches smaller than the Blue-Footed and Nazca Boobies also found in the Galapagos Islands.
Telling the difference between these three types of boobies is quite easy as the appearance of all three is quite unique. The blue-footed booby is mainly white with brownish wings and bright blue feet while the Nazca (also known as Masked) booby is white with a black band around its eyes like a mask and pointed black wings. The red-footed booby has a range of color the majority seen in the Galapagos have a brownish body color with a blue and pink face, beak and throat pouch and red feet which give the bird its name.
During mating season hundreds of animals may pair up and mate. Unlike other boobies the red-footed booby build their nests in shrubs or trees. A female will lay an egg every 15 month. Both parents incubate the egg, and brood and feed the chick. The parents continue to feed the young for up to four months after fledging.
Red-footed boobies are excellent fliers and spend most of their long lives (up to 20 years) at sea. They are often seen flying above or along side passing boats. The red-footed booby is semi-nocturnal and can be seen fishing both during the day and for squid at night.
The colorful red-footed boobies are the least seen of the three species of boobies that are found in the Galapagos by visitors. The best way to see them is by taking a Galapagos Cruise that stops at one of their two nesting sites in the islands either at Genovesa or Punta Pitt on the northeastern tip of San Cristobal.
September 28, 2011 § 1 Comment
A new program OK Galapagos was put into action last week in Puerto Villamil on the Island of Isabela and Puerto Baquerizo Moreno on the island of San Cristobal. The OK Galapagos which was established by the Ministry of Tourism allows visitors to easily identify certified local operators while traveling in the Galapagos Islands.
The operators of hotels, boats, ground transportation, restaurants, bars and local guides on both Isabela and San Cristobal enthusiastically embraced the new program. The participating agencies have been given buttons, stickers, and signs allowing visitors to easily identify the operator as one working in compliance with the Ministry of Tourism to provide quality services within the islands.
The OK Galapagos campaign is designed to provide tourists confidence when booking services within the Galapagos Islands. The “OK” sign identifies agencies which are working within the scope of the law and providing fair and professional services. Tourists are given the opportunity to provide feedback of the agencies with the Ministry of Tourism and any agency receiving complaints regarding violations of local regulations are subject to prosecution and punishment by the authorities of the Ministry of Tourism.
We applaud the Ministry of Tourism for the new program and its efforts to regulate the local tourism companies operating in Galapagos.
August 11, 2011 § 1 Comment
The Galapagos Islands was placed on orange alert today by the National Risk Management in anticipation of waves up to 4 meters and a strong surge from south of the continent. This is a natural event and is not related to any tsunami or earthquake.
Tourists staying on the island of San Cristobal had to reschedule their activities to on the islands. Visitors had planned to take speedboats in the morning to Santa Cruz or Isabela were informed they would not be able to leave. However, activities on the boardwalk and on land remains completely normal. Smaller vessels like fishing or speed boats made out of fiberglass are forbitten to leave port for safety reasons.
The fishing, diving, coastal loading and unloading docks of the Galapagos are suspended for the day. The organge alert did not effect persons on Galapagos Cruises.
July 29, 2011 § Leave a Comment
In a joint operation between authorities 500 gallons of fuel were seized Galapagos Islands today. The fuel was being transported by truck driven by José Aníbal De La Torre and the boat was bound for yacht SEAMAN II which was currently at anchor in Puerto Baquerizo Moreno.
The forfeiture action was developed after staff Island Naval Intelligence Group detect and report the fact that subsidized fuel was being used for tourism activities. During the operation were arrested the truck driver Jose De La Torre and José Calva Abad, for the crime of use of subsidized fuel. The fuel was purchased by Ramon Silva at EP Petroecuador San Cristobal for use aboard the fishing vessel “San Pedro”. However authorities discovered the actual intended use was for the yacht Seaman II.
The government of Ecuador subsidizes the price of fuel for non-tourism purposes. The local price for fuel is $1.02 dollar per gallon while tourists boat pay the international market price of $3.39 per gallon – a difference of $2.37 per gallon. Many boats charge a fuel surcharge to help pay the difference in the prices. Individuals purchasing fuel in the Galapagos most sign documents specifying the intended use of the fuel and that they are aware of use of subsidized fuel for tourism purposes is against the law.