Archive for the ‘ecuador travel’ Category

Sustainable Cruising in the Galapagos

Sustainable Cruising on the Galapagos

Sustainable Cruising on MV Origin 

Sustainable cruising. It’s something we like to promote because, in addition to trains, it’s a great way to make the journey the destination. Plus, who doesn’t want to see big turtles in style? To that end, Ecoventura, a leader in sustainable cruising through the Galapagos Islands, has just announced inaugural departures for its newest premium class vessel, MV Origin, whose maiden voyage departs from San Cristobal Island on January 17, 2016. 
The newest and only vessel of its kind, MV Origin is positioned to redefine the cruising experience by combining modern sophistication with environmental responsibility, alternating between seven-night A & B itineraries to reduce the impact of visits to the islands’ most popular sites.  On January 17, MV Origin will join Ecoventura’s existing fleet on the B itinerary through the northwestern route. Its maiden voyage on the A itinerary departs on January 24, taking guests around the southern central route through the islands. Both itineraries include daily, personalized excursions with optional snorkel and kayak tours led by two onboard, certified naturalists.
A snapshot of the islands

A snapshot of the islands

The 20-passenger mega-yacht (we must admit, we love anything that marries sustainability… with mega-yachtdom) will feature 10 deluxe staterooms distributed throughout one deck, and a variety of onboard amenities designed especially for the discerning traveler. These will include locally inspired gourmet cuisine, and recreational equipment such as a Jacuzzi and fitness center. MV Origin will also feature expansive indoor and outdoor social and observation areas allowing for easy comfortable viewing of the islands’ unique scenery and topography.  
Rates for 2016 start at $6,500 per person, but are all inclusive. Based on double occupancy, that means all meals and snacks, Captain’s welcome and farewell cocktail, all alcoholic beverages, guided shore excursions, snorkel equipment and sea kayaks, as well as transfers in the islands between the airport and dock.

We think that sounds pretty pretty (Dar)winning to us!

The Top 10 Expeditions for 2014

Our buddies at Expedition Trips just sent us their top picks for the best expeditions for 2014 so, of course, we had to share with our eco-loving adventurers.

Here you go, my fine voyaging friends!

Dancers in Papau New Guinea

Dancers in Papau New Guinea

1. Exploring the Coral Sea: Papua New Guinea to Fiji 
102-Passenger Luxury Expedition Ship: National Geographic Orion
Prices From: $12,940 per person

An Arctic Polar Bear!

An Arctic Polar Bear!

2. Antarctic Peninsula
132-Passenger Expedition Ship: Expedition
Prices From: $5,999

A Booby in the Galapagos

A Booby in the Galapagos

3. Galapagos Classic
96-Passenger Expedition Ship: National Geographic Endeavour
Prices From: $5,490

4. Antarctica, Falklands and South Georgia
122-Passenger Expedition Ship: Sea Adventurer
Prices From: $18,995

5. Svalbard – Spitsbergen Encounter
92-Passenger Research Ship: Akademik Sergey Vavilov
Prices From: $4,195

6. Sacred Valley to Machu Picchu
Land Based Adventure
Prices From: $2,495

7. Alaska Inside Passage – Western Coves 
76-Passenger Expedition Ship: Wilderness Discoverer
Prices From: $2,195

8. Amazon River Expedition
28-Passenger River Boat: Delfin II
Prices From: $3,033

9. Circumnavigation of Iceland
148-Passenger Luxury Expedition Ship: National Geographic Explorer
Prices From: $7,990

10. Expedition Greenland
132-Passenger Luxury Expedition Ship: Silver Explorer
Prices From: $9,750

Eco Puerto Rico… We Go…

Hix Island House - Vieques, Puerto Rico

Hix Island House – Vieques, Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico… ah, that sultry rustic spot just nestled one short direct flight from NYC (and every major airport, it seems). Well, I’m sorry to say that it’s the one place I haven’t been (that you’d think with my latino skills I’d know left and right), but sigh… not yet. And, although I even have some friends that live there, I just haven’t had a chance to make it… yet. Perhaps I keep going back to my beloved Mexico, but one thing is for sure… we all have to check out this rustic eco-chic island of Vieques… Pronto!

As John Hix says, “Nature is more fascinating and beautiful than things that are made by man.” Architect John Hix of Hix Island House is a man with a vision, that’s for sure. Just check out his website and you’ll see that he clearly “strives to make buildings fit with Nature… understanding the forces in Nature that cause those natural things to be what they are.” So, what did he do? Bring those natural forces into his architectural vision, of course.

On Vieques, you’ll discover extraordinary gray granite boulders set about from some ancient primordial era.

This is Eco Puerto Rico, baby!

This is Eco Puerto Rico, baby!

The sculptural qualities are definitely awe-inspiring. His words speak for themselves… these are buildings that harmonize with the countryside and absorbed or concealed by the landscape. At Hix House, his goal is to get guests diverging from their mundane urban or suburban lives. Designing with nature in mind, sun, land, breeze, and rain allow him to conserve energy, reduce maintenance, and minimize chemical usage. Houses collect rain water, they’re heated from the sun and then excess water is used to replenish the surrounding flora. The houses also convert the sun’s rays into electricity.

The Wabi-Sabi construction of block and reinforced concrete surfaced with plaster is also hurricane, earthquake and fire-proof.

Unglazed windows offer direct connection with climate and Nature and concrete houses with their steel rolling doors and heavy wood shutters have become havens for neighbors and friends during hurricanes. To wit, they didn’t encounter any damage from the three they’ve withstood.

So, basically, we gotta check this out because “Su campo es nuestro campo”. There are lofts, 2 bedrooms, whole homes, casitas… pretty much something for everyone.

Including me and you.

Getting Eco-Chic in Ecuador’s Galapagos Islands

sailing galapagos

Sailing to the Galapagos in this sweet ride sounds good right about now

I’ll be honest, my father-in-law lives in Ecuador and I’m still kicking myself that when I visited him, I didn’t have time to check out the Galapagos. So, when a good friend told me about Quasar Expeditions, one of the leading South American tour operators (synonymous with luxury travel in the Galapagos since they introduced smaller yacht expeditions in 1986), I was already mentally day-dreaming about my next jaunt down south. Apparently, they’ve also relaunched the completely refurbished 32-passenger M/V Evolution yacht (seen above).
A room on the Evolution

A room on the Evolution

In the days before jet travel when ships like the Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth ruled transcontinental travel, self-made millionaires, movie moguls and royalty actually built smaller versions of the great ocean liners as personal yachts. Jealous yet? Don’t be. You, too, can live like a mini-mogul… eco-style, baby! The Evolution gives travelers the sensation of stepping back to a time when travel was less about getting there and more about a style of life focused on visiting exotic places along the way. This unique expedition ship has all of the modern amenities required and expected for luxury eco-travel; and although sailing aboard Evolution is an intimate experience, there is still plenty of space to relax and wander  – a comfortable living room with a library, a bar area, indoor and al-fresco dining areas, as well as a sky deck lounge to relax, read or take an afternoon snooze.
Family fun in the Galapagos

Serious family fun in the Galapagos

Now onto the eco-tour adventure: each day you can discover a new island and its inhabitants not seen anywhere else in the world from the famed Blue Footed Booby, the red-pouched Frigate bird, sea lions, penguins, giant centuries old tortoises and iguanas several feet long.  If you’re a crazy daredevil like me, you can also snorkel with sharks (apparently, they won’t bite) or explore lava fields and come to understand why Quasar founders (and Ecuadorian natives) Eduardo and Dolores Diez fell in love with the untouched natural beauty of the region after first discovering them in the 70’s.
Sealed with adventure (harharhar)

Sealed with adventure (harharhar)

Quasar also operates the 150-ft, 18 passenger Camper & Nicholson made M/Y Grace yacht named after its previous owner, Princess Grace of Monaco.
A 7-night Galapagos cruise aboard the Evolution starts at a one-in-a-lifetime and reasonable $4800/person inclusive of all meals and activities. We think that sounds like a perfect family vacation to the Galapagos and a great deal.
So who wants to check out those boobies?

Go Galapagos: It’s Survival of the Fittest

The Ecoventura!

The Ecoventura!

Looking for something cool to do this summer? How about survival of the fittest, baby?! In a voyage benefiting the Center for Responsible Travel (CREST), a non-profit dedicated to ‘transforming the way the world travels,’ an 8-day, 7-night trip to the Galapagos will launch from August 5 – 12, 2012. What better way to explore the islands where Darwin first imagined his “Tree of Life” than with Darwin expert William Durham, Ph.D., CREST’s Co-Director and Bing Professor in Human Biology in the Department of Anthropology at none other than Stanford University.

Winner of the MacArthur “Genius” award for his contributions to the theory of human evolution (because evolution is so sexy), Bill is also the author of a 2012 chapter, “What Darwin Found Convincing in Galapagos” in a just-released symposium volume from the Darwin Station in Galapagos, and a 2008 chapter “Fishing for Solutions: Ecotourism and Conservation in Galapagos National Park.” He has led 27, yes, 27 voyages to the Galapagos, including one that recreated the “Voyage of the Beagle” in celebration of Darwin’s bicentennial. Nerd alert, I love it!

Bill Durham, Galapagos Tour Leader

Bill Durham, Galapagos Tour Leader

The itinerary for the Galapagos 2012 Charter Club Expedition has been jointly organized by CREST and, for those who like to swank it like me, the award winning eco-yacht operator, Ecoventura, to provide the most exciting Galapagos experience possible. Eco Yacht?!

Here is the itinerary* at a glance: 

Sunday:            Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, SAN CRISTOBAL (airport)

                           La Galapaguera Cerro Colorado, SAN CRISTOBAL

Monday:          Prince Philip’s Steps (SN,PS,KY), GENOVESA (Tower)

                           Darwin Bay (SN, PR, KY), GENOVESA (Tower)

Tuesday:          Bachas Beach or Mosquera (SN)

                           North Seymour (SN, PR)

Wednesday:    Punta Espinosa (SN), FERNANDIA

                            Elizabeth Bay or Punta Moreno (PR, KY) ISABELA

Thursday:        Urbina Bay, ISABELA (SN, PR)

                            Tagus Cove, ISABELA (SN, PR, KY)

Friday:              Puerto Egas, SANTIAGO (SN)

                           Rabida Island (SN, PR, KY)

Saturday:         Darwin Station of Highlands of SANTA CRUZ

                           Santa Fe Island (SN, PR, KY)

Sunday:            Interpretation Center, SAN CRISTOBAL (airport)

*The order of visits may vary slightly depending on the yacht assigned.

SN= snorkel, KY= kayak, PR= panga (dingy) ride (passengers must often choose just one activity per site or as time permits).

Prices @$4,765 and includes all meals, non-alcoholic beverages, house wine and local beer with dinner, purified water and accommodations; in-country flights and transfers; a Captain’s welcome and farewell cocktail; guide services; shore excursions; use of wet suits, snorkeling equipment and sea kayaks; lectures and other scheduled activities.

For more details and the complete itinerary information,  click here or contact:

Catherine Ardagh

202-247-9203 ext 414

Ecuador & Eco-Travel Voluntourism

The Amazing Yasuni National Park

In the mood for a little eco-travel and voluntourism? Brand spankin’ new programs in the field of international volunteering have just been launched… hurrah! United Planet, a leader in the field, has recently added to its offerings in the beloved country of resource rich Ecuador. United Planet is an international non-profit based in Boston that strives to create a world in which all people understand, respect, and support one another. Their global network of leaders and volunteers fosters cross-cultural understanding and addresses shared challenges to unite the world in a community beyond borders.

Sue, a Nurse, Volunteering in Ecuador

Over the past ten years, they’ve worked with local communities all over the world to find meaningful work for volunteer travelers; and have placed thousands of volunteers in those communities to live and work – for periods ranging from a week to a year. Volunteers may now work with wildlife/animals in the Amazon; indigenous people in the Amazon jungle; or in environmental conservation in the Galapagos.

Amazon River Dolphin!

These programs supplement the long-standing and popular programs in Quito and the Cloud Forest, where volunteers can work with children (teaching, childcare, working with at-risk youth);healthcare; or on environmental projects. We likey. Did we mention our father-in-law has lived there for the last 20 years. Ecuador is one of those still-off-the-beaten-track countries for mainstream tourists so it’s managed to hold onto it’s indigenous culture (and it’s inexpensive prices), unlike some it’s competitors.

Why are these new programs so great? you ask.

Because volunteers ‘get to experience more of Ecuador’s diversity,’ says Theresa Higgs, Vice President of Global Operations at United Planet. “United Planet is looking to provide its volunteers with new experiences in a variety of projects. Ecuador is a wonderful place for almost anyone seeking to volunteer: it’s easy to get to, the dollar is strong, and the people are famous for their warmth and hospitality. ”

At the Wildlife Project, volunteers have the opportunity to care for animals that have suffered from maltreatment or been victims of animal trafficking. Volunteers can work at an Animal Rescue Center and help protect the wildlife of Ecuador’s Amazon. Volunteers also have the opportunity to island-hop through the Galapagos.  At Tortuga Bay, they can observe marine iguanas and turtles, sharks and hike through an ecologically diverse rainforest. If they’re looking to relax, volunteers can enjoy the stretches of white-sand beaches.

The White Sand Beaches of Tortuga Bay - Galapagos Islands

In Floreana, volunteers will be exposed to the history of the island, having the opportunity to explore caves once inhabited and used by pirates. Snorkeling in the crystal bay after a day of new discoveries in the caves is also available. At the Charles Darwin station, volunteers will continue to explore the history of the Galapagos and enjoy the clear-water that yields sights of reef sharks. There is also a chance to see colonies of Galapagos Penguins who have recently been relocated to this site.

So, I don’t know about you, but taking off to give and receive some Amazonian love sounds really good right about now.

Are you a Smart Voyager?

Costa Rica: Lapa Rios Tropical Adventure

We think if you’re on our site reading this, chances are, you’re not only one sexy babe, but you’re also a smart traveler. To that end, we wanted to share this fall travel deal.  Check it:

Wildland Adventures opens two of its global classrooms with, in these tough times, value added packages. We likey (and, apparently, so do those cute kiddies).

Explore the Galapagos living laboratory until the end of November aboard the popular Smart Voyager certified yachts the Eric, Flamingo or Letty, and save up to $500.00 per person. The voluntary Smart Voyager program minimizes impact on the fragile Galapagos eco-system and contributes to habitat conservation. Travelers learn from naturalist guides how exotic and bizarre wildlife evolved over time, then explore by sea kayak, hike cinder cones, experience lava flows, and snorkel the crystal-clear Ecuadorian waters.  Take us with you! The Galapagos 11-day package starts at US$3,795.00 for adults and $3,195.00 for kids before the added $500 savings. Families can also book a private Galapagos charter, December 24 to January 3, starting at $3,750.00 per person.

Costa Rica’s rainforests have also long been a favorite classroom for flora, fauna and wildlife lovers.  So, from now until December 14, 2010, travellers can save up to $225.00 per person on a premiere Costa Rican  Lapa Rios Tropical Adventure; offering a nine-day immersion into the rainforest, with accommodation at one of the most beautiful eco-lodges in the world. Travelers also get the opportunity to witness several species of wildcats, and learn how to keep them protected. Between November 28 to December 14, you can participate in the Wildcat Research and Conservation to work with local researchers fighting to protect theses amazing animals.  We sure love dem kittehs. Package rates start at $2,975.00 per person, before the added savings.


%d bloggers like this: