One of our operators in Ecuador has just opened up a new facility called Magic Galapagos. Located in the quiet and cool highlands of Santa Cruz Island, this very special safari-style camp is available exclusively to their clients. With just six raised, walk-in, en-suite safari tents and four tree houses, guests feel that they have their own private hideaway. The only crowds they will see are the millions of stars in the night sky, the only noises they hear will be the gentle breezes and the measured passage of giant tortoises.
Have you been trying to decide whether you should visit an amazon rain forest lodge or a cloud forest lodge or both? My friend Richard Parsons came up with these ideas. In this case he is referring to Ecuador, but it would be the same in Peru or Colombia.
As people and businesses have encroached into what was once virgin wilderness, wildlife and local people have suffered. So several amazon conservation initiatives have been developed to try to slow down the loss of wildlife and the suffering of the indigenous population.
In Ecuador, my friend Raul Garcia has been working to help. He has started projects to help the local communities and to get them involved in helping the wildlife, as you can learn in this video.
Due to the increasing volcanic activity that the Cotopaxi Volcano had in August 2015, the Cotopaxi National Park was closed to any touristic activity. But, on August 5th 2016, the Ecuadorian Ministry of Environment and the Ministry of Tourism announced the reopening of the National Park. They also informed that the accessing routes and touristic attractions in the park are safe for the incoming tourists. 90% of the areas that had been restricted to the public are now open, along with improved monitoring and safety measures that have been implemented.
What is the best Galapagos cruise or tour? Well that's a very subjective topic. For instance if you look at hotel ratings on Tripadvisor, sometimes 3* hotels are rated higher than 5* hotels. But people who normally stay in 3* hotels because of price couldn't compare it to a 5* hotel. So maybe the 3* they stayed in was excellent, compared to other 3* hotels they've stayed in, but if someone who normally stays in 5* hotels went there, they might not rate it as high. I would think that the same would apply to the 69 boats that are authorized to operate there.
But there are other things to consider besides looks.....
When I discuss everything that Ecuador has to offer with the different tour operators, I inevitably ask the question "why aren't more people coming to mainland Ecuador"? Sure, a lot of people go to the Galapagos, but many of them spend the least amount of time possible on the mainland. Why?
I would guess that when most people are shopping for an Amazon cruise, they first think of Brazil or Peru. Sure, you can find a good cruise in either of those countries - especially in Peru, where you can find a lot to choose from. If you are only going to Brazil or only to Peru, then it makes sense to look for a cruise in that country.
In the old days, when there were not many people living on the Galapagos Islands, doing a cruise was the only way to see them, so there were not a lot of choices. Now there are 4 inhabited islands with accommodations on them, so there are more Galapagos tour options available.
Jim has been an agent for over 20 years and has specialized in South America for much of that time