By Samina Quaglia
Located about 600 miles off the coast of Ecuador, is notorious for its enigmatic wildlife, volcanic formations and its underwater marine biodiversity, that has been considered one of the biggest and richest in the world, and was the first place declared by the UNESCO as a Natural World Heritage Site in 1978.
There are a group of 19 large islands and plenty more islets that seem to be lost in time, where diversity and purity are the welcoming factors. No wonder they are also known as the “Enchanted Islands”. While the volcanic landscapes do not seem inviting at first, there is more than meets the eye, with colorful crystal clear beaches, sunny Pacific weather, lava formations, lush green areas and wildlife overflowing in every visit. It’s location on the Equator has its advantages, and one of them is having an average temperature of 24C all-year around, which makes it the perfect place to visit any time of the year.
Just a two-hour flight from Quito, this paradise lies in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. The arriving port is Baltra, which in the past served as an American airbase to guard the Panama Canal. Additionally, you can also arrive at San Cristobal Island Airport. Tourists will be welcomed in the airport by their respective lodging companies. The easiest way to get the best out of this amazing and unique experience is aboard a cruise. By law, no more than 100-capacity vessels are allowed within the Galapagos National Park due to the ecological regulations. As a result all vessels operating in this magical realm must follow strict rules to navigate, in order to ensure that they are leaving the lightest possible print while cruising the islands. The perfect vessel to enjoy the trip to the fullest is aboard the exclusive Boutique Expedition Cruise ship is the M/V Galapagos Legend.
The M/V Galapagos Legend back in the day was known as the Helgoland which transported happy tourists from Northern Germany to Helgoland Island in the North Sea. In early 2000, Helgoland took a long overseas trip from Germany to Ecuador while still fulfilling her duty of making tourists happy. It took 15 days to arrive to Panama, with a fuel stop in the Canary Islands, and 3 more days to arrive in Ecuadorian territory. After the transformation to a luxury cruise ship, it commenced service in the Galapagos Islands. She had her super structure and cabins reconstructed in their actual size, with interiors adapted to modern times but keeping true to her spirit.
Nowadays, this magnificent vessel has the charm of the Enchanted Islands yet is small enough for an intimate experience. The Legend is known for having the biggest outdoor space compared to any vessel currently cruising the archipelago’s waters. Take advantage of her spacious interiors and be amazed by the landscape from the floor to ceiling panoramic windows.
Go Galapagos by Kleintours is one of the major tour operators in Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands. With over 35 years of experience and state of the art vessels, they are known for being the best in the market due to their high standards, the best price/quality ratio, dynamic spirit, and commitment to the traveler while sustaining the environment and enhancing social development.
Be embraced by the islands that were the inspiration of Darwin on his trip in the H.M.S Beagle. What he saw was a variety of different species ranging from a small mockingbird to a giant tortoise, which was the impetus to developing his evolutionary theory based on natural selection. These strange and exotic species that are harmless to humans allow visitors to walk alongside these gentle prehistoric giant reptiles that resemble small dinosaurs with big claws and sharp crowns who lay along the shore absorbing the sun’s warmth.
The main activities in the region include swimming with curious sea lions, penguins, and stingrays or snorkeling with white tipped and hammer head sharks, giant starfish and green Pacific turtles. Glide in a kayak through blue waters to get even closer to endemic nature, and become one with the scenery. Experiences are available for all types of explorers. For those who do not want to miss the underwater biodiversity of the archipelago, a glass bottom boat ride is the solution to feel comfortable and dry while learning more about the marine life. At the same time, also enjoy the endemic birds that fly through the extraordinary skies and can be seen in every corner. As the ever changing sea and weather conditions dictate an influence on the wildlife, no trip is ever the same!
The islands offer a wide range of itineraries based on the explorer’s curiosity and timeframe. Each island in the archipelago is unique in its own way, thus offering a different experience at all times. Enjoy a morning sail to detach yourself from the hectic lifestyle and crowds from back home. During your stay enjoy the landscape where time has stood still with friendly indigenous locals and a colorful landscape that emulates a true natural living museum.
This “laboratory of evolution” is not only for mature travelers but can be enjoyed by guests of all ages. The islands and cruise experience is a destination for younger generations of nature lovers and aficionados that appreciate this spectacular landscape. Families are delighted with a memorable cruise trip, while enjoying the magic of the Enchanted Islands. Top notch experiences and itineraries are offered.