Travels with Lois and Jason

Amazon Rain Forest and the Galapagos Islands

an adventure in contrasts

December 22, 2011 - January 8, 2012

Our Galapagos Experience

Click here for our Amazon Experience

We have been very fortunate to travel to many exotic (and not so exotic) places.  We have always been hesitant to return to a place once loved, fearful that the “aha” would be missing.  When traveling we like to combine trips to take advantage of airfares, time changes, and wear and tear on our maturing bodies!!!  Since we were traveling so far to the Amazon River, we wanted to go to another South American location.  We considered many places, both visited and un-visited, and decided, a little reluctantly, to re-visit the Galapagos Islands.  Our 1996 trip was mixed:  great day outings, but very poor ship accommodations.  We were trilled that this trip had both outstanding outings and ship accommodations, leaving us with the desire to go back yet again.

lois bid One reason we decided to go back to the Galapagos was to get incredible close to the animals in a natural setting.  We were not disappointed! jjason


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Sea Nazca Booby on eggs
Blue Footed Booby
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Great Blue Heron
Striated Heron
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Yellow Warbler

Reptiles and sea life

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Sea lion protecting boat...
Sea lion greeting us...
Sea lion nursing
Giant Tortoises
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Marine Iguana
Land Iguana
Sea Turtles
Sally Lightfoot Crabs

The Islands and Scenery

map The Galapagos Islands are a chain of 15 volcanic islands about 600 miles west of Ecuador.  They were made famous by the travels of Charles Darwin who was amazed by the diversity of plants and birds found in such a closely grouped set of islands.  He pondered the question “What would explain different species of birds on two adjacent island?” 

Our cruise took us to 14 different landing on seven different islands.  Part of what makes the Galapagos so unique is the variation that exists from location to location.  Even two landings on different sides of the same island present totally different environments.   We went ashore in pongas, small rubber boats, to see the diversity for ourselves.

Our daily routine consisted of morning and afternoon hikes, with our ship moving to a different location during lunch and during the evening.  This arrangement is pretty much standard for all the tour boats in the Galapagos, and is what we did during our 1996 visit.

These pictures try to capture the different landscapes on the islands. 

lois bid  San Cristorl (Kicker Rock)
Notice our ponga in front of the rock in the picture to the right.
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Santa Cruz Espanola


lois bid Bartolome...a volcanic wasteland...with "blister" cones and craters lois bid

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Fernandina landing area,...pahoehoe lava was around the corner and catcus patches that love the lava

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Santa Cruz


While we saw many of the same facinating birds and amphibians on this trip as we did in 1996, we saw a few sights we did not see before;  specifically, penguins and flamingos, the skeleton of a whale that had washed ashore, a vast array of fish endemic to the islands seen when snorkeling, a feral cat, the Galapagos Interpretation Center, and a lava tunnel.

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A major issue discussed on our 1996 trip was the damage done by goats, pigs, dogs, cats and rats introduced by sailors and early residents of the islands.  We even bought a "kill a goat" button to support the clean up effort.  On this trip we saw a feral cat, but the really good news is how many islands have now been completely eradicated of non-native mammals.  We again went to the Charles Darwin Research Center to visit Longsome George.  Tragically this close to 200 year old giant tortoise is still without a mate.  At the center we saw the  breeding pens where they are raising baby tortoises.  Each pen had babies from just one island.  When ready, they will be released back on their island becoming a part of the re-population effort.

The Amazon and the Galapagos in Contrast

Combining the Galapagos Islands with the Amazon Rain Forest made the monumental differences in these two environments crystal clear.  While they both straddle the equator, that is about all they have in common. 

Click here for our Amazon Experience

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April 16, 2012