Galapagos Islands

National Geographic Endeavour in Galapagos. 2011The Galapagos Islands are 21 volcanic islands located 600 miles west of the mainland of South America, parallel to Ecuador, on the equator, where the winds from the south meet the winds from the north.  At times this can cause ‘doldrums’ to occur and, in days long past, sailing ships that depended solely on wind power could get stuck in one place waiting for these long periods of calm to pass. Of course, modern power vessels are unaffected by this natural phenomenon.

The Galapagos Islands have a long and interesting history, with recorded history dating back to the 1500s when a sailor traveling from Panama to Peru happened upon the islands.  Soon other sailors were telling tales of the giant tortoises that were found on these islands.  At certain times of the year, the islands become covered in such thick fog that they are not even noticed by the ships passing by. This shrouded them in a sense of mystery and they became known as the “EnchantedIslands.”  Any visitor to the islands today can tell you that you will still experience a sense of enchantment there on any given day.

January through May is the warm rainy season with generally very high humidity and a fair amount of precipitation.  From June through November the cooler, more comfortable, weather rolls in and generally nothing more than a light jacket is needed even at the lowest temperatures.

Lindblad Expeditions has over 45 years of experience in the Galapagos Islands and two full-time vessels in the Galapagos Islands. They are known for their top quality expeditions.  Lindblad Expeditions was the first cruise line to ever take guests to places that previously only scientists had been, as well as the first cruise line to bring guests to the Galapagos Islands.  In 2004, Lindblad Expeditions teamed with National Geographic to bring the most top quality nature cruise experience that can be found.   This partnership is unprecedented in the travel industry and, as you can imagine, brings a whole new element to the cruise experience.  Each cruise is staffed with a team of naturists that are experts in a variety of different fields and each is highly knowledgeable in the history, geography and wildlife of the Galapagos Islands.  There is also a photo instructor and an undersea specialist on each cruise.  You are free to seek out the company and guidance of the naturists whose specialties are most similar to your interests.  Every cruise is an opportunity to rub elbows with travel experts, National Geographic photographers, explorers, writers, and scientists as well as experts from a variety of other fields.

The first of the two ships stationed here is the National Geographic Islander.  With capacity for only 48 guests, the Islander offers an intimate experience with the Galapagos Islands.  This craft has been sailing full time in the Galapagos since 2004, after initially serving in the Caribbean and then Scotland.  She is lovely and modern, offering the intimate feeling of being aboard a large private yacht and it is easy here to get to know your fellow cruisers.  What you might sacrifice in entertainment choices on larger cruise ships is quickly forgotten when you realize the trade-off is a highly personalized experience in a friendly environment where other guests and staff alike will quickly come to a first name basis with you, and you will experience a much more socially intimate experience in addition to the educational aspect of these cruises.  Her size allows visits to smaller islands that the large cruise ships would not be able to access.  The Islander features 24 cabins, all with ocean views and 8 that have private balconies.  Life onboard the Islander is always casual and fun.

The second ship that sails year round in the Galapagos is the National Geographic Endeavor.  The Endeavor is slightly larger than the Islander and can accommodate 96 guests in 56 cabins.  The Endeavor has plenty of room for all of her guests to spread out, including expansive deck space where guests gather to watch wildlife or enjoy a beverage as the sun is setting.  Both ships feature single sitting meals and again, life is casual here on the Endeavor.  No need to get all fancied up for dinner.  Unless, of course, you really want to!  Fresh local ingredients are used in preparing meals whenever possible including fresh caught fish and locally grown produce.  Special dietary requests are always honored.  Both ships are equipped with kayaking and snorkeling equipment as well as a variety of other tools for exploration.

One of the most amazing things about the Galapagos Islands is that the wildlife that lives there has not developed a fear of humans. Therefore, you can observe and experience the wildlife here in a very close up and personal way that you cannot in most other places.   In addition to that, there are types of wildlife here on each island that don’t exist any other place in the world.  The wildlife here is always active due to the weather.  The Galapagos Islands are the only locations in the world where you can observe Darwin’s Finches or the giant tortoises of Galapagos, just to mention a few of the 26 endemic species that make the Galapagos Islands their home.

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