the Galapagos in September or October
Sara Duncan Widness
an idea to add to a calendar of “must dos.” In September
and October the animals, birds and sea life are at their friskiest
best in The Galapagos. Cooler, dryer air and lower water temperatures
prevail at this time in these fragile islands and in regions of
mainland Ecuador. These conditions make for good sightings of sea
lions with pups while snorkeling and diving. Manta ray congregate for
plankton that arrives on colder currents.
tortoises are still nesting and laying eggs, Galapagos penguins are
friskier than usual while hammerhead sharks school in greater
numbers. Most species of sea birds are active at their nesting sites
providing prime viewing. Off the mainland coast in a region called
Ruta del Sol it’s high season for surfing and humpback whale
in the high 60s to mid-70s compel visitors to climb and trek,
activities that might seem daunting when it’s hot or wet; plus
it’s a great time to surf mainland beaches. Because September
and October are off-peak, there are fewer people at popular sites and
hotels are known to offer reduced rates.
dilemma that often faces travelers is not scheduling enough time to
see and do everything a brand-new destination offers. This can be
true in The Galapagos and on mainland Ecuador. You may want to
consider dividing your time between the islands and mainland. Think
about Ecuador as four quadrants or distinct worlds on two
hemispheres. These are the Andean Highlands with the World Heritage
capital city Quito, the Equatorial Monument, historic Cuenca, and the
best-preserved Inca complex in the country, Ingapirca.
second quadrant takes in the bio-diversity in and around the
Galapagos Islands with snorkeling with sea lions, a visit to a
private preserve where giant Galapagos tortoises freely roam,
exploring pirate lore and legend on Floreana, and hiking in the
caldera and visiting lava caves on Isabela.
third quadrant includes the Amazon Basin where guests stay at a
remote jungle lodge accessed by dugout canoe with hikes to a native
village and a canopy tower adventure.
number four encompasses the Coastal Lowlands and includes tours of
historic Guayaquil, Ecuador’s largest commercial center, a
yacht tour on the Guayas River and shopping at artisan markets.
example, Samai Lodge in Santa Elena is a relaxing jungle inn and
wellness spa on the mainland where it’s easy to access unique
dry forests and cloud forests and coral reefs. For a longer visit to
Ecuador guests can combine this lodge with quality time at
accommodations on three Galapagos islands and even include snorkeling
and diving at the Red Mangrove Dive Center that opened recently.
Mangrove Galapagos and Ecuador Lodges own and manage the center as
well as five lodges on the islands and have also researched and
personally sampled the offerings of inns and activities on mainland
Ecuador. While taking care of guests it also looks after its wildlife
friends. It has created Red Mangrove Tortuga Reserve, the first such
reserve in the Galapagos, on 20 acres adjacent to the Galapagos
National Park, a short drive from the company’s Aventura Lodge
on Santa Cruz. Here animals have free and unobstructed movement. “We
see this as a necessary step for the preservation of the threatened
Galapagos giant tortoise,” said Hernan Rodas, founder.
said the reserve is being created from a minimalist, least
environmental impact perspective. Only guests visiting the Red
Mangrove Aventura Lodge may walk the grassy trails on the preserve.
Although there will be washroom facilities and a rain shelter, there
will be no gift stores.
reduced traffic and development will limit any impact on the
tortoises and their environment,” said Rodas, underscoring that
conservation is the top priority. Red Mangrove Galapagos and Ecuador
Lodges seeks to build alliances with local conservation organizations
and the national park for the greatest benefit to the species.
present the site harbors 30 to 40 giant tortoise, but the total
number at any time will depend of how humid it is and how much water
is in a small pond that attracts the tortoise. These reptiles weigh
up to 880 pounds and in the wild can live for over a century.
name Galapagos comes from the Spanish word for tortoise. Early
explorers would have witnessed the species in numbers of over 250,000
in the 16th century. By the 1970s the number had dropped to around
3,000 and the species is classified “vulnerable” by the
International Union for Conservation of Nature.
more information please see www.redmangrove.com