My wife and I have just returned from a 14-day tour of Quito, Ecuador and
the Galapagos Islands. With a half-day tour of Quito at the start, a full
day tour north of Quito at the end and travel time from Quito via Guayaquil
to and from the islands, the net time cruising the islands was about 10-11
days. The tour was organised by Wild Earth Travel, sister company to
Heritage Expeditions of Christchurch, NZ and the group of 15 people was
about half Kiwi and half Australian. The vessel was the "Tiptop III".
We saw most of the amazing reptiles with the exception of the geckos and
snakes. Of the mammals, we saw the Fur Seal and Sea Lion, and only a couple
of cetacean species .
Of the 140 species of birds on Clement's list including 24 endemics, we saw
60, including 36 species new to me. I was told by the excellent guides that
I saw 10 of the 13 species of "Darwin's" finches. Other highlights were the
Galapagos Penguin, the only penguin found on the equator, the only
flightless Cormorant in the world, three Boobies, the Red-billed Tropicbird,
two Frigatebirds, three Storm Petrels including the only Storm Petrel to
visit colonies by day, two gulls including the only gull which hunts by
night and a one-second glimpse of the Galapagos Rail.
The reptiles, mammals and birds were easily approached and very easy to
The Galapagos Islands are expensive to get to from Australia and the cruises
are also relatively expensive. I would however recommend a trip of at least
14 days to see most of the bird and other species. Wild Earth Travel (and
maybe others) do offer even longer cruises which enable one for example to
see other endemic species such as the Mockingbird on San Cristobal Island
which we did not have time to visit. Our cruise was very well organised and
as I have said, our guides, Etienne and Elizabeth de Backer were able to
call in the birds and recognise the species even at great distances. There
were also nightly lectures on all aspects of the islands. I highly
recommend their services.
Please contact me if you require more details or the bird list.
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