RFI: Galapagos Islands

To: "Chris Sanderson" <>
Subject: RFI: Galapagos Islands
From: "Gunnar Engblom" <>
Date: Wed, 9 Apr 2008 12:56:22 -0500
Chiris and Birding Aus

We don't do Galapagos a lot, but I have been there some 12 times as a tour
leader before I moved to Peru for good. And I have set up programs a few
times for birders since so I think I can help you and other Birding Aus
members making plans.

The absolutely best way is to go on a specific birdwatching tour that has
charted a boat to visit all islands.
We set up one like this some years ago, but you need to be sure to fill all
16 or so beds, otherwise it becomes very costly (and it already is costly to
start with).
If you cannot find a company that has it set up, and it would be unlikely at
this stage, the second best option is to go with the cruise ship Isabella
II, which has the most thorough itinerary in a one week program visiting
most islands. I know this for a fact, cause I recently had to do the
research for some clients, and I also been on the ship myself a few times.
The smaller boats usually don't go to far islands cause they would use to
much fuel and it takes too long time. The larger Isabella II is much faster
and a steady ship that will do a lot of the navigation by night. Thus you
cover larger distances. For a cruise ship Isabella is relatively small, so
you do get enough time on the islands. Birders often shun the cruise ships
in Galapagos, cause they believe they get too little time...I would not say
this that much of a problem with Isabella II
You want to make sure your ship does visit Fernandina/Isabella for
Flightless Cormorant as well as Española for the colony of Waved Albatross.
Furthermore, one of the best islands is Tower for three species of boobies
and two species of mockingbirds, Short-eared Owls hunting for Storm-Petrels
during day time, and the only place to see Sharp-billed Ground-Finch.
On this itinerary you usually miss only two darwin finches and one
mockingbird (on San Cristobal which is not visited. If your lucky you may
persuade the crew to take you on a dingy tour to see Mangrove
will probably take a lot of persuation so don't count on it.)

There is not a specific bird guide on board, but one really don't need one
with the limited number of species available during the cruise. Get yourself
a telelense instead and take lots of pictures. The guides in general are
very good and very experienced, so they would know also all the birds. You
will probably have to find the seabirds yourself...and again a good camera
is also the best way to be sure what you see.

You could decide to stay a couple of days to also visit Floreana for Medium
Tree FInch and Cristobal for the mockingbird. And you would probably like to
have a little more time for the Galapagos Rail on Santa Cruz.

I have a couple who are going there with Isabella in August-September. After
that the boat is very full, but there may be room in december a week or so
before Christmas, at least so I was told a month ago. Let me know if you
want me to enquire for you....

The time to avoid is Jan-April cause the Waved Albatroses are not present on
Española....(but you should see some at see.....but that is not the same
thing. You want to see them "fencing" as part of the pair bonding before
taking off to "winter" waters (that is Peru! and it is summer!).


Gunnar Engblom

Gunnar Engblom-Lima, Peru.
Kolibri Expeditions–Birdwatching in South America. More Birds! - checklist and data-base. Record your sightings
on-line, forum, pictures, identification, Expedition Birding, etc.
Tel: +51 1 4765016 cel: 51-1-96437749 or 99007886

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