BIRMINGHAM, AL, September 29, 2006 "“ What better time than Christmas to enjoy the gifts of the earth? In the Galapagos Islands, whose wildlife led Darwin to the idea of evolution, you'll find a veritable Santa's bag of diverse terrain, pristine waters and unusual wildlife. Getting up close and personal with these fearless and remarkable creatures is a priceless experience, and aboard International Expeditions' M/V Evolution, you will enjoy a voyage such as Darwin himself could envy. In the Amazon, aboard a classically styled riverboat, International Expeditions will take you deeper into the heart of rainforest than any other company, where you will visit remote villages of the most diverse ecosystem on earth.
The world leader in nature travel, International Expeditions designs travel to the world's most stunning locales, with comprehensive itineraries, preeminent naturalist guides and a focus on environmental awareness and insightful interpretation. All expeditions offer superb access to extraordinary sites and indigenous wildlife for small groups. No matter how remote the destination, however, accommodations, cuisine and comfort are always first-rate. An adventure with International Expeditions is indeed a rare holiday treat.
For its last Galapagos Islands outing of 2006, the 10-day voyage departing on December 15, International Expeditions has added two extra days to explore Quito and the Highlands of Ecuador, at no extra charge. On Christmas Eve, guests will visit the churches and colonial center of Quito, a World Heritage Site, and enjoy an exceptional celebration with Christmas carols, a special dinner and South American music "“ plus Christmas Mass at a local church, if you so wish. On Christmas Day, you will visit the highlands of the Otavalo area, famous for its craft villages, and fly home on December 26.
That's the plum atop the Christmas pudding: a week exploring one of the most prolific bird and marine life populations on the planet. Here, every day brings sightings of blue-footed boobies, Galapagos doves and hawks, red- and black-colored marine iguanas, magnificent frigatebirds, as well as whales, dolphins, shearwaters and giant tortoises, to name just a few species of fauna. You will also encounter desert landscapes, cloud forest, volcanoes, and powder-white beaches. Ample time is allowed for swimming and snorkeling, often among sea lions and perhaps even penguins.
Like all International Expeditions journeys, the Galapagos voyages will be led by an expert, English-speaking naturalist guide, whose knowledge and passion will add greatly to your enjoyment. Accommodations aboard ship are spacious and comfortable, with a host of amenities including an observation deck, sun deck and canopied bar, plus snorkeling equipment and wet suits. At 192 feet, with a maximum of 32 interested and interesting passengers, the M/V Evolution recalls a European steamer of yore, and is the perfect size for sailing among the islands. Prices range from $4,198 to $4,798 per person, plus airfare, and include accommodations, most meals, transportation by land and boat, guides and group transfers.
Another compelling adventure is International Expeditions' nine-day Amazon voyage departing for Lima on December 16. This, the greatest voyage in natural history, created by the company more than 12 years ago, is their most sought-after journey. International Expeditions' elegant riverboats are small enough to traverse narrow waterways running into the jungle, with excursion boats to take you still further, accompanied throughout by expert naturalist guides and an Expedition Leader.
Imagine gazing on the stars of the northern and southern constellations at night, awaking on the mighty Amazon in the morning. You will witness the ever-changing panorama of jungle life, including more than 100 kinds of birds, pink and gray Amazon River dolphins, eight species of monkeys, sloths, giant otters and nocturnal animals such as caimans and capybaras. Enjoy off-boat excursions through nature reserves, dugout canoe trips, a suspended walkway unfolding the world above the forest floor, and a visit to a river village bringing you face to face with a local shaman. You will leave filled with the sights, sounds and colors of the jungle reverberating in your memory.
The December 16 departure is $2,598 per person double occupancy, all-inclusive except airfare. For more information visit the website at www.ietravel.com/galapagos.
There are many ways to travel the Galapagos Islands. Tourism is a main source of income for the local residents so there are plenty of hotels, cruises, and tour companies to choose from. Bringing visitor to the islands helps fund the Charles Darwin Station. Their main goal is conservation and protecting the endangered species of the Galapagos.
I hope your trip was a memorable one.