Click the news items below to read more

April 3, 2014 - 2015 Dates for Bike, Yoga, Photography Tours Announced

Planning to come to the Galapagos next year? Galakiwi has just released our 2015 dates for our special interest tours! For early bookers, now is the time to reserve yoru space, as the 2015 tour prices haven't changed (yet!)

Galakiwi Yoga Adventure - 12 days long, departs May 15, 2015

www.galakiwi.com/galapagos-island-tours/galapagos-yoga-tour

Galakiwi throws the typical yoga retreat concept out the window in the Galapagos, with their free-flowing yoga instructions in the company of sea lions and marine iguanas, instead of the confines of a studio. Carefully selected meals and activities complement the daily yoga led by certified instructor Chris Crotty. This non-retreat is ideal for anyone committed to healthy living.

Galakiwi Photography Workshop - 14 days, departs April 30, 2015

www.galakiwi.com/galapagos-island-tours/photography-workshop

Led by professional photographer Ivan Kashinsky, photographers will gain a deeper understanding of their craft through daily workshops, challenges and critiquing. Running since 2013, the trip is structured to give each participant a finished item for their photography portfolio by the time they leave the islands. This custom designed tour, with early morning and evening shooting times, provides the best photographic opportunities in the islands.

Galakiwi Bike Tour - 10 days, departs June 12, 2015

www.galakiwi.com/galapagos-island-tours/galapagos-bike-tour

Covering more than 100km across four different islands. An inland lake, giant tortoise habitats and volcano bike rides are highlights on this unique Galapagos tour, which visits San Cristobal, Floreana, Isabela and Santa Cruz islands. Non-biking days are spent snorkelling, swimming, kayaking and hiking around the islands, making this one of the most active trips in the Galapagos.

March 13, 2014 - Cusco's famous twelve-sided stone vandalized

Many of our Galapagos-loving friends and travelers venture on to visit Peru during their travels, in particular Cusco and Machu Picchu.

One attraction that always has a stream of tourists and photographers near it is the 12-sided stone. It's in the middle of an old Incan wall and shows the perfect craftsmanship used by the Incas, as it fits perfectly with it's surrounding stones.

Sadly, someone recently vandalized the stone with red paint, and the Peruvian authorities are on the hunt to find this person. They should be able to restore the stone and remove the paint, but it is not a simple process to do without leaving evidence of the vandalism / cleaning process.

Thankfully the culprit was caught on video, so there is a chance they will get caught. The vandalism of the culturally signifigant site comes with a prison sentence of 3-6 years.

Read mroe about the story at the links below:

http://www.peruthisweek.com/news-vandal-defaces-cuscos-famous-twelve-angled-stone-102471

http://www.peruthisweek.com/news-damage-to-cuscos-twelve-angled-stone-may-be-irreversible-102483

March 10, 2014 - New species of snake found in the Galapagos?

What is bright orange, yellow and black and was recently found on Santa Cruz Island?

An Ecuadorian milk snake!

The snake caused some excitement in the Galapagos recently after some locals ran over it while driving across the island. Such a snake had never been seen before in the Galapagos, so they picked it up and brought it to the park authorities for an ID.

Some people have postulated that it may be a new subspecies, different form that on the mainland; while the more likely sceanrio is that someon smuggled it to the islands as a pet or it was hiding in some consutrction materials recently brought over from the mainland.

You can read more about the mystery snake here: http://www.theguardian.com/science/animal-magic/2014/feb/25/introduced-snake-galapagos

February 21, 2014 - The Rediscovery of Darwin’s pet Galapagos tortoise

Some quirky, fun Galapagos related news from the UK came in earlier this month.

It seems that when Charles Darwin visited the Galapagos, he left with a pet tortoise, nicknamed "James" as it was from James (Santiago) Island.

But over the years, the whereabouts of that tortoise became a bit of a mystery. Did it end up in a zoo? Was it lost forever?

Well, now we know...it is at the Natural History Museum in London.

Read the rest of the story to learn how it was discovered: 

http://www.theguardian.com/science/animal-magic/2014/feb/12/celebrity-pet-discovery-darwin-tortoise

January 24, 2014 - Galapagos Creation Hotspot not where we Thought?

Surprise, surprise. The ocean "hotspot" where many people believed was the source of the formation of the volcanic islands of the Galapagos may not be where we expected.

Some Univeristy of Oregon scientists have been doing seismic research and a paper is about to be published that indicates the movement of the earth's crust around the Galapagos Islands - known as plate tectonics - is seemingly moving in the opposite direction as one would belivve based on previous knowledge.

Sound complex? Read more here: Source of Galapagos eruptions is not where models place it

January 15, 2014 - Galakiwi Yoga Tour selected as one of the Top Adventure Travel Trips for 2014

The Active Times recently released their selection of the best adventure travel trips for 2014.

We're very thrilled to have our Galapagos Yoga Tour included on this impressive list. 

If you're curious to see the rest of the featured tours from around the world, click on the image below!

Image courtesy of The Active Times.

December 31, 2013 - Finding the Universe - In the Galapagos

As 2013 comes to an end, it's been a great year for Galakiwi!

Our inaugural Photography Workshop, led by NatGeo photographers was a huge success. We sent travellers from around the world on more tours than ever before, including many Galapagos + Peru combo tours. Our line-up of tours had expanded even more for 2014 and we're looking forward to having another great year.

Galakiwi Blue footed booby courtship

The Christmas and New Year's time is always a busy travel time, so a big thanks to our guides who have spent extra time over these holidays to ensure our guests have the best trips possible. Among our guests this Christmas wereLaurnece and Vera from Finding the Universe, who are photographing and writing about their Galapagos and Galakiwi experience.

See what they have to say at: http://www.findingtheuniverse.com/2013/12/a-galapagos-christmas-with-galakiwi.html

Happy New Year everyone...hope to see you in 2014!

December 9, 2013 - The New Galapagos Tortoise Cam

The first live webcam from the Galapagos is online, streaming tortoises across the world!

Footage is from the Fausto Llerena Tortoise Center on Santa Cruz Island and often shows baby giant tortoises walking around.

Check out the link below! The stream is a little choppy as the Galapagos isn't the easiest palce to get a solid internet signal from. Kudos to the Galapagos Conservancy who funds this webcam.

http://www.galapagos.org/gallery/tortoise-cam/

 

 

December 3, 2013 - Galakiwi tours in French, Spanish, Danish and more!

We've recently said goodbye to some great friends from Adventure Holidays in Denmark. It's a highlight for us when we get a big group of travellers from many of our partners and we're happy to say that our Danish friends are some of our favorites!

Galakiwi Custom Danish Group

While we run many small custom tours for families and friends, we also run many larger custom group tours for 30 or even 60 people in the Galapagos Islands. It's always a fun challenge creating perfect tours for people form all different parts of the world. As yo ucan tell from these photos our Danish friends had a ton of fun exploring not only the Galapagos Islands but also mainland Ecuador - it was a full-on, extensive and active adventure around all of this great country.

Galakiwi Custom Danish Group

 

Galakiwi Custom Danish Group

 

As we look back on that Danish travel group, we can't help but wonder what great group will surprise us next. A ski club? College Alumni group? Who knows...and whether it be in Danish, English, Spanish, German, Portuguese, Swiss German or French, we'll be here to create more great travel memories.

See you next year Adventure Holidays!

Galakiwi Custom Danish Group

November 18, 2013 - Galakiwi reviews on TripAdvisor

You can now read traveler reviews and help spread the word about Galakiwi Adventures in the Galapagos by submitting your own TripAdvisor review.

Click on the link below to see what people are saying about Galakiwi, a big shout out to Linda for being our first reviewer!

TripAdvisor

Read reviews of Galakiwi on TripAdvisor.

 

November 8, 2013 - New 6-day Land Galapagos Dates Released!

We've just released 16 departures of our 6-day Land Galapagos tour for 2014.

With departures as early as January and as far away as December 2014, now is the time to grab your space on these popular trips.

Extra departures have also been added around the popular spring break time for our US and Canadian travel friends.

These tours start on Sundays and end on Fridays, making them the perfect 1-week Galapagos getaway. Fly down one weekend, enjoy the trip, then head home the next weekend.

Skip that all-inclusive resort and enjoy a real week of adventure, swimming with sea lions and kayaking with penguins.

Visit http://www.galakiwi.com/galapagos-island-tours/land-galapagos-tour/departures for a list of all new departure dates.

October 30, 2013 - Saving Sharks Update: October 2013

As you may know, Galakiwi loves sharks. We're big fans of these amazing creatures and our founders personally support ProjectAWARE.

ProjectAWARE is working hard to raise awareness of these important ocean predators by stopping shark finning, increasing support for protecting sharks (1 in 5 species is threatened with extinction!) and addressing overfishing problems.

Right now they are running a "Finathon" campaign with the concept being "get swimming to end finning". It is a great way to get active and support a worthwhile cause. Head over to http://www.finathon.org/ for more information on how you can get involved.

October 21, 2013 - Where are we now?

Have you been looking for Nick in Quito recently? Or Tim in the Galapagos? They haven't been hiding - they've been working from afar in recent months.

Tim was in the US for some time, but is now back in the Galapagos (after he and Crystal had a quick shopping spree in Quito!) 

Nick was busy at some recent trade shows in South America, spreading the good word of Galakiwi and most recently spent time in Italy. But, now it's back to Ecuador for Nick.

As our Galakiwi team settles in for October, we're getting pumped up for November as it is one of our busiest months of the year!

We have custom groups coming in for all sorts of trips, ranging in size from 2 to more than 30. Everything from birders and nature lovers to adventure thrill-seekers are coming our way, so time for us to get busy!

Perhaps we'll see you soon? Or if you're in Quito or Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, come stop by and say hi while we're in town!

October 8, 2013 - New Galapagos Yoga and Galapagos Bike Tours

Galakiwi is excited to officially announce the launch of our new Galapagos Bike tour and Galapagos Yoga tour!

Both ofthese trips had a soft launch over the last month or two, but with prices and dates now finalized for May 2014, they're now officially part of our ever-growing list of speciality tours here in the Galapagos islands.

The Yoga tour runs at 12 days long and combines our active travel style we're known for, with daily yoga classes led by experienced yoga instructor Chris Crotty.

Our Bike tour is perfect for pedal-heads who want to explore all four inhabited Galapagos Islands by bike - something not offered by any other company!

We are really excited to have these trips join our already successful Galapagos Photography tour, and we're not done yet! For anyone with keen eyes, you may notice there is another new tour on our website as well, with the official announcement for that coming very soon.

Exciting times here in Galakiwi-land, we hope you can come join us!

September 20, 2013 - End of Year Savings - Save up to $1000!

Galakiwi is celebrating a great year with a great deal! Buy one tour, get one 50% off, or get $800 off for solo travelers!

This deal isn't going to be around long, as some trips are already filling up, but if a trip to the Galapagos is on your radar and you want to travel before the end of 2013, then visit our Find a Deal page for all the details about our BOGO sale and solo traveler end of year discount!

See you soon?

Tim, Nick and the Galakiwi Team

September 11, 2013 - 35 Years and Counting: Galapagos & UNESCO

Times flies when you're a UNESCO World Heritage Site! On September 8, 1978 the Galapagos Islands became a Natural Heritage Site for Humanity.

This past weekend saw celebrations in the islands to commeorate the 35th Anniversary of this listing. School programs, parades, bike rides and a number of events were held across the islands with a focus on educating the children in the Galapagos and improving awareness of the significance of this designation.

Since that initial designation 35 years ago, conservation efforts on the islands have changed dramatically and recent years have seen great improvements in how tourism and tourism companies are monitored. The waters around the islands - the Galapagos Marine Reserve - are now preotected too. We're confident that the people living here are commited to ensuring that the Galapaogs Islands, and the unique wildlife found here, remain just as special in 35 more years as they are today!

July 18, 2013 - Google Street View in the Galapagos!

In case you didn't hear about it, the fancy people over at Google paid a visit to the Galapagos recently and decided it was time to "put us on the map!"

Back in May, Google posted on their blog that they've been mapping out the islands, complete with their street view trekker and all.

We've been anxiously awaiting the updates to appear on Google Maps, curious to see what our office and home look like, or if any of our friends got captured by their funny mapping contraption.

So, by the time you start your next Galapagos adventure, you'll be able to check out exactly where we are and maybe spot an iguana, seal lion or two before you arrive!

June 10, 2013 - Galakiwi now on Instagram

We've joined the Instagram community at instagram.com/galakiwi - fun photos coming soon, why not give us a follow?

We simply couldn't resist any longer! While we love Facebook and Twitter, there are just too many great Galapagos photos out there on Instagram.

Give us a follow and tag your photos with #Galapagos, as we'd love to see them and give you a follow! If you haven't already been to the Galapagos Islands, then enjoy the pictures coming in from our staff and interns.

We guarantee there will be plenty of boobies and other crazy creatures! Our Instagram fun will take off in the coming weeks...see you there.

May 9, 2013 - 2014 Galapagos Tour Dates now Online

You can save some money now by booking early, as our 2014 dates for our Galapagos Adventure tour are now online. We've also just added 2014 dates for our Photography and Biking tours in the Galapagos!

While 2013 isn't even half over yet, now is the time to grab a 2014 at current price levels. As with all good things in life, tour prices tend to rise each year.

If you're the type of traveler that plans far in advance, be happy knowing that our Galapagos Adventure dates now go all the way to December 5, 2014, so if you're planning a big adventure around South America in 2014, there is surely a departure that can fit into your schedule.

For a list of all our tour departures visit the Galakiwi Departures & Availability page.

April 16, 2013 - Introducing Dana and Samantha - Our 2013 Interns

It's that time of year again, when Galakiwi recruits interns to help us out in the Galapagos! We're extra busy from May to August every year as many student groups are added to our already busy adventure tour schedule.

For this season, we've recruited a couple of interns from the US. Dana hails from Golden, Colorado and Sam comes to us from Bel Air, Maryland.

So, who are our new interns? Here is a little introduction to get to know our two new Spanish speaking additions to the Galakiwi team:

Meet Dana
A business and marketing student from Montana State University, Dana is keen to put her high school Spanish knowledge to use as she hasn't had the opportunity to use it much back in Montana. She likens herself to a sea lion more than any other creature in the Galapagos, probably not surprising as she is an avid swimmer!

As she has been able to get up and see the sun rise over the mountains in Montana, we're looking forward to sleeping in a bit and having her take care of the sun rise coffee mornings for our groups! Haha, on a more serious note, she appreciates the need to recycle, reduce and reuse materials in an environment like the Galapagos, so we are keen to see what interesting green business ideas she may have for us as well! We can't wait to welcome her to our little town.

Meet Samantha
Sam is a tourism student from Appalachian State University who is equally adept on land and sea as she enjoys kayaking, hiking and yoga. Crystal is excited to have her join us for some summer yoga sessions! Her favorite Spanish saying comes from when she was in Honduras: “Cheke Leke,” which is the Spanish version of, “Okie Dokie.”

Sam has travelled in student groups herself, so she'll fit right in with our busy school group season. She also has a passion for getting to know the locals and trying out her Spanish, so we imagine she will enjoy getting to know everyone here in Puerto Baquerizo Moreno.

Both Dana and Sam will join us in the coming months and we will be sure to put them through the tests! It's going to be a wild time this year as we've been busy putting together new tours and moving offices. The craziness never ends at Galakiwi and we're happy to have these two enthusiastic interns joining our team. They both also happened to say they're willing to eat cow head, cow leg or fish eye soup, so we'll be sure to take them out for a special lunch upon their arrivals!

March 20, 2013 - Quito and Baltra Airport News

Big changes here in Ecuador, with a new airport opened in Quito and the world's first eco-airport on Baltra Island in the Galapagos.

What does that mean for our travelers coming to explore the islands? It means you'll have a more comfortable airport experience, with more shops and services available in Quito and a specially built, eco-airport replacing the old one on Baltra Island.

Aerogal Flight leaving the Galapagos

New Quito Airport
The new airport was built slightly further out of the city, as the old airport was being choked out by growth and development in Quito. This meant that the airport could not expand to meet new requirements for international travel. The new airport has roughly 50% more terminal space and check-in counters, not to mention more shops and services.

The drawback is that what used to be a quick 15 minute taxi ride from the airport to most hotels in downtown Quito is now at least a 60 minute drive. This means a taxi ride from the new airport to downtown will cost somewhere around $30. New roads are being built which will improve (reduce) the drive time in the future, but for now a convenient, direct link between the new airport and downtown Quito doesn't exist.

You can read about the Quito airport at: www.quitoairport.aero

World's First Sustainable Eco-Airport in the Galapagos
The vast majority of our travelers fly into San Cristobal Airport and out of Baltra Airport. For everyone visiting Baltra Airport, we're excited that the new terminal is being hailed as the first eco-airport in the world! Built using natural materials from the mainland, the new airport has advanced features, including activated shutters that open/close depending on the heat and CO2 levels inside the terminal.

Utilizing wind and solar power, the new airport is meant to minimize the impact on the natural environment of the Galapagos. Materials from the old airport terminal are to be recycled, reused and re-purposed in the Galapagos.

If you want to read about the new airport and it's features, visit the airport website at: www.ecogal.aero

February 25, 2013 - Galakiwi Joins TIES

We're excited to announce that Galakiwi has joined The International Ecotourism Society (TIES).

Galakiwi has always been a strong supporter of ecotourism and being a green tour operator since our start many years ago. By joining TIES we're excited to have direct access to more resources and like-minded companies and individuals who can only help to further our cause for promoting responsibel tourism practices in the Galapagos Islands.

As interest in the Galapagos Islands continues to grow, we're committed to being in a position that any changes to tourism in the Galapagos are done in a positive manner. Whether this be through our direct operator policies or the general rules and regulations put in place across the archipelago, having a larger voice through the TIES network is one way we can ensure that the Galapagos remains as pristine as possible.

Galakiwi Ecotourism Society Profile

To learn more about what The International Ecotourism Society does, click on the logo above.

January 14, 2013 - Photography Tour Selling Fast

Released in late 2012, our Galapagos Photography Workshop is selling fast.

After only two months, the photography tour is already half sold and we're getting excited just thinking about all of the amazing photos that will be taken on this exclusive departure.

Guided by our friends Ivan Kashinsky and Karla Gachet, participants will sharpen their eye for photography by being challenged by these two National Geographic photographers.

With the tour still four months away, we're certain it will sell out early, which is a shame because some of us at Galakiwi wanted to tag along on this special tour!

You can learn more about the Galapagos Photo Tour, or sign up, by visiting www.galakiwi.com/galapagos-island-tours/photography-workshop

January 9, 2013 - Pablo in 3D

The new TV Series 'Galapagos 3D' is taking the UK by storm. Narrated by renowned wildlife documentary host David Attenborough, our islands are coming to life like never before in people's living rooms - in High Definition, and in 3D!

The series began at the start of the New Year on Sky TV in the UK and features stunning footage of the animals, elements and landscapes of the Galapagos, including the recently discovered Pink Land Iguana.

One other special creature we encourage everyone to keep a watch for is Pablo! That's right, our Galakiwi guide Pablo had the pleasure of spending time with David Attenborough and being around during part of the filming for the series.

We know Pablo is one of the most enthusiastic, knowledgeable naturalist park guides found in the entire Galapagos archipelago and can imagine even the venerable David Attenborough learning a thing or two from him!

Here is a link to the trailer for Galapagos 3D:
Galapagos 3D with David Attenborough.

November 4, 2012 - 2013 Summer Internships

We miss having more people around the office, so we're sending out the call for two more interns!

If you (or one of your friends) can wow us with your talents, we want to hear from you. It is gruelling work with long hours and potentially chaotic, unstructured days. Sounds perfect, right? Ha!

In reality, we miss our past Interns, and more importantly...they miss us. You definitely won't spend your days bored, wondering what to do. We'll keep you busy helping us get ready for tour groups, keeping our website updated and spreading the Galakiwi name around the world.

If you're curious...take a look at the PDF link below for application procedures. The deadline is February 1st, 2013.

Good luck to all applicants!

2013 Galakiwi Summer Internship Application

July 20, 2012 - Meet the Interns

Meet the victims, I mean… interns! Karli Agrodnia and Max Shefte-Jacobs joined the Galakiwi team in mid May. Staying until August, the duo is helping with everything during our busy season. Cleaning gear, organizing groups, and swimming with sharks are all on the daily do! As part of their university studies they have been embedding themselves in the biodiversity and culture of Galapagos.

Both Karli and Max are from the same small hometown in the foothills of Colorado. They even attended the same high school! As luck would have it, their high school Spanish teacher went on a tour with us last year. She gave a personal recommendation for them both and we couldn’t choose just one!

Max, 21, is studying Art in Vermont and will be graduating in December. He is an adventure seeker who loves being in the great outdoors, especially if it includes his skis. Fluent in Spanish from earlier expeditions to Mexico, Max is a huge help when conversing with the locals. He’s also great at figuring things out – one of our top requirements for incoming interns. He knows more about the website than the rest of us put together at this point, and, on top of that, he can make a mean cup of coffee.

Karli, 20, is double majoring in Biology and Film in Arizona. She will be entering her third year of studies this August. Karli is a beacon of positivity in the office and a great help with all the data! In the field, her passion and knowledge about wildlife and filming radiate. As much as she loves animals, she seems to love people just as much.  She’s always helping our passengers feel at home from the second they arrive.

It’s such a privilege for us to be able to offer students this opportunity. We hand pick our interns

Are you interested in spending next summer with us?

At Galakiwi, our mission is to hire people whom everyone wants to work with. Enthusiastic, approachable, knowledgeable, and above all have a positive attitude. With the stresses of planning multiple groups with different schedules and needs, an intern here needs to be flexible and happy to do anything and everything. We are grateful to have such wonderful young spirits working for us this summer, already we are thinking of how we are going to replace Karli and Max for next year. If anyone out there thinks they have got what it takes please send an email with your interest to crystal@galakiwi.com

July 18, 2012 - 10 Sustainable Travel Tips for Galapagos

Being green travel supporters, we believe it’s important to keep all aspiring eco-friendly adventurers up to date. As going green gains popularity, it’s important to carry the green mentality with you from home to on the road…or bus…or plane. However you roll, traveling sustainably is one of the easiest, most beneficial ways of making your way through the world; all you need is the right information. Here are 10 tips specific to the Galapagos Islands to get you started:

  1. REDUCE – Carry a hankie for napkin, keep your trusty Nalgene by your side and see who can take the shortest shower. When leaving the hotel turn off the air conditioning and unplug any electronics you will not be using. Rather than trying to figure out how to get rid of a problem (Where do I recycle my plastic disposable water bottle?), figure out how not to create it (Where do I wash my trusty Nalgene so I can use it again.)
  2. REUSE – Let your creativity shine and try to refill or repurpose everything you can. From bottles to bags to scrap paper, the goal is to dispose of nothing and reuse everything.
  3. RECYCLE & COMPOST – Whenever possible recycle & compost.  In Galapagos blue bins are for recyclables and green bins are for organics. If you don’t know where one is located just ask us!
  4. DISPOSE PROPERLY – If you’re following the tips above, you shouldn’t have much to dispose of...but for trash you do have, make sure that it gets to the proper bin.  If you see litter on the way to the bin, don’t be shy – pick it up! You’ll feel better.
  5. GET LOCAL – Instead of going to the larger stores or most popular restaurants opt for a more local option. Try out some of the smaller shops and support the local eateries. Let’s not forget the local operators. If you’ve been on tour or are going on tour with Galakiwi, you’ve already supported the locals immensely.   
  6. CONSERVE WATER – This technically falls under the reduce category but this life sustaining liquid is in such short supply here it gets its own number. Bath, but bath quickly. Or in military fashion: wet yourself then turn the water off as you lather up, then turn it back on for a quick rinse. I’m sure you’ve heard it before, but once more for good measure: turn of the water when you brush your teeth. Conservation is key!
  7. PRESERVE – Being on vacation you see some awesome things. For example here you will see shells, lava rocks, iguanas, and more. Only take a picture and leave everything where it lies. Definitely don’t put 4 iguanas in your luggage.
  8. BE LEARNED – Educate yourself about the customs and procedures of the islands. Even though it may not be your cup of tea to put toilet paper in the bin instead of the bowl, that’s the way they do it here. Don’t forget to study up on what species are endemic and what species are considered pests. Sorry arachnophobes, the Huntsman Spiders are endemic – put the shoe down!
  9. CONTRIBUTE– Lead by example by following all of the above tips. You represent your generation, your culture, and all of mankind to a certain extent. Your actions will directly contribute to what the locals think of tourist and either preserve or destroy your destination of choice.  Make your contribution count.
  10.  RESPECT – The first 9 tips are all manifestations of this critical piece to the puzzle: whole-hearted respect for people and the planet. If you’re carrying around this attitude for gratitude, the rest will fall into place.

July 11, 2012 - Repeat Offender Caught Smuggling Iguanas.

On Sunday July 8th a German tourist was caught attempting to smuggle four live Galapagos Land Iguanas, species Conolophus subcristatus, out of Baltra airport. Initially only two of the iguanas were found, but with the help of a canine two more were detected. The offender, Dirk Bender, has been placed at the Environmental Police Unit and the iguanas have been taken to the Galapagos National Park service for veterinary review. Less than a year ago Dirk pled guilty to attempting to smuggle an endangered species, a pregnant Fiji Crested iguana, from Fiji. He is likely to face one to three years in prison.

For further information check out these links: Galapagos National Park News & Fiji Times Online.

June 24, 2012 - Lonesome George Died This Morning.

Lonesome George, the last of his species of Giant Tortoises, died this morning at the Charles Darwin Research Station.  He has been the symbol of Galapagos for decades now and has attracted thousands of visitors annually. 

Lonesome George was found on Pinta Island in 1972, alone.  After his lone discovery, a $10,000 reward was offered for a true Pinta female in an effort to find Lonesome George a mate.  No mate has ever been found. 

Perhaps whalers or pirates robbed the island of its Giant Tortoise population like they did on other islands such as Floreana.  Giant Tortoises were known for their ability to go long periods of time, up to a year or more, without food or water.   This made them very popular with the pirates and whalers and many turned out their goats, trading them for giant tortoises in order to have fresh meat.    

The introduction of goats eventually led to a rampant, feral goat population that is continuing to cause problems to this day.  Goats multiply rapidly, are extremely resilient and eat almost anything.  Their natural tendency to eat and explore has led to widespread destruction of the native vegetation on several islands.   

Years of rigorous hunting programs have killed off the goat population from many of the smaller islands.  Between 1971 and 1975, 38,000 goats were killed on Pinta Island alone.  It is thought that this population originated from a mere 3 goats released on Pinta Island in the 1950’s. 

After the search for another Giant Tortoise of his kind was fruitless, two female Giant Tortoises from Isabela were introduced into his enclosure in 1993.  This species from Isabela was thought to be the most genetically similar to Lonesome Georges’ species – both saddleback Giant Tortoises with the characteristic saddle-like carapace.  The hope was for Lonesome George to mate.  

Twice, eggs were laid, but both times they were infertile.  Later studies revealed that Lonesome George’s species was more closely related to the Española giant tortoise.  His pen mates were replaced by two first generation Espanola giant tortoises, however no offspring were produced.   

Since it’s thought that Giant Tortoises can outlive humans, it’s hard to estimate just how long a giant tortoise can live.  Lonesome George was estimated to be around 100 years old.  The extinction of his species leaves ten species of Giant Tortoises left in the Galapagos Islands. 

May 28, 2012 - Galakiwi has just completed our very first Galapagos Accessible Tour!

Ecuador for All, an Ecuadorian company specializing in accessible tours within Ecuador, approached us last year looking for someone willing to operate accessible tours for groups in Galapagos.  The opportunity came just when we were looking for something special to do and it didn’t take long to agree that this was something we couldn’t pass up.  We started planning for our first group with Juan Francisco Marañon, owner and operator of Ecuador for All.  Topics of discussion included how to get passengers on and off the boat, snorkel at Kicker Rock and visit Isabela with six passengers in wheelchairs. 

On May 17th we finally got to test our theories on how to make an inaccessible set of islands accessible.  Twelve passengers from Israel, six in wheelchairs, arrived in San Cristobal.  We were nervous, but ready.  Our first activity was a visit to La Loberia, San Cristobal’s sea lion laden beach located several hundred yards off the main road.  We tackled the sandy trail with the assistance of custom-made beach wheelchairs and several helpers not afraid to use their muscles. There were iguanas and plenty of sea lions waiting for us.  We even got into the water with a special floating chair!

Early the next morning, we boated to Isabela Island.  After lunch and a quick tour along the sandy streets of town, we returned to the bay for an afternoon kayak.  We didn’t let disabilities or the fact that the average age of the group was 70 slow us down!  After kayaking with penguins, they were ready for a swim.  I couldn’t resist snapping a shot of Tim help two of the ladies play in the waves. 

The next day we made our way to Isabela’s Giant Tortoise Breeding Center.  With the help of the beach wheelchairs again, we were able to traverse the mangrove forest path.  Our efforts were rewarded with over a dozen brightly colored flamingos grazing in the lagoon.  At the breeding center, we saw just how small the giant tortoises are when they start out – a baby giant tortoise fits in the palm of your hand.  We even caught a glimpse of the process of creation, as the Giant Tortoises were not shy about preforming with an audience…   

That afternoon, everyone had the option to relax at the hotel, but most wanted to go back to the ocean!  One lady in particular hadn’t been in the salty water for over 30 years before this trip.  We were more than happy to oblige.   

We watched the sunrise the next morning on board as we boated to Santa Cruz.  We disembarked in Puerto Ayora for to have a look around town and visit Lonesome George before continuing on to San Cristobal.  After dinner, it was early to bed – tomorrow was going to be a big day!  Isla Lobos and Kicker Rock are highlights for many people and we didn’t want this group to miss it. 

The next morning, everyone settled into their favorite spots on the boat and we started cruising along the coast in search of birdlife.  The male frigate birds had their pouches inflated and were calling to the females flying overhead.  A male blue footed booby was doing the sky pointing display for a skeptical, but potential female companion.  The playful sea lions eventually stole the show as we snorkeled at Isla Lobos!  We finished the day with sea turtles at Kicker Rock and lunch at Puerto Grande.  Beautiful.

We couldn’t be more pleased that the trip was success.  Happy passengers made all the months of planning worthwhile and we are excited to welcome future groups in search a Galapagos Accessible Tour.

*Visit our blog for photos.  

April 14, 2012 - You're in safe hands!!

We are happy to to report that two more of our Galakiwi guides, Pepo and Zambo, have just been certified in Wilderness Advanced First Aid.

In keeping with our safety first mentality, we are trying to up the ante for Galapagos safety standards. All guides receive a rudimentary safety "talk" when they are certified by the Galapagos National Park. However at this point in time, the Park requires no formal or certified safety, first aid or CPR training. That's just not good enough for us.

We started last year by bringing out two NOLS Wilderness Medicine Instructors. Six of our staff were certified at this first time ever safety course in Galapagos. We had also opened up the course to our fellow operators and we were able to certify 5 others, for a grand total of 11.

Now you can rest assured that you will be in the safest hands possible during your Galapagos Adventure with Galakiwi.

March 30, 2012 - Galapagos Photography Trip 2013 in planning!

Galakiwi has decided to offer a photography tour with an award winning photojournalists Ivan Kashinsky and Karla Gachet for early 2013. Snap up this opportunity to be amongst the amazing flaura and fauna of Galapagos while learning how to take that perfect shot....  Dust off your cameras for this once in a lifetime chance!

To view Ivan and Karla's bios and some of their photos check out these links:

Ivan Kashinsky

Karla Gachet

 

Stay tuned for departure date and more details.

March 3, 2012 - Galakiwi welcomes Indiana June to Galapagos

Indiana June is the main character in a real-life Pick-A-Path Adventure story. She is cycling the globe and letting people vote to decide what she does next. Her fate is in your hands so get voting to choose how the story unfolds.  Her fans voted and guess where they picked - Galapagos!  We beat out Peru and Venezuela with a landslide of 62% of the votes.

 She's headed to San Francisco next and you can pick what she does.  Check out her website at www.indianajune.com.  

February 7, 2012 - Galakiwi is getting social!

No matter if you are a Facebook or Twitter user, you can always get the latest updates and promotions!

Stay connected with us and the Galakiwi community around the world!

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/Galakiwi

Twiter: https://twitter.com/#!/Galakiwi

January 23, 2012 - Galakiwi Upgrade - Part 1

What do you get when you combine paint, a brush, and a willing worker?  A brand new office exterior!  We've been talking about enhancing the look of the office for some time now and, finally, we have started from the outside in.  Next order of busines: new sign with our new logo.  Ahh...progress!   Check out the pics here.

April 7, 2011 - March 18, 2011 Tour Highlights

The highlight video is up from our March 18, 2011 group!
Watch the Galapagos Highlights YouTube Video.

March 13, 2011 - Swimming Through A Galapagos Bait Ball

Check out our new video on YouTube!

Swimming Through A Galapagos Bait Ball

February 28, 2011 - Kicker rock is rockin'!

Each day at Kicker Rock is different and amazing. Last week was particularly amazing. We were able to swim back and forth through the channel about four feet above a dozen or so Galapagos, White Tip, and Black Tip Sharks. There were a few hammerheads cruising around too! They weren't bothered by us at all - they swam from one end to the other and then turned around to go back through again. Wow!

January 26, 2011 - Galakiwi launches new website!

We've been at it for a few months now picking out the perfect pictures and writing the best and most informative content about not only our tours, but about the Galapagos in general. It's only going to get better from here as we add even more tidbits and facts about the islands, animals, and people of the Galapagos. Send us a comment and tell us what you think.

January 24, 2011 - Wilderness First Aid Course

We are starting a Wilderness First Aid course in a few days – safety first! We’ve lined up almost a dozen participants from our team and fellow islanders.

January 18, 2011 - Pablo got married!

Our long time guide, Pablo, married his British sweetheart yesterday on the beach in Isabella at sunset. It was beautiful ceremony and salsa filled reception – congrats Pablo and Laura!

December 11, 2010 - New tours are underway!

We are currently working on new adventure tours to add to our repertoire. Everything is hush-hush for now, but keep checking back to see when we launch our updated line up of Galapagos Adventure Tours.

December 1, 2010 - Customized Journeys now available!

If you are looking for a personalized experience of the Galapagos, look no further! We now offer customized journeys that are crafted especially for you. Tell us what you want and when and we will be busy bees at making your vision come to life.

September 17, 2010 - Calling all students

We have just finished a great season of Student Explorations and are already preparing for next year. If you are a student, a teacher or anyone educationally minded that wants to take a group of curious students on an unforgettable expedition of the Galapagos Islands - check out our Student Explorations page and learn more today.