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Lazelle Jones

 

The Right Place, The Right Time:

September and October in the Galapagos

 

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There are places that demand to be visited at specific times of the year. For example, people flock to Vermont for the display of autumn leaves.  In August many will choose a favorite beach as a respite. Snow-capped mountains become destinations during December through March and white water rafting is perfect for the sun lit days of June through August.  So how about the months of September and October?  Read On!

One travel idea that ranks at the very top of the list of calendar driven “must dos” is the late, late summer/early autumn when animals, birds and sea life are at their friskiest in The Galapagos. Cooler, dryer air and lower water temperatures prevail during this time on these fragile islands and in regions of mainland Ecuador. These conditions make for excellent sightings that can include sea lions with pups and snorkeling and diving to experience the Manta ray as they congregate for the plankton that arrives with the colder currents. Giant tortoises are still nesting and laying eggs here and in the Galapagos penguins are even more lively as the hammerhead sharks school here in greater numbers. Many species of sea birds are active at their nesting sites this time of year, which provides prime view opportunities. And off the mainland coast in a region called Ruta del Sol it’s high season for those who love to surf and those who thrill to humpback whale encounters.

With delicious temperatures that range in the high 60s to mid-70s, visitors feel compelled to climb and trek, activities that might otherwise be daunting when it’s hot and wet.  This is an ideal time to surf the mainland beaches. Because September and October are off-peak, fewer people are found at the popular sites and the hotels offer excellent rates.

A dilemma that often faces travelers is that enough time to see and do everything that a destination new to them offers is often not schedule in. This can be true in the Galapagos and on mainland Ecuador.  Here you will want to consider dividing your time between the two. It’s helpful to think about Ecuador as being divided into four quadrants or distinct worlds on two hemispheres. First is 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.

 

 

The second quadrant takes in the bio-diversity in and around the Galapagos Islands. Snorkeling, observing sea lions, visiting a private preserve where giant Galapagos tortoises freely roam, exploring pirate lore, hiking in the caldera and visiting the lava caves on Isabela are all on the menu of possibilities.  The third quadrant includes the Amazon Basin where guests stay at a remote jungle lodge accessed by dugout canoe with day hikes to native villages and a canopy tower adventure. Quadrant number four encompasses the Coastal Lowlands that includes tours of historic Guayaquil, Ecuador’s largest commercial center, a yacht tour along the Guayas River and shopping at artisan markets.

 

One such place is the Samai Lodge in Santa Elena, a relaxing jungle mainland inn and wellness spa where unique dry forests and cloud forests and coral reefs can be easily reached and enjoyed. Longer visits to Ecuador can combine this lodge with quality time at accommodations on three Galapagos Islands which can include snorkeling and diving at the Red Mangrove Dive Center that will open in April 2011.  Red Mangrove Galapagos and Ecuador Lodges own and manage the center along with five other lodges on the islands and have researched and personally sampled the offerings of the inns and activities on mainland Ecuador. Taking charge of you itinerary, this company can seamlessly give you over to their colleagues at other lodges, while taking care of the details along the way.

The new dive center will be the most technologically advanced dive center of its kind in all of South America. It will include the only on-site isobaric chamber in Ecuador. Here the focus will be on dive education, certifications and specialty courses directed by PADI-certified, professional instructors. People new to diving will find that land-based diving is a more flexible and affordable option than live-aboard ship-based programs.  Happy Traveling!