“If I had been our guide, I would have murdered my kids. Once they understood it was part of his job to explain everything, they really got going and then for good measure would finish with the “but why?” assault. He welcomed their questions and fended off the but whys with a Spanish accent, a big smile and a “Because dat’s the way it is and dat’s dat”.
Do people really live in the Galapagos?
Ninety-eight percent of the land mass of the Galapagos is National Park. The other two percent is privately owned, originally by the descendants of the colonists, increasingly by proxy to investors. There is a total population of approx. 32 thousand people, living on four islands. 22 thousand on Santa Cruz, 7 thousand on San Cristobal, three thousand on Isabella and 125 on Floreana . These are large islands and the populated/privately held areas are minuscule in proportion to Park Lands which surround them.
Why is a land based tour preferable to a cruise ship tour?
It is not if the land based tour is a mas packaged land based tour. Cruise ships for all their burning of fossil fuels 24-7, etc. etc. are a more ecologically sound manner to visit these islands than mas packaged land based tours. Please see http://www.cometogalapagos.com/packaged-land-based-tours/ But let’s assume you’re not willing to join the ranks of the “packaged” visitors. In that case a small private land based tour is preferable to a cruise ship because: The islands do not rock on the sea (no motion sickness pills). You’ll have a decent sized bathroom. The distances you can walk in any one direction are limited only by your physical strength, you’re cultural contact is not limited to other tourists, there is no schedule (if it’s Tues. this must be…?), the adaptability of small private land based tours allows groups to focus on their interests and work around or with climate changes or animal patterns, but the most fundamental difference is the impact on the islands themselves and the people who live there the true custodians of the Galapagos. Your tourist dollars go directly to the people rather than to the owners of a cruise ship who often have no direct link to the Galapagos except as a source of income.
What’s the weather like?
Amazingly temperate. Dec-April it can be hot, like Los Angeles in the summer. Not unbearable. April-Nov. it is often over cast, average air temp. is seventy four degrees. We’re right on the equator, but under the influence of the Humbolt current which brings cold Antarctic water up the coast of South America. By the time it reaches us it’ll be somewhere between sixty-eight (considered frigid) and eighty-five degrees.
What can I expect of my tour guide, will he handle everything?
He or she will handle everything humanly possible; from carrying bags to helping you make international phone calls, to changing your kid’s diaper (they do know how). Your complete comfort and enchantment is their responsibility. They and you also have ourselves as back ups. We’ll meet you all when you arrive in San Cristobal and may with your permission be spending some time with you on your tour, surfing, snorkeling, barbequing etc.
What are some of the local types of entertainment?
In the day time we have the islands. Soccer is big here. If someone’s a big soccer fan we can get them into a game or two with the locals if they want. At night we have each other. There are no Hard Rock Cafes or movie theaters. We’re thinking of putting on a talent show next year. There’s always gossip which is very popular. There are a handful of small bars. One “discothèque” (as such), one surfer bar with a warped pool table and small dance floor where the volunteers and local surfer kids hang out. Salsa is what everyone dances exclusively here.
About once a month there is a Bingo Bilable. This is a bingo game played outside where they give away electric fans, tupper wear, stuff like that, but in between the bingo games there’s twenty minutes of dancing. You’ll see everyone there. That ancient old man you saw at the store where you bought a mango that morning will be there swinging his ancient wife. He may not be able to walk too good, but he’ll be able to salsa. The down side of these events is that they go on ‘til three or four in the morning.