Big pay, big adventure on Galapagos tour

By Donna Tunney
InsightTake one of the world's all-time premier destinations -- Ecuador and the Galapagos -- mix in a five-island land tour with waterfront accommodations, sprinkle with 25% agent commission and what have you got? A great prospect.

The Extraordinary Ecuador tour, offered by Red Mangrove Lodges, combines the island visits with mainland Pacific beaches on an 11-night, hosted program with rates from $3,955 per person, double.

This rate covers accommodations, most meals, English-speaking naturalist guides, all domestic flights, airport and ferry transfers, all required gear and service charges. There is a 25% discount for children under 10 years old, and departures are offered year-round.

The journey explores five islands (Santa Cruz, Floreana, Isabela, Santa Fe and Isla Tortuga) plus the ecosystems of the Ecuadorian coast.

Hernan Rodas, founder and owner of Red Mangrove Galapagos Lodges, explained the appeal of a Galapagos vacation:

"[This] is not a mass tourism destination due to stringent controls on cruise ships, tour companies and visitor numbers. Because of this, it will always be a niche destination, but with a wide and varied appeal to nature and outdoor lovers of all types. Most all travelers to the Galapagos have one common interest: awe and respect for the natural world."

The Galapagos, he noted, is still a remote, pristine place, with a fascinating story to tell.

"On the scientific side, it will always be embraced due to the rare beauty of the landscape and the unique natural treasures it holds," he said. "Tourists visiting the Galapagos know that, as a national park and a United Nations World Heritage Site, it is being preserved and protected for generations to come and that their quality experience will remain possible 10, 20, 100 years from now.

"The Galapagos also offers fascinating stories of human history from early explorers and settlers, Charles Darwin, notorious pirates, exiled prisoners, whalers, and nature lovers who were all captivated by its treasures and magic," Rodas said.

There are advantages to choosing a land-based program over a cruise, he added.

"Built to careful environmental standards, a land-based, lodge-to-lodge program is ultimately more sustainable and environmentally friendly than a cruise. With a lodge program you can check in any day, customize your itinerary to what you most want to do and still enjoy the same major sights, outings and trails cruise participants experience -- plus some they never will."

Red Mangrove Lodges receives 50% of its bookings through the travel trade. Retailers can review all tours and pricing at www.redmangrove.com.
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