Galapagos Islands

Swim with sea lion pups, walk near nesting tortoises, snorkle along side blue-footed boobies...no other place in the world allows such an intimate connection to its wildlife and culture as does the Galapagos Islands.  ROW Adventures offers exclusive land-based tours to the Enchanted Islands and pioneered many of the adventure tours it has to offer. So whether you are looking for a Galapagos cruise, our famous Galapagos Unbound tour or even a lodge to lodge adventure vacation, we have the trip for you!  Please choose from the many options below.

 

Galapagos Unbound- Adventure Tour

The first and original land-based adventure, featured in the New York Times and winner of National Geographic "Tours of a Lifetime."

Over the years, ROW Adventures has taken Galapagos tours to the next level. We are the only Galapagos Islands tour that allows beach camping on the islands and we offer a range of adventure activities during our Galapagos Tours. You'll sea kayak around the Galapagos Islands and explore areas where cruises can not access. During your tour you'll enjoy Galapagos Islands hiking from experienced guides while visiting the beautiful mountain areas of the islands. You'll come in contact with wildlife, swim off of sunny beaches, and snorkel your way around new worlds.

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Galapagos Lodge Adventures

The "Lodge Adventure" programs offer an array of Galapagos Islands vacation options pioneered by ROW Adventures where visitors are not limited to cruises but to more widely experience a vacation on the Galapagos Islands. Daily departures with culinary camping, snorkeling and diving are a few of the activities offered.

This adventure is very flexible and is a wonderful alternative to our Galapagos Unbound (above) that offers daily departures with 5, 6 or 8 day trips to the enchanted islands.

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Galapagos Islands Cruises

We also feature a traditional cruise based trip to the Galapagos Islands. Cruises can accommodate 8 passengers (small yachts) on up to 100 passengers (cruise ships) and provide a wonderful experience to the Galapagos Islands. There are few places on Earth where travelers immediately feel a connection and allow such close contact with wildlife and nature. The Galapagos Islands is an iconic destination and on most people's "dream travel spots." A cruise is a great way to dive Galapagos too. Let ROW Adventures help you and your family realize those dreams on a Galapagos Islands Cruise.

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Galapagos Family Vacations

Our Family vacations to the Galapagos Islands have been guests favorites and kids have the opportunity to be guided by experienced, adventure-loving naturalists and will pose for pictures with tortoises and Komodo dragons, observe birds and sea lions, hike over lava fields, play on sandy beaches, and more. Galapagos family vacations allow families to enjoy each other and bond while exploring another world. These family vacations create lasting memories and ROW Adventures has specialized in family vacations for years.

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Galapagos Islands & Amazon Tour

Exclusively with ROW Adventures, imagine the possibility to see two of nature's most iconic destinations in one amazing kayak and wildlife adventure. In just eleven days you'll intimately experience the Galapagos Islands and Amazon Rainforest as you kayak over untouched water, swim with sea lions, traverse atop rainforest sky bridges and stay at an amazing jungle lodge.

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Galapagos Islands Vacations from ROW Adventures have been named

National Geographic Traveler's "Tours of a Lifetime"

Galapagos Islands - Travel, History, Ecology and Tourism.

Known by many different names, including the "Enchanted Islands," because of the way in which the strong and swift currents made navigation difficult and also because of the beautiful geography and biodiversity, The Galapagos Islands is located about 600 miles off the coast of Ecuador in South America. There are 13 large islands, 6 smaller ones and 107 islets and rocks. Five of the islands are inhabited: Baltra, Floreana, Isabela, San Cristobal and Santa Cruz.

"Galapago" is an old Spanish word, meaning saddle. The large Galapagos Tortoises on some of the islands had a shell that resembled an old Spanish saddle, thus the name. The tortoise is a unique animal found only in the Galapagos Islands, yet there are no more than 200 in the 13 main islands. In 1959, approximately 1,000 to 2,000 people called the islands their home. In 1972 a census was done in the archipelago and a population of 3,488 was recorded. By the 1980s, this number had risen to more than 15,000 people, and more recent estimates place the population around 40,000 people.

The Galapagos Islands are well-known for the diversity of vegetation and animals that is located on the Islands. The Galapagos Islands are found on the equator a little west of the South American coast. The Islands were formed by mantel hot spots, like many other islands. The Galapagos were created by the Cocas and the Nazca plate, which are constantly moving. There are many different species of plants and animals that live on the Galapagos Islands. The Galapagos is home to the single penguin that can live in warm waters. The marine iguana eats the seaweed and the famous Giant Tortuous which has evolved many times, to just name a few. There are some amazing plants, for example, the Scalesia also know as the tree daisy, is a beautiful white flower with a light pink pigment. These plants and animals need to be protected if they are to survive any longer.

In 1835, a young naturalist Charles Darwin made a scientific study of geology and biology on the islands. Darwin saw mockingbirds differed between islands. An Englishman Nicolas Lawson, Governor of the Galapagos Islands for the Republic of the Ecuador, met Darwin on an island and as they walked to the prison colony told him that tortoises differed from island to island. Toward the end of the voyage Darwin speculated that the distribution of the mockingbirds and the tortoises might "undermine the stability of Species". When he analyzed his findings on his return to England it was found that many apparently different kinds of birds were species of finches which were also unique to islands. These facts were crucial in Darwin's development of his theory of natural selection explaining evolution, which was presented in The Origin of Species.

Many Galapagos Islands Vacations begin with knowing about the islands from Darwin. The Finches on the Galapagos Islands have evolved over the years because of their beaks. The beaks are larger and much harder to open the larger nuts. There was a severe drought in 1977 which made the vegetation wilt, which left very few soft seeds and a number of larger hard ones. “The birds that survived the 1977 drought tended to be larger, with bigger beaks” (Grant, 1986). These birds survived because of their ability to produce offspring that could deal with the larger harder nuts. The finches are a classic example of Darwin’s theory of evolutionary process.

There are different types of threats to the islands population of plants and animals. The goats “devoured the lush vegetation carpeting the flanks of Alcedo Volcano” (Jocelyn Kaiser, 2001), which the Giant Tortuous thrive in and need to survive. To save the natural plants and animal’s people have made decisions to rid themselves of these pests. Hunters have come in to shoot and kill the goats but a few remain to clear the brush so the hunters can find the pigs inhabiting the island. “The planned Isabella goat removal is no less than a battle to save the Galapagos' largest remaining population of giant tortoises, an icon of the famous archipelago 965 kilometers off Ecuador's coast” (Jocelyn Kaiser, 2001).

The islands are bountiful in different types of beautiful vegetation for all to see, but these things will end if problems keep up. “There are about 560 native species of plants in the islands, in other words, plants which arrived in the islands by natural means” (Galapagos Flora). These plants include passion flower, cotton, guava, pepper, and tomato which most are only found on the islands. Some of these plants are endangered because of goats and other non-native vegetation. The tomatoes of the Galapagos Islands can grow in the sea and has joint less fruit stalks, these tomatoes have been studied in the development of hydroponic, plants grown in water instead of dirt.

The islands were relatively untouched by people and non native animals. Tourists love to visit this island because of its exotic animals and untouched beauty. Responsible travel is the key to keeping the area pure and beautiful. Overall tourism has been beneficial by providing income and jobs. It has provided a reason to protect the islands against total exploitation by extractive industries like commercial fishing. Yet tourism has brought its own unwanted impacts, such as invasive species of plants and animals and incentives for people to migrate to the islands in search of work.

The following points are tips for ensuring that your vacation to the Galapagos is as positive as possible:

• Ask your tour operator if they have a responsible tourism policy. Only travel with operators, like ROW Adventures, that can demonstrate that they are doing as much as they can to support conservation efforts and ensure that local people benefit as a result of tourism.
• Consider your environmental impact when traveling. Try to lessen the environmental impact that you have by taking highly polluting articles such as batteries home with you where they can be disposed of safely.
• Travel with a local tour operator, ROW Adventures uses local operator and guides. Ensuring that tourism is of maximum benefit to local people is key to the sustainable development of the islands. Viable alternatives to fishing need to be created through tourism and this needs to be done through a regulated framework which ensures that the development of tourism in the Galapagos is managed sustainably.

The Ecuadorian government does restrict the number of tourists each year. The first legislation to protect the Galapagos was enacted in 1934 and in 1936 it was supplemented. However, until the late 1950’s there has not been any action taken to control things that were happening to the vegetation. The government of Ecuador with UNESCO sent a group to observe the preservation condition and pick a site for an investigation station in 1957. These provisions help keep the Galapagos Islands as pure as possible.

The Ecuadorian government made 97.5% of the Galapagos land area a national park, except the areas which were already colonized in 1959. The Charles Darwin Foundation was brought about the same year. The foundations main purposes are to make certain the preservation of the Galápagos environments and uphold the scientific observations essential to accomplish its preservation tasks. The foundation made amazing discoveries during this time.

The water surrounding the islands was declared a marine reserve in 1986, which is only smaller than the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. The Islands became a whale sanctuary in 1990. UNESCO recognized the Galapagos Islands as a World Heritage site in 1978 and in 85 was declared a biosphere reserve. The biosphere reserve was extended in 2001 to include the marine reserve. This sanctuary help protect many of the marine animals of the Galapagos Islands. The reserve protects these animals by having fishing regulations and only permitting certain people in the waters.

One of the most popular of the marine animals is a turtle known as a giant tortoise, which has developed into fourteen diverse varieties on the islands of the Galapagos. There are other marine animals which consist of the marine iguana, lava lizards, snakes and geckos. These animals are native to this island and are in danger from divers, fishermen, and other non-native animals. The animals “are fearless due to the lack of natural predators” which makes them easy targets.

ROW Adventures takes special care of all of the places they visit. We aim to keep the integrity of the islands and respect the nature and wildlife that surrounds it. We are also members of IGTOA which is a nonprofit association of travel companies, conservation organizations, and other groups that seek a lasting protection of the Galapagos Islands. We lobby for conservation, fund projects, and promote and practice sustainable tourism.