BBC GALAPAGOS ‘Born of Fire’   Leave a comment

The BBC does a spectacular job of capturing the Galapagos Islands in their series, “Galapagos: Born of Fire’.

Part 1 ….

Posted November 19, 2010 by sangay in GALAPAGOS ISLANDS, PHOTOGRAPHY & IMAGES

Galapagos Islands .. it’s the wildlife that stands out   Leave a comment

One of the major highlights of any visit to the Galapagos Islands – and most that have already been will agree –  is the wide variety of fascinating and seemingly fearless wildlife.  For this reason a fancy telephoto lens is not absolutely necessary (with the exception of such birds as the Galapagos hawk) when taking your personal photographs of the interesting animals.

I still fondly remember my first visit to the Island over ten years ago …. and particularly remember how most of the wildlife seemed oblivious to the presence of human tourists – almost as if they had been trained to go about their daily activities in almost complete ignorance of the presence of daily tourists walking the various marked trails of the Galapagos Islands.

Some creatures (males Sea lions pop to mind) actually have turned the table, so to speak. It is not unknown for male sea lions to assert their dominance by occasionally trying to chase or herd tourists along the trails and away from their territory. I had a similar experience while snorkeling …. a male sea lion chased me off a secluded beach I had drifted on to and started to nip and nibble at my fins as I calmly (but rather quickly) made my way back out to sea.

Other situations frequently occur with such creatures as the Espanola Mockingbird, which are know renowned for landing on your arm (or any convenient spot) to try and drink water from your water bottle as you meander down the trail. Some land iguanas on (South) Plazas, for example, almost crawl over your hand while seated on a rock as you listen intently to your guide goes through a discourse about cactus, evolution or the such.

Posted November 16, 2010 by sangay in GALAPAGOS ISLANDS, PHOTOGRAPHY & IMAGES

We make your Galapagos Islands experience …. stand out.   1 comment

A recent Trip Advisor ( message in the South America / Ecuador / forum [link to original comment] back ups our efforts and mandates …

I just recently used SANGAY TOURS (Robin Slater) out of Quito.This firm has what it takes and Alejandro was so helpful, never missed an email responded at night and over week end fast response to my Problems, Conflicts, Lateness ect. I booked a cruise for the 2oth starting on the 10th and he helped from what ever I neede.”Lots of questions no decisions and ebverything was a panic on my end,

TOTALLY proffessional Know their end of the business!

These guys are so patient and professional They take care of you.

YOU. tell alejandro Laurie Rodgers sent you!!!!

I HIGHLY RECOMMEND this firm Sangay Tours.any questions

Posted November 16, 2010 by sangay in GALAPAGOS ISLANDS, MAINLAND ECUADOR, OTHER

Ecuador: 5 worlds for you to discover   3 comments

Ecuador – for a relatively small Andean country – has a surprisingly wide variety of tourist attractions and activities … and all within a short travel of each other.  In fact, you can say that Ecuador has 5 worlds ….

Each of these ‘worlds’ has its own distinct features – weather, topography, cuisine, culture, flora & fauna and adventure. Each world is a little world in itself … come discover them (or rediscover them).

Whether you are seasoned off-road adventurer or a novice traveler, Ecuador has something for you.

Ecuador – para un país andino relativamente pequeño – con una sorprendente variedad de atractivos turísticos y actividades … y todo ello en un viaje corto de unos a otros. De hecho, se puede decir que el Ecuador tiene cinco mundos ….

Cada uno de estos “mundos” tiene sus características propias – el clima, la topografía, la gastronomía, la cultura, la flora y la fauna y el aventura . Cada mundo es un pequeño mundo en sí mismo … Venga a descubrir ellos (o redescubrir ellos).

Si usted es aventurero experimentado todo terreno o un viajero novato, el Ecuador tiene algo para ti.

Posted November 15, 2010 by sangay in GALAPAGOS ISLANDS, MAINLAND ECUADOR

Ecuador National Travel Advisory: Ecuador Census 2010 – November 28th 2010   6 comments

Censo Ecuador 2010

As we quickly approach the National Census Day [Censo de Población y de Vivienda – link] here in Ecuador – November 28th 2010 – only partial information is currently available mixed with a great amount of suppositions and rumours.

According to latest unofficial available information [NOVEMBER 15/2010] Galapagos Islands flights, along with International flights only will be operating as normal on November 28th, 2010.

El censo se realizará en el horario de las 7h00 hasta las 17h00, y la población debe permanecer en sus hogares ya que existe prohibición de salir ese día. Inclusive permanecerán cerrados puertos, aeropuertos y terminales de buses. Las fronteras con Perú y Colombia también serán cerradas impidiendo de esta forma la libre entrada y salida de personas. Estan suspendidas también todas las actividades comerciales y los espectáculos públicos, como los partidos del Campeonato Ecuatoriano de Fútbol.

The census will run from 07h00 until 17h00, and the population must remain in their homes as no one is permitted to leave this day. In addition, all sea ports, airports and bus terminals will also remain closed and nonoperational. The borders frontiers with Colombia and Peru will also be closed, restricting the the entry and exit of individuals. Commercial activities and public events will also not be permitted.

According to informal / unofficial sources on November 15th, 2010 there has been a slight change (from the previous notification that all tourism activities – including the Galapagos Islands – would be forced to suspend activities) in that the Government apparently is permitting normal tourist air traffic to/from the Galapagos Islands, in addition to regular International flight traffic.

As official information becomes available, we will keep our readers updated.

Forewarned is forearmed.  Happy travels.

Sea sickness: Ginger, Mareol & Never vomit into the wind.   4 comments

Winslow Homer's "The Fog Warning" 1885


“Never vomit into the wind”

Motion sickness or kinetosis – also known as ‘Travel Sickness’ – is apparently experienced by about 33% of people – even in mild circumstances such as being on a boat in calm water.

Common symptoms …

  • Dizziness, fatigue, and nausea [nausea, from the Greek term naus – meaning ship]
  • A paleness of the skin may be followed by yawning, restlessness, and a cold sweat.  As the symptoms progress, malaise and drowsiness set in, sometimes accompanied by an upset stomach.

Common situations that lead to sea sickness …

  • Motion sickness is more likely to occur with complex types of movement, especially movement that is slow or involves two different directions (for example, vertical and horizontal) at the same time;
  • Poor ventilation caused by gas fumes and smoke, and emotional factors such as fear and anxiety often act together to bring on an attack of motion sickness;

When it comes to a cruise, for example, in the Galapagos Islands …

  • You should strongly consider a more stable vessel – these being the large capacity cruise ships, and heavy motor catamarans;
  • The wider and heavier the vessel, the more stable it is; conversely, the narrower and lighter the vessel the more unstable it is;
  • Ideally you want to locate yourself as low down and and central (from front to back, and from side to side) of the boat as possible – this is the spot that you will feel less movement.

Other data …

  • Women are more sensitive to motion sickness than men, and pregnant women are especially at risk for motion sickness.
  • Children are commonly affected. The peak incidence for the development of motion sickness is 12 years; infants and children under two are generally not affected.
  • Persons who suffer from migraine headaches are at increased risk for motion sickness.

Supposed causes have been chalked up to an INNER EAR DISTURBANCE – basically what one feels and what one sees do not match.  Some claim that when feeling motion but not seeing it (for example, in a ship with no windows), the inner ear transmits to the brain that it senses motion, but the eyes tell the brain that everything is still. As a result of the disconcordance, the brain will come to the conclusion that one of them is hallucinating and further conclude that the hallucination is due to poison ingestion. The brain responds by inducing vomiting, to clear the supposed toxin.

Visual input seems to be of lesser importance, since blind people can develop motion sickness.

In an interesting article in Science Daily (link), professor of human movement science at the University of Minnesota, Tom Stoffregen, Ph.D., claims that “Those who move a lot, although barely visible, are the ones that get sick. He says it’s like they’re subconsciously moving to compensate for the motion, but they’re only making it worse.”

Dr. Stoffregen says, “People who are going to get sick first become wobbly, and it’s fair to say that by becoming wobbly they make themselves sick.” For now, researchers can’t predict who’s going to get sick, but experts say the best way to prevent motion sickness is to lie down and close your eyes.

Galapagos sea sicknessTreatment and/or prevention of Motion Sickness ..

Medications and other treatments are available. Nonprescription antihistamine treatments are believed to block signals from the inner ear to the vomiting center.

Antihistamines have been used to treat motions sickness. Notably, the nonsedating antihistamines do not seem to be effective for motion sickness treatment.

Examples of antihistamine medications to treat motion sickness include:

  • chlorpheniramine (Aller-Chlor),
  • cyclizine (Marezine),
  • cyclizine HCI (Bonine for Kids)
  • dimenhydrinate (Dramamine, Dramamine Chewable, Driminate),
  • diphenhydramine (Benadryl or MAREOL [Colombia & Ecuador],
  • meclizine (Antivert, Bonine, D-Vert, Dramamine II).

Side effects may include significant sedation, drowsiness, dry mouth, blurred vision, and confusion and urinary retention in the elderly.

  • These are most effective if taken 30 minutes to an hour before traveling and as directed.  If the drugs are taken only when the traveler begins to feel sick, it is usually too late to stop the process. These drugs should not be taken by children under 12 or by persons with other health problems without a doctor’s consent.  A number of prescription anti-nausea and anti-vomiting drugs are available. Ask your doctor for advice.  One innovative treatment is a through-the-skin delivery system, Transderm Scop, developed for scopolamine a highly effective drug for motion sickness. One patch is normally applied behind the ear 4 hours prior to travel, and replaced every 3 days. This method is not recommended for children, pregnant women, or those with liver, kidney, or bladder disease.

Some studies have shown that ginger, an old home remedy for gastrointestinal disturbances, may be effective in prevention of motion sickness.    Taking 1-2 grams of ginger orally has been used as an alternative medicine to prevent motion sickness. Studies both in experimental motion sickness and in naval cadets at sea have found that ginger, taken in advance, has reduced the symptoms of motion sickness. It is believed, however, that this benefit is due to the effects of ginger on stomach motility rather than suppression of sensory input.

Fixing one’s gaze upon landmarks or the horizon may help to prevent or lessen the symptoms of motion sickness.

Once the symptoms of motion sickness have set in, there is little to offer the suffering traveler other than sympathy and perhaps some fresh air.

Happy cruising.

Galapagos Islands ‘Eco Tourism’: ‘Greenwashing’ or ideals to strive for?   Leave a comment

Ecotourism (also known as ecological tourism) is responsible travel to fragile, pristine, and usually protected areas that strives to be low impact and (often) small scale. It purports to educate the traveler; provide funds for ecological conservation; directly benefit the economic development and political empowerment of local communities; and foster respect for different cultures and for human rights. Ecotourism is held as important by those who participate in it so that future generations may experience aspects of the environment relatively untouched by human intervention.

Ecotourism may appeal to ecologically and socially conscious individuals. Generally it focuses on volunteering, personal growth and environmental responsibility. Ecotourism typically involves travel to destinations where flora, fauna, and cultural heritage are the primary attractions. One of the goals of ecotourism is to offer tourists insight into the impact of human beings on the environment, and to foster a greater appreciation of our natural habitats.

Responsible ecotourism includes programs that minimize the negative aspects of conventional tourism on the environment and enhance the cultural integrity of local people. Therefore, in addition to evaluating environmental and cultural factors, an integral part of ecotourism is the promotion of recycling, energy efficiency, water conservation, and creation of economic opportunities for local communities.

The problems associated with defining ecotourism have led to confusion among tourists and academics alike. Definitional problems are also subject of considerable public controversy and concern because of green washing, a trend towards the commercialization of tourism schemes disguised as sustainable, nature based, and environmentally friendly ecotourism.

It appears to boil down to definition.

True ‘eco tourism’, seems to be more of an ideal than a reality. At best it should be a responsible, serious and sustained attempt. Looking at this way, there are many aspects of Galapagos Islands tourism that can be adequately classified here … but sadly, a great deal that without a doubt definitely falls far outside these notions.

If you are an idealist … Galapagos Islands tourism is almost complete ‘greenwashing’
If you are a realist …… Galapagos Islands tourism is a confusing and frustrating mix of ‘greenwashing’ and true attempts at eco-tourism

That being said, there are numerous things that anyone can do to put their grain of sand into the efforts …. and it starts with responsibility.

Quito, Ecuador recovers after apparent coup attempt on Rafael Correa   4 comments

Living and working in the heart of Quito allows me a privileged eye witness evaluation of the recent events here in Quito, Ecuador.

Reports with titles such as “State of Emergency in Ecuador cripples tourism” & “Revolution” are not only exaggerated but somewhat sensationalist. Reminds of such things as the H1N1 hype. One would be rather disappointed walking the around the streets of Quito today with these notions. I am not sure how, in a 24-hour period, one can claim the effects of a ‘crippled tourism’ in Ecuador – uncertainty and occasional inconveniences with flights is one thing but a crippled tourism? In fact, when the last major volcanic eruption occurred that directly affected Quito (due to heavy volcanic ash fall and the necessary closure of the airport), there was a temporarily greater inconvenience on tourism than the events of September 30th, 2010 in Quito and Ecuador.

September 30th, 2010 started out as any typical Thursday morning here in Ecuador’s capital city of Quito – heavy early morning traffic with ‘pico y placa‘ in effect (traffic restriction based on the last digit of license plates, with 7 & 8 not permitted to circulate between 07h30 and 09h30 on Thursday), families taking their children to school, Quitenos on their way to work etc.

On route to drop off my two children at school just before 08h00, a small drama unfolded before me on the Occidental (peripheral north/south road skirting Quito) as an individual was caught red handed attempting to steal and flee in a stolen pickup truck. Half a dozen police, with hand guns drawn, ran between the slow moving traffic to finally apprehend the individual. Up until this point at least, there was a normal presence of police throughout the capital.

Having arrived at the office in the heart of the Mariscal (tourist district) a little early, I prepared my morning cup of coffee while the computer systems booted up and the staff started to arrive for the 09h00 opening of the office. One of the employees, having arrived a little tardy, explained that there was unusual traffic chaos near a Police barracks on the Mariana de Jesus Street – with apparent burning tires; hence his tardiness. Then business started as usual.

During the course of the morning, unofficial and informal information started to filter through that there was a lack of police presence and that apparently the police were on strike. Various phone calls from friends and contacts throughout the city confirmed that no police where to be seen and that apparently they were on strike over disagreement with a new legislation that supposedly cuts there benefits.

The TV was tuned into local stations to see if any news was being reported. Other than a group of disgruntled police protesting, nothing else appeared. As the morning advanced, it became obvious that a general sense of insecurity (due to the obvious lack of regular police presence) started to increase and rumors of various banks and establishments being robbed started floating through the grapevine. Businesses started to close or partial close their doors with the heightening sense of insecurity.

News started to air that the Quito and Guayaquil airports were seized by the military and all airport operations were shut. This was confirmed by the distinct lack of flights over Quito, along with sporadic protests and looting in other cities like Cuenca and Guayaquil.
The area in front of the Presidential Palace continued to fill throughout the day with pro-government supporters, complete with banners and chanting.

Now nearing noon, all TV and radio stations were airing the ‘Cadena Nacional‘ (Government controlled news) that, one by one, interviewed government officials and individuals reporting their support for the government and covering an incident where President Rafael Correa was pushed and shoved during his encounter with a group of police protesting and burning tires. Tear gas was fired and apparent the President was rushed off to the nearest police hospital.

The Government declared a State of Emergency and news that both Colombia and Peru had closed their borders to Ecuador (a standard protocol under these circumstances).

As the early afternoon continued, the Cadena Nacional continued their reporting, with comments insinuating that there were sabotage attempts on the transmission antennas. The sense of general insecurity in the city continued to grow, along with rumors of what might be happening, is happening … including a coup. Businesses, for the most part, started to close operations and people started to head from work. A great deal of speculation was in the air, but Quito was relatively calm…. with early traffic that was not only respectful but relatively orderly (keeping in mind that no traffic officials were present).

The Quito airport reopened in the late evening, with limited number of flights entering and exiting the airport.

In the course of the evening, around about 20h30 or so, local TV stations came back on air (supposedly the transmission antennas were cut thereby allowing regular transmissions to air). Around 21h30 a local media report airing live started to transmit a massive Special Operations tactical force starting to storm the Police hospital where the President was apparently held by a group of police. A massive cross of gunfire started to occur for the next 35 minutes, with the final rescue of the President – who was rapidly fled from the scene in a government vehicle and taken directly to the Presidential Palace. The gunfire in and around the hospital apparently continued for another hour or so, while the President appeared before the supporters from the Presidential Palace balcony making a speech.

Today, Friday October 1st, 2010

Quito awoke in relative normality, with news that the Guayaquil airport remained closed due to the lack of corresponding airport staff to check and managed luggage, while the Quito airport remained fully operational.

The streets appeared normal but with little, if any police present – and no military. Passing by the nearest Military barracks, I noticed a number or armored vehicles preparing to move out on the streets. Arriving at the office, there was still a sense of insecurity as no police were in sight. Banks decided to allow groups of 5 or 6 enter at a time.

By 10h00, a limited number of police started to appear back on the streets, and limited number of military convoys started deploying military in key locations. As the morning advanced, the police started to reappear as normal and the military presence disappeared.

Note: This report covers activities and eye witness testimony in the Mariscal tourist district. I cannot vouch that events in possible ‘hot spots’ – such as the Presidential Palace area and/or around the Police barracks are the same. That being said, however, walking the streets of Quito one would never have known of the events of the previous day.

Now late afternoon, Quito has apparently recovered and returned back to its normal routine.

Posted October 1, 2010 by sangay in MAINLAND ECUADOR

Galapagos Islands detailed map: SANTA CRUZ ISLAND & visit sites   Leave a comment

Posted August 27, 2010 by sangay in GALAPAGOS ISLANDS, PHOTOGRAPHY & IMAGES

Galapagos Islands detailed map: SAN CRISTOBAL ISLAND & visit sites   1 comment

Posted August 27, 2010 by sangay in GALAPAGOS ISLANDS, PHOTOGRAPHY & IMAGES

Galapagos Islands detailed map: ISABELA ISLAND & visit sites   3 comments

Posted August 27, 2010 by sangay in GALAPAGOS ISLANDS, PHOTOGRAPHY & IMAGES

Galapagos Islands Map showing all the visitation sites   Leave a comment

Galapagos Islands LAN flights   3 comments


LAN flights to the Galapagos Islands start on September 16th, 2010.

Flights are currently being offered from Miami [MIA] & New York [JFK].

Sangay Touring® will assist you plan & organize your Galapagos Islands cruise and/or land-based package*

*due to LAN flight logistics, certain restrictions & arrangements are necessary (see below)

  • LAN flights are currently scheduled to arrive in the Galapagos Islands (Baltra airport only) at 08h45, which means that you can connect with any cruise that uses Baltra as their starting point for the cruise. Note: for cruises starting in San Cristobal this will not be possible;
  • LAN flights take off at 09h20 from the Galapagos Islands (Baltra airport only), which means that for those wishing to enjoy and Galapagos Islands cruise you will need to add one hotel night in Puerto Ayora (Santa Cruz Island) on the last day of the cruise in order to be able to connect with the LAN flight the following day. The reason being is that cruises generally end between 09h00 and 11h00 in the morning of the last day of the cruise – making it physically impossible to catch your outbound LAN flight out of Galapagos that same morning;
  • Sangay Touring® will assist you to coordinate/reserve your hotel night in Puerto Ayora (subject to availability) and ground transfer from Puerto Ayora to Baltra airport.

For more flight information & rates, please visit LAN AIRLINE OFFICIAL SITE

According to current information (subject to change) flights from Miami will be as follows:


Flight No.: XL 517

Aircraft: Boeing 767

DEPARTURE from Miami (MIA) 16h15

ARRIVAL in GALAPAGOS (GPS) 08h45 the next day


Connecting in Quito: XL1551 (Airbus 318) 1 stop in Guayaquil


Flight No.: XL 1551

Aircraft: Airbus 318


ARRIVAL in MIAMI (MIA) 13h40 the next day


Connecting in GUAYAQUIL (GYE): XL1524/6 (Airbus 318)

Connecting in QUITO (UIO): XL 516 (Boeing 767)

Posted July 23, 2010 by sangay in GALAPAGOS ISLANDS

Galapagos Islands Tour Boat (Rumba) Capsizes Off Galapagos; Dane, 61, Dies   1 comment

Wave Flips Tour Boat Off Galapagos Islands; Danish Man Dead, Other Tourists And Crew Safe


A Danish tourist of 61 years passed away, after the accident suffered by the Tourist boat M/Y Rumba offshore from Port Villamil (Isabela Island) in the Galapagos Islands.  The mishap occurred last night (july 2nd 2010), around the 21h00 (22h00 mainland Ecuador time [GMT-5]) and this afternoon, around the 15h00 the body was recovered.

According to the Galapagos National Park Authorities (PNG) report, the mishap occurred when the boat was realizing part of its itinerary off the southeast coast of Puerto Villamil (Isabela Island).  At the time of the incident 7 tourist were aboard, along with 5 crew members.

More than 25 Park Ranger of the National Park and personnel from the Headquarters of Port Villamil participated in the search and rescue of the Danish passenger along with the recovery and removal of the debris.  A discharge of fuel from the baot was ruled out.

The passengers were rescued by another boat nearby and all remaining passengers and crew are in good health and they were transfered to a local a hotel.  The Ministry of Tourism is currently assisting passengers.

And addition source (El Universo) mentions the following addition facts:

The remaining six passengers aboard were two Irish, two Israelis and the wife and daughter of Nils (the 61 year old Danes that lost his life), also of Danish nationality.

The incident apparently occurred after a large wave struck the small wooden boat, Rumba, causing it to capsize.  The boat is completely destroyed.

Posted July 3, 2010 by sangay in GALAPAGOS ISLANDS

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Air Cuenca starts operating flights today   11 comments


Air Cuenca, with a Boeing 737-500, started operating flights between Cuenca and Quito – as well as Cuenca and Guayaquil – today.

Information on flight schedules, rates etc will be forthcoming upon confirmation of details.

Cuenca festejará las fiestas de fundación con la inauguración de una nueva aerolínea. Se trata de Air Cuenca, compañía creada con recursos de personas de esta ciudad, que prestará servicios aéreos a escala nacional, desde abril próximo.

Marcos Cisneros, gerente comercial de la compañía, dice que fue hace dos años que 10 cuencanos, entre empresarios y profesionales con una amplia experiencia en el mundo de los negocios y de la industria de la aviación comercial, decidieron emprender acciones para dotar al sur del país de una aerolínea. Entre los empresarios que iniciaron el proyecto constan Édgar Serrano, actual presidente de la compañía, y José Alvarado, gerente.

El 9 de julio de 2009, el Consejo Nacional de Aviación Civil otorgó a la compañía una concesión de operación para que preste los servicios de transporte aéreo, público, doméstico, regular, de pasajeros, carga y correo, en forma combinada, para operar en Cuenca, Quito, Guayaquil, Macas y Santa Rosa (El Oro).

La inauguración oficial de la compañía está prevista para el 12 de abril. A decir de Álex Cordero, director de Mercadeo, esto como una manera de celebrar los 453 años de fundación de Cuenca. Sin embargo, dependerá de factores externos que no son controlables por la empresa.

El equipo. El avión que servirá para cubrir las frecuencias es un Boeing 737-500, número de serie 26287. La capacidad será para 126 pasajeros, la matrícula nacional es HC-CJB, motores: 2 General Electric (GE), modelos CMF56-3-B1 de última generación, lo que permite un menor consumo de combustible y emisión de gases. La nave es fabricada en los Estados Unidos.

Para la próxima semana, terminará el proceso de pintado del avión, en Francia, donde se encuentra actualmente.

Inicialmente Air Cuenca operará con tres frecuencias diarias: dos serán Cuenca-Quito-Cuenca, y una Cuenca-Guayaquil-Cuenca; mientras que semanalmente habrá tres vuelos Cuenca-Quito-Santa Rosa-Quito-Cuenca. A esta última frecuencia se la pretende ampliar a vuelos diarios, lo que se hará en una segunda etapa a partir de agosto, mes en el que está proyectado la adquisición de otra aeronave de similares características.

La ruta hasta Santa Rosa es en la que mayor empeño se pondrá; los directivos dijeron que pretenden que -a través del servicio aéreo- se incrementen las relaciones comerciales en el sur del país.

Según los directivos de la compañía, aún no se han establecido tarifas para los viajes que realizará la aerolínea en el país. (XPA)

Posted June 4, 2010 by sangay in MAINLAND ECUADOR

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