Would You Sleep In A 300-Year-Old Ceibo Tree In The Galapagos Islands?

cave On San Cristobal in the Galapagos Islands, you can find a unique accommodation that is part treehouse, part underground cave. Known as El Ceibo, the property is located in the El Progreso neighborhood and features the largest tree on the entire island at 48 feet high. Moreover, at $20 a night, it’s also one of the best deals in town.

Ceibo is actually the name of a tree, and there are only three of the species on the island. While this particular tree is 300 years old, the cabins were added 22 years ago, with the bar and restaurant addition being only 15 years old. An overarching theme in the Galapagos Islands is ecotourism, and El Ceibo compliments this with the walls of the bar being made of thousands of recycled glass beer bottles. In the yard, you’ll find metal and stone statues, hammocks and tropical plants.

The treehouse accommodation has a surprisingly cozy atmosphere. There’s a small kitchen and bathroom, as well as a loft where the bed is. You can choose from an array of entry and exit methods, like a precarious swinging bridge and ladder, ropes or a fireman’s pole.

The cave is less comfortable, but surprisingly nice for being made at the bottom of a tree. You enter through the tree trunk and go down a steep ladder (shown above). The room has a bit of a musty feel, and the kiddie-sized toilet will make you laugh. The bed, however, is pretty comfortable. Likewise, some wall art and a vase of fake flowers help to add a kind of homey ambiance to the room.

The price is $20 per night to sleep in the treehouse or cave, or $5 to camp. If you’d like to just explore the property, the price is $1.

New Galapagos Islands travel regulations go into effect next week

New travel regulations for the Galapagos Islands go into effect next week.On February 1st, a new set of travel regulations will go into effect in the Galapagos Islands, which are designed to help protect the environment there, while simultaneously presenting travelers with a better experience. These new rules have already had an impact on available itineraries, but visitors can expect the same overall options for visiting this amazing destination.

The new rules are actually quite simple. The Ecuadorian government, which oversees operation of the Galapagos National Park, has passed regulations that state that no vessel operating in and around the archipelago will be permitted to visit the same site more than once within a 14 day period. The purpose for this change in operation is that it should help disperse the ship traffic throughout the region, thereby keeping overcrowding to a minimum, while also protecting the unique and fragile ecosystems there. By reducing crowds, the overall experience of the Galapagos should be preserved for visitors as well, keeping it one of the top destinations for future generations to enjoy too.

When the new regulations were first announced there was some concern that tour operators would do away with the shorter itineraries in favor of those that were 14 days in length or longer. That hasn’t been the case however, as companies recognize the fact that they must cater to the needs of all travelers, including those who don’t have two weeks to spare for their getaway. As a result, they’ve had to get a bit creative with their itineraries in order to operate within the 14-day rules, but there are still plenty of 7, 10, and 12 day Galapagos adventures available to go along with the more extended trips.

Adventure travel company Metropolitan Touring, for example, operates three ships in the Galapagos and made the switch over to the their new itineraries earlier this week. Their options can all be combined to create trips of various lengths ranging from 10-15 days, and guests have the ability to extend their stay further by booking rooms at an eco-lodge located on Santa Cruz Island. Other travel companies offer similar flexibility in their schedules, giving travelers the ability to find the right itinerary to fits their needs.

The Galapagos Islands are truly one of the most unique natural environments on our planet, and are home to a host of wildlife that isn’t found anywhere else on Earth. These regulations will help to ensure that the islands, and the creatures that live there, stay safe and protected for years to come.

Snorkeling in the Galapagos

Snorkeling allows those of us who either can’t afford or are too scared to SCUBA dive to still experience the wonders of the ocean. That said, often the most awe-inspiring aquatic sites are hidden deep below the surface and hidden to those of us who don’t have an oxygen tank strapped to our backs. Thankfully, if you find yourself in the Galapagos Islands, the animals of the sea come looking for you. That makes it one of the most satisfying and rewarding places to snorkel.

I visited the islands a few months ago and strapped a ContourGPS HD video camera to my snorkel mask for a week of exploration. Every single time I entered the water, I swam with a creature that I’d only previously encountered at aquariums. Notice that I said “swam with.” It’s not an exaggeration to say that the sea lions frolicked with us, the penguins teased us and the sharks shared some close encounters with us. Unlike any other place that I have been, snorkeling in the Galapagos is very much an interactive wildlife experience and you don’t need to be a professional cameraperson to capture the action.

Of course, it’s not all fun and games with animals in the Galapagos. I learned a few things in the water. Did you know that penguins poop while swimming? It’s like a public pool over there!

New Galapagos travel rules help protect the islands for future visitors

New travel regulations in the Galapagos Islands will help protect the environment thereA month ago we told you about some significant changes to the rules of travel in the Galapagos Islands that will go in effect in 2012. In a nutshell, the new regulations say that a ship cannot visit the same island twice within a 14-day period, which will likely have an impact on the available itineraries that are currently being offered to visit the place. While the intent of that story was to inform travelers of these changes and how they could impact any future plans to visit the Galapagos, the article failed to mention exactly why these changes are being made.

As most travelers know, the Galapagos are a unique and very special place. Located approximately 525 miles west of Ecuador, they are home to a large number of plant and animal species, many of which aren’t found anywhere else on the planet. Those creatures include several types of sea turtles, the flightless cormorant, warm water penguins, and a marine iguana that actually dives under the ocean to capture its prey.

The Islands were famously visited by Charles Darwin, aboard the HMS Beagle, back in 1835, and his observations of the endemic plant and animal life there led to his groundbreaking work The Origin of Species. The Galapagos are like a fantastic, living laboratory, offering Darwin, and other researchers that followed, an opportunity to observe the way animals adapt to their environment in a natural setting that is unlike any other on the planet.Because of the diversity of plants and animals on the Islands, UNESCO designated the Galapagos as a World Heritage Site in 1978, and in recent years it has become a popular tourist destination. So popular in fact, that the number visitors has begun to threaten the fragile environments of the Islands, which were amongst the most pristine, well preserved wildernesses on Earth. In an effort to ensure that they stay that way, the Ecuadorian government has instituted the new travel rules to help prevent over crowding and to spread tourist traffic more evenly across the 19 islands that make up the chain.

It should be noted that while these new regulations will force tour operators to change their itineraries, and in some cases the way they do business, the announcement has been met with universal applause. By prohibiting vessels from visiting the same location twice in a two week period, they are also limiting the size of the crowds on an island on any given day. This makes the experience all that much better for the visitors, while keeping the impact on the environment to a minimum as well.

While doing some research on this topic, I corresponded with several tour operators, and it quickly became clear to me how much they loved the Galapagos. Each of them remarked about how happy they were to see these regulations put into place and how it would help preserve the Islands for future visitors to enjoy as well. This is an example of how sustainable tourism can allow us to continue to visit the spectacular places of our planet, while also protecting them from harm. As avid travelers, I’m sure that is something that we can all get behind.

New Galapagos Islands regulations will change 2012 tours

New regulations on travel for the Galapagos Islands go into effect in2012Over the past decade or so, the Galapagos Islands have become one of the more popular tourist attractions in the world. In fact, they’ve gotten so popular that the fragile ecosystem there has become threatened by the amount of tourist traffic that now visit the area each year. In 2012, a new set of regulations will go into effect that may help protect the Islands, and could have an effect on travelers as well.

Beginning February 1st of next year, no vessel will be permitted to visit the same site more than once in a given 14 day period. The hope is that this will keep the traffic dispersed throughout the islands, and prevent some of the more threatened areas from becoming too crowded. It should also help to make the overall Galapagos experience a better one too.

While these regulations sound like a great plan for protecting one of the planet’s best natural wonders, they will have a direct impact on travelers planning on going to the Islands in the future. For instance, many of the tour operators have already begun to drop their shorter 7 to 10 day itineraries in favor of longer 14+ day excursions. In fact, week long Galapagos trips may become a thing of the past, as ships wouldn’t be able to visit the same sites with the same regularity, making them very inefficient for tour operators.

That is not to say that shorter trips might not still be available in some form or another, but they will not offer the same level of coverage that the have in the past, and travelers might not get to experience everything they had hoped for.

Also keep in mind that a 14 day Galapagos trip will require 17 or 18 days when you factor in the travel time to Ecuador and the islands themselves. That may mean that those of us with fewer days to spare will be shut out from visiting the Islands as well.

If you’re visiting the Galapagos this year, your travel plans won’t be impacted, but if you’re planning on going in 2012 or beyond, you may want to reexamine your options.