CNH Tours - Cultural and Natural Heritage Tours Galapagos
Wednesday March 31, 2021
Published on Bloomberg yesterday (30 March). Click here for the story on the Bloomberg website.
Ecuador is trying to get more bang for the buck from its scarce Covid-19 shots by vaccinating the entire adult population of the sparsely-populated Galapagos islands, the nation’s main tourist attraction.
Authorities are targeting a 100% immunization rate on the Pacific archipelago of 30,000 people by the end of May, Norman Wray, the top government official on the islands, said in an interview.
That is intended to help revive the islands’ $350 million-per-year tourism industry, even while the rest of the nation remains virtually unprotected, with fewer than 1% of the population inoculated so far.
The volcanic islands attract about 250,000 visitors in a normal year to see animals such as the huge Galapagos tortoise and the group of bird species known as Darwin’s finches. The waters are rich in marine life including dolphins and hammerhead sharks.
The amount tourists normally spend visiting the islands each year exceeds the $290 million the country is planning to spend on vaccines.
Vaccinating people on remote islands involves medical staff taking bumpy speedboat rides while the vaccines arrive by plane or helicopter to keep them cool and stable, Wray said.
The health ministry said it couldn’t confirm whether Galapagos residents will be inoculated by Wray’s target date.
Fees paid by tourists to enter the Galapagos National Park plunged 77% last year, and at the height of the crisis in May the park took in less than $100 in revenue for the whole month.
Ecuador’s economy shrank 11% last year according to the International Monetary Fund, making it among the worst-hit in the region by the pandemic. And the tourism-dependent islands fared especially badly.
At one point, many locals ran out of cash, and some were reduced to bartering fish for staples such as rice and diesel, according to Wray and local residents.
Tuesday March 30, 2021
Yesterday, while carrying out routine x-ray monitoring of luggage being loaded onto a commercial flight from Baltra (Galapagos) to Guayaquil in the mainland, the airport authorities noted very unusual shapes on their monitor. They took the suitcase aside to inspect it. Inside, carefully wrapped in plastic wrap (presumably to reduce the scent and avoid detection by sniffer dogs), the technicians found 185 baby giant tortoises – 10 of which had already perished.
This was how Nixon Alejandro, a police officer, was caught trying to traffic Galapagos wildlife.
The illegal wildlife trade is huge – in the many billions of dollars annually. From rhino horns to pangolin scales, or colourful bird feathers, and even live tropical birds, fish and more. It’s so big and the illegal proceeds finance so many nefarious groups that the United Nations set up the Convention on the International Trade on Endangered Species (CITES) in 1975 to provide global coordination in an effort to control it. One well-know conservation organization, TRAFFIC, focuses exclusively on ensuring that wildlife trade is not a threat to the conservation of nature. If you are keen on learning more, see their website here.
This is not the first time that CNH Tours has covered cases of illegal wildlife trade in Galapagos. For a summary, see this news story. In it, we cover other cases of giant tortoise and iguana smuggling, along with the shark fin trade.
In a statement, the Galapagos National Park indicated that the baby tortoises did not come from its breeding centers – where each tortoise is meticulously traced. If that is the case, then Mr Alejandro obtained these baby tortoises from the wild somewhere. In a way, it’s a good sign – a sign that wild populations are breeding well. However, one can presume that Mr. Alejandro was not operating alone – it would be quite an effort to collect and store so many tortoise on one’s one, without at least others taking notice. CNH Tours certainly hopes the authorities will carry out an effective investigation and apprehend his collaborators, both in Galapagos and on the mainland.
A lot of growing up to do still!
Sunday March 28, 2021
Biological evolution happens thanks to a process of natural selection for characteristics that improve an individual’s (or a population’s) ability to survive and reproduce. One dromedary that has a slightly better ability to go days without water than another is more likely to survive the next prolonged drought, and to pass on its genes to the next generation.
This mechanism is at the root of all “evolution-by-natural-selection” talk.
But, if that’s the case, why do so many animal species display what appear to be wildly extravagant features that may in fact REDUCE their chances of survival? The classic example used by people wondering about this apparent contradiction is the male peacock’s tail – an extraordinarily beautiful, yet cumbersome appendage that in all likelihood only helps draw unwanted attention from predators.
Darwin spent some time thinking about this contradiction. He came up with his theory of sexual selection – whereby, in parallel to natural selection, another force was involved in shaping the genetic make-up of future generations (see his book: “The descent of man and selection in relation to sex”. He postulated that females chose more attractive males as defined by plumage, colour, song, courtship displays. He concludes that females have an eye for aesthetics, and by selecting males with bigger and more colourful tails, they are responsible for the evolution of beauty.
The suggestion that animals could have an appreciation for features that had no effect on survival went against the grain of popular thinking in Darwin’s day, and continues today. But the debate rages on.
In Galapagos, you’ll notice male “beauty” in the marine iguanas (on Santa Fe, Española and Floreana islands), the lava lizards and in some of the birds (the Vermillion flycatcher for starters).
Male marine iguanas on Santa Fe, Española and Floreana islands can get very colourful.
For more on this hotly contested subject, you may want to read: "The Evolution of Beauty: How Darwin's Forgotten Theory of Mate Choice Shapes the Animal World - and Us", by Richard O. Prum. The well-researched book was a finalist in the "General Fiction" 2018 Pulitzer prize awards.
Thursday March 25, 2021
CNH Tours does not offer trips to a destination unless we have someone on the team who is an undisputed expert for that destination. By "expert" we mean people who have been eating and breathing the destination for many years, and not just someone who has been on one or two familiarizaiton trips.
We found our expert for Antarctica in Jane Wilson. Antarctica is in her blood - having had ancestors who were leaders in scientific work there - so much so that a medal in their honour is awarded to scientific achievement in their domain.
Read more about Jane's background on our Antarctica Trip page here.
Jane spent some time with us understanding the kind of people that typically approach CNH Tours for a Galapagos "trip of a lifetime". We told her that our guests tended to be an inquisitive bunch, keen on getting the absolute most out of their trip, not afraid going the extra mile and of course, not at all averse to unmatched personalized service. We asked her to identify what she considered a winning combination of ship and itinerary for our guests.
With that in mind, she identified a ship and two itinerary options that she assured us would fit perfectly with CNH Tours alumni.
The "GRAND TOUR" - a 21 day itinerary from Ushuaia (Tierra del Fuego, Argentina) to the Falkland Islands, on to South Georgia Islands (the Serengeti of Antarctica) and over to the Antarctic Peninsula.
The "PENINSULAR EXPLORER" - a 13 day itinerary from Ushuaia, with a focus on the Antarctic Peninsula, home of spectacular land, sea and icescapes and diverse wildlife.
We are focusing on two specific departures: 28 Jan – 17 Feb 2023 (Grand Tour) and 18 - 30 Jan 2023 (Peninsula Explorer). We'll be sure that any issues around COVID-19 should be well and truly behind us by then.
The Island Sky - carrying 112 passengers, kayaks and even camping gear, it's large enough to be able to navigate icy and at times lively seas in comfort, and small enough not to lose the sense of intimacy you expect to have when visiting these very special and very remote places.
For the full details, prices and booking, see our dedicated Antarctica page here.
If you're keen on travelling on other dates or other ships, please contact us and we'll start a conversation.
Monday March 8, 2021
The Ecuadorian embassy in Canada sent us a note today, in which they highlight the achievements of Dolores Cacuango to celebrate international women's day. Here's the text of their message:
"Dolores Cacuagon (October 26, 1881 - April 23, 1971), also known as 'Mamá Doloreyuk' was born in a community of the northern Andes in Ecuador. She was a pionneer in terms of fighting for the rights of indigenous people and peasants in Ecuador. Cacuango stood out in the political arena and was one of the first activists of Ecuadorian feminism. She, with other indigenous leaders, founded in 1944 the Ecuadorian Federation of Indians, the first of its class in Ecuador. Also, she created the first bilingual school, Quichua - Spanish, in Ecuador."
For more information on the life of Dolores Cacuango, click here.
Wednesday March 3, 2021
CNH Tours is happy to share today's press release from the Galapagos National Park Service (we have edited for brevity)....
But there is more behind this story than meets the eye. While the National Park and its donor partner, the Galapagos Conservancy have carried out this work, the Charles Darwin Research Station (CDRS) is not satisfied that there is incontrovertible evidence of giant tortoise populations on Santa Fe island in the past. The CDRS has expressed reservations - particularly in regards to the native population of land iguanas on the island. They indicate that giant tortoises may outcompete the land iguanas for food and nesting sites on this very dry island. The CDRS feels that the introduction of giant tortoises there was premature.
Such are the polemics that exist in the conservation world. You will note that the Park indirectly addresses the CDRS concerns in the last paragraph of its press release.
Press release - Galapagos National Park. 3 March 2021
191 giant tortoises released for the ecological restoration of Santa Fe Island
"The last phase of the process of introducing giant tortoises to Santa Fe was completed"
A group of 191 juvenile giant tortoises of the species (Chelonoidis hoodensis) were transferred from the breeding center in Santa Cruz and joined the population that has been introduced to Santa Fe Island since 2015, as part of the ecological restoration of this small island. A total of 732 have been introduced to date.
Washington Tapia, director of the initiative, explained that “the introduction of 31 sub-adult turtles carried out at the beginning of 2020 and the high survival rate of juveniles of 99.8%, allowed to accelerate the process of establishing a reproductive population in the island, which was essential to effectively contribute to the process of restoring the ecological integrity and biodiversity of Santa Fe ”.
The transfer was carried out by 22 National Park rangers and scientists from the Galapagos Conservancy, who traveled approximately five kilometers from the landing site to the release zone in the center of this 24.7-square-kilometer island.
National Park director Danny Rueda explained that “the process of ecological restoration of the island began in the 70s with the eradication of goats, but in 2015 it took a new impulse with the introduction of turtles, a decision that was taken after a comprehensive evaluation of the island showed that its main herbivore was missing, because the population of land iguanas, despite being large, did not fulfill the same role as turtles in the ecosystem, especially in terms of their contribution to seed dispersal ”.
The project, since its inception, has included a rigorous development of annual monitoring, the results of which have shown that turtles have dispersed approximately 30% of the island's surface and that there is no competition for resources between turtles and iguanas that are actively contributing to seed dispersal, especially of Opuntia cacti. Which in other words means that they are fulfilling their role as ecosystem engineers, an aspect that will continue to be documented through the monitoring activities that will continue in the long term.
Wednesday March 3, 2021
One of our founders, Marc Patry, is giving a 45 minute presentation on Friday 15 March, 5PM EST ("Happy Hour" in Montreal, New York, Miami time).
If you're curious about WHY Galapagos is a globally iconic wildlife destination, how such an eclectic collection of odd animals arose there, and what the current challenges are to their conservation, this event is a good place to start finding some answers. Interesting, dynamic and interactive - limited to 12 participants so that you have a chance to ask questions.
Marc worked for the Charles Darwin Research Station in collaboration with the Galapagos National Park Service from 1998-2002 and is an elected member to the Charles Darwin Foundation's General Assembly. He was also the United Nations' point person overseeing the state of conservation of Galapagos under the World Heritage Convention, from 2003 - 2012. Marc is an experienced public speaker and presenter.
Price is US$20. Book your spot here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/galapagos-history-and-conservation-challenges-tickets-142338074011
Sunday February 28, 2021
They are back. Last spotted nearly 200 years ago, the Galapagos Land Iguana is staging a comeback. Last week, the Galapagos National Park Service released a further 421 individuals on Santiago Island, further boosting numbers following the first re-introduction in 2019.
Coincidentally, this is where Charles Darwin spent most of his time while in Galapagos in 1835. He was the last person to report seeing them. According to Darwin, not one for diplomatic niceties: “From their low facial angle they have a singularly stupid appearance”.
"Singularly stupid appearance" (photo credit Peter Norvig)
Pigs are no friends of ours!
The original land iguana population, having inhabited the island for likely hundreds of thousands, if not well over a million years, were done in by pigs. Pigs are very good a sniffing out iguana nests in search for tasty and nutritious eggs – and were thankfully absent in Galapagos until the late 1700’s, when whalers, having exhausted the easy catches in the Atlantic, started hunting in Pacific waters. The whalers would “seed” islands with animals that would provide them with fresh meat on future expeditions. Goats were a favourite – but pigs were also on the menu.
While it was clear that removing the goats and pigs from Santiago Island would be necessary for any successful re-introduction of the land iguana to Santiago Island, both the Galapagos National Park Services and its scientific advisory partner the Charles Darwin Research Station considered it an unachievable fantasy. The large island (35km long, 25km wide – or about 21 miles x 15 miles) consisted of very rugged volcanic terrain with portions of thick, spiny brambles.
Still, something had to be done. In an effort to reduce their predation on the Giant Tortoises (older individuals still roamed the island, but they had no success in raising new generations thanks to the pigs’ appetite for their eggs as well), the Park started sending out regular hunting parties in 1972. These groups of 12 or so nimble hunters would head off to Santiago island once or twice a year for 10-12 days, head off into the landscape and shoot pigs. They returned, having reported shooting as little as a dozen pigs to as many as 800. Over a 24 year period, the total number of pigs reported shot came to 18,903.
Thanks to GPS technology and to new techniques to removing pigs, in parallel with several years of steady funding, the Park and the Darwin Station decided that total eradication could be possible. They started a new campaign in 1998. After a lot of hard, work, the last sign of a pig on Santiago Island was observed in November 2000. Subsequent monitoring missions found no further signs of pigs and the island was declared “pig free” in 2002. That conservation success story opened the door to a land iguana re-introduction effort, the fruits of which we are witnessing today. For more info on the pig eradication campaign, see my technical report written while I was working at the Darwin Station here.
Iguana stampede on Santiago Island
Saturday February 20, 2021
A recent "The Economist" article (Well Travelled, 13th February 2021) reviews how health status of travellers may be monitored as we deal with COVID-19. The article describes how good the air is in airplanes, and explains that today's travellers are more concerned about regulations / testing / quarantine issues on arrival, and less so about the safety of actually flying.
It goes on to describe a variety of efforts underway to develop a digital vaccine passport. "Such technologies will become common, reckons the world's biggest travel-security firm, International SOS".
For the full article, click here.
Image: The Economist
Friday February 5, 2021
We asked our good friend, the charming Fernando Ortiz, for his thoughts on the upcoming national elections in Ecuador. Fernando is a long-time naturalist guide, organizer of the Galapagos Triathlon and father to two daughters and husband to another naturalist guide. The first round takes place this Sunday, followed by a 2nd round for the 2 candidates having received the most votes, on 11 April. In his words:
2021 Presidential elections in Ecuador
By law, 48 hours prior to election day, there must be no politician´s propaganda to give citizens quiet time to reflect on our vote. But until then the blaring, screaming, chanting, squealing, lying, empty promising and dream (nightmare?) weaving is noisy, relentless and furious.
Ecuador is in dire straits. 8 years of surfing the previously High Priced Oil Wave (Ecuador´s main export), mortgaging the country´s future at mafioso interest rates, followed by an awakening to a sudden low-price commodities reality and a huge mounting debt to honour, plus corruption at levels never ever seen in our republican life, have taken us into a deep hole, made deeper by Corona virus and its consequences. Using a sadly fashionable comparison, Ecuador is in an Intensive Care Unit, surviving out of the money the IMF is puffing into our lungs.
There are 16 (!!!) presidential wannabes. It is either a display of selfish bravery (Who wants that job?!?) or foolish bravado. According to polls, 13 of them are such unknowns that they will only be receiving votes from their closest relatives and friends.
Three of them are fighting for the first 2 places to go to a second round.
The final run-off vote (11 April) will be in between a populist candidate sponsored by the very same guy that took Ecuador into its darkest hours, or a banker who represents everything the left-wing camp recognizes as evil (self-made, rich, conservative). The third one is a long-haired saxophone player, articulate but not bright... idealist, almost new to politics but surprisingly popular amongst certain ethnic groups.
I love democracy even though it is not perfect. I like to think that my ballot is worth the same as everybody else´s. I just wish my people would realize that neither legislation nor politicians are going to give us anything that has not being produced through our own efforts and honest sweat. Do not trust freebies, they cannot last forever. We all should be rowing in the same direction. Wish and demand for an honest job, safe streets and room for working towards a healthy, green, plausible future. Not only for my compatriots, but for mankind.
Election day is Sunday the 7th. Fingers crossed……
Friday February 5, 2021
Ecuador will elect its new president on Sunday, February 7
As never before in the history of this country, Ecuador will have to choose between 16 presidential candidates. 16? Yes, that´s right! A really big number of candidates.
There is a wide range of personalities amongst the candidates: businessmen, bankers, an indigenous representative, a Church pastor, and even a singer.
Unfortunately, there is no electronic voting in Ecuador, and since voting is mandatory in our country, all citizens, between 18 to 65 years old, must go to vote on Sunday. However, it is estimated that there could be a lot of absences due to the pandemic.
Special advanced voting taking place at people's homes (Photo credit: CNE via El Universo newspaper)
On Thursday, the voting was carried out in prisons and on Friday some elderly people, or people with severe disabilities, voted at home. This is a special service offered to people who want to vote, but due to different circumstances, they cannot go to the voting locations on Sunday.
Due to the pandemic, the authorities have established some protocols to follow:
- More places have been designated as voting locations. In this way, they want to avoid crowds.
- All people must wear a mask, bring their own pen and their own hand sanitizer bottle
- It´s not mandatory, but it´s a suggestion that people whose identity card ends in an even number, vote in the morning; those with an odd number vote in the afternoon
- It is recommended not to bring children to the voting locations
- Only the person who is going to vote, will be able to enter the voting location
According to the polls, the candidates with the best chance of winning are Guillermo Lasso, who represents the center-right, and Andrés Arauz, who is the candidate of the political group of the ex-president Rafael Correa – defenders of the famous socialism of the 21st century.
So, Sunday will be a very decisive day for Ecuador. As an Ecuadorian, I can only hope that we all vote with our conscience, and thinking about the future of our beloved country.
Sunday January 31, 2021
We are delighted to share that a former colleague, Dr Inti Keith, has been honoured by the famous Explorers Club as one of the 21 most remarkable women members.
Photo credit: CDF (darwinfoundation.org)
Inti is certainly a remarkable scientist, leading the research of marine invasive species at the Charles Darwin Research Station. In the last couple of years she has expanded her research and leadership work into marine plastics, international research partnerships, shark tagging, sea turtle tracking, and monitoring the coral and rocky reef systems of Galapagos.
Photo Credit : Forbes (Geiner Golfin)
Inti, of Scottish parents, grew up in Quito and spent her academic career between the two countries, amongst others. In addition to being an impressive researcher, it can be said that she is the very heart of the social aspect of the Station and even the town on Santa Cruz. She is incredibly welcoming and will invite any newcomer out for a cerveza (or two). She has a special way of making people feel included and generally, to have a great time. Work could be intense and quite stressful at times, but a beer with Inti would always be a great cure (especially if they continue going til the wee-hours of the morning!)
Our biggest congratulations (and toast!) to Inti for this spectacular and well-deserved honour!
Tuesday January 26, 2021
A Galapagos cruise ship owner we know is uncertain on how to proceed once vaccinations will become widely availale. On the one hand, he wants to do all he can to ensure the health and safety of his guests. On the other hand, he recognizes that there may be a large number of people out there who may not want to take a COVID vaccine.
He's not sure if it will be good for business to ask that guests show proof of vaccination before embarking. If he goes that route, he would also have his crew vaccinated. He wonders if just asking for a negative PCR test will be enough to satisfy his guests.
In an effor to help him, we've organized a small survey on our CNH Tours FaceBook page. We would be delighted if you took the time answer this 15 second survey.
Thank you in advance! You can get to the survey by clicking here: SURVEY.
Monday January 25, 2021
The recent decision on the part of the government of the USA to require negative PCR test or negative antigen tests taken no more than 3 days prior to entry into the USA, even for US citizens, is worrying the tourism sector in Galapagos (the Canadian government imposed a similar requirement 2 weeks ago). While numbers were still only a fraction of what they had been pre-pandemic, they were starting to grow, giving hope to the beleagured tourism sector.
Currently, there are no testing facilities in Galapagos beyond those in the hospitals on Santa Cruz and San Cristobal Isalnds - and these are available only to people showing symptoms. Visitors will need to get tested on the continent, as they make their way back home. As most tests require a minumum 24 hour turnaround, this new requirement will force people to spend at least 2 extra nights on the mainland before getting their results. Some higher end ships are working on having their guests tested on-board, 2 days prior to their flight back to the USA/Canada. This calls for accredited technicians from the mainland to fly to Galapagos, board the ship on it's penultimate cruise day, test the passengers, and fly back to the continent to process the samples. It's a logistical challenge in many respects - but shows how important this is to the tourism sector.
The Galapagos governing council is looking at ways to make testing available more broadly on the islands - facilitating things for visitors from the USA and Canada. The article below appeared in El Universo today, 25 January:
Doubts in Galapagos due to COVID-19 regulations in the US, which could affect tourism
The decision of the newly elected President of the United States, Joe Biden, to require negative PCR tests to all people who enter that country is a cause for concern in Galapagos, since this could cause tourists to suspend their trips to the archipelago.
Norman Wray, president of the Galápagos Government Council, considers it important to establish a private laboratory in the archipelago that charges a "reasonable" price for PCR tests to tourists who need to return to the United States, since citizens of that country occupy an important segment of the visitor numbers to the islands.
"There are tourists who, faced with the decision to require PCR testing and the lack of a facility in the islands that can provide the service, will decide not to come. We are talking with the Ministry of Health and the private sector to find out how to implement a service of these characteristics, "says Wray.
The visitor curve to Galapagos has been upward in recent months. In September 2020, the arrival of 1,400 tourists was registered, last December this figure rose to 6,800, but this "is very far from the number of tourists that came before the pandemic." (Ed: December 2019 tourist arrivals were in the 25,000 range – during the pandemic, most visitors are Ecuadorian nationals who spend more modestly than foreign visitors).
To reactivate the economy, according to Wray, they have promoted initiatives, with funds from the Governing Council, where conservation "converges" with the hiring of local labor, such as the project for the control of invasive species.
"We are handling the concept of green reactivation, but we also want to get international cooperation involved (...). We have worked with the United Nations to pay people and clean up the coast. We have worked on the scientific monitoring of the visitor sites" he says.
Wednesday January 20, 2021
CNH Tours is "copy-pasting" the press release published by the Charles Darwin Foundation today. All of us here at CNH Tours worked for the Foundation - we have a collective 16 years of experience working there. So it's understandable that we feel that we have a bit of ownership issues! One of us is even an elected voting member of its General Assembly. The Foundation's main activity is running the Charles Darwin Research Station.
--- Press Release --- The Board of Directors of the Charles Darwin Foundation has announced the appointment of Dr. Rakan (“Zak”) A. Zahawi as Executive Director of the Charles Darwin Foundation (CDF), effective March 1, 2021. As the chief executive officer, he will be responsible for all operational and administrative functions at CDF and will direct a strategic scientific program at the Charles Darwin Research Station.
“On behalf of the Board, the Selection Committee and everyone at CDF, we are delighted to welcome Dr. Zahawi to the Charles Darwin Foundation,” said CDF Board President Hans Van Poelvoorde. “Rakan impressed us with his deep experience as a field station director, his accomplishments in conservation science, his vision and his passion for community building.”
Dr. Zahawi was most recently Director of the Lyon Arboretum at the University of Hawaiʻi, Mānoa, and was previously director of the Las Cruces Research Station in Costa Rica (part of the Organization of Tropical Studies) from 2006-2016. As the co-author of more than 60 scientific publications, it is his commitment to world-class science in the interest of conservation that stands out. In 2017 he was awarded the Theodore M. Sperry Award by the Society for Ecological Restoration for his contributions to the field. Dr. Zahawi holds adjunct faculty positions at Duke University and the University of California, Santa Cruz. His research focuses on assessing cost-effective methods to accelerate tropical forest recovery in degraded habitats.
Dr. Zahawi earned a B.S. in Botany from the University of Texas at Austin and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Plant Biology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. His master’s degree was based on fieldwork undertaken in northwestern Ecuador at the Maquipucuna Reserve. He has also worked in many other areas of the Neotropics. Dr. Zahawi speaks fluent Spanish, English and Arabic, as well as conversational French and Italian.
“I am very much looking forward to joining CDF and to furthering its legacy of conservation and protection in this iconic archipelago,” said Dr. Zahawi. “The Galapagos Islands are unparalleled in the world—unique both for their role in advancing our understanding of evolutionary science and as a place that captures the imagination of anyone interested in the living world around us. I hope to leverage the spotlight on Galapagos to bring attention to the conservation needs of not only the archipelago and its people, but also of its role as a global model of smart environmental stewardship. This remarkable archipelago is a showcase of best sustainable practices and a powerful example of a strong conservation ethic.“
Devoted to bringing together diverse interests to advance research and conservation in natural systems, Dr. Zahawi’s extensive experience working with scientists, local communities, governments, donors, and a wide international network will enhance CDF’s work in benefit of the Galapagos Archipelago.
Gabriela Sommerfield, CDF treasurer and member of the selection committee, noted that “Dr. Zahawi is a world-class scientist, conservationist and leader, who has a record of building organizations.”
Dr. Hernán Vargas, longtime CDF General Assembly member and the first Galapagos permanent resident who was granted a PhD in 2006, added “Great science has always been one of the hallmarks of the CDF. Given his ability to bring scientists together from many different backgrounds, I look forward to working with Dr. Zahawi to strengthen CDF’s support for the conservation of Galapagos in harmony with the sustainable development of resident human communities”.
Dr. Zahawi takes over from Interim Executive Director Dr. Maria Jose Barragan, who will continue as Science Director. The Board extends its great thanks to Dr. Barragán, who has admirably led the Foundation during this transition. The Board also thanks the 10-person Selection Committee appointed in March 2020, which included board members, representatives from the government of Ecuador, independent scientists, and leaders of non-profit NGOs.
About Charles Darwin Foundation:
The Charles Darwin Foundation for the Galapagos Islands (CDF) was established in 1959, one hundred years after the publication of “The Origin of Species” by Charles Darwin, under the auspices of the Government of Ecuador, the Belgian Government, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Under an agreement with the Government of Ecuador, the CDF advises and assists the Government of Ecuador in aspects regarding the conservation of the Galapagos Archipelago. CDF’s mission is to provide knowledge and assistance to ensure the conservation of the environment and biodiversity in the Galapagos Archipelago through scientific research and complementary action.
Monday January 11, 2021
About 75%-80% of our guests are from the United States. Over the years, we have had direct, personal contact with thousands of people from all corners of this great nation to the south of our border (we're based in Canada). We've had guests from Florida, Texas, New York, Pennsylvania, California, Wisconsin, Maine, Oregon, Georgia... the list goes on. We seem to have an unusually high number of guests from Alaska (we don't know why - but that's fine by us). Our USA guests are always a pleasure to work with and we often feel a twinge of sadness when our business relation comes to an end, and we go our separate ways.
It's with you in mind that we share some of your pain in response to recent events in Washington D.C. We've always considered the USA as the world's premiere center of innovation and creativity, as a powerful standard bearer for what's right and wrong, and despite occasional missteps (completely normal for any nation), over the years, we've taken for granted that the USA will be our strongest ally on the path to progress, in the struggle for human rights, and in the quest for peace, democracy and prosperity.
We've noted how many large companies in the USA have taken a variety of impactful measures to support efforts at keeping the ship of state on an even keel in the past couple of days. CNH Tours would like to join in that effort - though all we feel we can do is ask for the privilege of standing in solidarity with you.
We wish all of our neighbours to the south the necessary sobriety, rational, clear-eyed thinking in the days, weeks and months ahead as you work at making things right again.
Best wishes, and warmest regards from your neighbours north of the border.
Monday January 11, 2021
The highly-reputed 14 passenger Samba, the ship we have been regularly chartering for 15 years, is getting back into business after a COVID-19 related hiatus. It has been hard for ship owners in Galapagos - but they are emerging renewed and eager to get back to business.
The Samba actually ran its first post lock-down cruises in December. It took advantage of the COVID hiatus by going through an extensive maintenance and re-fit on the mainland in September. The ship diligently implements rigorous COVID-safe measures to reduce the risk of transmission while on board.
The Samba owners recognize that the market for Galapagos cruises is not yet what it was pre-COVID. But in an effort to attract those willing to travel in these complicated times, it is offering its 7 night / 8 day cruise for only US$2,450 / person (double occupancy) or $2,850 (solo). This is over 40% off the 2021 rate that had been set pre-COVID. This is an excellent price - equivalent to the going rate back in 2008. But the owners have indicated that it may be increased at any time - booking now for a cruise starting no later than 14 December 2021 will guarantee that price. Please note, the domestic flight, transit card and park entrance are extra - estimate about $650.
While CNH Tours generally recommends that we stay home and wait until COVID-19 is in our rear-view mirror before contemplating international travel again, we do recognize that people are now getting getting access to vaccines, and that those who are younger and fitter are already starting to travel again.
If you fall in one of those categories, and if you are willing to assume all the risks related to traveling during the COVID-19 pandemic, then we would be happy to help you organize your Galapagos trip of a lifetime on the Samba.
Contact us: email@example.com for more information.
The Samba is a very well-managed "tourist superior" 14 passenger ship.
A small ship like the Samba offers a lot more versatility when it comes to wildlife encounters.
It hires top quality naturalist guides who will take you to the ends of the trails, and get
you snorkeling as often and as long as possible.
The ship has 6 cabins below decks and one above. The crew is very engaged in the whole
Monday January 11, 2021
It's the "rainy" season now in Galapagos. Ironically, during the rainy season, skies are bluer, it's hot, the seas are warmer and calmer. You might get an occasional, short-lived tropical downpour - but that's just another "𝗪𝗢𝗪!!" event on a typical trip to the Galapagos islands.
The main disadvantage to travel in the rainy season is not the rain, but the temperatures. While some like it hot😏, others find it too hot.
The rainy / hot season starts sometime later in December and ends sometime earlier in May. The cooler, dryer "garua" season starts in July and ends later in November. The garua season is characterized by early morning and later afternoon mists, particularly in the windward sides of islands. Temperatures are milder, seas cooler with the chances of a bit of chop a bit higher. There are never any storms in Galapagos... here, the "PACIFIC" ocean very much earns its name.
There are transition months between the seasons during which you can't be sure what kind of weather you'll get.
Thanks to critically acclaimed top naturalist guide, Jimmy Patiño, for the picture taken just a few minutes ago!
Sunday January 10, 2021
Vicki Metcalfe is an avid birder.
She approached us in early 2019 wanting help organizing a trip to Ecuador that would expose her to the wonderful bird diversity of the country. While having less than 0.1% of the Earth's surface area, over 10% of the world's bird species have been recorded in the country (mostly on the mainland). Galapagos offers birders the chance to easily spot species found nowhere else on the planet (flightless cormorants, Galapagos penguins, the waved albatross, all kinds of Galapagos finches - and that's just for starters).
On her return, just before the pandemic kicked in, Vicki wrote up a review of her trip for her local community newspaper, the New Edinburgh News (which happens to be just walking distance from our home). In the concluding paragraph of her article, she writes: "Cliché though it may be, my birding adventure in Ecuador and the Galapagos was truly the trip of a lifetime." It may be cliché, but frankly, a big proportion of our returning guests use the very same words.
CNH Tours can help you plan a custom trip to Ecuador and Galapagos, ensuring you get the most out of your time there. Whether you're an avid birder, into horseback riding, chocolate, lost civilizations, textiles... we can work with you to assemble the elements of a wonderful extension before or after your Galapagos trip.
For Vicki's full article, click here.
In Galapagos, not all of the bird sightings are on dry land!