INCA President Bill Roberson recently sat down with Everett Potter writing for USA TODAY and discussed five myths many potential visitors have about the Galapagos. In this edition of our newsletter, Bill expands on his original responses to help dispel the five most common misconceptions potential visitors have about a visit to the Galapagos.
1. Traveling to the Galapagos Islands may be a once-in-a-lifetime trip, but it will cost me a small fortune.
"No one has ever returned who did not feel that they got more value than expected, an experience beyond what they had imagined. None are ever ready to leave and many return. And their lives were changed by their intimate, face-to-face encounter with wildlife that had no fear of them.
It’s an experience that can be had nowhere else on the planet. How do you put a value on a life changing experience –the memories are vivid throughout the remainder of one’s life - it is priceless".
2. The ships that go to the Galapagos are pretty much the same.
"There are small cruise ships for up to 100 guests – The amenities and comfort are somewhat similar. By intimate wildlife experience standards, it may be argued that such a large group is mass tourism. Getting a 100 people ashore is. As such expectations for the wildlife experience may be lower – less in depth than on the smaller vessels.
Among the yachts there is a significant range in price, amenities, itineraries, quality of guides, dedication of crew, system redundancies, safety features and level of maintenance – the quality of these essential elements are not discernible on glossy brochures or flashy web sites.
How does one assess – research, persistent questioning, find references, and people that know about yachts – it is pretty easy to tell when the answers don’t add up, that the person with whom you are talking has no idea. Then it is time to move on.
Our experience with major yacht refits enables us to assess whether the quality of a yacht meets our high standards. As former Galapagos naturalist guide, not only am I able to craft the most rewarding itineraries, I can select guides who have the knowledge, social, and teaching skills to deliver a Galapagos Dream to travelers of all ages.
Rolf Sievers, German-Ecuadorian and long time friend, has lived in Galapagos since 1960. He and his family own and operate the yachts Integrity and Reina Silvia. They know boats and equipment and can build, rebuild and repair all systems on the yachts. With the German penchant for precision and ridged maintenance schedules, the yachts operate like Mercedes – everything works all the time.
In the 25 years that we have entrusted our Galapagos guests aboard the Sievers’ yachts, there’s not be a missed day of service".
3. I don’t like traveling by ship, I’d rather stay in a hotel.
"The animals don’t come to the hotel – at least not the ones you came to watch. Each of the many Galapagos Islands has its own distinct flora and fauna. Shore based travelers miss upwards of 90% of the wildlife experience. The most rewarding visitor sites are on islands at the remote edges of the archipelago. If you are content with seeing a few species, giant tortoises, marine iguanas, finches, a few sea birds, and lots of people, then a hotel is for you. But the greatest payoff comes to visitors who visit as many islands as possible".
4. I don’t have the time for such an exotic trip.
"Ecuador is a 3.5 hour flight from Miami. From the US, there are daily nonstop flights from Houston, Dallas, Miami, Atlanta, Ft Lauderdale, JFK, and Newark to Quito and Guayaquil. After an overnight, you catch a 2 hour jet flight to the Galapagos.
On arrival in Galapagos, you show your passport and pay the $100 Galapagos National Park fee. That’s it, nothing more.
An INCA guide collects you, your luggage, and off you go to the Island of Santa Cruz to see the giant tortoises, have lunch, see how volcanic islands are formed, check in for the latest news from the Charles Darwin Station and board the yacht. You’ve been gone from home less than 24 hours".
5. There are other wildlife-watching places just as awesome as the Galapagos.
"Where else, in a little under 4 hours from the US, can you have such an extraordinary wildlife experience – where the animals have no fear of you. Well yes, perhaps Alaska – it is said that grizzly bears have no fear of you either! And at cost that is 1/3 of an Africa or Antarctica trip - both of which require 2 days of travel. Even a cruise in the more remote parts of Alaska would cost about the same".
Also in the press
INCA was recently featured prominently in Caviar Affair, a luxury lifestyle magazine based in Northern California.
Writer Melissa Daimler provides a detailed account of her adventures aboard our luxury yacht INTEGRITY.
Plan your own visit
If you’ve been thinking about a trip to the Galapagos, hopefully these pieces have provided the inspiration to book your own trip. If you’ve already been, perhaps it’s time to return and catch the sites you missed the first time. Here are a number of options:
Origin of Species – Our signature 11 day adventure including 8 days / 7 nights aboard INTEGRITY
Galapagos Safari - Adventure in a Hemingway luxury tented setting before joining the Galapagos cruise
Ultimate Galapagos – Best of the Galapagos in a 2 week cruise of the major islands & visitor sites
Galapagos and the Amazon Jungle – The best of Ecuadorian Wildlife in a single trip
Galapagos and Ecuadorian Countryside – Combine wildlife with the cultural richness of Otavalo
Galapagos and Hacienda Zuleta – Combine yourGalapagos cruise with an historic working hacienda.
Galapagos and Machu Picchu - Highlights of the Inca Empire combined with a Galapagos cruise
Galapagos and Peru – An expanded best of Incan Civilization with the best of Galapagos wildlife.