Ecuador

Blog posts about IE's nature travel to Ecuador, as well as news and ecotourism.
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The Galapagos Islands are known for the diverse array of plants and animals that call the archipelago home and few are more powerful than the Galapagos hawk. This predatory bird is one of the few animals that prey on other large creatures on the islands, and is the only raptor living on the Galapagos Islands. The hawks are also active during the day, which means you're likely to see them circling the skies during International Expeditions’ small ship cruises to the Galapagos.

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Dear Traveler,

Just a few days ago, someone asked me to really define what kind of journeys International Expeditions offers. The terms we so commonly use — like nature travel and ecotourism — did not seem descriptive enough. So I came up with a statement focusing less on who WE are and more on what YOU experience.

IE guests discover the world through small group experiences where they are immersed in the nature and local culture of Earth’s greatest wilderness regions.

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When Charles Darwin visited the Galapagos, he was repulsed by the marine iguanas, famously referring to them in his journal as “imps of darkness.” But these “disgusting, clumsy lizards” were one of the keys that helped Darwin unlock the secrets of his theory of evolution. Galapagos marine iguanas are the only aquatic lizards in the world, and Darwin surmised they were able to adapt their ability to swim and dive for food to suit their habitat.

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Blue-footed boobies may be one of the most popular Galapagos Islands birds, but there are plenty of other exotic avian creatures on the archipelago, like the red-footed booby. This bird is the smallest member of the booby family. If you want to see these birds in their natural habitat, you must travel to outlying Genovesa Island, a highly protected island that is home to a large colony of the red-footed boobies can be found.

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Scientists from the California Academy of Sciences, the Oakland Museum and the National Museum of Natural History recently reported the discovery of a previously undocumented shark species swimming around the waters of the Galapagos Islands. The San Francisco Chronicle reports the researchers actually found and collected a number of these sharks back in 1998, but the process of cataloguing a new species is not a quick one, as everything from ensuring it is actually new to naming it can be time-consuming.

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Many different species of birds are monogamous — they may change partners over the course of their lives, but they're typically faithful. However, according to a new study by researchers from the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center and Columbia University, some birds are prone to infidelity and even "divorce." In fact, the scientist observed a connection between instances of birds being unfaithful to one another and severe weather fluctuations.

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The Galapagos Islands are perhaps best known for their curious and approachable wildlife, but there are 560 native species of plants in the islands—plants which arrived in the islands by natural means. And of these, 180 are endemic to the islands, meaning they are found nowhere else. The islands, formed by volcanoes, have a wide variety of climates and vegetative zones each hosting a unique set of flora and fauna. The desert-like lowland areas between the coasts and the higher-altitude areas are home to the aptly named lava cactus and lava morning glory.

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IE Galapagos Islands cruise guest and journalist Julie Hatfield spent a week exploring the Galapagos and mainland Ecuador with our knowledgeable guides, and was good enough to share her impressions of Santa Cruz Island, the most populated island in the archipelago.

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It’s a highlight of any Galapagos Islands cruise experience — standing just steps from comical male blue-footed boobies as the honk, sway, whistle and dance their way to a mate. But it turns out that dancing ability may not be all it tales to impress a female.

According to a group of Spanish and Mexican researchers, the intense blue hue of the male bird’s feet is actually an external indicator of age and fitness for breeding.

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