Masked Booby, Galapagos Islands

How long should I spend in the Galapagos islands?

One of the first questions travellers ask us when planning a trip to Galapagos is how much time they need to visit the islands.

My usual response is to first ask, how much time do you have?

Then, what are your reasons for visiting the Galapagos islands?

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JetBlue launches flights to Quito

JetBlue – Direct from the U.S. to Quito

US airline JetBlue is now bringing its award-winning service and competitive prices to Quito, Ecuador.

On February 25, JetBlue joined the stable of several U.S. airlines that offers flights to Quito, the first UNESCO World Heritage Site and repeatedly ranked by the World Travel Awards as one of the world’s best destinations.

The daily flights are aboard an Airbus A320 aircraft. JetBlue offers its highly ranked service, including free snacks, soft drinks and new film releases from Hollywood, and plenty of legroom.

According to Dave Clark, Vice President of Network Planning for JetBlue, one reason for the company’s expansion to Quito is that it “is one of the fastest growing destinations in Latin America and a world-class tourism destination.” He adds, “Whether travelers are coming from South Florida, the northeast or the west coast, it’s never been easier to visit Ecuador’s historic capital city.”

This is also an important development in Ecuador’s focus on the growing U.S. tourism market, the country’s second largest for three years in a row. Between January and October 2015, over 218,000 U.S. tourists arrived to know Ecuador’s rich natural and cultural heritage.

Jet Blue flies out of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, with connecting flights to over 30 U.S. cities, including Los Angeles, San Francisco, Boston, Philadelphia, Washington, Newark and Chicago.

It is the only airline flying direct between Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport and Quito’s Mariscal Sucre International Airport.

Ecuador is the 22nd country JetBlue serves. This airline extensively flies to the Caribbean and Latin America. JetBlue is considered the number one carrier in Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic.

For 11 consecutive years, Jet Blue has earned the top overall score – beating out even the large commercial airlines – in the J.D. Power North American Satisfaction Study, a survey that ranks airline customers’ experiences.

Will the new JetBlue flights make it easier for you to visit the Galapagos islands? Let us know in the comments below.

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Photo credit: JetBlue

Lonesome George - Galapagos Travel Planner

The Top 5 Reasons to Visit the Galapagos Islands in 2016

Have you been putting off going to the Galapagos Islands? Why not come in 2016? Between natural phenomenon and the on-going efforts of humans on the islands, you’ll have the jump on new experiences the Enchanted Isles offer.

Here are five reasons to visit the Galapagos in 2016:

1. Great Snorkeling

Because of the above-average water temperatures that the El Niño phenomenon has brought to the Galapagos, waters will be clearer. That means that snorkeling at Concha Perla (Isabela Island), Barrington Bay (Santa Fe Island) and other famous spots will be fantastic! But be aware that the El Niño phenomenon is forecast to end mid-2016.

2. Effects of El Niño

You can observe the impacts El Niño has on the Galapagos Islands’ flora and fauna, for better and worse. Because of increased rainfall, the landscape will be much greener and plants like Scalesia will be in full bloom. Birdwatchers will have better chances of spotting Darwin Finches, the elusive Galapagos Hawk and other terrestrial aves. Giant tortoises, land iguanas and the islands’ other reptiles also thrive. But due to warmer water temperatures, food is scarcer for marine iguanas, sea lions, and penguins and other sea birds – and their populations are hit with starvation.

3. Effects of La Niña

La Niña is the exact opposite of El Niño. Cold currents bathe the Galapagos archipelago, bringing cooler temperatures and drought. The nutrient-rich waters are a virtual banquet for sea lions, marine iguanas and seabirds. This will help these populations to rebound after the El Niño event. On the other hand, land wildlife will find their food supplies low. The Climate Prediction Center of the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) predicts there is a 50% chance of a La Niña event developing by the end of 2016.

4. New Breeding Center on Santa Cruz

Exciting changes are occurring at the Galapagos National Park breeding center in Puerto Ayora (Santa Cruz Island). There are new trails and exhibits. Older residents are being repatriated to their home islands. This is to make room for the new phase of the breeding program: an effort to bring back the extinct Floreana and Pinta Island giant tortoises. Hybrids of these two species were found on Wolf Volcano (Isabela Island), and scientists hope to be able to revive their gene pools. This historic effort is being sponsored by the Galapagos Conservancy.

5. Return of Lonesome George

These renovations at the Santa Cruz breeding center give us our fifth – and most exciting reason – to come to the Galapagos Islands in 2016. A new home for Galapagos’ most famous resident, Lonesome George, is being built. Since his death in 2012, George has been in the US undergoing extensive preservation and being the star at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. This year, however, he will return to his beloved Galapagos, once his exhibit hall – with state-of-the-art climate controls – is completed and approved. Stay tuned for more developments on this exciting homecoming!

So – are you still thinking about putting off your trip to the Galapagos Islands? This will be a banner year to experience the magic of these Isles.


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Photo credit: Arturo de Frias Marques