Category Archives: Galapagos Islands

VIVA Cover Photo Contests for Ecuador and Peru

Congratulations to Luciano Stabel, winner of our Flickr Cover Photo Contest for Chile! His beautiful photo of Puerto Varas will appear on our premier guidebook to Chile, due out later this year!

Want your photo to appear on the cover of our upcoming guidebooks?

VIVA Travel Guides is happy to announce FOUR upcoming Flickr Cover Photo Contests!! Whether you’re a professional photojournalist, amateur photographer or simply a wanderlusting backpacker with a good eye (and camera), we invite all travelers to submit their photos. Entering is free, and you can submit as many photos as you want!

Winner gets $100 and the coveted cover of the upcoming guidebook!

If your photos doesn’t win, don’t fret: Runners up get their name and photo inside the guidebook itself.

You already show off your amazing travel photos to your friends and family — why not gain a little exposure and help travel guide readers see the beauty of this world? Visit our Flickr Contest Pages below to read contest guidelines.

Ready, Set, Snap!

Upcoming Contests

Galapagos: Cormorant II Sinks

This past weekend the Galapagos luxury yacht Cormorant II (formerly Journey II) sank off the coast of Isabela Island late at night. Fortunately, a park service patrol was nearby and all passengers and crew were saved. According to early reports, the Cormorant II lost power somehow in rough waters. The crew was able to call for help. The ship was heavily damaged in the rough waters and rocks and it is not yet know if some or all of it can be salvaged. If you have booked a cruise on the Cormorant II, please contact your tour agent.

By George! Galápagos Giant May Finally Become a Father

Lonseome George

After nearly a century of life, Lonesome George, the last Galápagos Giant Tortoise of his species, may soon become a daddy.

Last Saturday guards found a friendly surprise upon opening the nest in George’s corral: five laid eggs, in perfect condition. The eggs were immediately measured, weighed, then carefully transferred to the Giant Tortoise Center for Reproduction and Captive Breeding . Now researchers must play nature’s waiting game, as it will take 120 days (November) to find out if the incubated eggs are fertile.

For years scientists have been struggling to get Lonesome George to procreate, after scientists discovered the near-extinction of his species on the Pinta island of the Galapagos islands and brought him into captivity at the Charles Darwin research station in 1972. However, the endangered reptile’s low libido has severely complicated the survival of his species. In efforts to resurrect the Pinta island tortoise, researchers spiced up the solitary George’s living arrangements by giving him new roommates: two female tortoises (given the mundane monikers No. 107 and No. 106).

Although researchers hoped the ménage à tortoise would be a success, the fickle and disinterested George never budged until 2008, when after 36 years of captivity he finally mated with both females; unfortunately, the eggs turned out to be infertile. The newly laid eggs by Female No. 107 have reignited hope in scientists, and although there are no certainties, they are trying to remain optimistic.

Even if the eggs end up infertile, George has mated twice in two years – quite the fertile feat for the old giant. May the reptile revolution persist!

To learn more about the Lonesome George and the plight of his species, visit the Galapagos Conservatory.

Rachel Anderson is a staff writer/editor for VIVA Travel Guides.

British Royals Visit Galapagos

British royal couple, Prince Charles and his wife, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, visited the Galapagos Islands last weekend to help celebrate the 200th anniversary of Charles Darwin’s birth. This also marks the 150th anniversary of Darwin’s controversial book about natural selection and evolution, On the Origin of Species. Ecuador was the last stop on the list of three South American countries the royal couple visited during their ten day tour aimed to bring attention to Prince Charles’ twenty-year long battle against global climate change.
Upon landing in the Ecuadorian capital of Quito, the royal couple was greeted by Vice President Lenin Moreno and Foreign Minister Fander Falconi. This was a much different reception then previous greetings by heads of state Chilean President Michelle Bachelet and Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva during their respective visits. While in Chile, Prince Charles gave an impassioned speech at a dinner party thrown by President Bachelet about sustainable development and the potentially catastrophic effects of climate change. Supporters as well as owners of an organic farm, (Prince Charles’ Highgrove estate in Gloucestershire), the royal couple also toured an organic winery in rural Chile during their short visit.
Next on the itinerary was a visit to the Amazon in Brazil where Prince Charles gave a speech to the top leaders in business about global warning and the devastating effects of deforestation in the rainforest. In his speech, Prince Charles warned that the world had only one-hundred months or less before the impending global climate crisis would become disastrous. Also during his time in Brazil, Prince Charles was awarded the “Friend of the Forest and Climate Award” for his work on bringing awareness to the problem of global warming.
However, not everyone was as pleased with the royal couple’s visit, as one prominent Chilean environmental activist went as far as to call Prince Charles’ visit an “ecological façade.” There has also been criticism in the British Press for the apparent hypocrisy in Prince Charles preaching environmental conservation while using a private jet to fly his small party to South America and subsequently leaving behind a 322 ton carbon footprint. The duplicity does not stop here.
Ecuadorian Vice President Lenin Moreno explained that “Prince Charles was content with the Ecuadorian initiative that promotes a form of environmental conservation, and expressed his hopes that the project becomes reality.” Yet on the mainland, a mere 650 miles away, Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa made the controversial move of closing down Acción Ecológica by withdrawing its legal status. Acción Ecológica is one of South America’s largest environmental groups and the leading group in Ecuador that helps to protect the rainforest as well as indigenous communities against mining and oil exploitation. The government has been accused of shutting down Acción Ecológica in retaliation to the agency’s repeated condemnation of Correa’s use of large scale mining.
It’s unfortunate that during the 200th anniversary of Darwin’s birth, the man nicknamed “eco-prince” chose to focus on British soft diplomacy instead of using his influence to help change the programs, organizations and ideas he claims to support.

-Michelle Lillie

Galapagos Luxury Ship Burns, Sinks

On January 14 the Parranda, a luxury-class Galapagos Islands cruise ship operated by Quasar Nautica, caught fire, burned and sank near Bartolome Island. All 15 passengers and crew were rescued safely by the Coral 1 and the Darwin, two tourism boats that were nearby at the time. A team of park rangers has been sent to the site to investigate possible environmental damage. Early accounts indicate that the Parranda is not salvageable.

Pink Iguanas: A New Old Galapagos Species!

Scientists at the Chartles Darwin Research Station in Galapagos are delighted: a new iguana species has been confirmed! The iguana, a stately pink color with black spots and stripes, was first seen in 1986 but for a long time was assumed to be a subspecies of the Land Iguanas common on several islands. A recent report by researchers at Tor Vergara University in Rome, however, proves that the pink iguanas are a new species, and likely diverged from other iguanas some five million years ago. The population of pink iguanas is small and limited to the slopes of Wolf Volcano on Isabela Island, so conservation efforts are expected to begin soon. Wolf Volcano is not generally visited by anyone except scientists and  park staff, so tourists won’t get  a chance to see them for the time being.  Almost 200 years after Darwin’s famous visit, the Islands still have some surprises!