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May 1, 2024

9:12 pm

Adam Walter

https://cheesemans.com/blog/discovering-paradise-a-journey-through-the-enchanted-galapagos-islands

Discovering Paradise:
A Journey Through the Enchanted Galápagos Islands

Galapagos Islands
May 6 to 24, 2023 | June 3 to 21, 2023

Discovering Paradise:
A Journey Through the Enchanted Galápagos Islands

Welcome aboard for this detailed account of our spectacular May and June 2023 Galápagos Islands voyages. Each journey, unique in its encounters and experiences, offered our adventurers unparalleled insights into the rich biodiversity and dynamic ecosystems of this volcanic archipelago. From up close wildlife interactions to dramatic volcanic landscapes, these trips encapsulated the essence of exploration and discovery.

May 6 to 24, 2023 Trip

Day 1 – Arrive in Quito, Ecuador

Our travelers were warmly welcomed upon arrival in Quito by our local representatives. After settling into the hotel, they had the evening to relax and prepare for the adventure that lay ahead.

Day 2 – From the Andes to the Cloud Forest

The day began with a scenic early morning drive to Yanacocha Reserve, known for its rich birdlife. After a wonderful breakfast, the group made their way along the vibrant Old Nono-Mindo Ecoroute. The highlight was witnessing the colorful displays at the Andean cock-of-the-rock lek.

Day 3 – Birdwatching Extravaganza

The morning was dedicated to bird watching around Bellavista, where numerous hummingbirds and other colorful species were observed. After a relaxing lunch the group returned to Quito to prepare for their early flight to the Galapagos.

“Juan led the trip beautifully, providing many activity options for every day. Snorkeling, hiking, Zodiac and ship cruising, and kayaking all offered at the most strategic time of the day.” -Debbie Thompson

Day 4 – Arrival in the Galápagos

Excitement builds as everyone arrives in the Enchanted Islands and settles in on board the Samba. No time is wasted and the group has their first landing on the pristine Mosquera Islet, enjoying their first encounters with sea lions and sally lightfoot crabs on sandy beaches. The day ends as they cruise towards Genovesa Island.

Day 5 to Day 17 – Galápagos Archipelago Exploration

The voyage made landings at various islands including the wildlife-rich shores of Isla Fernandina, the historic sites of Isla Floreana, the picturesque Isla Santiago, and many others. Each location offered unique experiences from snorkeling in biodiverse waters to observing rare bird species during walks onshore or while kayaking along the coastline.

“The snorkeling on this trip blew my mind.” -Steve Thompson

“Encounters with wildlife both on land and in sea, opportunities for fantastic pictures.” -Donna Fernandez

Tour Group© Steve Thompson
Tour Group
© Steve Thompson

Day 18 – Departure from Galápagos

A final exploration of Isla Seymour Norte allowed for unforgettable encounters with nesting birds and frigatebirds displaying their red throat pouches. The afternoon was spent traveling back to Quito.

“We learned so much about the Galapagos – it was like taking a condensed course at a university. Juan knows so much about the wildlife, plants, geology, and ecology of the islands, and explained it all so well.” -Debbie Thompson

Day 19 – Homeward Bound

After a final night in Quito, our guests departed for home, carrying with them memories of a lifetime.

June 3 to 21, 2023 Trip

Day 1 – Arrival and Welcome in Quito

Similar to the May group, travelers arrived in Quito and were greeted by our team. The evening offered a chance to unwind and anticipate the exciting days ahead.

Day 2 to Day 3 – From Andes to Bird Sanctuaries

The journey starts with a trip from Quito descending into the lush cloud forests. Highlights include the vibrant Yanacocha Reserve and the Old Nono-Mindo Ecoroute, culminating in a visit to the Andean cock-of-the-rock lek, where the colorful mating displays are a sight to behold. The next morning was focused on bird and nature walks around Bellavista lodge before enjoying an Ecuadorian lunch. From there the group returned to Qutio to prepare for their flight to the Islands.

Day 4 – Embarking on the Galápagos Adventure

After early morning travels, the group is happy to touch down in the Galapagos and set sail.

Day 5 – Exploring Isla Genovesa

The first full day in the islands is spent at Isla Genovesa, entering the caldera of Darwin Bay and ascending Prince Philip’s Steps to find thriving colonies of red-footed and Nazca boobies, along with the elusive short-eared owl.

“Our Naturalist, Juan, is what made the trip so good. His knowledge, enthusiasm, and engagement with the environment were outstanding. I can imagine a trip without this knowledge and experience being far less compelling.” -Deanna Marsh

Day 6 – Snorkeling at Isla Marchena

Isla Marchena offers snorkeling in crystal-clear waters among tropical fish, rays, and coral formations—a rare experience in the Galápagos, enhanced by the potential sighting of whales in one of the region’s most cetacean-rich areas.

Dolphins© Chris Desborough
Dolphins
© Chris Desborough

Day 7 & 8 – Isla Isabela’s Riches

The journey continues with stops at Punta Albermarle and Punta Vicente Roca on Isla Isabela, featuring interactions with flightless cormorants and other marine life. A visit to Fernandina showcases vast colonies of marine iguanas and other endemic species in pristine settings.

“This trip was amazing, primarily due to the expertise and tireless efforts of Juan. He was backed up by proficient and professional crew. ” -Franc Gorenc

The Samba © Jonathan Mash
The Samba
© Jonathan Mash
Marine Iguanas© Chris Desborough
Marine Iguanas
© Chris Desborough

Day 9 – Mangrove Cruising at Isla Isabela

Elizabeth Bay’s mangroves offer serene encounters with penguins and playful sea lions, while Punta Moreno provides stark volcanic landscapes with life-sustaining lagoons scattered about.

Day 10 – History and Snorkeling at Isla Floreana

Visitors explore the human history and natural beauty of Floreana, including a visit to the Post Office Bay and snorkeling at Devil’s Crown.

Day 11 – Endemic Wildlife at Isla Santa Cruz

The day begins in Santa Cruz’s highlands, searching for island endemics in the lush Scalesia forest and viewing giant tortoises, followed by a visit to the Charles Darwin Research Station to learn about conservation efforts.

Day 12 – Birdwatching at Isla Española

A morning at Punta Suárez offers encounters with the famed waved albatross and other seabirds, while the afternoon relaxes at the stunning Gardner Bay, known for its friendly sea lions and snorkeling opportunities.

Day 13 – Geological Wonders of Isla San Cristóbal

Adventures at Punta Pitt and Isla Lobos feature diverse geological formations and vibrant marine life, perfect for hiking and snorkeling.

Day 14 – The Biodiversity of Santa Fé and South Plaza

Visits to Santa Fé and South Plaza highlight the adaptive prowess of island species, from land iguanas to cactus finches, set against a backdrop of dramatic landscapes.

Day 15 – Iconic Scenes at Sombrero Chino and Isla Bartolomé

The surreal landscapes of Sombrero Chino Islet and the iconic Pinnacle Rock at Bartolomé provide unforgettable vistas, concluding with snorkeling among penguins and tropical fish.

Day 16 – Farewell to the Islands

The final days are spent visiting the rich environments of Santiago and Rábida, offering last moments with the archipelago’s varied wildlife and landscapes before the return to Quito.

Day 17 – Last Impressions and Departure

The final day in the islands was spent at Isla Seymour Norte, engaging with the diverse birdlife and marine iguanas before flying back to Quito.

“It was an absolutely fantastic trip and without a doubt one of the best I have ever been on. Juan and the crew were excellent. Jaun’s knowledge is incredible, and the four excursions per day were tremendous and also kept of any potential for weight gain even with the masses of excellent food we were continually served lol. I cannot say enough about how fantastic a trip this was.” -Chris Desborough

Day 18 – Return Journey

With spirits high and cameras full, the travelers made their way back home, enriched by the extraordinary natural wonders of the Galápagos.

Looking Ahead: July 2025 Galapagos Islands Trips

Inspired by these stories? Visit our website to learn more about how you can join one of our future expeditions and experience the magic of the Galápagos Islands firsthand.

Book your choice of Galapagos trip in 2025!

Whether you’re a photography enthusiast aiming to capture the vibrant wildlife and unique landscapes of the islands, a nature lover intrigued by the diverse ecosystems of the Galápagos, or an adventurer eager to explore one of the most extraordinary biodiversity hotspots on the planet, our Galápagos expedition offers an unmatched experience.

Don’t miss the opportunity to be part of this remarkable adventure. Join us as we voyage to the enchanted Galápagos Islands and experience the wonder of this unparalleled natural paradise together.

Join the Adventure:
Book Now for 2025



April 15, 2024

5:45 pm

Adam Walter

https://cheesemans.com/blog/svalbard-islands-a-polar-expedition-like-no-other

Svalbard Islands:
A Polar Expedition Like No Other

Svalbard
June 29 to July 12, 2023 | July 9 to 22, 2023

Svalbard Islands:
A Polar Expedition Like No Other

From June 29 to July 12, 2023 and July 9 to 22, 2023, two groups of Cheesemans’ Ecology travelers embarked on expeditions to become Arctic explorers of the Svalbard Archipelago. Nestled between Norway and the North Pole, this pristine wilderness served as our playground for two weeks at a time under the enchanting glow of the midnight sun. Join us as we recount the highlights and unforgettable experiences of our Arctic journey in the realm of the polar bear, complete with testimonials from our travelers that bring the adventure and unforgettable wildlife encounters vividly to life.

Day 1 – Arrival in Longyearbyen, Svalbard

Our adventure began in Longyearbyen, the largest settlement on the Svalbard Archipelago. This quaint Scandinavian town, set against the stark beauty of the Arctic, welcomes with its unique charm and the day was spent exploring local attractions, last minute shopping, and soaking in the breathtaking landscapes that beckoned our further exploration by ship the next two weeks.

Day 2 – Embarking on Our Arctic Voyage

Embarkation day! We boarded our vessel, set to navigate through the icy realms of the Arctic. The excitement was palpable as we embarked from Longyearbyen, ready to explore the vast fjords and rugged wilderness awaiting us.

“It was a trip of a lifetime! This is my third and best Cheesemans’ trip. I didn’t think Antarctica could be topped but this was even better, probably because of the smaller group of travelers. We had nice cabins, a great crew, and two knowledgeable, friendly and fun guides. Most days were sunny. Wildlife was plentiful and the scenery was breathtaking. -Lynn DuPratt

“We experienced everything we hoped to with the added benefit of Cheesemans’ expert guides.” -Lori & Richard Rothstein

Days 3-9 – Highlights of the Expedition

Throughout our voyage, we immersed ourselves in the unparalleled beauty of the Svalbard Archipelago. Here are a few standout moments:

Wildlife Encounters: Our primary goal was to spot the mythical polar bear in its natural habitat. With 24 hours of daylight, each day offered endless opportunities to witness these majestic creatures, as well as other iconic Arctic wildlife like walruses and various whale species.

Zodiac Cruises: Small, agile Zodiac boats allowed us to approach the base of massive glaciers and navigate close to the nesting sites of seabird colonies. These excursions provided us with up-close experiences of the archipelago’s rich birdlife and stunning ice formations.

Photography Workshops: Under the guidance of Scott Davis, our group enhanced their photography skills, capturing the ethereal beauty of the Arctic landscape and its inhabitants. These workshops were a highlight for many, offering professional tips and techniques for wildlife and landscape photography.

Exploring Remote Inlets: The flexibility of our small group and the maneuverability of our ship allowed us to enter narrow inlets and straits, exploring areas that larger vessels could not reach. This access to untouched parts of the archipelago made our expedition truly special.

“Close interactions with polar bears, arctic foxes, and ice cruising were among the most unforgettable experiences.” -James Horsch

“Following an arctic fox along the shore for some 45 minutes was an absolute thrill.” -Stephen Tauber

Day 10 – Disembarkation and Reflections

As our journey neared its end, we disembarked in Longyearbyen. The last day was spent reflecting on our experiences and sharing stories of the incredible sights and encounters. The sense of camaraderie among the group was strong, forged through shared adventure and awe-inspiring moments.

“First rate from the office (Lauren), to our guides, to the crew aboard the ship. A seamless and wonderful experience from start to finish.” -Tom & Lindsay Bell

“You have great guides…  and small trip experience is priceless” -Mary Ann Fernandez and Richard Pierce

“Magnificently operated; great ship crew; congenial group that was a pleasure to travel with. Great attention to detail, superb leadership.” -Stephen Tauber

“Your scale is too small. This trip was WAY more than ‘very good.’ In fact this was the most remarkable trip experience of my life!!” -Robyn Carmel

“Traveling with Cheesemans’ means you’ll have access to remote and incredible places with the added comfort of being in expert hands.” -Lori & Richard Rothstein

Looking Ahead: July 2025 Svalbard Expedition

Inspired by the success of our 2023 expedition, we are excited to announce our next journey to the Svalbard Islands in July 2025. This upcoming trip promises more breathtaking encounters with Arctic wildlife, stunning landscapes, and the serene beauty of the polar night.

Sign up now to secure your spot for an unforgettable Arctic adventure in 2025!

Whether you’re a photography enthusiast eager to capture the stark beauty of the ice, a wildlife lover fascinated by Arctic fauna, or an adventurer seeking to explore one of the planet’s most pristine environments, the Svalbard expedition offers an unrivaled experience.

Don’t miss the chance to be part of this extraordinary adventure. Join us as we return to the realm of the polar bear and experience the magic of the Arctic together.

Book Your Journey for July 2025!

Join the Adventure:
Book Now for 2025