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Giant Tortoises in Pond with Bay in Distance, Ecuador
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ECUADOR TRAVEL GUIDE:
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Visit the Galapagos IslandsTake a trip to the fascinating Galapagos Islands off Ecuadorís coast
The Galapagos Islands are a UNESCO World Heritage site, situated in the Pacific Ocean around 1,000 km off the Ecuadorian coast. The archipelago of islands and the surrounding huge marine reserve has been dubbed a unique "living museum and showcase of evolutionĒ ... read more 

Birds of Galapagos Islands
Ecuador, a Paradise for the lovers of Photography
Galapagos Tours - 5 Mistakes To Avoid
Major Tourist Attractions of Guayaquil in Ecuador
Tourists' delight Quito Ecuador travel
Up close and personal: best wildlife holidays

Ecuador, a Paradise for the lovers of Photography   by Hugo Sandoval

I am a hardened photographer and I have more than 15 years in this area and I want to tell you that visiting Ecuador in South America, was a wonderful experience, mainly because I had the aid of GRAY LINE TOURS and because I could take the necessary time to admire and to photograph its Four Regions, and is that Ecuador, in spite of being a relatively small country, with a 98,985 Mi2 of territory, it has "Four Worlds" clearly marked, for delight of its visitors: Ecuadorian Coast, Ecuadorian Highlands, Amazonian Jungle and the Galapagos Islands.
I had the opportunity to photograph great part of those Four Worlds and is why I want to share with you my experience.

I initiated my trip by Ecuadorian Coast, in city of Guayaquil - Ecuador, where is one of two international airports that this beautiful country has, and I had the opportunity to take one of the Tours of Gray Line Tours, in which I could appreciate and photograph this beautiful and great city, that is second in importance of all Ecuador.

Because Ecuador co pretty by the West with the Pacific Ocean, has a large extension of beautiful beaches in which I could catch with my lens a numberless of beach landscapes with impressive views of sea, rocks, vegetation, animals, people and sunsets worthy of the paradise. Also I can say to you that, in the zone of the Ecuadorian Coast, not only exist beaches like tourist attraction, also we can found in this one zone several cities and towns full of spectacular colorful and traditions and with the aid of the Ecuador Tours that Gray Line Tours offered to me, I could photograph each detail of these wonderful destinies.

Cathedral of Cuenca Looking Next to Parque Calderon, Cuenca, Azuay, Ecuador
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In the same way, I could photograph a lot of Ecuadorian history, since the Ecuadorian coasts, are rich in cultural treasures since on its lived, among other cultures, the Indigenous Culture of Valdivia, very important for the Formative Period of Ecuador, therefore we found many museums in which we can observe vestiges of this culture, mainly of the "Venus de Valdivia", who are a representation of a woman, her activities and live cycles, as well as several types of ceramics and rest leaved by these cultures.
Dream Catchers for Sale at the Poncho Plaza Market, Otavalo, Ecuador
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As I had the opportunity to travel in the month of August, I take a tour to the Plata Island, that is located 2 hours in boat from the continent, and in the way I could capture, in my lens of course, some Humpback Whale, that jumped one and once again of the water, filling us of emotion to all of that we were in the boat. When we arrived at the Plata Island, my admiration did not finish, be cause I could appreciate many species of birds, that I thought only I will going to find days later of my trip, when I should arrive at the Galapagos Islands.

I continued my trip by the Ecuadorian Highlands, arriving at the other one International Airport of Ecuador, in the city of Quito - Ecuador, the Capital and more important city of Ecuador, located to a 9,300 Ft. above the sea level and near to the Middle of the World (length 0º), place where the planet Earth is divided in two equal parts by the Equatorial Line, for that reason when I arrived, I asked for my kindly guide of Gray Line Tours make a City Tour & Equatorial Monument, one of products of Ecuador Tours that offer Gray Line Tours and with which I could know why, UNESCO named to Quito - Ecuador and its Historic colonial downtown like Human Cultural Heritage, I almost could say that I photographed each centimeter of this Cultural Heritage as well as the Famous Middle of the World city and its monument.


In the central part of the Ecuadorian Territory and crossed by the Mountain range of the Andes, we found the most beautiful mountainous places, full of culture and tradition, Archaeological Ruins, like the Incaís Ruins of Ingapirca (Incaís Ruins, second in importance of the entire world), big lagoons, some of them within old extinct volcano craters, volcanoes, snow-covered mountains, majestic mountains, colorful cities and populations, landscapes that I was capturing one by one with my camera, in the day, in the afternoon, or in the night, I never let to be admire myself with the spectacle of this particular beauty.

Among other cities of importance, we found the third city more important of the Ecuadorian Territory, the city of Cuenca - Ecuador, Also we found the population of Riobamba - Ecuador, well-known by its famous " Devilís Nose Train ", Otavalo - Ecuador and its Indigenous Market, etc. All of them constitute a gold mine for the photographers like me, cannot maintain the finger taken off from the shutter of the camera.
After my stay in the Ecuadorian Highlands, I continued my trip towards the Amazon Jungle is one of the tourists most desired destinies, for the who enjoy of the adventure and the old cultures, to completely far away of the comforts and the noise of the great cities. For the lovers of the green tonalities, let me tell you that here you can find thousands of these tonalities, from the darkest green, to clearest and pale ones. 

Beautiful landscapes of a pure and virgin forest or borders of rivers, that in their majority are affluent of the Great Amazonas River, spectacular photos of black water rivers and its igapos, where inhabit piranhas, pink dolphins, Caymans, boas, anacondas, etc and its sunsets with the sun being reflected in their waters, photos which I am sure will astonish to all that could see them, and donít by my photographic abilities, but rather by the images shaped in them and the facility that I had to catch them, I am sure that any person without experience in the photography could catch photos better than any expert, by the landscaping that this jungle displays to us.

A Bull Sea Lion in Gardiner Bay, Isla Espanola, Galapagos, Ecuador
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Before finalizing my trip to this wonderful country and with the aid of Gray Line Tours and its Ecuador Tours, I could know another one, according to UNESCO, Biosphere Natural Heritage, like are the Galapagos Islands and is that speaking of the Galapagos Islands, it is to speak of another completely different world, where you can photograph Marine Wolves, Iguanas, Boobies, Penguins, etc, to few meters of distance, you could even touch them, but that it is not allowed of course.

Each one of the islands and their submarine territory, has a flora and a different fauna, which makes a paradise for the lovers of the photography and mainly for the open waters divers like me, since, if they have luck will be able to dive and to photograph the greatest Shark of the world, the Whale Shark, that is very difficult to see in other places, also I had the opportunity to photograph a large number of hammer sharks, rays eagle, morays, dolphins, tropical fishes, etc, etc.

At least, to speak of Ecuador and its Four Regions, is to speak of a country incredibly rich landscapingly speaking, that complemented with their biodiversity, habitats, human heat, etc, make it perfect for the photography and the tourism.

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About the Author: Hugo Sandoval is chief editor of Grayline Ecuador. If you are planning to visit Ecuador please visit www.graylineecuador.com

Birds of Galapagos Islands   by Todd Sarouhan

Galapagos Birds

Located some 1000 km from the coast of Ecuador, the Galapagos Islands are a fascinating group of tiny islands to explore. Pristine and remote, these islands are perfect for nature lovers who get to see some of the most rare and endangered wildlife species on the planet, roam free and unafraid amidst the rugged volcanic landscape here. The wildlife in the Galapagos is indeed unique as most of the animals here wander without fear even around human visitors because of the lack of natural predators.
Red and Green Macaw, Amazon, Ecuador
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Birds are the most common residents of the Galapagos, with over 58 species of birds found here. While 28 of the Galapagos' birds are endemic, the other 30 are migratory species that visit the islands at different times during the year. If you are an avid bird enthusiast, or enjoy bird watching then the Galapagos Islands is a great place to come and see birds fly uninhibited in their natural habitat. If you are a keen observer, you can note up 40 bird species as you tour the Galapagos.

Galapagos Birds - Sea 

A wide variety of sea birds can be found in the Galapagos Islands, the most magnificent of which is the Waved Albatross. The largest bird in the archipelago, the waved albatross has a wingspan of 2.4 meters. A joy to watch while it is flying, the courtship of this bird is also something special.

The Flightless Cormorant is endemic to the Galapagos Islands and is the only flightless seabird in the world. Found on Islas Isabel and Fernandina, these birds have small wings and strong powerful legs.


Boobies are the most common birds in the Galapagos though they are not endemic to these islands. The blue footed booby, the red footed booby and the masked booby can all be seen on Isla San Cristobel.
The Magnificent Frigatebird and the Great Frigatebird are a treat to watch with their incredible acrobatic flying. With their huge wingspan, both these birds can be easily spotted by their red skin that hangs under their necks.

The Galapagos penguins are the only equatorial penguins in the world. As you dive and snorkel near Islas Fernandina and Isabel, you can spot them gracefully swimming buy. Some other popular sea birds in the Galapagos are the red-billed tropicbird, the swallow-tailed gull, the lava gull, the brown pelican, Audubon's shearwater and storm petrels.

Galapagos Birds - Wetlands

The Great Blue Heron is the largest heron in the Galapagos. You can spot this huge bird on almost all of the Galapagos Islands. The lava heron is the only endemic bird of this species in the Galapagos and can usually be spotted hunting along the lava shorelines. 

The Great Blue-Footed Booby (Sula Neboxuii), Galapagos, Ecuador
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Flamingoes, American oystercatchers, stilts and sandpipers are some of the other common wetland birds found here.

Galapagos Birds - Land 

The most famous land birds in the Galapagos have to be Darwin's finches. With 13 species, these finches are credited to have helped Darwin formulate his theory of evolution. The Galapagos hawk is another endemic land bird. Extremely fearless, unfortunately this hawk is now an endangered species, with just a few hundred remaining in the wild.

The Galapagos Flycatcher, the barn owl, the Galapagos mockingbirds and the dark-billed cuckoo are some other well known land birds in the Galapagos.

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About the Author: Visit GoVisitGalapagos.com to get further comprehensive information on the incredible Galapagos Islands. Aimed at providing tourists with the very best and most accurate travel details, GoVisitGalapagos.com lets you see all that the Galapagos has to offer. 
Galapagos Tours - 5 Mistakes To Avoid

If you're thinking about visiting the Galapagos Islands, you're in for a treat. Made famous by Charles Darwin's voyage on the Beagle in the 19th century, the Islands lie 972 km west of mainland Ecuador in the Pacific Ocean. Undiscovered by mankind until relatively recently, you'll see a fantastic range of flora and fauna in ecosystems that exist nowhere else on the planet. 
However there are a couple of pitfalls to travelling to the Galapagos Islands and also while you are on your stay. Here are five things you are best avoiding.

1) Missing your plane from Ecuador 
The vast majority of tourists arrive at Galapagos by plane. It is only possible to reach the islands by a flight from mainland Ecuador starting in either Quito or Guayaquil. International flights do not go directly to the Islands. If you are flying, make sure your seat doesn't get given away to someone else by: 

- Checking in more than an hour before take-off

- Planning your international arrival to Ecuador at least a day before your departure flights to the Galapagos to give yourself time between connections (If you miss the start of your cruise there is no way to catch up!)

Southern Royal Albatross (Diomedea Epomophora), Galapagos, Ecuador
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2) Taking a tour with an unqualified guide 
Conservation on the islands is of critical importance, and the best people to maintain standards are the tour guides. They should help keep you on the marked pathways and assist in communicating and enforcing conservation rules. 

Visitors to the Galapagos Islands should be guided at all times by a qualified individual. In your group shouldn't be more that 16 people, to allow good control and guidance of tourists. They should also give you information about general water safety and supervise all swimming and snorkeling.

3) Touching animals 
It's tempting, but visitors should not interact with animals on the Galapagos Islands. The majority of animals on the Galapagos have no reason to fear humans, and consequently will allow visitors to get very close without bolting. 
The Galapagos Tortoise is the Largest Living Tortoise, Galapagos, Ecuador
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However, you should go no closer than within two meters of animals, as in some cases they will follow you, leaving their nests uncovered, exposing eggs or chicks to the sun. Additionally, no animals should be fed or baited on water or land.

4) Introducing new species to the islands 
Introducing any exotic organisms to Galapagos could have a devastating effect on the ecosystems that exist in a state of delicate balance. Any food, animal and vegetable products as well as seeds, plants or fresh flowers should be declared before leaving the airport at Quito or Guayaquil so that a trained inspector can deem if they are safe or not. Any form of live animals are also not allowed. 

The same rules apply for inter-island visits; each island is its own unique ecosystem, so introductions between islands can be just as devastating to the natural process of things as items from the mainland.


5) Lighting fires 
In 1985, Isabel Island suffered severe damage from negligence with smoking and fire lighting. Surprisingly, in 1994, almost a decade later, the same thing happened again. Even though a beach fire seems like the perfect end to a day on an exotic island adventure, visitors should resist the urge to build a camp fire.

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