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Saturday, April 4, 2020

The Galapagos Islands: Traveling to my Dream Destination

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Lisa Ellen Niverhttp://www.wesaidgotravel.com/
Lisa Ellen Niver, M.A. Education, is a science teacher and an award-winning travel expert who has explored 101 countries and six continents. She sailed the seven seas by cruise ship for seven years and backpacked for three years in Asia. Find her talking travel at KTLA TV and in her We Said Go Travel videos with over one million views on her YouTube channel. She is the founder of We Said Go Travel which is read in 213 countries, named #3 on the top 1000 Travel Blog and the top female travel blogger 3 times in 2019. She has hosted Facebook Live for USA Today 10best, is verified on Twitter and has over 160,000 followers across social media. Niver is a judge for the Gracies Awards for the Alliance of Women in Media and also ran fifteen travel competitions publishing over 2500 writers and photographers from 75 countries on her own site, We Said Go Travel. Niver won a 2019 NAEJ (National Arts and Entertainment Journalism) award for one of her KTLA TV segments in December 2019 and was a finalist for articles published in both Ms. Magazine and Wharton Magazine. Niver won a Southern California Journalism Award for her print story for the Jewish Journal and has been nominated as a finalist for five other broadcast television segments, print and digital articles over the last three years. Niver has written for AARP, American Airways, Delta Sky, En Route (Air Canada), Hemispheres (United Airlines), Jewish Journal, Luxury Magazine, Ms. Magazine, Myanmar Times, National Geographic, POPSUGAR, Robb Report, Saturday Evening Post, Scuba Diver Life, Sierra Club, Ski Utah, Smithsonian, TODAY, Trivago, USA Today 10best, Wharton Magazine and Yahoo. She is writing a book, “Brave Rebel: 50 Scary Challenges Before 50,” about her most recent travels and challenges. Look for her underwater SCUBA diving, in her art studio making ceramics or helping people find their next dream trip.

In December 2019, I traveled to one of the most magical places on our planet, the Galapagos Island. This archipelago of 22 islands is on the Equator in the eastern Pacific. 150 years ago, Charles Darwin traveled here and the area’s endemic species inspired his scientific discoveries about the Theory of Natural Selection and Evolution.

Visiting the Giant Tortoise on Santa Cruz Island from Ecoventura’s Theory

I have always wanted to see the finches which are named after Darwin, the blue footed boobies and the creatures on land and in the water. Did you know that the Galapagos Islands were the first site declared as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) in 1978?

How can you travel here and be close to the animals without harming them or this pristine environment? I sailed on Ecoventura’s Theory which is named after Charles Darwin’s Theory of Evolution and embarked on its maiden voyage March 3, 2019. This brand new mega-yacht has reduced fossil fuel consumption by more than 30% relative to their earlier fleet. It is carbon neutral and there are many sustainable features – each guest has their own reusable water bottles to fill at the filtered water station in the restaurant, there are ecological toilets and an advanced water treatment plan that prevents untreated greywater or blackwater from being disposed into the ocean.

The ten spacious and well designed cabins have large, three-panel panoramic windows, comfortable king beds although you can have two twin beds and there are rooms for three as well as connecting rooms if you are traveling with family. Each cabin has a private bathroom with a rainfall shower, hairdryers, plush towels, and eco-friendly biodegradable soaps and shampoos.

As there are two well trained naturalist guides on board, Origin & Theory by Ecoventura offers the most favorable naturalist-to-passenger ratio of ships in Galapagos with a maximum of 10 guests per guide. Origin & Theory also has the highest passenger-to-crew ratio with 14 crew-members for a maximum of 20 passengers on any sailing.

I sailed on the 7 night itinerary “A” BEACHES & BAYS which is the South/Central route. You can combine A & B and sail for two weeks to include the North/West as well. Each day we had morning and afternoon activities including snorkeling, hiking and kayaking, although on some days we had three or four amazing adventures on the islands with sea lions, penguins and tortoises.

Sailing with Origin & Theory by Ecoventura is truly a luxury experience and it is part of the Relais & Châteaux collection that includes over 550 of the finest luxury hotels and gourmet restaurants in more than 60 countries.

What will you find on Theory? We loved Christina, our full-time concierge, who made sure everything happened perfectly. There is a fitness center but after all of the hiking, snorkeling and kayaking, I only went in there to take a photo of it! Everyone on my trip loved the sundeck with loungers and daybeds for two where we enjoyed afternoon drinks, some of our meals and, of course, the Jacuzzi. Chef Estuardo prepared superb meals including fresh fish, Ecuadorian cuisine and also offered vegetarian and gluten-free meals. They were amenable to managing everyone’s food preferences and sensitivities.

I will share my photos and videos with you in this and the next few posts! I hope you get to experience the magic of the Galapagos Islands on-board the beautiful Theory!

1 Explore the Galapagos on THEORY with Ecoventura and Lisa Niver Dec 2019

Is it your bucket list dream to see the blue footed and the red footed boobies in the Galapagos islands? I am here on Ecoventura’s Theory to see all of the amazing animals in the Galapagos Islands! I cannot wait to show you everything we are going to see!

Watch all of my videos to see kayaking with flamingos, snorkeling with penguins, sharks and sea lions as well as sting rays and sea turtles, mating giant tortoises, sunsets, hiking among land and marine iguanas and 5-course exceptional meals with new friends. You can relax in luxury on this eco-friendly Relais and Chateaux Mega-Yacht. Captain John and his crew took care of all the 16 passengers on board and he even made time to go snorkeling with us one day!

2 Welcome Aboard Ecoventura’s Theory, San Cristobal, Galapagos Dec 8 2019

This week I will be traveling aboard Ecoventura’s Theory in the Galapagos Islands. I flew from Los Angeles to Miami to Guayquil to San Cristobal where I was met by our amazing naturalist guides, Peter Freire and Billy Maquilon. Our yacht family of sixteen total guests (the mega-yacht can hold 20 in the 10 cabins) was transferred from the airport on a short bus ride and zodiac to our home, Theory.

After a buffet lunch, we had a safety drill and went on our first excursion to the highlands. We walked up to see El Junco Lake which is the only sizable fresh water lake in the Galapagos. El Junco is the caldera of an extinct volcano.

At the pier, we saw sea lions, sally lightfoot crabs and marine iguanas. We traveled on the pangas (zodiac tender boats) back to Theory. We had cocktails, our daily evening briefing about the plan for the following day and dinner with our new friends. Each day breakfast and lunch is a buffet, but dinner is a multi-course extravaganza with wine.

I am so excited to be in the Galapagos Islands exploring with Ecoventura.

3 Join me in the Galapagos on Ecoventura at Cerro Brujo and Punta Pitt, San Cristobal Island Dec 9 2019

For our first full day, we discovered like Darwin on San Cristobal Island at Cerro Brujo and Punta Pitt.

After breakfast we tried on our snorkel gear and wetsuits. We took a panga or zodiac ride to Cerro Brujo or Wizard Hill and wandered among many sea lions nursing their pups. We also saw Sally lightfoot crabs which are black as juveniles and bright orange as adults. There were marine iguanas on the black rocks. The blue footed boobies were dive-bombing into the water for fish. We tried out our wetsuits from the ship and snorkeled from the beach. We saw sea lions swimming, sting rays and many colorful fish. I loved our boat ride through the arch and to see the Cathedral, which is also called Darwin’s Pants.

After lunch onboard, I went to visit Captain Jhon on the bridge. Theory has an open bridge policy and you are welcome to stop by to say hello and learn more about the yacht.

Our afternoon hike was at Punta Pitt, one of the only places where you can see red footed and blue footed boobies. We watched juvenile blue footed boobies on the ground and red footed boobies up in a tree. We also saw sea lions frolicking on the beach!

We watched sunset and it was like a painting of red, yellow and gold on the sky! Our multi-course dinner was filled with fantastic food and conversation about our incredible day!

Read Part 2 and Part 3 of Traveling in the Galapagos to see all of our adventures! Click here to see all of my Galapagos videos NOW!

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