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NATURAL HISTORY ADVENTURE
ORGANIZER: D. BRUCE MEANS, Ph.D.

1313 N. Milton St., Tallahassee, Florida 32303
phone: 850-681-6208; Fax: 850-681-6123;
e-mail: means@bio.fsu.edu

WHEN Next natural history adventure trip being planned for summer (June/July) 2001, although for any group of 15 I can arrange a trip any time of the year.

ITINERARY 15 days, round-trip from Tallahassee. See schedule below.

COST Hold onto your hat: $3395!! [Cost in 1998] Includes nearly everything: air fares, boat fare, meals, transfers (buses, taxis, horseback), hotels, Galapagos National Park entry fee ($100)--except the following: one meal each of two nights in Guayaquil; Ecuador departure tax ($25); soft drinks and alcoholic beverages in excess of those which are provided; and souvenirs.

Ever dream about escaping your normal routine...running off to desert islands in a tropical sea? Now's your chance! Come go with me to the GALAPAGOS ISLANDS. We will spend 13 days and nights leisurely touring the largest dozen of the nearly 60 islands lying 580 miles west of South America in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Astride the equator, but bathed in the cool waters of the Antarctic Current, these paradise islands, once under the British flag and now belonging to Ecuador, were made forever famous in Charles Darwin's classic treatise, On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection. It was in the Galapagos Islands where Darwin began to develop his ideas on evolution. Come and see with me the animals and plants that demonstrate the effects of natural selection: Darwin's finches, giant Galapagos tortoises, marine and land iguanas, flightless cormorant, Galapagos penguin, lava lizards, scalesia plants, Galapagos sea lions, and many more. We will live on a comfortable 48-ft yacht while we tour the islands, exploring on foot different islands each day. Walk to see giant tortoises in the center of Isla San Cristobal. Climb into the cloud forest of Isla Santa Cruz and see the rare daisy trees. Ride horseback along the rim of the world's third largest caldera, Volcan Sierra Negra, to its smoking fumaroles and recent lava flows. Snorkel in the blue Pacific and view the wonders of tropical undersea life, cavorting side by side with Galapagos sea lions and penguins. And the animals...oh, the animals. Not only are most of them found nowhere else in the world, but their behavior is exceptional--they are tame! You can photograph oceanic birds, land birds, sea lions, tortoises, marine iguanas, and even white-tipped sharks--right in their unblinking faces. This trip not only will be the highlight of the natural history adventures in your life, but it is exceedingly romantic. Accompaniment by spouses and/or lovers is highly recommended. If you are single, watch out!

FANTASTIC GALAPAGOS NATURAL HISTORY ADVENTURE

TENTATIVE TRAVEL SCHEDULE*

Day 1: Fly from Tallahassee to Guayaquil, Ecuador. Overnight in Hotel Alexander.
Day 2
:
Fly from Guayaquil to Baltra, board yacht, claim a berth, visit Las Bachas.
Day 3
:
Isla Genovesa (Tower Island); Darwin Bay (snorkeling**)
Day 4
:
Isla Bartolome; Isla San Salvador: Sullivan Bay lava flows (snorkeling); Sombrero Chino (night snorkeling)
Day 5
:
Isla Rabida flamingo lagoon; Isla San Salvador: James Bay (Sugar Loaf & Salt volcanos, fur seal grottos, snorkeling)
Day 6
:
Isla Fernandina, Punta Espinosa; Isla Isabela: Urvina Bay
Day 7:
Elizabeth Bay (snorkeling); Punta Moreno and circumnavigation of south end of Isabela
Day 8
:
Isla Isabela: Villamil; horseback up 5000-ft Volcan Sierra Negra to V. Chico
Day 9
:
Isla Santa Cruz: Puerto Ayora; Charles Darwin Research Station; highlands
Day 10
:
Isla Floreana: Post Office Bay; Punta Cormoran; Devilís Crown (snorkeling)
Day 11
:
Isla Española (Hood): Punta Suarez and Bahia Gardner (snorkeling)
Day 12
:
Isla San Cristobal (Chatham): Highlands tortoise colony; Kicker Rock
Day 13
:
Isla Santa Fe; Isla Plaza Sur (snorkeling)
Day 14
:
Caleta Tortuga Negra (optional Daphne Major), Baltra; fly to Guayaquil; overnight in Gran Hotel Guayaquil
Day 15
:
Fly Guayaquil to Miami; Miami to Tallahassee

* The chronological order of the stops may be switched around because of weather and ocean currents.

** Depending upon the demand of the participants, snorkeling can be done on most days AND, for the first time ever on my trips, I can arrange optional SCUBA dives on days 9-14 for an additional cost.

PAYMENTS Travel to the Galapagos in may be heavy so that it is necessary to book the boats and flights far in advance. Please pay 50% ($1645) 90 days in advance, and the balance (minus deposit) by two weeks before departure. Send a $200 deposit per person now to hold your place.

ABOUT THE LEADER Dr. Bruce Means is Executive Director of the Coastal Plains Institute, a nonprofit organization dedicated to conserving the rich biodiversity and elevating public awareness and appreciation of the vast Coastal Plain of the southeastern United States. He is also Adjunct Professor of Biological Science at Florida State University where he teaches courses on the ecology of upland, wetland, and coastal environments of the southeastern United States through FSUís Center for Professional Development. He also has taught courses on vertebrate biology, ichthyology, mammalogy, herpetology, general biology, tropical ecology and conservation biology. His research includes a wide variety of topics ranging from fire ecology, biogeography, conservation, endangered species, and the evolution and natural history of amphibians and reptiles. Supported by graduate and post-doctoral fellowships from Tall Timbers Research Station near Tallahassee, Florida from 1970-1976, he served as its Director from 1978-1984. He has organized and led groups on natural history tours of Costa Rica (1987), Jamaica (1984), the Amazon (1988), Cusco/Machu Picchu (1988), Mt. Roraima in Venezuela (1991), the Galapagos Islands (1989, Ď90, Ď91, '97), Australia (1991), and Belize (1996). In 1989 he was appointed a Research Associate of the Smithsonian Institution. His present ecological research includes the peninsula effect in Florida and Australia; the role of fire and other physical variables in structuring vegetation and driving biotic diversity; the effects of fluctuating water levels on physical and biological properties of the shorelines of lakes and rivers; autecology of the eastern diamondback rattlesnake supported by National Geographic Society; and evolution of salamanders, kingsnakes, and blind cave crayfish. From 1998 to the present, he has been associate producer of documentary films for National Geographic Explorer (King Rattler; Quest for the Rainbow Serpent). He has traveled extensively in South America, Central America, Australia, Africa, and North America. Dr. Means is intimately familiar with the geology, climate, animals, plants, their evolution, and ecology of the Galapagos Islands, and will be your chief naturalist guide during the trip.

 

GALAPAGOS TRAVEL NECESSITIES AND INFORMATION Note: This is the list I use for my own preparations; modify it as you wish for your own use.

  • a passport is mandatory
  • yellow fever shot is optional; have your tetanus checked; no malaria pills necessary; check with the Leon County Health Department well in advance for the latest health up-date on travel to the Galapagos Islands.
  • Items to bring on Galapagos trip:
  • walking shorts (2 pr)
  • lightweight pants (2 pr long-legged)
  • cloth belt to hold up pants (cloth breathes in the heat)
  • lightweight long-sleeved shirts (2)
  • tee-shirts (2)
  • sweatshirt or light jacket
  • 1 pr thongs, river sandals, or deck shoes
  • hat or scarf for head
  • sunglasses
  • sunscreen--#15 or better grade, 12+ oz bottle
  • camera, lenses
  • film (at least 1 roll per day; ASA 25, 50, 64, 100) [I use Velvia Professional Grade ASA 50]
  • toilet paper - 1 roll in day pack
  • good flashlight w/extra batteries
  • dry bags for film
  • snorkel, mask, fins, wet bag for them
  • wet suit for snorkeling (nearly every day if you wish)
  • swim suit
  • bath towel
  • Zip-loc bags for loose items and to keep things dry
  • rain poncho in day pack
  • water bottle - quart or liter sized for day walks (boat provides water & other liquids)
  • Dramamine or other seasickness medicine
  • personal medicine (for diarrhea, headaches, etc.)
  • bath soap and/or soap to hand-wash clothes on boat
  • toilet items: toothbrush & paste, comb
  • a laundry bag or smaller cloth satchel for dirty clothes
  • a day pack or fanny pack for day hikes on islands
  • a backpack capable of carrying 40 lbs. [NOTE: this should be your luggage. A soft backpack stores better on a boat, and can serve on overnight hikes.]
  • TRAVEL ADVICE AND MISCELLANY

  • Drinking water and food in the hotels and on board the yachts is safe. If you have an exceptionally sensitive stomach, bottled water, beer, and soft drinks are available on board for purchase. Someone will be present to advise you about hygiene at all times.
  • On board the yacht and in the Galapagos Islands in general, theft is virtually non-existent. On the mainland, however, you must be watchful of your belongings at all times. Walking the streets of Guayaquil alone is not safe. After dark it is safest in a group with several others.
  • Nothing is to be removed from the Galapagos Islands. Take no rocks, plants, animals, sea shells--only your fond memories and photographic impressions. Leave only your foot prints and good will.
  • Cholera is not now a serious threat to tourists in the Galapagos. On board our yacht, every effort is made in maintaining the highest levels of sanitation and hygiene both on board as well as in the preparation of your food and liquids.
  • CANCELLATIONS AND REFUNDS Please note: The cost of the boats we will be using is a flat rate based upon 8 persons per boat whether 8 people show or not. If you cancel late and we are unable to find a replacement for you, the full charge would come out of my pocket if I did not have the following cancellation policy:

  • As always a Total refund if a replacement can be found for you, by me or by you.
  • Your $200 deposit will be refunded if you cancel before a given date.
  • If no replacement after a given date, $1800 forfeited because of package costs for boat & plane fares.
  • Statement of Disclosure: D. Bruce Means and/or his agents assume no responsibility or liability in connection with the service of any train, vessel, carriage, aircraft, motor, boat, or other conveyance which may be used wholly or in part, in the performance of their duty to the passengers; neither will they be responsible for any act, error, or omission, or for any injury, loss, accident, delay or irregularity which may be occasioned by reason of any defect in any vehicle, or through neglect or default of any company or person engaged in conveying the passenger; or for any hotel proprietor, or for any other person, engaged in carrying out the purpose for which tickets or coupons are issued. In the event it becomes necessary or advisable for the comfort of the travelers, or for any reason whatsoever, to alter the itinerary or arrangements, such alterations may be made without penalty to the tour operators. Additional expenses, if any, shall be borne by the passengers. The right is reserved to withdraw any or all tours should conditions warrant, also to decline to accept or retain a passenger as a member of the tour. In such instances, full or equitable amount will be refunded, but this amount shall not exceed the amount paid by the passenger(s). No refund can be made for any feature of the program not used by the passenger during the operation of the tour. The sole responsibility of any airline used in these tours is limited to that set out in the passenger contract evidenced by the ticket. Airlines and other carriers are not responsible for any act, omission, or event during the time the passengers are not on board their planes or conveyances. Similar responsibility as noted above applies to all types of carriers, including car rental companies.

D. Bruce Means, Ph.D.,   Research Ecologist, Author, Consultant
© 2013 D. Bruce Means