Ecuador | Classic Journeys Blog
  • Coastline in Central America

    Top 10 UNESCO World Heritage Sites to Visit in Latin America

    UNESCO World Heritage sites are irreplaceable sources of life and inspiration that represent our legacy from the past, what we live with today and what we pass on to future generations. <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/latin-america-tours/" target="_blank">Latin America</a> contains a wealth of these phenomenal sites, both natural and manmade, that make up our world&#39;s most impressive cultural and natural heritage. The aim is to encourage regions to preserve and protect parts of our history while promoting tourism as a sustainable way to take in the magnificence our world has to offer. To help you get the most out of your next trip to <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/latin-america-tours/" target="_blank">Central or South America</a>, we&#39;ve created a roundup of our top 10 UNESCO World Heritage sites you can&#39;t miss! <br><br><b><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/peru-tours/" target="_blank">#</a></b><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/peru-tours/" target="_blank"><b>1 Machu Picchu, Peru</b></a><br>Perhaps one of the most famous archeological UNESCO sites in the world, <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/peru-tours/" target="_blank">Machu Picchu</a> sits high in the Andes Mountain range surrounded by tropical forests and towering peaks. This pearl of the Incan Empire is a popular tourist destination for a reason. It defies belief with amazing architectural achievements, surrounding natural beauty and spiritual significance. Explore the ancient Incan ruins while breathing in the tremendous isolation and preservation of this incredible ancient kingdom deep in the Peruvian mountains. <br><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/peru-tours/" target="_blank"><img alt="Man taking a picture at Machu Picchu" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002ATY5&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000000f9uV" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br><br><a href="https://Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System, Belize" target="_blank"><b>#2 Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System</b><b>, Belize</b></a><br>Belize&#39;s extensive reef system is considered one of the largest barrier reefs in the northern hemisphere. This impressive coast is home to hundreds of sand cays, mangrove forests, lagoons and several endangered species who call this reef home. During your time here, cruise on a Catamaran, snorkel in the best spots in the reef system, and kayak on turquoise water at <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/belize-guatemala-tours/" target="_blank">Ambergris Caye</a> to fully experience the wonder this UNESCO World Heritage Site has to offer. <br><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/belize-guatemala-tours/" target="_blank"><img alt="Young girl Kayaking in Belize" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002ATY5&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000000f9t8" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/belize-guatemala-tours/" target="_blank"><b>#3 Tikal National Park, Guatemala</b></a><br>Tikal National Park is surrounded by a tropical jungle and is home to the tallest pyramid in the Western Hemisphere that was once one of the most important spiritual sites to the ancient Mayan civilization. The ceremonial center and ruins of <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/belize-guatemala-tours/" target="_blank">Xunantunich</a> display the fascinating and mystifying culture of the Mayan civilization that once called this countryside home from 6th century B.C. to the 10th century A.D. This important reserve also contains unspoiled biological and ecological habitats that will amaze along with impressive wildlife like howler monkeys and colorful birds that can be spotted in the treetops. <br><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/belize-guatemala-tours/" target="_blank"><img alt="Xunantunich ruins, Guatemala" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002ATY5&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000000f9tD" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/chile-atacama-easter-island-walking-tour/" target="_blank"><b>#4 Rapa Nui National Park (Easter Island), Chile</b></a><br>Easter Island, also known as Isla de Pascua or <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/chile-atacama-easter-island-walking-tour/" target="_blank">Rapa Nui</a> by the Spanish and Polynesian is one of the most spectacular and alluring sites on earth. This sacred Polynesian settlement is famous for its enigmatic giant stone figures built centuries ago. These massive &quot;<a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/chile-atacama-easter-island-walking-tour/" target="_blank">Moai</a>&quot; figures are a mystery to historians and remain one of the only links to the ancient culture and tradition embedded in this gorgeous island. Visit Rapa Nui to revel in the park&#39;s beauty and its stone sculptures that act as a testimony to an isolated cultural evolution.<br><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/chile-atacama-easter-island-walking-tour/" target="_blank"><img alt="Easter Island Moais" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002ATY5&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000000f9tI" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br><br><b><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/galapagos-tours/" target="_blank">#5 Galápagos Islands</a></b><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/galapagos-tours/" target="_blank"><b>, Ecuador</b></a><br>The <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/galapagos-tours/" target="_blank">Galápagos Islands</a> are a volcanic archipelago drifting in isolation in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, brimming with incredible wildlife that once inspired Charles Darwin&#39;s theory of evolution. Walking amongst the wildlife and spotting the islands&#39; Big Five (giant land tortoises, sea lions, blue-footed boobies, penguins, and marine iguanas) will delight all visitors and provide a real live exhibition of evolution before your very eyes. This island is one of the last unspoiled places on earth where man has respected the boundaries of mother nature and is a treasure in the middle of the Pacific worth visiting.  <br><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/galapagos-tours/" target="_blank"><img alt="Young boy taking a picture of a seal on a beach" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002ATY5&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000000f9tN" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br><br><b><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/chile/" target="_blank">#6 Los Glaciares National Park</a> (<a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/chile/" target="_blank">Chile </a>&amp; <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/argentina/" target="_blank">Argentina</a>)</b><br>Located in the picturesque region of Patagonia in <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/chile/" target="_blank">Chile </a>&amp; <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/argentina/" target="_blank">Argentina</a>, Los Glaciares National Park is an area of exceptional beauty with rugged mountains, glacial lakes and a variety of stunning natural sites. Hikers flock here to explore the hundreds of trails while others seek silence and solitude among the remote valleys where views stretch for miles.<br><br><b><a href="http://www.classicjourneys.com/chile-solar-eclipse-2020-tour/" target="_blank">Solar Eclipse Sidenote:</a> </b>On December 14, 2020, the day will turn to instant night in one of the few places on land where the total eclipse of the sun will be visible. It is a once-in-a-lifetime sight to see! <a href="http://www.classicjourneys.com/chile-solar-eclipse-2020-tour/" target="_blank">Classic Journeys</a> is offering a special <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/chile-solar-eclipse-2020-tour/" target="_blank">2020 Total Solar Eclipse tour</a> to view this incredible moment while perched atop a Chilean mountainside. <br><br><a href="http://www.classicjourneys.com/chile/" target="_blank"><img alt="Woman near a lake in Patagonia" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002ATY5&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000000f9uQ" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/colombia-cultural-walking-tour/" target="_blank"><b>#7 Town of Cartagena, Columbia</b></a><br>Cartagena is the perfect Caribbean city overflowing with history and enchanting beauty thanks to some of the world&#39;s best-preserved colonial architecture lining the streets. This colorful town is wonderfully walkable and chock-full of cobbled streets draped in bougainvillea where current residents live in close quarters with traditions of the past that linger in this port city. Dominating this UNESCO World Heritage Site is the nearby <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/colombia-cultural-walking-tour/" target="_blank">San Felipe Castle</a>, boasting over 500 years of defending the ancient city from pirates and foreign invasions <br><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/colombia-cultural-walking-tour/" target="_blank"><img alt="Colorful street in Cartagena" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002ATY5&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000000f9tX" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br><br><b><a href="http://www.classicjourneys.com/panama-tours/" target="_blank">#8 La Amistad National Park,</a></b><a href="http://www.classicjourneys.com/panama-tours/" target="_blank"><b> Panama</b></a><br>This massive national park, on the border between Panama and Costa Rica, contains lush tropical rainforests and unique fauna and flora interbred between the biospheres of North and South America. Arguably, one of the best ways to see this biosphere reserve is to walk <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/panama-tours/" target="_blank">El Retoño trail</a> and learn about one of the highest and wildest non-volcanic mountain ranges in Central America. As you explore the lush ecosystem of the park, look up and search for the incredible variety of birds ranging from Quetzals to Tapaculos, and Flycatchers.<br><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/panama-tours/" target="_blank"><img alt="Waterfall in Panama" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002ATY5&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000000f9tc" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/cuba/" target="_blank"><b>#9 Old Havana and its Fortification System, Cuba</b></a><br>Old Havana (<i><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/cuba/" target="_blank">La Habana Vieja</a>) </i>describes the most central and original portion of the Havana, Cuba. This 500-year-old UNESCO World Heritage Site is the original <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/cuba/" target="_blank">heart of Havana</a>, built by the Spanish, burned to the ground by pirates, and is still considered a fine district of baroque and neoclassic buildings with great architectural character you can&#39;t find elsewhere. Explore the <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/cuba/" target="_blank">Plaza de Armas</a>, Castillo del Morro, and Museum of the Revolution to learn more about the rich history and culture of this precious island. <br><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/cuba/" target="_blank"><img alt="Old Havana street and Capitolo" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002ATY5&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000000f9u1" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/cuba-travel/" target="_blank"><b>#10 Viñales</b> <b>Valley, Cuba</b></a><br>With its fertile soil, favorable climate, and wide valleys, this area in western Cuba is known for its tobacco cultivation and high rising cliffs that surround the valley. <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/cuba-travel/" target="_blank">Parque Nacional Viñales</a> is located in the Pinar del Rio province and the dramatic cliffs surrounding the valley hold numerous caves full of dripstone and ancient rock art from past inhabitants. Enjoy the abundance of greenery in this province and learn of the traditional methods of agriculture that have survived here unchanged for several centuries.   <br><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/cuba-travel/" target="_blank"><img alt="Landscape of Viñales Valley" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002ATY5&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000000f9tm" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br><br>If you&#39;re interested in visiting one or more of these iconic locations, check out the different trips offered by <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/latin-america-tours/" target="_blank">Classic Journeys to Central &amp; South America</a> to explore some of the worlds most culturally and naturally stunning UNESCO World Heritage Sites. 

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  • Sea Lions in the Galapagos Islands

    See More When You Travel in Ecuador

    <h2>A new adventure starts at sea level in the Galápagos then soars into the Andes.</h2>   <p>When you <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/ecuador/" target="_blank">travel in Ecuador, be sure to take in everything from the islands to the mainland</a> to see all this amazing place has to offer including the diverse wildlife. In the world of birds, there are no more unlikely cousins than the Andean condor and the blue-footed booby. One surfs towering thermals in South America’s highest mountains. The other <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/galapagos/" target="_blank">dances on Galápagos beaches</a>. A condor is bald, and a booby has electric blue feet. One is a little comical. The other is as stern as a bird can be. About the only thing they really agree on is calling Ecuador home.</p> <p>As the unofficial mascots of the newest Classic Journey, they capture the mind-boggling diversity in culture, environment and history that you encounter when you <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/ecuador/" target="_blank">split your visit between the Galápagos Islands and the Ecuadorian highlands</a>.</p> <p>ISLANDS OF A FEATHER</p> <p>Chances are, you’re acquainted already with the idea of the Galápagos. Marooned on their remote islands, spiny iguanas and giant land tortoises defy time. <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/ecuadorfamily/" target="_blank">Sea-lion pups glide up to us in our snorkel masks</a>, not quite sure just what or who are — but totally unafraid of finding out. There are bays to kayak, lava trails to walk and a coffee plantation where we can always score a sip of something freshly roasted. While cruise ships prowl the coast and stage their daily invasions, <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/hotels/" target="_blank">we settle into boutique hotels with pools and room to knock around</a>. Of an evening, you can walk barefoot into town on streets paved in sand.</p> <p><img alt="Iguana on the beach" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y50000001z7lX&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM500000002oM3" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img><br><br> </p> <h3>FLYING HIGH</h3> <p>But get ready for a real re-boot when you <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/ecuador/" target="_blank">fly back to Quito and head two hours north into the highlands</a>. We base our time here at Hacienda Zuleta, a 4,000-acre working family farm. In a way, the hacienda is an island, too, afloat in a sea of Andean peaks. But the fittest survivors here are direct descendants of a past Ecuadorian president or two. The old family spread, parts of which date back to the 17th century, is as cordial an inn as you could imagine. Sprawling organic gardens feed the workers and guests. A 300-cow herd supplies a creamery with all the butterfat it needs to create great cheeses.</p> <p>Life here is rooted in human history, traced back through the Spanish conquistadores, the Incas and even earlier pre-Columbian people. Oblivious to the wars and crumbling civilizations below, Andean condors soared over them all. They are too rare these days, but the hacienda’s Condor Huasi Project fights for their preservation. On foot or horseback, we follow a trail up a valley lined with steep slopes and semi-tropical rainforest to <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/ecuador/" target="_blank">reach one of the only places in the Andes where you can see these great birds today</a>.</p> <p>Other symbols of Ecuadorian culture thrive. Take the Otavalo Market. It’s an organized riot of ancient crafts with beadwork and textiles, as well as produce, fish and great baskets of quinoa. The local currency is now the U.S. dollar, but everything else about the scene is utterly Andean: the women in embroidered blouses with their heads wrapped in <i>fachalinas</i>, the suckling pigs with roasted smiles, the mix of ancient languages.</p> <p>Even if the people and places of Ecuador aren’t exactly birds of a feather that is fine by us. <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/ecuador/" target="_blank">Nothing beats a week of travel in Ecuador</a> that lets us do a deep dive into natural history and get a taste of high-altitude Andean culture — all inside the borders of a single country.</p> <br> 

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  • Blue footed Boobie, Galapagos Islands

    If You Want to See the Real Galápagos, Here are 5 Reasons to Skip the Ship

    <p>When my family and I go on vacation, we really don&#39;t like to sit through PowerPoint Presentations. A friend who cruised in the Galápagos recently sent me a photo that shows the naturalist briefing on their ship – and it looked like a cross between a school lecture and a business meeting. It’s not wrong or bad. But if I’m close enough to a blue-footed boobie to hear it, I’d rather not be looking at pictures of it on a TV screen instead! And I’m sure I don’t need to tell you how kids and teenagers feel about vacations that feel like thinly disguised school courses.</p> <p>I love to compare that pic to the photo below that we’ve taken on our <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/galapagos-tours/" target="_blank">Galápagos tours</a>. They show our head guide, Alfredo, who is a very knowledgeable naturalist. He’s with Classic Journeys’ guests 24/7 from seashore to the edge of a volcano. His up-close on-the-ground commentary about the flora and fauna is exactly what you hope for when you visit a place this different and exotic. We have him to ourselves for the whole week. (And there are only 10 or so of us vs. the 40-50 people in that cruise ship lounge.)</p> <p><img alt="Naturalist guide Alfredo leading tour in Galapagos" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y50000001z7lc&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM500000002lpf" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img><br> </p> <p>It’s just one of the top reasons why an island-based exploration <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/galapagos-tours/" target="_blank">Galápagos</a> tour is a completely different animal (pardon the pun) to a Galápagos cruise. Here are the other five top reasons:</p> <h3>1. <b>LUXURY BOUTIQUE HOTELS BEAT SHIP CABINS</b></h3> <p>A flock of great new hotels – small, eco-sensitive and very, very comfortable – have opened recently in the Galápagos, and we stay in them. You’ll see some photos below. They have pools. They are in terrific waterfront locations. And most of all, they have elbowroom. At the end of the day, you go for a walk on a beach or on the sand streets of a nearby town. On a ship, you can only make circuits on the deck. We just feel like staying in hotels allows us to be ourselves and spend our down time the way we want to without being hemmed in. Don’t get us wrong: the companies that send cruises to the <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/galapagos-tours/" target="_blank">Galápagos</a> are fine. But by definition, they force you to be a day-tripper. You see the islands, but you’re not a part of them the way you can be when you’re based on shore.</p> <p><img alt="Hotel room in Galapagos" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y50000001z7lc&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM500000002lpk" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img><img alt="Hotel pool in Galapagos" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y50000001z7lc&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM500000002lpp" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img><br> </p> <h3>2. <b>YOUR OPTIONS ARE WIDE OPEN </b></h3> <p>What if you want to shop in town, your spouse wants to have a massage, and your friends prefer a walk on the beach? On a ship, the answer is easy. Only the massage is possible, because with the fixed schedule of the boat, you’re not permitted to stay in town or linger on a beach for a walk; the zodiacs have all returned to the boat so that it can get under way toward the next port of call. This means that your ability to customize a trip to your own preferences is nil. In contrast, on a Classic Journeys <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/galapagos-tours/" target="_blank">Galápagos</a><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/galapagos-tours/" target="_blank"> tour</a>, based on the islands in boutique hotels. During the day, the trips are loaded with a range of activities from snorkeling to mountain biking, lounging by the beach to hanging out with giant land tortoises. On many days, we offer simultaneous alternatives.  </p> <p><img alt="Kids snorkeling in the Galapagos" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y50000001z7lc&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM500000002lpu" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></p> <p><br>One night, our group of nine went in nearly as many directions. My wife and a friend walked the white sand beach that stretched for miles with no other people on it, a friend and his son threw a ball to one another, one guest had a massage at the hotel, two others went out with a guide to try their hand at surfing, another curled up with a glass of wine in an overstuffed chair and read a book on her iPad, and another followed a boardwalk path behind the hotel into national parkland shooting photos of the iguanas who cross from the wetlands to the beach. The result was greater than the sum of its parts, as everyone returned to the hotel for dinner invigorated and with stories to tell of their alone time.</p> <h3>3.<b> YOU GET TO SPEND TIME IN THE CULTURE </b></h3> <p>On a cruise ship trip to the islands, you’d be forgiven for thinking this place is about nothing but wildlife. But heck, people live here too. A luxury when staying on the islands is time to get deeper into the landscape. The highlands are often the most interesting and least explored part of the islands. It takes a little longer to get up into the highlands, and so a landing party from a ship will often miss these great opportunities.<br>  <img alt="Guests at a Galapagos plantation" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y50000001z7lc&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM500000002lpz" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img><br> </p> <p>We, on the other hand, have time to visit a local family on their plantation called Hacienda ‘El Café Trapiche.” We spend time with them and the workers to learn about growing coffee, sugar cane and fruits. The volcanic soil is fantastic for agriculture of all kinds, and it’s very interesting to get a feel for what it’s like to live and work in a place where you’re so extremely out-numbered by the wildlife! Meanwhile, back at the hotels, we’re easy walks to shops and cafes and the like. Back on the ship, you’d be eating meals based on recipes from the U.S. or Europe. On the island, you can try the local specialties like ceviche, made by local hands to order for us.</p> <h3>4. <b>YOU CAN WATCH SUNSET WITH THE SEA LIONS</b></h3> <p>4:30 pm on the island brought two startling contrasts. On the one hand, Zodiacs full of passengers buzzed out of the harbor to return to their ships. Their day of exploring was over. But on the beach near our hotel our group was returning on foot from a walk to see frigate birds and snorkel in the lagoon where Charles Darwin first landed in the <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/galapagos-tours/" target="_blank">Galápagos</a>.</p> <p><img alt="Sea lion at sunset" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y50000001z7lc&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM500000002lq4" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img><br><br>Crossing the white sand (now turning purple and orange with the late afternoon light), we came across a colony of female sea lions, many with pups at their sides. A lone male called out to any other male in the area that this was his harem. Our group stopped, laid down on the sand, and spent the next 90 minutes at the same eye-level perspective as the mothers and babies. Since they have no natural predators, they weren’t spooked by our presence and we could crawl right up to them. It was unplanned, it was wonderful, and it took the kind of time and patience that no cruise ship guide can afford to give you.<br><br> </p> <h3>5. <b>NINE IS GREATER THAN 105</b></h3> <p>Our final day found us on our way to see the giant land tortoises on Santa Cruz Island. They’re amazing, weighing upwards of 500 pounds, living 150+ years and walking 5km or so each day in search of their favorite food. Our destination was the national park and the watering hole where the tortoises socialize and keep cool. Our guide Alfredo let us know that it would be about an hour walk each way, and we’d see tortoises along the way and an incredible number of them once at the muddy gathering spot. (See my blog about &quot;<a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/galapagos-tours/" target="_blank">vadering</a>&quot; to read more about the sounds they make.)</p> <p><img alt="Guest posting with tortoise" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y50000001z7lc&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM500000002lq9" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img><br><br>As we were driving along a country road in our 20-seat minibus, we came across three 45-seat blue behemoths. I asked Alfredo what they were and where they were going. He answered that they were from one of the famed expedition cruise ships and they were going to see the tortoises too. Each was filled with 35 people, making a total of 105 passengers in the three buses. Panicked, I imagined our little group of nine guests plus two guides being overrun by a heard of cruise passengers piling off the buses and scaring the tortoises into their shells. </p> <p><br>“Not to worry,” said Alfredo. “They’re not going where we are. They go into a private farm where they only need to walk 10 minutes to a watering hole and where they have facilities for large-scale tourism.”</p> <p>We finished our incredible visit to the watering hole in the national park, and saw dozens of tortoises enjoying themselves in the mud and flowery algae. About five other explorers shared the experience.</p>

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