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Monday, January 18, 2010

Explore Galápagos Islands with National Geographic and Lindblad Expeditions


Lindblad Expeditions, in partnership with National Geographic, offers an expedition to the Galápagos Islands that is a Readers' Choice Nominee for Best Luxury Family Winter Vacation.

Lindblad Expeditions offers this educational 10 day expedition to the Galápagos Islands, also known as the "Land of Darwin", which are located 600 miles off the coast of Ecuador. The islands are a natural habitat for some of the world's most interesting and unusual animals. Only in the Galápagos can you come face to face with wildlife up close that has never developed a fear of people, from the diverse bird life to the giant Galápagos tortoise. The Galápagos are one of the most fascinating travel destinations in the world both from a geographical and a wildlife perspective.

The itinerary includes visits to seven or more islands, including Floreana where guests can snorkel and observe a large colony of sea lions. At Fernandina, guests will see flamingos, visit a tortoise breeding center, caves and beaches. On the excursion to Fernandina Island, the youngest island in Galápagos, guests will observe marine iguanas and see dramatic volcanoes.

Activities include Zodiacs and kayaks that take guests to the volcanic shores and pristine beaches. There's also an undersea program that utilizes underwater video, glass-bottom boat and hydrophone that bring seldom seen or heard worlds to life.

Lindblad Expeditions keeps two ships permanently in the islands: the National Geographic Endeavour, which is a 96-passenger ship and the National Geographic Islander, a 164-foot twin-hulled vessel that can accommodate 48 guests (and reach places inaccessible to larger ships due to its small size). Both ships makes 48 expeditions to the Galápagos each year.

Lindblad Expeditions also offers a 16 day long cruise to Galápagos that includes a visit by land to Peru. Guests will be taken to Lima, the ancient Incan capital of Cusco and Machu Picchu.

The cruises are known for excellent service and knowledgeable staff. Every expedition to the Galápagos is led by a team of five English-speaking naturalists (including an underwater specialist), a videographer, and an expedition leader. Together, they provide a multitude of resources for a rich and unmatched understanding of all that you'll see.

While the cruise is priced as a luxury vacation, don't expect the kind of nightly entertainment you might expect aboard a luxury Caribbean cruise. One guest summed it up this way: "People might wear their wealth with jewels on another luxury vacation, but on a National Geographic/Lindblad cruise, guests are more apt to show off their intellect."

Rates for a double occupancy cabin on the National Geographic Endeavour range from $4,980 (for a standard cabin with two single beds) to $8,040 (for a suite with separate sleeping and sitting areas, including a sofa to accommodate a third person). Included in the cost of the cruise are all meals and nonalcoholic beverages aboard ship and on land, service charges, taxes, shore excursions, sightseeing, entrance fees, special access permits, transfers to and from group flights, use of snorkeling equipment, use of kayaks and shorty wet suits. The ships are fully air-conditioned and has a spa, sauna, fitness center, a small swimming pool, library and full-service bar. There's also a ship physician on most voyages. The prime months to vacation at the equator are January through May.

Vote now for what you believe is the best of breed for each of the Winter Travel categories. Readers' Choice Awards for the Best in Winter Travel will be announced on January 31st.

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