Exploring the Enchanted Islands

Posted March 31st, 2014 by Molly Demmer

Written by Molly Demmer

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Before my September expedition cruise voyage to Ecuador’s Galapagos Islands, my knowledge of Galapagos wildlife amounted to a few nuggets gleaned from a late 1990s science class. Nevertheless, I peppered pre-departure conversations with friends with buzzwords like Darwin, sea lions, The Origin of the Species, giant tortoises and, of course, blue-footed boobies, hoping I’d sound like I knew more than I did. I was curious and excited to learn more, but the adaptations of finches had faded from my memory along with the ability to recite all 72 prepositions or solve for x.

Luckily, I quickly learned that scientific knowledge wasn’t required to embark on the trip. Lindblad’s expert naturalists skillfully wove together stories about the formation and history of the islands that kept my attention in a way that junior high textbooks had failed.

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I didn’t realize how much I was learning while hiking, snorkeling, kayaking or even lounging on the beach, because most of my education came from fascinating firsthand encounters during each day’s numerous activities. The Galapagos penguin’s hollowed individual strands of fur were just a scientific fun fact about adaptation until a black and white blur torpedoed by me as I snorkeled.  Watching a sea lion give birth on the beach as the sun began to set was a profound travel experience and lesson in biology I won’t soon forget. Daily voyages to neighboring islands—featuring everything from pure white sand beaches to rugged coasts of black boulders—cemented my understanding of how wind, ocean currents, soil composition and other elements are constantly shaping the breathtaking scenery which made up my 3200 trip photos.

The trip did much more than feed me biological and geological fun facts, though. I’m an active traveler, and I crave adventure in all shapes and sizes. The Galapagos Islands did not disappoint. We kayaked along shorelines and around islets, pointing out manta rays and gorgeous sea turtles. On a day in Santa Cruz, I opted into the bike ride up to the highlands, flying down some hills and pumping my legs to climb others, passing unimpressed cows and farms in the refreshing ocean air. While snorkeling one afternoon, I locked eyes with a sea lion and experienced a powerful moment of natural connection. The moment itself was fleeting, but it was one of many daily magical encounters in the Enchanted Islands.

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The expedition cruise seamlessly blended education with entertainment, activities with relaxation time, luxury with adventure. In any given day, I could witness the distinct mating rituals of a giant albatross on a refreshing morning hike, sunbathe on a pristine white sand beach in the afternoon and enjoy a champagne toast on the ship at sunset, happily photographing a school of dolphins jumping in the ship’s wake. The itinerary fulfilled my adventurous spirit and engaged my mind as well.

Most importantly, the smiles and friendly greetings of the staff were genuine. The chocolate on my pillow at the end of each night was always welcome, and the travelers around our dinner table each night were engaging and enchanting. The naturalist guides not only led us around islands throughout the day but also pointed out star constellations on the deck at night. We traded stories and shared laughter, and each guest on the ship felt taken care of and valued.

Endemic species, rare animals, exotic birds, welcoming people, stunning views, engaging activities: the Galapagos showcased the best parts of any travel adventure, easily living up to its ambitious moniker “The Enchanted Islands.”

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How to Visit the Galapagos Islands
Our South America specialist, Jennifer Bravo has visited the Galapagos Islands a remarkable ten times, including five times in the past five years. She’s cruised aboard four ships, personally inspected a dozen additional vessels and stayed at several top lodges (including Galapagos Safari Camp) on Santa Cruz, Floreana and Isabela islands. If anyone knows the ins and outs of the Galapagos Islands, it’s Jennifer. Interested in planning a trip with Jennifer? Let us know.

Posted in Ecuador, Galapagos Islands, Latin America, Lindblad Expeditions | No Comments »


Beating the Post Travel Blues

Posted March 26th, 2014 by Molly Demmer

All Great Journeys Must Come to an End

Written by Kim Bercaw for Travel Beyond

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The biggest bummer about traveling is, no matter how many times you give up your plane seat or purposefully miss your connection, eventually you have to come home.

Believe it or not, “Post Travel Depression” (PTD) is a very real affliction, and a majority of travellers experience it to some degree upon hometown re-entry. Consider these Einstein-esque laws of PTD:

  • The longer your trip lasts, the more likely you are to have the blues.
  • Typically, your level of depression is directly proportional to how awesome your trip was.

But, fear not. The tips and tricks below will have you drying your tears in no time.

Pull a Howard Hughes

Go ahead, be a recluse for a day. Sleep in. Don’t answer calls. Avoid email. Most people overlook the post-trip recovery period, but giving yourself some time to regroup is essential.  (Especially when jet lag is involved.) But be sure to limit your “vacation vacation” to 24 hours. Avoiding real life any longer could actually work against you.

Talk it out

Sharing some of your fondest trip memories with others can work wonders in the pick-me-up department. This tactic is even more effective if you commiserate with someone who was on the trip with you. Misery loves company, after all. But if you end up bending the ear of a peer who didn’t just return from a life-changing getaway themselves, you might want to limit yourself 20 minutes of reminiscing, lest they become weary of your fabulousness.

Change your environment

It’s tough to go back to paying bills and doing laundry after you’ve been living the dream in an exotic locale. If your everyday life is looking a little lackluster, switch it up a bit. Re-arrange your home or office furniture. Re-purpose a room. Get rid of some excess stuff.

Tuck into some comfort food

I always like to pick up a cookbook or two when I travel. Once home, I make a meal featuring the flavors of my trip. (Or, if I’m feeling lazy, I seek out a restaurant that prepares the cuisine of the country I just visited.) It’s a great way to show yourself that you can incorporate exciting global elements into your everyday life.

Record your memories

As soon as I clear U.S. customs, making a photo book goes to the top of my “to do” list. Getting the book done while my travels are still fresh in my mind is paramount. These types of books are easy to make online, don’t require a lot of thought to create, and make great coffee table books. The very act of making the book is excellent post-travel therapy. (“Don’t avoid the pain, walk through it.”)

Watch and read

Who says researching your destination has to happen before your trip? Reading stories about places you’ve recently visited is often more enriching than doing so prior to your trip. The same goes for watching movies set in a city or country you recently visited. Mental images and visuals go a long way when it comes to truly appreciating a recent journey.

Carry cash

Most of us have foreign currency left over when we return home. I always keep a few pieces of paper money in my wallet from my latest international trip. Not only does this prompt a happy trip memory or two every time I open my wallet, it also reminds me to save money for my next travel adventure! On that note…

Start planning your next trip

There’s no better remedy for a travel hangover than dreaming about your next adventure. Surf the web, take some notes, pick some dates, or give your travel consultant a call.

Common sense note: While tiredness, loss of appetite and feeling blue are all normal feelings to have when you get back from a trip, be sure to see your doctor if your symptoms become extreme, or interfere with your daily life.

Posted in Travel Planning | No Comments »


Australian Wilderness: Jenny’s Trip Report

Posted February 27th, 2014 by Molly Demmer

Written by Jenny Mikkelson, Vice President of Travel Beyond

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Before my Fall 2013 trip to Australia, the continent was both familiar and foreign to me. I’d planned trips to Australia for years, and I was confident in my knowledge of the more popular Australian circuits. Returning clients always raved about the beauty and excitement of Australia. Yet after spending a month exploring Australia, I realized the continent had so much more to offer to travelers than I previously thought.

During my trip, I visited Australia’s most famous cities, like Sydney, Darwin and Cairns, to experience firsthand some of the “must do” activities. I braved the bridge climb in Sydney, an adrenaline-filled experience to check off the bucket list, and went snorkeling on the Great Barrier Reef. Yet it was the experiences away from the cities that I enjoyed most in my trip to Australia. Like Africa, Australia has incredible, luxury properties in wilderness areas hosting unique wildlife, scenery and attractions.

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In Wolgan Valley, located in the Blue Mountains, I marveled stunning scenery and enjoyed a wildlife safari to see wombats, kangaroos, wallaroos and wallabies in their natural environment.

I swam in a billabong (waterhole) in the oldest rainforest in the world—the Daintree Rainforest—and walked through the forest with a local woman who entertained us with local stories and cultural explanations.

A river cruise to see crocs, stargazing, airboat riding and a game drive were some of my many highlights at a private reserve near Kakadoo National Park.

My first activity on Kangaroo Island included a stop at the beach to see sea lions, reminding me of the Galapagos Islands. I visited an animal rehabilitation center, where I got to feed kangaroos and pet a koala bear. I slept in a gorgeous property on a secluded cliff overlooking a beautiful remote beach, a view that physically took my breath away when I arrived.

These examples are just a few of many incredible memories in Australia. When I returned from my trip, a coworker asked me for my favorite three experiences in Australia, and I couldn’t narrow it down. “Only three?” I asked her. “Can I list five?”

All in all, I found Australia enchanting. The continent has so many unique experiences to offer travelers, from the glamour of Sydney to the relaxing wilderness areas. I’m excited to recommend a walking safari to any adventurous clients who want to sleep out under the stars, and there are many “safari-like” experiences which I look forward to recommending for past clients who have gone on safari in Africa.

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Posted in Australia, Australia & New Zealand, Consultant Blogs | 1 Comment »