Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Off We Go Travel Expert Sara Leonard Discusses Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands

Sara Leonard-At the absolute middle of the World-Ecuador
Written by Loraine Alkire

Sara Leonard of Off We Go Travel in Redondo Beach, California has toured the world extensively. LA Hip Chic will be featuring her often with in depth interviews of her many experiences at home and abroad.Here you will learn about all the best places to visit in the world, where to stay, and what to do when you get there. Among other things Sara is a scuba diver with over 500 dives under her weight belt. She's very adventurous and loves to stay at 5 star Hotels.

Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands

The Galapagos Islands are marooned 600 miles west of mainland Ecuador’s Pacific Coast. Made famous by Darwin in his theory of evolution, it remains a volcanic wildlife sanctuary and natural laboratory for biologists and those curious about the world of evolution with its’ rare species of wild life, fauna and flora. It transcends even the most creative of imaginations and is known as the greatest wildlife sanctuary on earth. It is teaming with marine and land creatures that can be found no where else in the world. But if you only visit the Galapagos Islands without seeing the beautiful country of Ecuador and its fascinating people you will be missing an opportunity of a lifetime, according to Travel Expert Sara Leonard.

LaHipChic’s Discussion with Travel Expert Sara Leonard
Galapagos Islands

LaHipChic: What did you like best about touring the Galapagos Islands?

OWGTravel: This destination is great for divers as well as for naturalists. The best way to explore these islands is by boat.Divers will encounter whale sharks, hundreds of hammerhead sharks, seals, dolphins, Galapagos sharks, manta rays and turtles, just to name a few.On the top side, naturalists will come in close contact with marine iguanas, frigate birds, blue footed boobies, hawks, herons, gulls, penguins, tortoises, pink flamingos, sea lions and red sally lightfoot crabs.

LaHipChic: What Hotel/s did you stay at? Were the accommodations what you expected? How would you rate them with one to five stars?

OWGTravel: I was onboard the Galapagos Aggressor II which is a dive boat – 5 stars. The boat has amazing amenities, it’s roomy and the staff including the chef are top notch.

LaHipChic: What one place would you recommend a new visitor see during a visit to the Galapagos Islands?

OWGTravel: Since the government dictates where the vessels go; all the naturalists’ boats pretty much visit the same islands. I liked Bartholomew Island.If you are a diver, only a few dive boats are allowed to travel to Darwin and Wolf Islands. These islands should not be missed.

LaHipChic: What was the most exciting/entertaining thing that happened during your stay?

OWGTravel: On land: Hiring a private guide and visiting the tortoises in the wild.In the water: Swimming with the penguins and diving with the dolphins, whale sharks and thousands of hammerhead sharks.

LaHipChic: Would you go back there again? Would you stay longer next time?

OWGTravel: Of Course. I wish I could stay on the boat longer than 7 nights but the government doesn’t allow it anymore.


LaHipChic: What did you like best about touring Ecuador?

OWGTravel: I was very impressed with the high level of service throughout the country, the great variety of food, and the warmth and hospitality of their people.Even though the dollar is their currency; the prices for food, hotels, tours and shopping were extremely reasonable; even lower than other countries in that region.

LaHipChic: What Hotel/s did you stay at? Were the accommodations what you expected? How would you rate them with one to five stars?

OWGTravel: Quito: Swiss hotel – 5 stars.
I would also recommend as part of my site inspections: JW Marriott, Hilton Colon, and the Radisson. For Quaint B&Bs, I’d recommend, Aliso and Sierra Madre.In the Cotopaxi area I’d recommend Hacienda El Porvenir, 3 stars. In the Otavalo area I’d recommend Hosteria Hacienda Pinsaqui, 4 stars. In the Cuenca area I’d recommend Hotel Carvallo, 4.5 stars.

LaHipChic: What one place would you recommend a new visitor to Ecuador see on their first trip?

OWGTravel: A visit to Ecuador is a must! This country not only offers the Galapagos Archipelago but also the Amazon Rainforest, the Highland Andes with its colonial cities and beautiful beaches.
Here are some things you must do: Visit the Amazon and the beach area. Also visit Quito and surrounding areas where you can take the city tour including a visit to the Middle of the World Museum, shopping at the Otavalo Indian Market and adventure day at the Cotopaxi Active Volcano area. There so many things to do from horseback riding, mountain biking, canopy tours of the Amazon or hiking to the visitor center to see the glacier/lagoon. In Cuenca and the surrounding areas I would highly suggest a Tour of the Panama Hat Factory, hiking the Cajas National Park for the wonderful flora & fauna, a ride on top of a train thru Devil’s Nose and exploring the ruins of Ingapirca.

LaHipChic: What was the most unusual thing that happened during your stay?

OWGTravel: Riding on top of the train while enjoying amazing scenery--al fresco.Watching the local Indians wash/dry their laundry including their bedspreads by the river in the midst of downtown Cuenca.

LaHipChic: Would you go back to Ecuador ? Would you stay longer next time?

OWGTravel: Yes, I would like to explore the other small quaint little towns as well as their Amazon jungle. One of the main draws for me is the warmth of their people.
LaHipchic: Well Ms. Leonard it sounds like you’ve explored the territory well and have found it very favorable indeed. We hope this gives our readers some insight into exploring Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands, including visiting the quaint spots, getting to know the people of Ecuador and trying out fabulous live-a-boards Yachts like the Aggressor II for state of the art luxury while diving.

1 comment:

  1. LaHipChic- This article made USAToday- to see the link add this to a new brower page---


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