Scheduling a Galapagos trip Takes Considerable Lead Time

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The increasing popularity of travel to the Galapagos Islands, along with the Ecuadorian government's growing concern over tourism sustainability, have combined to make early booking a must for visitors. For the 2006 year-end holiday period- the most popular time to visit the Galapagos- most cruise ships and land-based lodgings are fully booked, and 2007 reservations are already filling quickly.

The increasing popularity of travel to the Galapagos Islands, along with the Ecuadorian government's growing concern over tourism sustainability, have combined to make early booking a must for visitors. For the 2006 year-end holiday period- the most popular time to visit the Galapagos- most cruise ships and land-based lodgings are fully booked, and 2007 reservations are already filling quickly.

"Most people planning a Galapagos vacation are shocked to learn how far in advance such a trip must be booked," said Justin Laycob, president of Southern Explorations, a U.S.-based adventure tour operator specializing in trips to South and Central America. "We have assigned one employee in our Quito office to handle nothing but cruise ship negotiations so we can grab slots as soon as they become available. Each year, we reserve as much space as we can during the holidays," he added.

The National Park Service controls human activity in the Galapagos Islands according to the needs of wildlife rather than visitor demand. Fewer than 100 tourist boats are allowed to operate in the Islands each year. Certified guides must accompany most tours, and the number of visitors allowed at different locations is limited by the site's vulnerability. These important regulations minimize the economic impact to the Islands' fragile areas. By selecting a different time of year to travel to the Galapagos, visitors need not plan so far in advance and will have more lodging and tour itinerary options.

December 2007 space is still available for Southern Explorations' popular 9-day multi-sport tour, the most active way to experience the Galapagos Islands, combining Galapagos hiking, ocean kayaking and horseback riding. Two new cruise options have also been added for 2007, the Sky Dancer and Mary Anne. More information about many Galapagos cruises and land-based tours is available on the company's website, http://www.southernexplorations.com.

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