Monthly Archives: July 2015

Explore Galapagos in style with Wildfoot Travel

When it comes to Galapagos cruises, Wildfoot Travel sets the standard. We offer a range of packages to those wishing to explore the fascinating Galapagos islands and can cater for those on a budget as well as travellers with more to spend.

Visitors begin their experience at the San Cristobel or Baltra airports after travelling from the Ecuadoran mainland. They then board cruise boats (which can take the form of catamarans, sailing boats or yachts) carrying between 16 and 20 people. National park tour guides offer a valuable insight into the history of the islands, and meals and excursions are available alongside transfers to and from the airport. Visitors can also travel on large luxury vessels that offer a world-class experience.

The islands are heavily associated with Charles Darwin, who discovered wildlife unique to this part of the world before writing his iconic book, The Origin of the Species. The volcanic islands offer lava fields, lagoons, clear blue waters and craters. The islands’ wildlife put them among the nature lovers’ most sought-after regions. Some of the species that you may come in close contact with include sea lions, turtles, iguanas, blue & red footed boobies, frigate birds and reef fish..

Our La Selva Amazon Ecolodge & Spa + Galapagos Luxury Cruise Packageis for you if you wish to explore this magical part of the world in style. You’ll find yourself sailing in luxury onboard Ocean Spray, Cormorant or Petrel for a number of days and nights after unwinding in sumptuous surroundings in the La Selva Amazon Ecolodge and Spa. You will also get the chance to see the Amazon rainforest up close and personal. All transfers are included in the price and you will end your trip by enjoying three nights in an idyllic Quito hotel.

We have unrivalled knowledge of the region and you can get in touch with us at any time if you require any in-depth information on making the most of your adventure. Our relationships with some of the most prominent cruise operators and adventure trip providers in Galapagos and Ecuador have helped us to become one of the leading players in our field.

You can count on Wildfoot Travel to deliver the South American trip of a lifetime, so get in touch with our expert team today to learn more.

So many great reasons to explore Antarctica

For many people, heading out to Antarctica means fulfilling the dream of a lifetime. Antarctic holidays can be the answer if you are interested in taking a trip with a difference that you will never forget. The temperature may be testing, but it’s well worth braving the elements, given the truly magical experience that only a journey to this part of the world can quite provide.

Antarctica is the world’s least explored frontier and is an ideal destination for anyone wishing to take a break in an unspoiled region that offers breathtaking scenery and fascinating wildlife. Antarctica is synonymous with icebergs, whales, penguins and rare birds. Photo opportunities are limitless, and the sunsets are among the most stunning that the globe has to offer.

You will struggle to find a better setting for an adventure than Antarctica. The continent is totally unlike any other and gives you the chance to walk in the footsteps of some of the most iconic explorers in history. Life in Antarctica is completely different from what you may have come to expect from your day-to-day life, which means you really will be able to take a break from the norm when you spend time in this most exceptional and isolated part of the world.

Here at WILDFOOT, we offer cruises to a number of fascinating destinations, including the Falklands, the Antarctic Peninsula, Ross Sea and South-Atlantic islands. We can bring you the expedition that you’ve always wanted, offering guides that know the region inside out whilst keeping you completely safe and introducing you to some of the most interesting species in the world, such as the Rockhopper, Adelie and maybe even, Emperor penguins.

You will also get the chance in Antarctica to see myriad shearwaters, skuas, petrels and many more seabirds. South Georgia offers the biggest concentration of wildlife in the world, including albatross and King Penguins as well as the South Georgia Pipit. You may even encounter the Blue Whale on your travels.

Talk to us today if you’re interested in seeing some of the world’s most talked-about wildlife and engaging in activities such as cross-country skiing, snorkelling, snowshoeing and ice-climbing, on the most remarkable backdrop. We have the knowledge and experience needed to help you plan the perfect expedition to Antarctica.

Sample traditional Inuit culture with Arctic cruises to the Canadian Arctic

What do you know about traditional Inuit culture? Given that the Inuit are thought to currently number only about 118,000 people, and live in Arctic areas that are often difficult to travel to, we shouldn’t be surprised if we learn that your own knowledge of this culture is low.

However, if you do indeed know little about the Inuit people right now, that simply provides you with a great reason to join one of WILDFOOT’s cruises to the Canadian Arctic. Here are several examples of things that you can do there to clue yourself up on a culture that is all too easy to overlook.

Get your head around the Inuktitut language

This is the language in which the Inuit people are traditionally most well-versed, and you can learn about it on your way to the Canadian Arctic – for example, by reading a phrase book. In many cases, you won’t actually need that book after reaching your destination, as everybody there speaks English; however, you can still have fun reading the unique Inuktitut script and seeing the occasional sign in this language.

Feeling hungry? Why not try eating like the Inuit?

There are also opportunities to try traditional Inuit food, such as raw seal meat. Even today, many of the Inuit mainly obtain food by hunting, so you can turn to local hunters to buy the meat of Canadian Arctic animals before cooking it for consumption.

A place to time-travel to thousands of years ago…

Visit Iqaluit, the capital of the Canadian territory of Nunavut, and you can check out Crystal II. This is an Inuit camping ground that dates back thousands of years, making it a fascinating sight for travellers who want to feel transported to a very distant and different time. It continues to be used today, but you are likely to require local help in order to actually find Crystal II.

An ideal museum for just before you return home

While in Iqaluit, you can also see a huge collection of Inuit artefacts and art at the Nunatta Sunakkutaangit Museum. This museum is located in a white and red building on the beach. It’s also the perfect place to fill gaps in whatever knowledge of traditional Inuit culture you have already amassed as a result of any of the Arctic cruises to the Canadian Arctic arranged by WILDFOOT.

Who was Ernest Shackleton and what does he have to do with Antarctica?

After moving to London with his family Shackleton joined the merchant navy and qualified as a master mariner before being chosen to go on an Antarctic expedition aboard the ship ‘Discovery’. The expedition was led by British naval officer Robert Falcon Scott and the team consisted of Scott, Shackleton and English physician Edward Wilson. The expedition was the first official British exploration of the Antarctic regions since James Clark Ross’s voyage sixty years earlier and the voyage became a landmark in British Antarctic exploration history. Unfortunately, as the team trekked towards the South Pole in extremely perilous conditions Shackleton became seriously ill and had to return home. The team eventually managed to get closer to the South Pole than anyone had come before and despite Shackleton’s premature departure from the expedition he gained invaluable experience that would help him in his future forays into this still mysterious land.

It took Shackleton 7 years to return to return to Antarctica, and this time he was to be the leader of his own expedition, the first of 3 expeditions he would lead. The target of this expedition was again to be the first to reach the South Pole and although this wasn’t achieved the team set a new record for coming closer than ever before, along with climbing Mount Erebus and making many important scientific discoveries. The largely underfunded expedition turned Shackleton into a public hero and upon his return to Britain he was knighted by King Edward V11.

The “Shackleton Route”

Within 3 years Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen surpassed Shackleton’s record and reached the South Pole, consequently leading to Shackleton deciding to focus on crossing Antarctica from sea to sea, via the pole, a voyage which is still taken to this day as part of Antarctica cruises aboard luxurious expedition ships that Shackleton would have barely believed possible. This desire to follow this route led to the often fabled and renowned “Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition” which set off in 1914 and ended in disaster when Shackleton’s ship “Endurance” became trapped in pack ice and was slowly crushed. The crew managed to escape by camping on the sea ice until it disintegrated, before setting off on 3 small lifeboats, eventually reaching Elephant Island. From here Shackleton gathered 5 of his team members and set off to find help. In one small boat the 6 men spent 16 days crossing 1,300 km of ocean to reach South Georgia and then trekked across the island to a whaling station where Shackleton was able to arrange the safe rescue of every member of his team.

Although beaten to the record of being the first expedition to reach the South Pole his legacy has gone down in folklore and cemented Shackleton as a symbol of true leadership – a man who kept his team together in a survival story which can only be described as remarkable.

Shackleton route expeditions are now incredibly popular. These luxurious voyages illuminate Shackleton’s legend and recount these courageous explorations of Antarctica.

In 1921 Shackleton returned to the Antarctic for what would be his final time. On January 5 1922, while his ship was moored in South Georgia, Shackleton suffered a fatal heart attack. At the bequest of his wife he was buried on South Georgia and his final resting place has become a particularly poignant point of call for today’s Antarctic visitors who come to pay tribute to the man who loved Antarctica as much as Antarctica now loves him.

Contact Wildfoot for more information on Shackleton Route cruises.

Summer Land Based Arctic Adventures – Season End Approaching

Although at WILDFOOT our main focus has traditionally been towards luxury cruising through some of the world’s most enthralling destinations, you may not realise that we also have a large portfolio of thrilling land based adventures that offer just as much excitement as you would find on a cruise voyage.

For many people a luxury Arctic cruise is the perfect way to see this incredible part of the world in total relaxation but for others a cruise does not quite fit the bill, be it the fear of sea sickness or the desire to be more “out in the open” with the Arctic wilderness. That’s why we have put together some genuinely awe-inspiring land based Arctic trips for those looking for an even more authentic Arctic experience.

Our most popular location for Arctic land based trips is Spitsbergen in the Svalbard archipelago, a pure white Arctic wilderness which is easily accessible from Europe and the rest of the world. Located approximately midway between mainland Norway and the North Pole, Spitsbergen is teeming with an abundance of Arctic wildlife including Polar Bears, flora and fauna and stunning glaciers and fjords. Being the only permanently populated island in the Archipelago also means that it is a thriving area for Arctic adventures catered to a wide range of people – from those who simply want to “see it” to those who really want to immerse themselves into the wilderness.

From Huskies to Wilderness Hotel Luxury

From 3 hour trips to 5 day all-encompassing adventures there is something to suit every desire and budget.

For example if you are already in Spitsbergen or Svalbard and you fancy setting off into the wilderness for a few hours we would recommend this thrilling Spitsbergen dog sledding trip where you get to man your own team of Alaskan huskies who will take you on the journey of a lifetime.

Alternatively, if you want an adventure that will last a bit longer why not try this thrilling 4 day Spitsbergen Ice Blue Paddling Kayaking Trip where you will kayak through the icy Arctic waters in search of adventure, encountering a plethora of Arctic wildlife and stunning landscapes along the way. Visit intriguing towns such the ghost town of Pyramiden and finish off each day with beautiful meals in the fantastic Nordenskiöld Lodge, Spitsbergen’s northernmost hotel which offers a true Arctic experience.

If you’re looking for a touch of luxury after a long day of exploring the Arctic wilderness then we thoroughly recommend a trip which includes Isfjord Radio, a stunning eco-lodge which offers an unprecedented luxury one might not expect from such a remote location and which is the only full-scale boutique hotel outside of the capital of Longyearbyen.

Of course Spitsbergen isn’t the only area which is great for Arctic land based adventures but in our humble opinion we think it might just be the best. So if you fancy keeping your feet on dry land get in touch and our polar experts will be delighted to help find the perfect tour for you. But hurry – the summer Arctic adventure season will be ending soon!

Great sights to enjoy on a diving trip at the Galapagos Islands

You can catch sight of much of it on a diving trip in the Galapagos Islands.

The Galapagos Islands are actually part of the South American country of Ecuador, but they lie 563 miles away from the western coast of Ecuador’s mainland and consist of over 20 islands, with the result that there is no shortage of sea to enjoy. And, of course, by “enjoy”, we don’t just mean looking at the water – we also mean diving into it!

A stay in the islands arranged by Wildfoot Travel can include time strapping on the vital diving equipment before disappearing under the water to get close to fish, turtles, rays and even sharks. Want to take a day trip to the sea from one of the main islands or sail to a range of promising dive locations using a live-aboard boat? We can make either a reality.

Actually getting into the sea can be the only option for seeing much of the fascinating Galapagos marine life, and it’s certainly worth the dive, as the animals you could see dolphins, lobsters, crabs, corals and starfish. At certain times of the year, you can also check out migrating whales and even whale sharks.

Expert dive masters

Indeed, certain times of year can be better for seeing particular underwater wildlife than others, which begins to explain why you are likely to much appreciate the expert dive masters that you can turn to during your diving trip at the Galapagos Islands. These are qualified divers who can point out which diving locations have which attractions, and also ensure your safety through, among other practices, warning you what dangers lurk where.

We hardly have sufficient space in this article to go into the finer details of the amazing feasts for the eyes that are in store on a Wildfoot Travel diving trip at the Galapagos Islands. We urge you to read more of the relevant sections of the Wildfoot Travel website to learn more about diving adventures!

Getting to Galapagos from Europe

Although there are no direct flights to Galapagos from Europe there are a number of airlines providing routes to Ecuador, with the main airports of Quito and Guayaquil being the most popular and accessible. From Ecuador you can then catch a short flight to Baltra or San Cristobel and begin your Galapagos adventure.

Alternatively, many travellers choose to use a stop-over in Ecuador as a chance to explore this wonderful country. At Wildfoot we believe that any trip to the Galapagos Islands should include, at the very least, a trip to Quito, the capital city of Ecuador. If you have come all this way you may as well see as much of what that this intriguing part of the world has to offer as you can!

Quito sits over 9000 ft above sea level and is a town rich in Spanish colonial architecture, including the opulent gold church of the Jesuits. The old town of Quito is itself a UNESCO World Heritage Site and being dramatically situated so high up in the Andean foothills the town is a must see for photographers and lovers of spectacular views and awe-inspiring scenery. Quito has a warm and relaxed traditional Ecuadorian Sierra culture and is packed with colonial monuments and architectural treasures, all of which can be soaked up via a ride on the famous TelefériQo – an exhilarating sky tram ride up through the Pichincha Volcano to the top of Cruz Loma. The Equator is also only 45 minutes’ drive from Quito so you will have the perfect opportunity to test out the famous theories of peculiar happenings associated with the Equator.

There are a number of Ecaudor land based trips available which take in all of these remarkable sights and are a fantastic way to start off, or complete, your once in a lifetime trip to the Galapagos Islands.

At Wildfoot we are approved British Airways appointed operators and our team of travel experts are experienced in finding the very best air packages for our customers to a huge variety of destinations throughout the world, so if you need any information on getting to the Galapagos or exciting things to do along the way please feel free to contact us and we will be delighted to help.

Captain James Cook: his influence in the discovery of Antarctica

Born in a humble Yorkshire village called Marton in 1728, James Cook rose to become one of the most famous and influential explorers in world history. It shouldn’t overly surprise, then, that he is a key figure in the history of human contact with what we now call Antarctica. Here is a little bit of history for you to enjoy reading before booking one of WILDFOOT’s appealing Antarctic cruises.

The mystery of the supposed Terra Australis

Since Antiquity, mankind had regularly put forward the likelihood of a large continent in the planet’s south to balance those continents that were then known to exist further north. However, no surveying had taken place to conclusively prove the existence of Terra Australis, the name given to this supposed continent – and so, in the late eighteenth century, the task fell to James Cook to seek out the continent for the British government.

In 1770, Cook sailed around most of New Zealand, thus proving that those islands were not part of Terra Australis. During his famed second voyage, which took place from 1772 to 1775, he circumnavigated the planet at a high southern latitude, in the process unknowingly circumnavigating Antarctica. He nearly came across Antarctica’s mainland, only to head to Tahiti for more supplies for his ship. He then made a second, but unsuccessful, re-attempt to discover Terra Australis.

So, Terra Australis didn’t exist. Except that it did…

Back in Britain, Cook’s reports of his travels widely convinced the British that the existence of Terra Australis had been a myth. In his book ‘A Voyage to Terra Australis’, published in 1814, decades after Cook’s death, Matthew Flinders argued that the long-believed Terra Australis was not a reality and so the name should instead be given to the closest that mankind had so far discovered to such a continent: what we now know as Australia.

Of course, Antarctica was later discovered, but only later in the nineteenth century. By then, Australia had been firmly established as the name for the above mentioned island, of which Cook is often considered the “father”. However, Cook gained crucial knowledge about the Antarctic that other explorers later built upon – something worth thinking about before you decide which of our Antarctic cruises you should turn to for a southern adventure of your own.

Fascinating sights to enjoy on Arctic cruises to the Svalbard archipelago

It’s fair to say that the remote nature of many parts of the Arctic are key to their appeal among tourists, and what can easily be included in reference to these parts is the archipelago of Svalbard, and in particular, the island of Spitsbergen. The world’s most northern permanently inhabited area bar a few military bases, this peculiar Arctic part of Norway has plenty to recommend it for even veteran travellers of the Arctic.

What do the people think? Look out for polar bears!

Why should you personally mull over making use of one of the Arctic cruises to Svalbard on offer from WILDFOOT? If you consider public opinion reliable, the chance to catch sight of striking aspects of Arctic nature, including a good variety of native plants and animals, should be a major draw.

Once you arrive at Svalbard with help from WILDFOOT, you should soon see the kind of glaciers and mountains that give the Arctic region much of its memorable visual character, after all, the name Spitsbergen from the original German, means ‘pointed mountains’. However, look more carefully and you should soon also be able to spot polar bears, which are one of Svalbard’s biggest tourist attractions, and other local animals like Arctic foxes, seals, walruses and reindeer.

There are more historical remnants than you might expect

Given that Svalbard’s population of about 2,600 is so small and so much of the nature remains untouched, you could be excused for reckoning that there can’t be much historical sight-seeing to enjoy through any of WILDFOOT’s Arctic cruises to the Svalbard archipelago. You would actually be wrong to reckon so!

Longyearbyen, with its population of roughly only 2,000, is tiny for what is Svalbard’s ‘capital’. However, it remains home to two museums, Svalbard Museum and the Spitsbergen Airship Museum, where you can check out exhibits related to significant Arctic expeditions. Outside Longyearbyen, you can even see two Lenin statues, a legacy of Soviet Union influence in the area.

We wish we had the space to mention even more than this…

Ultimately, these are only a few tips for enhancing your experience after booking one of our Arctic cruises to Svalbard. We haven’t here mentioned all of the big sources of excitement for an adventure in Svalbard, but WILDFOOT can assist in making your journey to the area full of fun.

Find out more about all our cruises to the arctic here

Activity-packed land based itineraries on the Galapagos Islands

For many of those who stop off here, by water is exactly the experience, but here at Wildfoot Travel, we are equally delighted to be able to offer a complete range of land based itineraries on the Galapagos.

Whilst we will always maintain that the Galapagos Islands are very much made for exploring by boat, we also appreciate the preference of some of those who travel with us to keep their feet firmly on dry land. This is why we offer the opportunity to stay on just one or two of the islands, transferring between them by speedboat or light aircraft as and when necessary.

With Wildfoot Travel, you may choose a seven day package incorporating a stay at Galapagos Safari Camp, the perfect stop-off point from which to tour the islands of Santa Cruz and Isabela, taking in the giant-tortoise reserve and lava tunnels as well as the luxury Safari Camp itself. Those with families with children over six years old, meanwhile, often opt for our eight day family package that encompasses everything from time at the Charles Darwin Interpretation Centre to an Isla Lobos snorkelling trip for seeking out marine life such as manta rays, sharks, sea turtles and myriad colourful fish.

Then, there are those travellers who would instead like to pack as much activity as possible into a much shorter break – those who would especially appreciate our four day package staying at the opulent Finch Bay Eco Hotel in Puerto Ayora. This package gives travellers the chance to visit the Charles Darwin Centre and take in birdlife and marine iguanas at Tortuga Bay.

A world of thrilling and stimulating adventure waits to be discovered through land based itineraries on the Galapagos Islands, put together by established experts in wildlife and adventure travel, and with the most competitive deals on offer thanks to close working partnerships with the leading Galapagos adventure trip providers. Visit Wildfoot Travel today to get a taste of just some of the land based itinerary packages that we can offer, and don’t forget that if you prefer, we can tailor-make your perfect itinerary just for you.