We were sorry to hear the sad death of Lonesome George on 24 June, 2012. The Galapagos National Park ranger Fausto Llerena, who has been his long-term caretaker, was unhappily surprised when he arrived at Lonesome George’s corral and discovered George stretched out in the direction of his watering hole with no signs of life. George was the sole survivor of the Pinta Island sub-species of tortoise, hence his importance for biology and as a symbol of conservation efforts for the entire world. The cause of death will not be known until after an autopsy. The body of Lonesome George, whose age is unknown but estimated at more than 100 years old, may be embalmed. There is even talk of cloning him. Lonesome George was originally found on Pinta island in 1972 when those tortoises were thought to be extinct. Despite efforts by the park to mate him with female tortoises, he never produced any offspring. His pen was visited by thousands of tourists every year. He will be missed at the station and hopefully is lonesome no more.
Monthly Archives: June 2012
In Quito, you are at the Middle of the World and at an altitude of 9.186 feet, you are also closer to the Sun… In June, during the Summer Solstice, people of the Andes celebrate the Inti Raymi (fiesta del sol), and Quito is no exception. On Sunday 20th June (nearest the Solstice) everyone is invited to the Middle of the World City to join this party of the sun and harvest! In case you can’t make it today it is still worth a day or two visiting this World Heritage site on your visit to Ecuador or Galapagos islands. You can enjoy the parks and green areas, always full of life and cultural gems. In Peru near Cuzco the celebrations take on a huge pageants recreating the golden days of the Incas on June 24th. The festival is now the second largest festival in Latin America with an expected 200,000 people visiting Cusco.
On our recent May group tour to the Galapagos Islands we were excited to observe the Woodpecker finch in action twice. Though this bird is not hard to find in the highlands of Santa Cruz, it is extremely rare to see the bird using a tool. One of the 13 or so species of ‘Darwin’s’ finches – all unique to the Galapagos Islands – this is one of the few birds in the World that uses a tool. It will break off a twig or use a cactus spine to probe holes in bark to extract wood-boring grubs. It has filled the empty niche held by woodpeckers in the mainland, but lacks the long barbed tongue to spear larvae and so has improvised in a unique way. Though Darwin himself did not witness this act of nature on his voyage, one can only wonder at his reaction if he had done so.
Mountain sickness, also referred to as “soroche” in Spanish, is a common problem experienced by some travellers who arrive in cities like Cusco, the gateway city to Machu Picchu (11,200 ft/3414 m) in Peru. Your fitness does not determine how you will react. Surprisingly, people over the age of 50 have a slightly lower rate of sickness. Remedies include medication, which have mixed results and coca leaf, grown by locals. The Coca leaf is consumed as a tea and chewed by people who live in the Andes Mountains in South America. Coca is part of the culture of the Andes Mountains, however the only “cure” for altitude sickness is to adapt or descend. Modern medicine can treat the symptoms but not without side effects in some cases. “Public” oxygen tanks are available in many Cusco hotels and can relieve symptoms temporarily. Most travellers get relief from ordinary pain relievers and are on their way to exploring the sites within a few hours. Quito in Ecuador is slightly lower in altitude so that altitude symptoms are less noticeable and less likely to need treatments – so it is not common to find oxygen tanks in hotels.
A dramatic video showing 30 beached dolphins being rescued by holiday-makers in Brazil has become an internet sensation. The video shows dolphins appearing out of nowhere and suddenly beaching en masse on the Rio de Janeiro state coastline. They were apparently caught in a strong ocean current. Stunned people in swimming trunks at first look on as the dolphins’ high-pitched squeals are heard. But within seconds, people quickly race into the surf to help the dolphins. Dozens of people are seen swimming into the ocean and dragging the mammals by their tails in an effort to them back into deeper waters. And the effort was apparently successful. After all the dolphins were rescued, the crowd of dolphin-savers and onlookers broke into cheers.
Welcome to our new blog where we’ll give you insights into Latin America – our favourite little corner of the world.
We’ve been creating truly exceptional journeys here for over 28 years so without blowing our trumpet too much we do know a thing or two about travel in this fascinating region.
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