Hernan Rodas, visionary founder and owner of Red Mangrove Galapagos and Ecuador Lodges, cites special features of September/October travel in Ecuador. Cooler, dryer air and lower water temperatures make for good sightings of sea lions with pups while snorkeling and diving. Manta ray congregate for plankton that arrives on colder currents. Giant tortoises are still nesting and laying eggs, Galapagos penguins are friskier than usual while hammerhead sharks school in greater numbers. Most species of sea birds are active at their nesting sites providing prime viewing. And off the mainland coast in a region called Ruta del Sol it’s high season for both surfing and humpback whale encounters.
Temperatures in the high 60s to mid-70s stimulate efforts to climb and trek, activities that might seem daunting when it’s hot or wet, plus it’s a great time to surf mainland beaches, Rodas noted, adding that there’s more lodging inventory, fewer people at popular sites and throughout the country and off-peak pricing in restaurants and shops.
Galapagos: Land & Sea Dive Adventure is a six-day/five-night package from $2,300 ppdo for the novice to intermediate diver with up to eight two-tank dives along with interpretive nature hikes, snorkeling and off-time lounging on the beach or exploring Puerto Villamil. Red Mangrove Dive Center provides all equipment except dive computers that can be rented.
Five-day/four-night Mainland Ecuador: Ruta del Sol Adventure, priced from $880 ppdo, allows nature lovers to explore forests, snorkel coral reefs, observe bird species and swim and surf in warm waters off isolated beaches. Guests stay at the 11-room Red Mangrove Samai Lodge, a relaxing jungle inn and wellness spa.
Galapagos/Mainland Combo: Extraordinary Ecuador is a twelve-day/eleven-night comprehensive package combining quality time on three Galapagos Islands and mainland Pacific beaches. Rates, from $4,300 ppdo, include accommodations, most meals, English-speaking naturalist-guides, all domestic flights from start to finish, airport and ferry transfers, all required gear and service charge. There is a 25-percent discount for children under 10 years old. Departures may be scheduled year-round.
Red Mangrove Galapagos and Ecuador Lodges, 888-254-3190, www.redmangrove.com/contact-us,