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Monday, January 06, 2014

5 Favorite Travel Days in 2013, A Magical Day on Floreana Island, Ecuador

Exhausted from far too many 5 am wake-up calls, 90-minute drives in and out of Quito to the airport, and long longboat rides in the Amazon, my family was in poor spirits when we arrived in the Galapagos Islands for the last segment of our summer trip to Ecuador. But it’s amazing how a motorboat cruise on the ocean and all that water can wash away the toxins of travel. Listening to our iPods and watching the dolphins and orcas swim beside us, we were relaxed by the time we reached the sea lions lounging on the docks of Floreana. A driver brought us to our lodging for the next two nights, Floreana Lava Lodge, simple wooden cabins on the beach with the sound of pounding waves to lull you to sleep. The owners, a brother and sister team of Claudio and Aura, were two of 12 siblings that were brought up on the island. Their father and mother moved to Floreana in 1939 and today there are only 150 full-time residents. 

The following day was my favorite of the entire trip. Claudio and our guide Carlos drove us high into the hills to first see giant tortoises, many over 100 years old. We walked through caves that housed early German settlers, picked juicy oranges from a tree, took a short hike to an overlook with exquisite views of the island, and then had a glorious lunch of grilled beef and chicken with a delicious chimichuri sauce, salads, and fresh fruit juice at the former estate of Claudio and Aura’s parents. We felt privileged to see where their father was buried on the grounds under the 12 fruit trees he planted for the birth of each of his children. 
 
In the afternoon, we snorkeled by ourselves with huge sea turtles. Yes, ourselves! Very few cruises or travelers make it to this isle. Afterwards, a sea lion swam up to our beach, rolled in the sand in front of us and went to sleep. When the night sky grew dark, we could see all the glittering stars of the southern hemisphere, including the Southern Cross. Doesn’t get better than this. 
 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 01/06/14 at 11:00 AM
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Longtime Boston Globe travel writer, Steve Jermanok, dishes out his favorite travel locales and provides topical travel information that comes across his desk.

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