10 Gal√°pagos Surprises

Lava lizard stands atop the head of a land iguana: Galapagos travel with GeoEx

In my mind, the trip hadn’t begun. Yet there before me were two prehistoric-looking marine iguanas sunning themselves on the asphalt parking lot and five sea lions cavorting in the park-side tide pool. No, wait, make that nine sea lions: Another four were lounging on rocks under the pier, camouflaged by their gray, curved, still-as-stone bodies. I’d just arrived on San Cristóbal, the easternmost island of the Galápagos, and didn’t expect to see wildlife in the middle of town, just half a mile from the airport. This was the first of many surprises I encountered during my week in the Enchanted Islands, the famed archipelago that pops up out of the Pacific Ocean nearly 600 miles west of Ecuador. Here are nine others. 1. It Feels Like Another World And it’s a world in which animals reign supreme. They welcome us with little concern and curious glances. They trust us to step around them (not realizing how well they blend...

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Making a Difference

Global Fund for Women event staff with Designer and Model with GeoEx

One GeoEx Staffer's Story of Inspiration and Why She Gives Back When I was younger, I remember asking my dad about his early years and how he came to make those critical “who will I be” and “what will I do” decisions that so greatly impact the course of one's life. The answer most boldly printed on my memory is, “I knew that I wanted to make a difference.” At first glance this seems like such a simple, generic, and ultimately useless statement: no list of steps to follow, no specific action plan to take. This answer was a little surprising coming from a mechanical engineer who was constantly detailing the nuts and bolts of how things work, but I suppose my dad knew already that easy answers held no allure for me. Undeterred, I took this broad-sweeping principle and set it as a compass point to guide my life. Once in action, this concept is surprisingly comforting in its easy employment. Years later, I'm better able to...

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Exploring Ethiopia by Helicopter

Helicopter landing on the Danakil depression salt falt in Ethiopia with GeoEx.

Ethiopia is an ideal country to explore by helicopter. How else could you journey from the electric palette of the Danakil Depression at 410 feet below sea level, to the scrub-covered spires of the Simien Mountains, to the sheer cliffs of the Tigrai Mountains pocked with rock-carved churches, to a rite of passage bull-jumping ceremony in the Omo Valley? These sites are only half of what GeoEx experts Kate Doty, Starla Estrada, and Urs Hofmann saw as they traveled across Ethiopia by Eurocopter AS 350. The photos and videos below illustrate a small sampling of their adventures in Ethiopia, a country Starla calls “one of the most interesting and complex countries I've visited–challenging, fascinating, and endlessly...

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Vietnam by Vespa

Explore Vietnam with GeoEx

My desk is covered in trinkets. It’s tradition here at GeoEx to return from your travels bearing small gifts for the rest of your team. I must have every Asian knickknack that was ever created. In fact, as I look around, I see four embroidered coin purses within arm’s reach. On my recent trip to Vietnam, I wanted to find the quintessential souvenir for my teammates. “What says ‘Vietnam’?” I asked my fiancé, as we crossed the street. “Scooter!” he shouted, yanking me onto the sidewalk. He was right. Scooters are the ultimate Vietnamese accessory. They are everywhere, but especially prevalent in the major cities, where many drivers don’t even disembark to do their shopping. Along the wide boulevards or through narrow alley markets, people cruise the aisles on scooters, gathering groceries. Commuters even wear designer face masks to avoid breathing the exhaust, creating a fashion one might call...

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Pura Vida

Author working on organic farm in Costa Rica with GeoEx.

Hot, stinging pain singed through my blisters with every whack of the machete. My clumsy attempt at a field dressing—a sweaty bandana wrapped and tied around my hand—hadn’t made a difference. Each whack! whack! whack! chafed candescent against my skin. The mountains, green and wild, shifted to muted blue with the passing daylight, and the squawky croaks of toucans reverberated in the distance. But I didn’t notice them. It was as if the tediousness—whack! whack! whack!—had sapped my senses, pooling their collective energies toward the glowing red nerves in my hand. Whack! Whack! Whack! I paused, looking around at the patch I was clearing. It was small. Too small, surely, for the hours I had been out there hacking and hacking at the overgrowth. Ignoring the stray grasses clinging itchy to my arms slick with sweat, I put the machete back in its leather sheath tied to my waist. It was funny, silly really, how...

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Don George, Editor

Don George is Editor in Chief of Wanderlust: Literary Journeys for the Discerning Traveler. He has been Travel Editor for Salon.com and the San Francisco Examiner and Chronicle, as well as Global Travel Editor for Lonely Planet Publications. Don is the author of "The Way of Wanderlust: The Best Travel Writing of Don George" and of "Lonely Planet's Guide to Travel Writing." He has also edited eleven anthologies, including A Moveable Feast, The Kindness of Strangers, and An Innocent Abroad. E-mail him at [email protected].

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