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New tour explores Galapagos Islands by paddleboard

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Paddleboarding through the Galapagos Islands? Don’t be ridiculous. But wait -- Ecuador’s award-winning ecotourism company has something new for the adventurous. Tropic is the first and only company in the Galapagos offering stand up paddleboarding as a lodge-based adventure.

Explore the shoreline of the remote and sparsely populated island of Floreana. This destination is the star in a soon-to-be-released (spring 2014) documentary film, “The Galapagos Affair: Satan Came to Eden.”

Guests staying at the Floreana Lava Lodge can become on-island sleuths during their stay. Stand up paddleboarding, as with all other activities in the Galapagos, can be enjoyed only with a certified guide. The activity, included in a two-night, multi-sport package through the lodge, takes place in a protected bay just a few steps from this secluded conclave of 10 cabins and main lodge.

Galapagos National Park-approved guides supervise the 60-to-90-minute sessions before an audience that may include sea lions, sea turtles, eagle rays, sharks and myriads of bird life. Packages (starting at $875 per person) include guided and fully-outfitted stand up paddleboarding excursions, kayaking, snorkeling and star gazing.

Guest can also discover the island’s mysteries (a peace asylum, caves and the grave of Dr. Ritter involved in a presumed murder scandal). The package covers two nights accommodations, two breakfasts and dinners, a BBQ in the highlands (near the grave site, boat transfers and guide services. Evening meals are enjoyed in the tiny village just a short walk away.

If you plan to visit this summer, watch the documentary prior to arrival. Vintage film footage, old letters and interviews help weave the still-unsolved mystery dating to the 1930s when nine travelers, among them Galapagos pioneers that included a contingent of German and Austrian eccentrics, intersected on a volcanic island known then and now as Floreana.

Some survived; others mysteriously disappeared. Hiking the highlands, guests will pass by the site of where the island’s first permanent inhabitant, the eccentric Dr. Ritter, lived and is buried. Arriving in 1926, this German physician believed that with a combination of exercise and the right vegetarian diet he would live to be 150 years old. He didn’t, but his story is one of the many strange episodes that still abound.

The documentary’s release marks the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Charles Darwin Research Center.

About Tropic

Established in 1994, Tropic is an award–winning ecotourism company specializing in responsible, community-based tourism in Ecuador. Programs combine life-changing, active-but-cultural ecotourism experiences focusing on nature, conservation, diversity and sustainability. Floreana is one of three distinct areas the company operates. For information/reservations: http://www.destinationecuador.com/galapagos-hotel-lava-lodge-floreana.html

When you go

American Airlines serves Ecuador with nonstop flights from Miami International Airport.

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