Use the links above to see more photos.

All this month our plans to visit the Galapagos have been evolving - so to speak. The islands are about 700 miles west of Ecuador and the price tag for getting and staying there is hefty.

Another factor in deciding whether or not to go has more to do with conservation efforts. The government of Ecuador opened up tourism to the islands back in the 1960s when there were only about 1000 tourists per year - that number is now about 275,000! You can imagine the impact this has had on the ecosystems there, both terrestrial and marine. The importation of cars, boats, air conditioning units, food and fuel, etc. for all these tourists cannot be good. Do we want to be a part of that?

We did, however, visit Isla de la Plata - known here as "the poor man's Galapagos". It's much smaller and much closer to the continent - only about 25 miles off the coast - and you can see much of the same wildlife as on the more famous islands.