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Trip Report Family Trip to Quito, Bellavista, Otavalo & Galapagos

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DH, DD almost 8 and I recently returned from our 2 week trip to Ecuador. We had an amazing time!!Loved it!! We spent the first week on mainland Ecuador and the second week cruising the Galapagos.

We flew American from Miami to Quito arriving about 9pm. Immigration was easy and the Marriott shuttle was waiting for us. We spent 3 nights at the Marriott. I have written a review which will be posted soon I hope but in short we enjoyed our stay at this hotel and would stay there again. We hired a driver/guide named Lincoln for most of our time on the mainland. He toured us around Quito our first 2 days there (Sunday and Monday). We went to the Crater, teleferico, hot springs, Old Town, and the Equator. All were great to see and for me the teleferico is a must for the views, the Equator a must for interest and if you have kids and the Old Town for beauty/architecture and history.

On Tuesday we were picked up for our trip to Bellavista Cloud Forest. We spent 2 nts at Bellavista. It was a great experience. I so enjoyed seeing all the hummingbirds which was worth the trip itself. I discovered my love of these charming little birds. We saw lots of other cool birds too. We are not "birders" but enjoyed seeing the different kinds. While there we went on 3 hikes and had an afternoon visit to a orchid reserve and a hummingbird garden. I will write a review of Bellavista within the next week or so so look for it with more details. Just know that it is very damp inthe cloud forest but lush and different from the other places we visited.

On Thursday, Lincoln picked us up at Bellavista and drove us to Otavalo with a stop on the way. I really like the Otavalo area. We spent 2 nights at the Hacienda Cusin in Sierra 18. I loved the Hacienda - a great choice (review also to come). On Friday Lincoln took us around to the various villages known for their different crafts. We also took a 2-hr horse-back ride at the Hacienda and visited Condor Park. We ate our breakfasts and dinners at the Hacienda with lucnes out. On our last day (Sat) Lincoln picked us up earlier and we went to the animal/foods and craft markets. A great experience - we spent the whole morning at the markets in Otavalo. We then went to Cotacachi where we had lunch and did some leather shopping before he drove us back to Quito where we spent another night at the Marriott.

On Sunday we were up early and to the airport (taxi from Marriott) to catch our plane to San Cristobal in the Galapagos. We flew AeroGal and loved it! New airvus planes that beat the hang out of what American flew us down on. We were met by our naturalist guides from Ecoventura. We cruised on the Eric for the week. Fantastic!! Our guides were excellent, the boat was great and the Galapagos are so special and wonderful. Our weather was also fantastic. Again I will be writing a review of Ecoventura and the Eric later this is just an overview trip report. Our itinerary was Itinerary B which inlcuded Genovesa, Isabela, Fernandina, Rabida, Santa Cruz, Santiago, North Seymour and maybe another stop I am forgetting at this moment. Two hiles a day and 1-2 snorkeling opprtunties a day. For me the snorkeling was the highlight but I love the water. On land we saw the classics - owls, hawks, boobies, frigates, lizards, a snake, finches, tortoises, sea lions, marine and land iguanas, herons and many more birds. In the water we saw a hammerhead shark, several white tipped reef sharks, sea stars, lots of fish, and swam with sea lions and a penguin. Just amazing. The Eric had a great lay out, yummy and plentiful food, a great staff and fantastic naturalists. After our week on the cruise we sadly had to leave. We headed back to Quito for 1 last overnight before cathcing our morning flight to Miami. Luckily we planned for 5 days in the Florida Keys for some pool and R&R time and that was a great decision and a nice way to slowly phase back into real life after such a wonderful experience in Ecuador.

I spent a long time planning this trip. As always I did it myself without help of an agent except of course the cruise section. I did a lot of research and felt well-prepared. I have another post about our experiences related to safety, money, food, guide use - just some tips or thoughts given our experience.. It will be hard to beat this trip but 2000 photos later and some great memories I now start the planning for next year's adventure.

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