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Trip Report Quito and Equador Trip Report

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I have finally started to write up our Honeymoon trip report. Here are the first few days:

Tuesday, April 8, 2008
After a very fun and exciting wedding weekend we headed off to our honeymoon in Quito, Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands with 14 Massachusetts camera club members.

A friend took us to the airport (we of course arrived two hours early). We flew to Miami, ate is a fast food place (not many choices) and then flew off to Quito.

We found our tour guide Lorena easily and headed off for our hotel with a few other members of our group. Off course John “lost” our itinerary, by leaving it on the plane, so we have no idea what is going on…

The hotel is called Hotel Sebastian. It’s in the Mariscal Sucre area which is mostly touristy but also the most crime ridden area of the city. We were advised to take cabs at night even if going a few blocks.

Our room is cute – probably a 3 star. It has a nice big king sized bed with a tiny outdoor balcony overlooking nothing. It is clean with a modern bath and loads of storage space. The only issue is when taking a shower it was tough to keep the floor from flooding.

We headed down to the bar for a drink and appetizer before bed. I successfully ordered in Spanish. We ordered “tortillas” which came out as doughy cheese balls served with a side of guacamole. I ordered (yucky) red wine and John had a glass of beer.

We headed off to bed and both slept very well.

Wednesday, April 9 2008
We headed back down to the hotel restaurant for the buffet breakfast. It wasn’t all that exciting – typical European style without (my favorite) the Nutella. We ate fruit, breads, omlets, bacon, sausage, etc.

We became reacquainted with part of the group (we all met at a cookout last summer). The remaining folks are meeting us at the boat.

We boarded the bus with Lorena and headed off for a day of sightseeing. We are both so exhausted I am sure that we will forget most of everything we did today!

Our first stop was of a view overlooking Quito but it was too foggy to see much. There were several street vendors selling paintings and scarves. I got a few photos of a little boy who was with them. John gave him 50 cents. He was soooo excited.

The indigenous people have really great features – round faces, dark brown, weathered with lots of character. The homes are poorer looking, all brightly painted with many sections of the city covered in graffiti. The city is overcrowded with cars, there is lots of exhaust (gas is less than $2.00/gallon at a time when it is approaching $4.00 in the US), lots of traffic, kids and unleashed dogs running everyplace, seemingly no traffic laws but no observed accidents or injuries. There are lots of people standing in the road trying to sell tee shirts, scarves and coconuts. Great people watching!

Our next stop was to see La Virgen de Quito on the top of the hill el pancillo (the little bread loaf). There were incredible views, a herd of sheep including one baby, more street vendors with colorful stalls and lots of children. Even the two and three year olds were trained to ask for a dollar when you took their photo. Luckily they didn’t seem to know the difference between a dollar and a few pennies.

Next we visited the plaza and monastery of San Francisco where we also had lunch. We sat outside, it was cloudy with patches of sun – probably about 70 degrees.

I had potato soup with guacamole and a guavabana juice which was really yummy. John tried nachos and a shrimp dish and a pineapple juice. Juice is a big thing here – it’s all very fresh and tasty.

After lunch we stopped at a pastry shop. John got a chocolate ice cream and I had dates (or maybe figs) covered with green sugar. It was really sweet but yummy.

We visited a few other churches and people watched. There were vendors with strands of lottery tickets, women with giant baskets of grapes and children with shoe shining kits.

We returned to the hotel and took a much needed three hour nap.

For dinner we picked a place called Red Hot Chili Peppers (from the Lonely Planet Guide). The place was clean and welcoming with several groups of Ecuadorians seated around us (always a good sign). We ordered the mixed fajitas with steak and chicken, poblano peppers & onions and frozen Margaritas. The food was great, although it was a very American place – photos of the US were all over the walls and they were playing American music. As an added bonus, the waiter was muy guapo!

We headed back to the hotel via cab (a $1.00 ride – they take US currency here). Once at the hotel we stopped in the lounge for an apple tart and cappuccinos. We met a couple from Kansas who had been there for a week already. They had a private guide and loved it so much that they were thinking about buying property.

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    Thursday, April 10, 2007

    We all met in the lobby at 7AM for our trip to the Galapagos after a quick breakfast.

    It was a very confusing airport experience. We had to stand in line to get ID cards, then put luggage through a security system and then checked luggage. Everything was done in one room. There was little to no security. Most memorable was that we put our luggage through the security scanner it came back to us in the same room. There was no way to tell that it even went through!

    Our flight was about an hour late taking off. We landed in Guayaquil to pick up more passengers and join the rest of the group. Everyone is so nice! The man who planned the trip for us last year now has advanced stages of cancer. He just found out in December. It is his life dream to get to the Galapagos. I give him (and his wife) a lot of credit for making the trek here.

    We reboarded the plane and set off. It’s open seating on the plane, but we didn’t realize it until we already moved to the rear. Half way through the flight, they open all the overhead bins and start spraying stuff for “animal control”. Probably not great for our lungs!

    We landed on San Cristobel. As we approached, there were lots of green trees and beautiful aqua blue water. We exited the plane to the smallest airport ever! No walls! We paid our $100 exit fee and found our tour guide Gustov. He in his late 20’s/early 30’s, speaks English very well and seems like a sweet guy.

    We boarded a bus to the docks and then took dingy’s to The Millenium which is a 16 passenger catamaran yacht, it is the largest of the Cats. The boat is older. There were eight passenger rooms in total. We were assigned a room on the second floor. It was a medium size room (slightly bigger than what I have had on other cruises) and it was clean. Each room has its own bathroom. We explored the common areas. There was a dining area attached to a big common area with TV, couches, etc. The upper deck had a portion covered and a portion open to the sun. There were lots of lounge chairs and a dryer which we were told that we could use.

    We had a lunch of spaghetti and then headed off for our first excursion to see sea lions and turtles. The sea lions were amazing. You could walk right up to them and they didn’t seem to care. I did have one bull growl at me, guess I got too close to his baby.

    Next we went on a short hike to see some turtles. The two that we did see were already buried in the dirt (they do this at dusk). We then saw a bunch of baby turtles. They are captured and caged until they get bigger to keep them safe from the cats and rats.

    We headed back to the boat, first stopping at a little store owned by Gustav’s parents. We bought some beers which we drank on the dingy on the way back.

    After showering we met the crew. None of them speak English but they are all happy and very nice.

    We had a nice dinner of tilapia, chicken, broccoli, strawberries and whipped cream. Definitely not a 5 star restaurant but good home cooking. After dinner we hung out and chatted with our new friends. While we were talking a baby sea lion wandered to the top deck of the boat. He was really scared and was contemplating jumping off the top deck (where he most certainly would have landed on the deck below and hurt himself). John and Andrea cornered him and finally got him to move towards the stairs and to the lower deck where he could get back into the water.

    Even though the boat is big by yacht standards, you still fill motion. They tell us most motoring betweens islands is done during dinners or lunch time but tonight we was one of the few nights we would move. I didn’t think it was bad, but I was so tired I passed out, I didn’t even hear them drop anchor during the night (they folks with rooms in the front of the boat heard it loud and clear).

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    Friday, April 11, 2007
    We met at 7AM for a breakfast of eggs, cheese, meat, fruits and juice. It was pretty good.

    We then set off in the dingy’s for a nearby sandy beach. It was a bit drizzley out but it cleared by the time we reached the beach. The scenery is amazing – aqua blue water, blue skies, white sandy beach with fine grains and lots and lots of sea lions. We got some unbelievable photos.

    You can swim with them in the water. If you follow along with them and try to twist and turn like they do, they will think that you want to play and will stay with you.

    As we walked the beach we ran into some black iguanas. You could stand within inches and they would just stare like you weren’t even there.

    We also watched frigate birds diving for fish (very cool), saw mockingbirds, pelican’s and an oyster catch (a cool looking bird with bright red eyes and beak). We saw giant turtle tracks too (no turtles though)

    John wrote notes in my journal that there were also blue and red footed boobies, nasca boobies (orange rings around the eyes) and yellow wobblers. I don’t recall that we saw all these birds on this day, but we did eventually run into all of them.

    We swam for a bit, the water temperature is perfect!!

    The dingy took us back to the boat so we could drop off the camera gear and then we headed out to snorkel (only ½ of the group went).

    We saw loads of fish – pretty ones with yellow tails, more sea lions, blue footed boobies and black coral crabs. Each minute here is more amazing than the next!

    Back on the boat (after almost sinking the dingy because we had too much weight on the front) we had lunch of cilantro soup, chicken/fish, mashed potato, cheese, veggies & fruit.

    We sailed to another part of the same island (Espaniola) and did a 2-3 hour hike. We saw more sea lions and lots and lots of iguanas. We watched the iguanas fight each other. Gustav says that they fight over territory to get the best part of the land for egg laying.

    We watched male lava lizards doing pushups. This is how they attract the females.

    We saw some other birds who only come to the island every 6 years (I forget their name). The males arrive first, and then the females join them. They click beaks with each other as a start to the mating process.

    There were bright red sally lightfoot crabs. It is amazing that the animals just sit and let you take photos. It is as if they are oblivious that you are even there.

    Back on the boat, I grabbed a Corona and jumped off the back deck for a swim. John was jumping off the top deck into the water. I was a bit nervous watching him, but I guess it keeps him young!

    We watched an incredible sun set from the top deck. It was the perfect ending to a perfect day.

    At 7:30 Gustav gave us a group briefing on tomorrow’s activities. He drew a map and showed us where we would be sailing and what we would see. We had a nice dinner, chatted with our new friends and headed to bed. John did stay up a little later and got a camera lesson (most of us are Nikon SLR users) on depth of field, ISO and shutter speed from Richard.

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    Saturday, April 12, 2007

    We docked at about 11PM last night. It made for an easier night of sleeping. There was still motion, but not as much.

    One other note: You are not allowed to flush the toilet paper here. A bit gross, but it has to go in the barrel.

    After a 6:30 breakfast we headed off in the dingy’s for our next island Santa Maria, also called Floreana. In the Galapagos they try to control the number of visitors at each destination every day. Each boat is given a specific itinerary a year in advance and that is the route that they must follow.

    Today we had a wet landing (you jump out of the boat in water that is knee deep and wade to shore). A bit scary since I had my D200 in my hands, but it all worked out. I climbed out of the dingy first and then had someone hand me the camera gear.

    Today’s highlight was the pink flamingos. They were clustered pretty far away from us, but we were still close enough to get some good photos. The flamingos here are the “pinkest” in the world. They get their colors from eating shrimp.

    There were also more sea lions, blue footed boobies, beautiful grassoppers and sally lightfoots. We also walked through a turtle egg laying area (didn’t see any eggs).

    We found a bird’s nest with two babies and watched for awhile while the mother delivered food.

    John went off to snorkel. I opted out today as Gustav told us that there would be sharks. He said that there was nothing to worry about, but I wasn’t taking any chances! He returned saying that there were no sharks but that they saw some amazing fish.

    This afternoon we took a much needed nap. The sun is hot here. It takes a lot out of you. Our air conditioner is working fine, but two other families are having issues. It seems that they will need to wait a few days before they can get replacements.

    This afternoon’s trip was to Post Office bay. The idea is that you leave a post card and some later visitor who lives near you picks it up and mails or delivers it to you. Many people just say to leave their’s there as they plan to come back in the future to pick it up themselves. We took one from Medford, MA – the Ott family.

    We went for another snorkel. The water was a bit murky but there were some great fish – big blue ones and tiny red and black ones.

    Back at the boat we had “happy hour” with very strong Margaritas and yummy fried bananas. We headed to town to a place called Bongo. We had a blast, although somehow got talked into doing 3 tequila shots. One of our new friends Nancy (who rarely drinks) said she was fine after the 3 shots. She left to go to the bathroom. A few minutes later John also headed to the bathroom. He discover her “lost” in the mens room! We all had a good laugh.

    We sat out on the deck enjoying the weather and the company while listening to American music. It started to rain, but it felt nice. We walked back through the quaint little town to the dinhy’s and headed to bed.

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    Sunday, April 13, 2007
    Late wake up today at 7AM!

    We are still on Santa Cruz. At 8 we headed back to town and took a 45 minute bus ride out, passing through some little towns to see the giant turtles.

    We hiked a short distance and ran into our first three turtles who were sitting in some green muck. The next turtle was just sitting in the path. One at a time we each wandered up behind him so that we could have our photo taken with him. Once we were done Gustav got close to his face so that he would hide inside of his shell while we walked by. We saw 4 or 5 more as we walked plus a plethora of different birds. The last turtle that we encountered was sitting under a tree eating guavas. We rolled a few more his way. He was so cute! He had guava fruit mushed all over his face, just like a toddler leaning to eat solids for the first time. They were really amazing!

    Our next stop was the lava caves. Only 3 of us ventured down (as Gustav said we would be crawling on our bellies at times). John of course joined the group!

    We stopped for lunch at a beautiful place called the Narwhal Restaurant. This is a group only place, you boat has to call a few days ahead to make reservations. The owners lived in the US for several years and speak English very well – they are happy to tell you about their home. The grounds and views are beautiful. We got a welcome drink, had banana chips and sauces to dip, onion soup, bread, chicken, potatos, apple cake and lemon grass tea. It was a yummy home cooked meal!

    Our next stop was the Darwin Center where we learned the history of the Galapagos. We watched baby turtles climbing on top of each other and fighting.

    There once existed 15 subspecies of Giant Tortoise on the islands but 4 of them are extinct now and from the 11 remaining ones, 8 are endangered, with one of the sub-species virtually extinct too as only one male is known to be still alive, the now famous Lonely George from the Pinta island. Efforts to find him a mate were up to now unsuccessful and it seems George indeed will live lonely till his days are counted. We were hoping to see lonely George today, but he was so far into the brush that we couldn’t see him. George is estimated to be in his 70s — middle age for a giant tortoise.

    At this point we were very hot and exhausted. We bought some frozen fruit flavored ice on a stick and then grabbed a taxi (pickup truck) back to town. Most of us road in the back – the ride for 10 of us was $2.00 total.

    We found some $16.00 sunblock (we were running out) at the pharmacy and then took the tender back to the boat. I napped and John went swimming.

    After a nice dinner, we watched a slidshow that Paul had brought with him of the Grand Teton’s and Yellowstone. Neither of us has ever been, but we have added them both to the list!

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    Monday, April 14, 2007

    Today our stops are at Santa Fe and South Plaza.

    The boat took off for Santa Fe at about 3AM. I didn’t hear the anchor (because we are on the second floor), but the people downstairs in the front of the boat heard it loud and clear. The rocking was from side to side tonight, which kind of kept us awake. I dozed on and off. Gustav later told us that was nothing compared to the May-Oct season. Those passengers get it much worse!

    We left at 6AM today to catch some good light for photography. We saw sea lions and giant land iguanas. John got a great photo of one “pooping” – it was actually a bit gross. The scenery was a bit different (as are all the islands). This one had loads of prickly pear cactuses.

    We headed back to the boat for breakfast and then went for a swim off the back deck. The water is so blue and clear that you don’t need to snorkel, you can see hundreds of them from the back of the boat. We did swim over to the rocks where we could see a sting ray on the ocean floor being cleaned by other fish. The we saw a turtle swim by…. When we returned to the boat we took a quick dingy ride back to the rocks to get a closer look at the blue footed boobies on the ledges.

    We had lunch and hung out on the top deck while to boat traveled to South Plaza. We saw sally lightfoots, yellow land iguanas, oyster catchers, boobies and pelicans. I watched two different sets of oyster catchers mating. At first I had no clue what they were doing. I was wondering why one was standing on the other’s back (Gustav had to fill me in). We saw another set of parents, one sitting on an egg. I got within 10 feet and took some great pictures.

    We then spent quite a bit of time watching the yellow iguanas eat yellow flowers. It was fascinating. At night the black iguanas pile on top of each other for warmth, while the yellow ones dig tunnels for over night shelter.

    Dinner was okay – shrimp and zucchini and cake with chocolate sauce (the first dessert we have had besides fruit, although one night we found chocolates on our pillow – John doesn’t know this, I ate his before he got back to the room and hid the wrapper!)

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    Tuesday, April 15, 2008

    Just realized that I have been writing the wrong year on this report so far. We went in April 2008 (not 2007).

    Today the stops are Isla Rabida in the morning and Isla Santiago in the afternoon. Gustavo holds quick evening meetings every night to review where we were that day and what we are doing the next day.

    John got up extra early today and got some great sunrise photos. At 6 we headed off in the dingy’s and saw birds nesting, baby sea lions, pelicans, boobies, frigates and crabs. We rode on the dingy for a few hours taking photos very close to shore. The light was perfect.

    After breakfast we headed off for a walk on the red sandy shore and for some snorkeling. I got stung a bunch of times by mini jellyfish, it felt like pin pricks. Several others had the same experience. Seeing the fish was worth it though! We saw a rock fish. At first no one could see it because it looks like a rock. Gustuv had to swim down and point it out to us.

    I skipped the next snorkel trip in favor of a nap. I feel like I am always tired! The sun is a killer.

    This afternoon we went on a short hike on some flat rocks for photos of various birds, iguanas and seals (smaller than seal lions). We hung out on the rocks, saw a full rainbow and watched the sunset. It was a magical evening and the weather was perfect.

    For snacks Carlitos (our waiter/bartender) left us a bag of Oreos. He saw us sneaking behind the bar to sneak a few last evening. He is so cute.

    Dinner was pasta, tilapia, chicken, cauliflower and flan.

    Joey (the 23 year old on the trip) taught us how to play Texas Holdem. We had more tequila shots and lots of laughs.

    Afterwards, we headed up to the top deck to relax and star gaze. This is such an amazing magical place!

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    Great trip report, love all the details. It seems that April is a good month to go to the Galapagos, lots of wildlife and warm waters – is that true?

    I understand you were on a small boat, 16 passengers only – did you (or anybody else on the boat) feel it was too small? Had sea-sickness problems? Was it too rocky on the water? Trying to decide on when to go and what kind/size of a boat to use – although our trip will not be until 2010, the soonest.

    Hope you will post the pictures somewhere – looking forward to see them and read the rest of your report.

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    Wednesday, April 16, 2008

    Today is our last full day. The time has passed so quickly. Today we visit Bartolome and North Seymour.

    We were up at 6AM, had PBJ sandwiches and headed off on the dingy’s. We saw some penguins (very cute) and then watched boobies dive bombing for fish. They were too fast to get picture. Hopefully we got a few good ones. We hiked up a volcano – only 340 meters up but it was a brutal hike. At the top we were rewarded with great views. The movie “Master and Commander” was filmed here.

    On today’s snorkel trip (which I skipped) they saw a shark. John just saw a shadow, but Andrea got a photo.

    We napped, had lunch with green and orange jello for dessert. We then stopped to refuel. Legally we are supposed to get off the boat while this occurs. The area was very hot and there was nothing to see so we were allowed to stay on the boat as long as we “hid” in our rooms. Soooo we napped again and almost missed the next excursion because we slept so soundly!

    This afternoon’s trip was wonderful. We watched blue footed boobies mating. The male creates a nest and then does a dance alternating feet, making calls and flapping his wings to attract the female. The female arrives and checks out the nest. If she doesn’t like how it’s done, she moves to the next nest.

    We also saw frigates here with their red pouches blown up. The males do this to attract females. We watched one couple get together and mate. I am still amazed at how close we can get to these creatures. They have no fear.

    Back on the boat we had a lobster dinner and a late night snack of oreos.

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    Thursday, April 17, 2008
    Today we rose and packed. We are very sad to be leaving. We set out for one final dingy ride where we saw frigates, pelicans and sea lions. The sea lions were cute, as we drove along many chased us. We got off on the island, took a group photo and wandered through the shops. I got a blue boobie tee shirt.

    We sat at a little outside bar and had a beer and an ice cream.

    We weren’t really sure how to tip but we ended up giving Gus $225, the crew $280 to split and Carlitos an additional $30 (he gets part of the crew trip, but he really took care of us so we wanted to give him a little extra.

    We headed back to the airport, and with a connection through Guayaquil returned found Marina who took us back to Hotel Sebastian in Quito. It was our first arrival in daylight. The snow capped mountains were beautiful.

    We headed out to dinner, the cab driver got a bit lost. The place was new and beautiful, but we were the only ones there. I forgot to write down the name. The apps and desserts were fabulous. I ordered a steak/shrimp dish. The shrimp was the size of a small lobster which grossed me out a bit!

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    Friday, April 18, 2008

    We had breakfast at the hotel, packed a day bag and headed off with Marina.

    Our first stop was the middle of the earth Mitad del Mundo (the equator). There was a large sundial. A guide was there to explain how it worked. It was a bit of a tourist trap, but we played along and stood on opposite sides of the equator for a photo. There were a few vendors there as well. I bought a $5.00 colorful scarf. It’s really beautiful.

    Our next stop was a shop in Calderon where they made ornaments out of bread dough. We watched them paint for awhile. We got some cute ones including a boobie, priced at 3 for $1.00. There were several shops from which you can choose. Several indigenous people boarded the bus in an attempt to sell us their crafts. I bought a handmade bread basket linen. It was beautiful and very inexpensive.

    Next was a bread bakery in Cayambe. It smelled so good! We dipped the bread into a creamy caramel sauce and ate it with string cheese.

    John wasn’t feeling great. He stayed on the bus and slept most of the time. He is blaming last night’s shrimp.

    Next stop was lunch. I didn’t write down the name of the place but it was good. I got potato soup with fresh avocado. It’s a typical dish that I have tried a few time while we have been here. The avocado “makes it”.

    Next stop Cotacachi a town that specializes in leatherwear. The main street is lined with shops selling belts, jackets, bags, vests, and more. There is an abundance of products - all at amazingly cheap prices. I got a great leather purse for $23.00. Jen got a leather jacket that looks as though it was custom made for her for under $200.00. There were lots of children in this quaint little town, all happy to have their photos taken in exchange for some pocket change.

    We arrived at Hacienda Pinsaquí, our hotel for the night. I wish we were staying here for the week. It is a wonderful place. Each room is unique and has a character all of its own. There are 20 suites with fireplaces that comfortably accommodate up to five people. Within the rooms there are sheepskin rugs, heavy blankets and pieces of traditional art. In the evening someone comes to light your fire and leaves several hot water bottles for you to snuggle with under the covers. There are gardens for wandering, a den with a large fireplace to read a book or chat, and patios with views of the Imbabura Volcano.

    John was still not feeling great so he headed off to bed. I headed to happy hour with the rest of the group. The bar was very quaint (and built in the late 1700’s). We listened to the band (an amazing Ecuadorian group). While eating empanada’s and drinking an alcoholic hot tea type drink. Everyone got a shot of alcohol (we all shared the same 5 or 6 shot glasses). Then the dancing began. We had a fun afternoon! I bought a copy of the band’s CD.

    After checking on John and ordering him some soup from room service I headed to the restaurant. I had Bolognese (yummy) and wine. Afterwards since John was sleeping, I took my book to the sitting area. It was a beautiful room with a roaring fireplace and I had it all to myself.

    I headed to bed. It was very comfortable and the heating bags wonderful. We will certainly return here someday!

    http://www.haciendapinsaqui.com/html/en/hotel_otavalo.htm

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    Saturday, April 19, 2008

    Today is our 2 week anniversary!

    We rose early and headed off to check out the grounds (John is feeling a lot better). We could hear roosters. The grounds were beautiful with great views. We wandered for an hour or so and then headed to breakfast.

    The staff seemed a bit confused when it came to serving breakfast. The dining room was packed and they didn’t seem used to this, it was chaos. John finally walked into the kitchen and got us bowls of fruit and coffee.

    Our destination today is the Market of Otavalo. We first stopped at the animal market. What great photo opps! It is a local market- tourists are welcome to watch but are largely ignored as the Otavalans try to trade a pig for a sheep or a goat for a cow. It was a very cool place, but watch where you step!

    We then headed for the regular market. There were rows and rows of stands and shops. Mostly handmade crafts and foods. I got some great jewelry and a hand made sweater. I don’t usually like to bargain, but it was fun. It was such a great people watching place as well. Lots of colorful spices, cooked pig heads, colorful clothes….

    It started to rain, so we headed back to the bus. Our next stop was Hacienda Cusin for lunch. It was also a quaint property. They had a few shops where we browsed and then we had a nice lunch. I had my new favorite – potato soup and avocado. I also had a dish of pasta. This would be a great place to stay for a few days when we return.

    We reboarded the bus to head back to Quito. It started to rain. We were on pretty windy roads, sometimes on the sides of a cliff and our windshield wiper stopped working. We stopped on the side of the road to try to fix it. A truck came up from behind and side swiped us. It was pretty scary. Luckily everyone was okay.

    In general the drivers here are crazy (although ours was good). The buses pass each other while going around blind turns.

    We made it back to the hotel and chatted in the lobby with our tour guide Lorena for a bit. She is very nice and knowledgeable. She left us her email: pagocha@gmail.com or info@campustrekking.ec

    We are leaving tomorrow, so our entire group headed out together for dinner. We returned to Red Hot Chili Peppers (had the same cute waiter) and a bunch of tequila shots. Afterwards we started to walk back to the hotel (there was 10 of us, so we figured it was safe). We came across an Irish pub and stopped in for a drink. It wasn’t really an Irish pub like we would find in the US, but it was fun. We arrived home at 2:30 AM.. A very late night for us!

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    Sunday, April 20, 2008

    Sadly we travel home today. We had our last breakfast and said our goodbyes to Lorena and our driver. We tipped Lorena $120 and our driver $50. Unfortunately we neglected to save cash so when we got the airport we couldn’t pay the $42 departure tax! Lorena was still there, so she helped us find an ATM (the one near our terminal was out of order). We found one in a bit of a shady area… Good thing because she offered to return the tip I had given her so that we could depart. I would have felt bad.

    The trip home was uneventful. Both of our flights were on time.

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    Hi xyz99 – thanks for the post. Yes, April was a perfect time to go to the Galapagos. We were told to bring wetsuits (several in our group did). I am always cold, but the water temps were perfect. Our neighbors went in November ’08 and they said this was also a perfect time to go. They went on a National Geographic boat and said it was wonderful. There were a few places that they could not visit because their boat was a little bigger.

    Neither John nor I had any sea sickness (or altitude sickness in Quito). Several of the people on the boat wore a sea sickness patch. Only one of the women on the boat didn’t feel well due to the motion.

    I am still behind on the photos, but have a few on my flickr site:
    http://flickr.com/photos/lindahallphoto/sets/72157604846322016/detail/

    http://flickr.com/photos/lindahallphoto/sets/72157604702226337/detail/

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    One last comment. On April 11th I wrote: "We saw some other birds who only come to the island every 6 years (I forget their name). The males arrive first, and then the females join them. They click beaks with each other as a start to the mating process".

    These were the albatross. They nest only on Española (Hood) Island.

    These birds are really amazing. We watched them soar as they jump off the cliffs for over an hour. It was certainly a highlight. I found this on the Internet: The Waved Albatross is the largest bird in the Galapagos Islands. It is found around the East Pacific. With a wingspan of 11 feet (3.5 m.) an albatross can follow wind currents for days. Their only home in Galapagos is Española (Hood) Island where spectacular courtship-displays amaze any visitor.

    Albatrosses depart their lovely grounds by early January and return by early April. They follow the cold waters back to the coast of South America. When the southeast trade winds come back, they not only bring cool nutrient-rich waters, but the albatrosses as well.

    Among the many interesting features of the waved albatross is the feeding mechanism of their young: fish oil! What an adaptation for long-feeding trips in the ocean. The Albatross also the ability to drink salt water and filter out the salt in a gland by their eyes. The salt is then excreted by nostril tubes through the bill.

    Albatrosses spend most of their time out at sea, eating squid, fish and invertebrates. They breed almost exclusively on Espanola in colonies. They mate for life, following a courtship dance. Females lay one egg, which both parents nurture for about seven months. After that, the young flies out to sea, and returns, after five to seven years, as a mature bird ready to mate.


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    adnil,
    Fantastic pictures! Looks like you had a wonderful trip.

    And you even got to see the albatrosses - that's something I would like to see, too.

    Thanks for a great trip report.

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    Thanks adnil, your trip report is a real inspiration. I am currently trying to organize a trip to the Galapagos for Dec 09. It sounds like you had a great honeymoon. Congratulations and best wishes for the future. Do you know if you can hire a wetsuit after you arrive if you need one? We are planning to do a landbased trip as my daughter and I both get very motion sick.

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