Posts Tagged ‘Ecuador’

Galapagos islands – Part II (+ coastal Ecuador)

Tuesday, January 13th, 2009

We’d spent a lot of time online researching the different options for Galapagos trips in the weeks before we went, and the message from the majority was to go on a multi-day cruise or don’t bother going at all. The islands are an expensive place to get to – the only real option is to fly, and the price is set at about $400 US for a return ticket from the Ecuador mainland, regardless of which airline you take. Add to this another $100 per person park entrance fee and you’re at $500 just to step foot on them. We wanted to make sure we got it right (plus we like being on boats!) so we booked a five-day cruise, even though we couldn’t really afford it at the time. The cruise was fantastic, but it turned out that the five days we spent off-board were equally as good.

Lazy Summer Days


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Galapagos islands – Part I

Monday, January 5th, 2009

On December 1st we left Quito for a ten day trip to the Galapagos islands. The islands, which are owned by Ecuador, have national park status and the primary reason to visit them is to see the wildlife and observe their behaviour. Wildlife experts may not agree, but to my mind this is the main attraction for the average tourist: not the variety of animals (as there really aren’t that many different types) but the fact that their behaviour around humans is so unique. They have no fear of us so you can get quite close to them, indeed at times you have to walk around them as they make it quite clear just who is in charge. On the uninhabited islands we visited, where tourists are only permitted to walk along certain trails with a guide, the iguanas and sealions who littered the path provided a constant reminder that we were mere guests in their territory.

Dueling Iguanas

We spent five days on the Archipel II and visited five of the main islands in the group: San Cristobal, Espanola, Floreana, Isabela and Santa Cruz. We had read online that the islands, which are all volcanic, are not that pretty and so were pleasantly surprised by the beauty of the place as well as the excellent wildlife watching.


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Mindo, que Lindo!

Tuesday, December 16th, 2008

When our few days in the rainforest came to an end, we headed back to Quito to resume our search for a Galapagos trip that wouldn´t break us entirely. After two long days of traipsing around the many travel agencies of Quito´s Mariscal district (known as ´gringoland´) and a world of pain trying to withdraw money from as many ATM´s that would give us it, we had a five day cruise booked for the following week through the Happy Gringo travel agency (the first and last agency we went to – they were excellent and the cheapest we found). It was great to have it finally sorted. To make the most of the few days we had to spend on the mainland before heading off, we took a bus to Mindo, about three hours north of Quito.

Blue Morpho Butterfly


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Back to the Jungle

Saturday, December 13th, 2008

About three weeks ago, we started out on what has been a wonderful few weeks of wildlife watching. After two days of shopping around among the many tour companies in Quito (and making definite progress towards securing a boat trip in the Galapagos islands), we boarded a night bus to Lago Agrio near the border with south-east Columbia, and then continued for three hours by bus and two by boat to finally reach Samona Lodge in the Cuyabeno Reserve.

Yellow-knee Tarantula on the Dinner Table

Samona Lodge is the real deal, it´s definitely not a place to go if you´re shy of snakes or spiders or any kind of creepy crawlies. We spent four wonderful days there and both agreed that it beat our previous jungle trip back in Borneo by a mile. By the end of the first day we had already seen much much more than we had anticipated – gangs of squirrel monkeys crossing the river jumping from tree to tree, a huge Anaconda about 6 meters long, sloths sleeping on branches along the river bank, huge vultures and loads of other birds.

Curious Anaconda


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Cuenca & Banos, Ecuador

Thursday, December 4th, 2008

Ten hours and three buses after leaving Mancora in Peru we arrived in the city of Cuenca in southern Ecuador (Mancora-Tumbes-Machala-Cuenca), where we checked into Hostal Macondo tired and hungry. The border crossing and overall journey was pretty uneventful but it was great to see the landscape change after we crossed the border; from arid and dusty coastal Peru to the lush greenness of Ecuador. Like any good Irish cailin, I love a bit of green I do!

Hike from Banos Devils Cauldron, Banos. Orangeman, Banos.


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