ECUADOR, A TRIP TO REMEMBER FOREVER
Where to start? From the moment that we reached out to Guayaquil we knew this was going to be an unforgettable trip. During our 13 days in Ecuador we had the opportunity to spend 6 days exploring the Galapagos Islands; 3 days in the Amazon Basin and 2 days in Quito. We did not have to worry about arranging transportation since part of our travel package included transportation pick up and drop off from the airport to our destinations. In addition, we experienced some original and out of the common practices, very particular of this region. Our trip was truly remarkable in part because of all of the wonderful people that we met during our time in Ecuador.
HIGHLIGHTS OF THE TOUR
The Galapagos Island
Our 6 day, land based singles tour on 3 islands in the Galapagos was an unbelievable journey. Our main guide “Miguel,” as well as our naturalist guides on each island made every activity interesting, fun and safe. They were knowledgeable and eager to share their information in a way we could all understand.
Our face to face encounters with the incredible wildlife, as well as our scenic hikes, snorkeling, beaches and vistas made this a trip of a lifetime. The giant tortoises and adorable sea lions were our favorites.
Our other highlights were the lava tube caves, snorkeling Kicker Rock and Tintoreras where we even saw sharks, hiking up the Sierra Negra Volcano and walking on Lava Rocks with hundreds of lizards. It was like being on the moon and stepping back in time like Jurassic Park!
Another funny sight was at the Santa Cruz fish market. There were so many hungry pelicans all over and stealing food. It was hysterical to watch!
We also enjoyed outstanding comfort, service and gourmet cuisine at the boutique Opuntia hotels.
The Amazon Rainforest
Our next 3 day adventure was to Misahualli in Ecuador.
We stayed at the beautiful Suchipakari Lodge located very deep into the jungle. One highlight was hiking through primary and secondary jungle, learning about and actually using the medicinal plants and giant Ceibo trees.
Our guide Wilson used a machete to cut down sticks for us to use and plants to make us headbands and crowns. It was straight out of an Indiana Jones movie. We also loved inner tubing on the river and swimming in the waterfalls. The best day for all was the canoe trip down the Napo River and our visit to the indigenous community of the Amazon-The Kichwa people! We learned about their crafts, danced their traditional dances with them, had our faces painted and learned how to make “Chicha.” Every night after dinner there was music, dancing, games, special local drinks and Caipirinhas like I have never had since they make their own drinks from sugar cane.
The last morning before we left we learned how to make chocolate-the Kichwa way. I don’t know what was more fun-making it or eating it.
Los Andes & Quito
Our last stop was to the beautiful city of Quito. The drive there was like the expression “It’s not the final destination, but how you get there.” The scenery was a mixture of towns in the mountains and valleys, huge twin waterfalls, single lane bridges, curving gravel roads and foliage with various density of greens. We drove directly to Mitad Del Mundo, to visit the middle of the world and take pictures as you straddle the equator on 2 hemispheres. We also went to the museum which displayed an overview of all the distinct cultures, and did several experiments with our guide.
The next day we had time to explore the old town Quito with all of its colonial architecture. Our highlights were seeing Independence Plaza with the Cathedral and Government Place. Since it was a Monday we got to see the changing of the guards and tour the Royal Palace. We also visited some beautiful churches and museums. Shopping and walking through the cobblestone streets was wonderful. Let’s not forget the wonderful Ecuadorian food! We were really able to get a taste of the flavor and people of Ecuador.