Before we leave just a quick picture blog about our adventures in Ecuador. It already seems so long ago….
The black marker line indicates how we traveled clockwise through Ecuador. From Bahia on the far left (circle) to Quito then on to Banos. In Banos we took the bus to Lago Agrio to do our trip in the Amazone. From their back to Banos, then Alausi, Cuenca (where we felt the earthquake), then to Guayaquil, Manta en by taxi back to Bahia.
After leaving Quito (without Stefan’s IPhone) we went to Banos.
The market in Otavalo, just outside Quito. She only agreed to have her picture taken because I bought a scarve. This is a typical Ecuadorian outfit, white blouse with embroiderie, gold necklaces, colored bracelet, long wool skirt and scarve draped around the shoulders.
Eating 2$ lunch in the mercado at Ottavalo.
We did a mountainbike ride in Banos, the easy way. It was all downhill and we came back in the back of a truck with our bicycles 🙂
Lots of waterfalls around Banos.
Coming back from school….
On our way to the hot water baths we passed this huge cemetary, in a beautiful location, surrounded by mountains. (Stefan says: some crypts have electric lighting inside, see wire)
Going for the calories before our camping trip to the Amazone…
The boat in which we traveled in the Amazone. We traveled through the Cuyabeno wildlife reserve.
Camping was very basic and good it did not rain the whole time ! I was happy this was only for 3 nights !
Stefan together with Barry (Australia) and Raoul (Honduras), our companions on the trip.
One of the many monkey species in the Amazone. It is one of the animals you definitely see the most.
The Toucan ! You do not see them very often up close but you can hear them a lot. This was the best picture I could take.
Lots of turtles that are now being bred in captivity to increase their population.
There are many macaws in the Amazone but you can never come very close. This was one living with local indians.
The Capybara, the largest rodent in the world. This is a baby.
A sad monkey captivated by an indigenous family. They keep it as a pet.
Nobody home, they were probably gone fishing. This is a hut on the side of the river.
Typical hut along the Cuyabeno river.
Another type of monkey.
More bird wildlife but I could not figure out what kind it was…
Small village along the Cuyabeno river.
Upon our return, we spent half a day in the warm water baths in Banos. It felt great after our camping days in the Amazone !!!
Train ride in the Andes, El nariz del diablo.
In front of El nariz del diablo…
The train ride only lasted one hour each way but the views were beautiful. We did have a lot of fog going but on our return the clouds had lifted somewhat.
Finally some blue skies in Cuenca. The Catedral Metropolitana de la Inmaculada Concepción was only finished in 1885.
Typical street in Cuenca. Cuenca is a UNESCO world heritage site and lies at an altitude of 2500M.
The blue and white domes from the New Cathedral are a landmark for Cuenca. At its inauguration in 1885, the newly constructed Cathedral could accommodate 9,000 out of Cuenca’s 10,000 inhabitants at that time. Today there are about 500.000 people living in Cuenca.
Lots of beautiful churches in Cuenca to visit…Church of Santo Domingo.
Belgian cafe in Cuenca…In the corner of the square I had a localy brewed beer made by a Belgian from Ghent 🙂
Ingapirca, just outside Cuenca. These are the largest known Inca ruins in Ecuador.
We found some good restaurants in Cuenca and even tasted a roasted cavia (Cuy in Spanish), it was yummi. After the earthquake we wanted to go as quickly as possible back to our boat since we had no news and Bahia was close to the epicentre of the earthquake. We took the bus to Guyaquil, stayed their for one night and then took a bus to Manta from where we had to take a taxi since there were no buses due to the earthquake. The devastation in Bahia was enormous but we were lucky there had not been a tsunami and thus nothing happened to the boat.
We decided to leave asap to the Galapagos as there was nothing for us left to do in Bahia without internet.
Red footed boobie, welcoming us to the Galapagos. He stayed the night on the boat.
May 13th, on Santa Cruz Island, we have checked in at our last island of the Galapagos. The paperwork to travel with your boat in the Galapagos is significant, as is the cost to go to between harbours (45$)! Everything on the islands is expensive: foodstores, restaurants and tours with the mandatory park guide. But this is definitely one of the highlights of our tour in Ecuador. It is incredible how the animals let you come close and are not afraid of humans. We visited 3 islands: San Cristobal where we picked up Meliena at the airport, then on to Isabela where we put Meliena back on the airplane and lastly Santa Cruz mainly for provisioning to do the “puddlejump”.
I will give an overview of what we have done in the Galapagos through my pictures.
We arrived in Puerto Baquerizo Moreno where we had to fend off the sea lions from our boat. Then we sailed to Puerto Villamil and now we are in Puerto Ayora getting ready to leave for the Marquesas.
The Galapagos were discovered in 1535 by Tomas de Berlanga. Until the 19th century the islands were used as hideout for pirates who robbed the spanish galleons carrying gold and silver from South America, back to Spain. The islands became famous around the world after the survey ship HMS Beagle, arrived in the Galapagos in 1835. On board was a young naturalist named Charles Darwin.The islands became Ecuador’s first national park in 1959, and these now aggressively-protected islands and the surrounding marine reserve were both declared World Heritage sites. We will have stayed almost 3 weeks here and must say a minimum is 7-10days if you can do a cruise between the islands.
Daily visitors on the boat. We had to put up a construction to keep them off the boat because they do not smell so great and leave dirty stains …
The male Darwin Finch. There are 13 species of finch on the Galapagos, collectively known as “Darwin Finches”.
The Sally Lightfoot crab, Grapsus Grapsus (Latin name). The name comes from their ability to walk on water when they go fron one rock to another. (San Cristobal Island)
Darwin statue on San Cristobal island, it is the island where Darwin first went ashore in 1835.
We went with our bicycles to El Junco lake, a crater lake of fresh water on San Cristobal. The ride was not as easy as expected, all uphill ! Going back was easy though :-).
Stefan and Meliena on San Cristobal island.
Sea Lions rule on San Cristobal. They are everywhere, it is the local stray “dog”.
The blue footed boobie. The name comes from the Spanish word ‘bobo’ meaning fool or clown. In the Galapagos live three kinds of boobies : the blue footed, the red footed and the nazca boobie. (Punta Pitt, San Cristobal Island)
Courtship from the blue footed boobie. They always lay 2 eggs but in 90% of the cases only the first chick to hatch survives. The second one most of the time starves. Survival of the fittest ! (Punta Pitt, San Cristobal Island)
Red Footed boobies at Punta Pitt on San Cristobal Island.
Scenery of our walk at Punta Pitt. (San Cristobal island)
Kicker Rock seen through a cave near San Cristobal island. Spanish name is Leon dormido, it is a remainder of a lava cone, split in two.
The newly (2015) paved road from the harbour into town.
Isabela Island, Los Tunneles where we snorkeled with the Galapagos penguins, sea lions, and even sharks. Taken with our underwater camera.
Meliena with the penguins and a blue footed boobie. These penguins only live on the Galapagos and stay here all year long.(Isabela Island)
Meliena on the boat, on our way to Punta Pitt. (San Cristobal island)
Dolphins jumping out of the water when we returned from our trip to Punta Pitt. (San Cristobal island)
Flamingos getting ready for the evening on Isabela Island.
A 100 year old tortoise after a long day… Don’t worry, he is still alive! The Galápagos giant tortoise is the largest living species of tortoise. Galápagos tortoises can weigh up to 417 kg. Today, giant tortoises exist only on the Galápagos and on Aldabra in the Indian Ocean, 700 km east of Tanzania. Tortoise numbers declined from over 250,000 in the 16th century to a low of around 3,000 in the 1970s. Conservation efforts beginning in the 20th century, have resulted in thousands of juveniles being released onto their ancestral home islands, and the total number of the species is estimated to have exceeded 19,000 at the start of the 21st century.
Tortoise on our bicycle trip to the Wall of Tears on Isabela island.
Meliena and myself in front of the Wall of Tears. El Muro de las Lágrimas was constructed between 1945 and 1959 by Ecuadorian prisoners shipped to the island. The wall is about 25 m tall and has apparently been the cause of thousands of deaths during its construction.(Isabela Island)
View on top of the hill at Isabela Island. The harbour is in the background.
Tortoise slowly crossing the road to the Wall of Tears on Isabela Island.
The marine iguana is an iguana found only on the Galápagos Islands that has the ability, unique among modern lizards, to forage in the sea, making it a marine reptile. The iguana can dive over 9 m deep. They can be found on the rocks to warm up from the cold water.
The Striated Heron. He is focussing to catch a fish, but he missed.
On the Sierra Negra volcano that rises to an altitude of 1124m. In the back the huge crater. (Isabela Island)
In front of the crater of the Sierra Negra volcano. It is one of the most active of the Galapagos volcanoes with the most recent historic eruption in October 2005
The volcano has the largest caldera of all of the Galapagos volcanoes, with dimensions of 7.2 x 9.3 km. The caldera is also the shallowest of the Isabela volcanoes at only 100m.
Meliena in front of the large caldera of the Sierra Negra volcano. It was a beautiful hike from 8 AM to 1 PM. (Isabela Island)
Los Tuneles on Isabela Island. A series of lava flows have created hundreds of arches and tunnels, both above and below the water.
Los Tuneles on Isabela island.
The airport waiting hall on Isabela Island. We were the only ones waiting for the plane that day. One week was too short but we were happy we got at least that! 🙂 We will see each other again in November in Boston!
Today, May 15th, all the laundry is done, we have the tanks filled with diesel. We still have some food shopping to do and then we can leave for the Marquesas on May 17th. We think it will take about 25-30 days of sailing….