Ecuador · 38 Days · 8 Moments · May 2017

South America - first stop Ecuador

21 June 2017

Isobella The journey was memorable given we made the dumb decision to sit in the front of the boat. We found the waves to be substantial so we were either being bounced up or down vigorously or were flying through the air waiting for the hard landing. Two hours later we arrived on a tranquil island with a small population. It's a volcanic island so there is one main town (more village like) and some farming activity. For consistency we managed to find an elegant bar for evening cocktails overlooking the ocean (lured by the 2/1 offer). This became a regular watering hole. We then arranged a taxi tour of the island to see significant sites that included flamingos, caves, island lookout and penal wall. A long trek to a wall built by prisoners in impossible conditions but we did meet a tortoise in the wild on the way. Then snorkelling lessons. Not snorkelled before and previous efforts have proved pitiful - so I am advised. But cracked it this time and boy what have I missed.

19 June 2017

Isobella 2. Apart from the cocktail trips and the eating out excursions we also managed to do more snorkelling early morning where we managed to swim with seals, penguins and an array of beautiful fish and loads of crabs let alone the iguana presence. The highlight of the latter part of the stay was a trip around the bay. This included seals (who I discover can jump 2 meters out of the water), penguins and blue boobies (check it out - bird with blue feet). Then we stopped on a volcanic island where we saw loads of baby iguanas, herons and black tip sharks. Then more snorkelling. Very grown up jumping from a boat, with flippers no less to follow the guide. Amazing - swam with a Turtle for around 2/3 minutes, swam near to black tip sharks and saw a multitude of fantastic fish big and small including a star fish the size of a small dinner plate. Then the boat journey home. Half way back we stopped for repairs - fuel line issues but it meant we saw dolphins, a shark fin and sea birds.

16 June 2017

The last Galapagos leg. The return journey proved as eventful as the outward. We floated around for a while at sea while they fixed a fuel line fault. But we did have the chance to see a shark and dolphins as well as new sea birds. Once landed we presumed our interests in hamburgers and capernias (cocktail) by night and snorkelling and animal spotting by day with a dose of lazing in between. We also celebrated a fellow travellers birthday - Kendal from Stourbridge- the photos I think speak for themselves. I of course was the sober reserved one. The pier at night was also a animal treat and apart from baby sharks, herons and seals we also saw a manta-ray. A few days later I also manage to swim with a young manta rays. Really cool. Snorkelling also raised its head again in a brackish gulley where the fish were outstanding - turquoise blue with yellow markings - outstanding. On the way to the gulley we also passed a salt marsh where traditionally the local used the salt to salt fish.

3 June 2017

Darwin (2) -, the tortoise story. The islands and Darwin centre are positively working towards improving the giant tortoise (GT) population. Sadly some species no longer exists. The main causes for this is human kind - the animals and plants that were introduced to the islands that are not indigenous negatively impacted on the environment and replaced the GT food source. The second factor is that from the 1700 sailors took the GT away on there boats as fresh meat. This is because GT can survive for a year without food. Consequently they were loaded onto ships and stored upside down until the pot called. The regeneration programme has been successful and many are returned to the wilds. Indeed we came across two wild tortoise getting on with their business on the two islands we visited. A lot of work has also been undertaken on where are the most successful breeding grounds to have maximum impact given the terrain is volcanic mountains to fine sandy beaches. Outcomes are positive.

2 June 2017

Galapagos (1) day two - a visit to the Charles Darwin centre was a treat. The centre operates in three main area - regeneration of the environment and ecology, improving giant tortoise population and developing the finch population and particularly the Darwin finch. In addition they have other projection at the resting stage to develop the indigenous elements. To achieve their golds they have had to eradicate certain elements introduced by humans. This includes blackberries - limiting natural foods of the local animal population, pigs, dogs and ants. Wherever possible ecological solutions are applied. They are also testing hatching a certain finch in captivity before reintroducing to the wild. This is because a fly introduced to the islands lays its eggs where the eggs are and the flies then feed off the baby finches and they don't survive. To date good results have been forthcoming.

27 May 2017

The journey to the Amazon involved a night bus, taxi to pick up point, mini bus and boat. That's a lot of sitting and a numb bum on numerous occasions. On arrival we had food, allocated a hut and prepared for a sunset dip in the Amazon and a torchlight jungle walk.Up and at em next morning demonstrated why it is called a rain forest. It poured but the poncho saved the day and things did improve so we had a dry evening and visited local people showing us how to make yucka bread - a tasty flat bread. The speedy night return to the homestead in a fast boat with no lights was interesting!! The following day was up at dawn to animal watch by boat followed by a forest walk and a night boat for nocturnal animals. We saw - pink dolphins, sloths, monkeys toucans a plethora of birds big and small, snakes, spiders and ants/termites.The jungle walk (including swamp travel) took so long we did Amazon at sunset with a swim and more animal spotting. The last day was Amazon at dawn and off we go.

23 May 2017

Next stop Galapagos - a plane journey and water taxi away. Arrived at Santana Cruz island in the evening and found a street of restaurants for alfresco eating. Next day got our bearings and found the fish market before taking a water taxi to German beach - a small beach and took the rays.A bit to many it turned out but that holidays. It's a simple principle sun cream - it works once you remember to put it on. Whoops one red back!! You quickly work out that wherever you are birds, iguanas and lizards are constant companions. Near the beach was a gulley where fresh water and sea water met and although chilly we were able to swim and find big fish. The next day bought us to torturuga beach - and what a beach with fine white powdery sand. Very jack sparrow!!Then there is only one thing to do after beach, swimming and animal watching + you got it cocktails and food. Apparently the youth have taken it upon themselves to broaden my cocktail menu of choice. Hard work but practice essential

14 May 2017

Well off we go again to meet the youth who disappeared in October so it had the potential to be a 'dr Livingstone I presume' moment. We start at Heathrow arriving early for a 6.30 flight to find a hollow shell of sleepers. But off we go with a 3 hour stop over in Madrid where I get adopted by two elderly women who speak no English but adopt me as luggage boy. We were not able to communicate easily but pointing and hand gestures ruled the day. It also meant that we sat near to each other on the plane. The women decided I needed help to know when food was coming and provided endless guidance of putting me jumper on when it was hot. We trailed each other through customs and parted the best of friends. Next the wait for the youth. Late as usual!!! Then a taxi drive to the hostel and the preordered happy hour beer. The following day - in a bit of a daze we do a short city walk and visit the basilica. We then decided a trip to the Amazon and booked 4 nights at caiman lodge.