Overview of the Chile, Ecuador & GalapagosTour

Itinerary: Chile, Ecuador and Peru

Detailed Itinerary and Contacts

14 Sep: Depart Toronto Pearson 2255 AC92, Arrive Santiago, Chile 15 Sep 0925
15-18 Sep: Santiago, Plaza El Bosque Park Hotel, (56 2)498 1800, http://www.plazaelbosque.cl/parkandsuites/hotel.html
18 Sep: Depart Santiago 0700 LA1446, Arrive Guayaquil, Ecuador 1015
18-19 Sep: Guayaquil, Hotel Oro Verde,  593-4-2327999, http://www.oroverdeguayaquil.com
19-22 Sep: Cuenca Ecuador, Manzion Alcazar - Boutique Hotel, 593 7 2 823889, http://www.mansionalcazar.com/Home.htm
22-23 Sep: Guayaquil, Ecuador, Hotel Oro Verde,  593-4-2327999, http://www.oroverdeguayaquil.com
23 Sep: Aerogal flight to San Crisobal Island, Galapagos to meet with our Ecoventura yacht,
23-30 Sep: Aboard yacht Eric, Flamingo or Letty, http://www.naturetours.com/ga_ecodk.htmlhttp://www.ecoventura.com/home.aspx, emergency contact through Gabriella at 416-214-2235
30 Sep - 01Oct: Guayaquil, Ecuador, Hotel Oro Verde,  593-4-2327999, http://www.oroverdeguayaquil.com
01 Oct:: Depart Guayaquil 0755, Arrive Lima 0945
01 Oct: Lima, Peru, Estelar Hotel Miraflores, +51 (1) 630 7777, http://hotelesestelar.com/en/hoteles/lima-peru/hotel-estelar-miraflores

03 Oct - Lima (Postings are listed in Reverse Date Order)

Wednesday October 3

Morning was time to pack up for the trip home and we consolidated into 2 rooms from the 4 we’d been using. At 11 we met with Ruth and José and then went off on a shopping spree at the Peruvian Markets. Most of us bought at least one or two things to remember Peru. We met José for lunch at a Peruvian restaurant which was most interesting and delicious. After lunch we walked back to the hotel. There were a few bursts of sunshine during our walks. It must be tough to live here with the overcast skies for six months of the year, but it was nice to have the sunshine briefly. Ruth and three others headed out for another round of shopping, while the rest of us flaked out. We have experienced such wonderful hospitality here! What a great time we’ve had.

02 Oct - Lima, Peru

Tuesday October 2 – Lima, Peru

 We were awake fairly early, so took our time and eventually went for breakfast. We were unsure of our departure time today (for the Horse Show), so waited to hear from Cathy before going out. She let us know it would be noon, so we walked out through the park and to the Indian Market. It was just opening, so we didn’t see much, but it was nice to be out in the city. Back at the hotel we got the message that departure was changed to 11:30. That still gave us time to be ready. And what a grand time we had! Claudia’s parents, Ruth and José and brother José met us with a small bus and we travelled well out of Lima to the south. At Los Ficus Casa Hacienda we were greeted by the very lovely Alexandria who guided us through the garden ( 20-30 kinds of lettuce as well as herbs, all organic and used there and at the La Nautica Rosa). Alexandria explained the phases of training of the Peruvian Paso Horses and we saw a horse at that stage “do its things”. Finally 6 fully-trained horses rode by the best charlanes showed how well-disciplined and graceful they are – they really dance! A single rider and a woman in traditional dress did a dance together which was very beautiful and well done. And next, we had a delicious meal at outdoor tables and all the time we were getting to know Ruth and José. On the ride back to the hotel, we sand Canadian songs for their entertainment. This was certainly one of the very best experiences of this trip. We cannot thank Ruth and José enough for hosting us today.

Photos 2 Oct

01 Oct - Guayaquil to Lima

Monday October 1 – Guayaquil to Lima

Our flight was at 9:45 but the airline required us to be there 3 hours before, so we had a 5am wake-up call, early breakfast and departure from the Oro Verde.  Mabell was most efficient at shepherding us through the formalities and soon we were all in the departure lounge.  Some of us wandered through to shops and picked up a few things.  The flight was quick and we arrived in Lima to be greeted by our local guide, Fidel, and driver Jimmy. The sky was so very overcast and Fidel told us it stays this way from May to November, then the skies clear until May.  But it never rains, there’s only ever mist.  Water comes from 3 rivers that run from the Andes.
Our first stop was the wonderful La Rosa Nautica restaurant.  We and Cathy had eaten there 5 years ago and it had been a most memorable and enjoyable experience.  It was great to go back and not be disappointed.  There is an Arab summit in Lima this week, so a huge police presence.  Fidel said that all 5-star hotels are under intense security and we certainly see it at the Estalar Miraflores where we’re staying.  Unfortunately it also meant we couldn’t visit the main city square since it was cordoned off by security forces.  We were all happy to get to the hotel.  Sadley that’s when we said good-bye to Heather, Dennis, Elsie and Brock, who were all catching the night flight back to T.O.  We were delighted to find roses and fruit in our room – gifts from Claudia’s mom and dad.  We rested for a while then the 8 remaining Intrepids met for a drink.  We returned to our room for a light supper while the rest had soup or salads in the dining room.  Early to sleep in the big comfortable bed.

Photos 01 Oct

30 Sep - San Cristobal to Guayaquil, Ecuador

Sunday September 30th – San Cristobal to Guayaquil

Packing all our damp and wet clothes was a challenge, but we all managed. Then one last panga ride to the pier. We hopped on a bus for the ride to the very interesting and well-presented Interpretation Centre. Then a walk through the town with a bit of retail therapy and back on the bus to the airport. It’s less than 2 hours to Guayaquil and we were met there by our familiar friendly Mabell. At the hotel we quickly found our rooms and I don’t know about the rest, but Larry and I had 4 priorities: 1) pull all that wet stuff out of the suitcase to dry, 2) catch up on email news from home, 3) loll in the bathtub (me) and 4) update the photos and blog (Larry). Then, of course, make a stab at re-packing for Lima. 

No Photos Today

29 Sep - Galapagos - South Plaza Is and Port Ayora, Santa Cruz Is.

Saturday, September 29th  -- South Plaza Island and Ayora Port, Santa Cruz Island. 

We got a bit of extra sleep this morning for a later start, then went ashore for a walk on South Plaza Island. We were glad to have our walking sticks. It is the very rocky home of land iguanas, who feed on the cactus that grow quite thickly. There were, of course, lots of sea lions including one huge male who seemed to be resting from his labours and perhaps hoping someone would come and take over his harem. Lots of birds starting with swallow-tail gulls at the landing place, pelicans, a red-billed tropicbird (minus its beautiful long tail, which it had lost to a frigate bird), frigates, tiny black sharp-beaked finches. One marine iguana crossed our path. Back on the boat, we had a very rolling trip back to Santa Cruz Island. Myrna and David opted out of the visit to the Darwin breeding centre, where Lonesome George used to live until his death earlier this year. There the rest of us saw various types of tortoises being protected and/or bred. When we went back to the meeting place, no David and Myrna! The local people in the area said they’d arrived and walked toward the town. So we headed that way, even sending scouts out as far as a construction site that was blocking the main street. No sign of them. The rest of us shopped and strolled the length of the town, made our way through the construction and found them at the pier. Turned out there had been a misunderstanding and the panga driver had dropped them at the pick-up point instead of the drop-off. They had ventured out to the far side of the construction but missed most of the town. Back on board, Sally-Jo discovered that Maria had decorated her room with balloons and streamers and had fashioned all her towels into a birthday cake on her bed. Her real birthday is tomorrow, but we’ll be in transit. In the lounge, we found more decorations and we had quite a party, farewelling the crew and honouring the birthday. Galapagos Sun-Sets, champagne, birthday cake (with the added Ecuadorian custom of biting off a little corner of the cake after blowing out the candles – with the result of icing on face), “Happy Birthday” in both English and Spanish and finally “Go Now in Peace”, which we sing at the end of every trip.

Photos 29 Sep

28 Sep - Galapagos - Bartolomé and Santa Cruz Is.

Friday September 28, 2012 – Bartolomé and Santa Cruz Islands

We needed to make an early start, so were in the pangas by 7:45. A dry landing set us down at the bottom of the 386 steps (I counted!) plus several long ramps to climb to the top of the island. This area had its most recent eruption in 1904 but still looks like a moonscape. There are some pioneer plants such as cacti and Galapagos tomatoes but they are very sparse. We could see plenty of collapsed lava tubes and secondary volcano cones. It was very windy and overcast but we still got hot on the climb. It took 50 minutes to get to the top and about 30 to come back down. The pangas took us directly to a sandy beach where we struggled into our wetsuits, fins and snorkels for a swim around Pinnacle Rock. This was the best snorkeling of the whole trip! My favourite was a brilliant blue sea star. We also saw rays, sharks, many colours of sea stars and fish of every hue. Just great!!!! Back to the boat to motor to Santa Cruz Island.
There we had a very long panga trip into the unnamed harbour and into a rather nice mini-bus for a trip into the highlands at an altitude of about 1300’.  The road was good for much of the way.  At first the landscape was dry, but from 600’ upward it became lush and green. The lane into our destinations was very rough. Along the way we saw many crops growing, as well as cows and horses in the fields. Soon we began spotting huge tortoises, and some smaller ones, in the fields. The road was lined with bananas and impatiens and other growth. We walked into fields where tortoises were grazing. It was so muddy we were provided with rubber boots. Besides the tortoises we saw many birds: the female vermillion fly-catcher, yellow warblers, pintail ducks, egrets and many finches. From that sanctuary on a private farm we moved along to a lava tunnel, which was very large and featured small stalactites. At the entrance was a barn owl which was nearly impossible to photograph. The last stop was “Los Gemelos”, 2 sinkholes caused by collapsing lava domes. They were huge, but we couldn’t see the full extent because of the mist. We returned to the harbour, and had quite a long wait for the pangas, since the boat had gone to the other side of Baltra Island to refuel. As always, Luis was waiting with a delicious snack for us. Dinner, bed.

Photos 28 Sep

27 Sep - Galapagos - Isabela Island

Thursday, September 27, 2012 – Isabela Island.

After breakfast we boarded the pangas for the run into Puerto Villamil, where we were met by a small bus to go to the Highlands. We had decided the night before not to climb the volcano, since we were unlikely to have a view because of the mist. It would be a long muddy climb for nothing. However, we did hope to see the elusive vermillion flycatcher. Pepe warned us that it would just be a “speck of red”. I was the lucky one looking in the right direction at the right moment and wonder of wonders, when we backed up it was still there! Larry and Heather both got good photos before it flew away. We also stopped to get a good look at and photos of the angel’s trumpet or datura flower. Back at the dock we got a really good look at a tiger ray. On the way back to the boat in the pangas we saw another ray, and a group of penguins on a small island with a blue-footed booby. At lunch (which was after the delicious morning snack) we had a cantaloupe carved in the shape of a swan. Very pretty. Back on the island after lunch, we headed straight for the tortoise centre. We saw several kinds of tortoises from different volcanoes on the island being raised to about age 5, when they’re carefully returned to their places of origin. Others stay at the centre for breeding. This is all necessary because introduced predators make it almost impossible for the young to survive in the wild. Near the centre we saw many flamingos in a lagoon. They were closer than the others we had seen, and shared space with gallinules and other birds. We wandered through the town and met up with most of the others for a beer at a sidewalk bar. Some people had seen a funeral procession going by. Back to the boat for our snack, briefing and another great dinner. We all retired early as we were on the move and it was somewhat rocky.

Photos 27 Sep

26 Sep - Galapagos - Floreana Island

Wednesday, September 26th Floreana Island.

Before breakfast we were treated to a bit of a show by 3 young sea lions. One had caught a crab and the others played at stealing it. Our first excursion of the day was a wet landing at Cormorant Point. A young sea lion was nursing and others lying about. Pep explained some of the flora – with samples, so we might recognize them later. Along the trail we saw (and smelled) incense tree, Galapagos daisy, sunflower tree and black mangrove among others. When we reached the edge of a brackish lagoon, we could see a half-dozen flamingos feeding in the distance. We moved on to a vantage point above the lagoon, where we could see all of it and the surrounding area. Next we moved to another beach to see small rays tumbling in the surf. At first we couldn’t see them, then suddenly realized they were nearly around our feet. Back on board Flamingo I we donned bathing suits and some of us put on the wet suits so we could snorkel at the Devil’s Crown. We saw Tiger Rays, a blue sea star, and many many small to medium sized fish. Some saw a shark or two under the edge of the rocks. We rode an ocean current while the various formations and creatures appeared below us. Pepe did a great job of drawing our attention to t interesting things. After we returned to the panga and stared toward the boat we saw a very large flock of shearwaters, cute little black and white duck-like birds. Once again we enjoyed a delicious lunch and some restful time before afternoon activities. We took off in the pangas for a tour of this part of the island’s waters. In one little lagoon we saw a few sharks and at least one ray. On an island were boobies and possibly a turtle. When we landed we went to a clearing that holds a barrel used as a mail box. People leave cards and letters for others to pick up and hand-deliver. We went through a few hundred of them but found none from the Toronto area. Then in wet suits or not, we put on masks, snorkels and fins and went into the water in search of sea turtles. I saw three before I became chilled and called the boat over to pick me up. Besides the turtles, we got a good look at sea urchins, and lots of other growth as well as many colourful fish, pencils, a pelican on the edge of the surf. Along the way we saw huge cacti on one island. Another good briefing and delicious dinner, long conversations and early to bed.

Photos 26 Sep    Click to go to the end of the 1st week
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