In order to cover on the blog two important parts of Ecuador that we at Indefinite Adventure were not able to visit, we asked Sam's mum and her husband to write about their experiences of visiting the Galapagos and Ecuadorian Amazon.
Having recently retired, my husband John and I decided to treat ourselves to a trip to The Galapagos Islands with Haugan Cruises. We had already met up with Sam (my son) and Zab in Quito where they showed us how to hail a taxi, Ecudadorian style, haggle the fare down, get clothes washed and dried very cheaply and introduced us to some of the many exotic fruits available.
We then took a short flight from Quito to Baltra Island where we were taken to the ship that would be our home for the next week. It was a luxury cruise so the rooms were spacious, beds huge and food plentiful. We shared the ship with six Americans, three Russians, a family of Hungarians and twelve crew members. The Hungarian family proved to be the most appealing ship mates, although only the two children spoke English. Zoltan, the father, was quite a clown, and able to communicate very well with gestures.
Each day we stopped at a different location, sometimes, but not always, on different island, and each time we would be taken ashore in two Zodiacs, along with a local guide at all times: this is a requirement to protect the unique islands and the creatures that live there.
Each day we walked about 1-3 km over a variety of terrain including lava fields, wobbly boulders and sand. Sometimes we had a wet landing, which meant getting off the Zodiacs in shallow water carrying our boots. The staff helpfully supplied towels to dry our feet before putting walking boots back on again, and on our return we were usually greeted with a drink and a snack.
We saw a huge variety of wildlife, and became quite blasé about seeing piles of iguanas on the nearby rocks, or sea turtles swimming near our boat.
Amazingly, the animals were not afraid of people, so we were able to get quite close to them and could hear their noises, like the tortoise letting out air from its shell before retracting its limbs, the sea lion pup feeding greedily and the Nazca Boobies whistling to attract a mate.
We were also able to try snorkelling, since wet suits were provided, and in doing so, we saw turtles, sea lions, eagle rays as well as some white tipped sharks.
As I am myopic and only bought prescription swimming goggles, I found snorkelling rather difficult. One day I was able to try kayaking whilst the others snorkelled which was a pleasant way to spend an hour in the sunshine, watching sea lions frolicking in the turquoise water.
Oh, and did I forget to mention the two flamingos we saw, the baby albatross that looked like Big Bird, and the Blue-footed Boobies (yes, that is really what they are called)?
I wonder if Darwin had known how commercialised these very special islands would become because of his observations, would he still have published his treatise?
Sarah is a recently-retired family doctor, who worked for almost 30 years in the same practice in East London. She enjoys painting watercolours, French cinema and playing the viola and bassoon. And of course, travelling, but only in style, darling. She's also Sam's mum.
All photos kindly provided by John Miller (with the exception of the first).