A Travellerspoint blog

Galapagos day 1

a tad delayed as I was hoping to get some photos up!

sunny -33 °C

As I type this the sun is going down on my first day in the Galapagos. I arrived this morning, landing on a strange and barren lump of rock surrounded by turquoise sea. To get to the mainland of Santa Cruz you need to take a little ferry across the water, they just chuck your bags on the roof and I had to hold my breath as mine slid off the pile and nearly into the water.

We stopped off briefly at a lava sink hole and a tortoise ranch then I got dropped off at my hostel where I´m spending the night. The town is small but bustling and pretty touristy. Unlike Isabella, where I´ll be spending the month, there are internet cafes, loads of bars and shops and even a supermarket, all scattered around the port.

A friend I met in Quito flew out here the other day so I´m meeting up with him later for my first Galapagos beer! Boat leaves for Isabella tomorrow afternoon so I just might have to find the beach in the morning. I´ve seen my first sea lion and some pelicans, they were hanging around the dock after the fish being sold off the boats, the pelicans are huge! The only boobies I have seen so far are of the cuddly stuffed varierty.

my memory card can't be read here so pics to follow!

Posted by lauraj 17:04 Archived in Ecuador Comments (1)

Semana Santa

and not a chocolate bunny in sight

semi-overcast

Easter is a massive deal in this very Catholic country so they have a huge parade on Good Friday where everyone who has sinned (or has a hankering for pointy hats) gather in their natty purple KKK outfits and walk the streets of Quito. For some this is a bit of a gentle stroll looking pious but the really guilty ones are bare foot or dragging enormous crosses or hitting themselves with twigs as they go along. The really lucky ones have someone walking behind them to hit them with the twigs...

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Afterwards we went and chilled in a fabulous coffee place in one of the Plazas. We sat upstairs watching the world go by and just chatting for ages. Some kids came and started playing with kites, they were having such a great time I couldn´t resist getting my camera out again.

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seriously, how cool is this little dude?!

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Posted by lauraj 14:56 Archived in Ecuador Comments (1)

A lazy Sunday afternoon...

Up the teleferico

all seasons in one day

A guy I met on Sataurday on the way to Cotopaxi wanted to see more of Quito so on Sunday we took the telefrico (cable car) up Volcan Pinchincha which is the dormant volcano that dominates part of the city where I´m living, it´s such a landmark that people give directions relating to it, ´so, if the volcano is on your left, you go... ´

Spectacular views and not much air at 4200m and the clouds roll past so one minute you can see for miles and the next 20 feet or so. We hired a couple of mules to take us around (well we had walked for ages..!) and had a good chat with the guide about local wildlife and agriculture, ok, I listened and Walter translated, it´s only been a fortnight you know..!

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Posted by lauraj 12:09 Archived in Ecuador Comments (2)

Cotopaxi

lunch on the volcano

semi-overcast

Cotopaxi is a stunning snow capped volacno which you can see on clear day from high points in Quito (incuding my bedroom window) you can only climb to the top if you´re an expereinced climber with crampons and ropes and other climby things but us mere mortals, fat blokes and old people can go up as far as the glacier. Another early start but the adventure proper started mid morning when the trailer on our truck came loose so we had to make a quick stop off while it was hammered and soldered back on.

We got driven up to the drop off point on possibly the worst boneshaker ´road´in Ecuador, over boulders and across streams, we were pretty glad to get out and start the hike, it´s only about an hour but up to an altitude of almost 5000m which makes it really hard work. It is hard to catch your breath and just standing still seems to be exhausting but we all made it up to the refuge where the proper climbers spend the night and the rest of us have a nice cooked lunch and a hot chocolate before going down again! Unfortunately it was a bit cloudy and we couldn´t see the very peak of the volcano but we could see the glacier and the gouged out paths where the lava flows have carved their way through the rock. It´s been over a hundred years since the last eruption destroyed most of Quito meaning it´s well overdue, so a thunderclap from one of the clouds below us caused a bit of shrieking and nervous laughter from people on the climb and reminded us all that we were actually climbing an active volcano.

After lunch we literally had to run after our guide down the steepest slope (couldn´t stop if you wanted to!) then mountain biked down the rest of the way, 14k of sandy, gritty, lumpy, rocky dirt track with sheer drops on the outside of the track. Not for the faint hearted and I´m a little saddle sore this morning but it was terrific fun and one hell of of an adrenellin rush! Two of the girls came off and got driven down the rest of the way but somehow I managed to stay on (more luck than judgement) and made it down to the lake where there was much kissing of ground and getting breath back before the truck turned up to bump us back home to Quito. Sigh!

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Posted by lauraj 08:30 Archived in Ecuador Comments (0)

Mindo

Supachicas!

sunny

Had a great weekend in Mindo, I travelled with three other girls from my language school, we stayed in a cute little hostel with hammocks and hummingbird feeders on the balconies. Mindo is in the rainforest so was very hot and humid, very different to Quito although we were only two hours away. We were up at the crack of sparrows to go bird watching with our guide Marcelo, he imitated the bird calls although he admitted to only being able to do one variety of toucan..! The others he had on his ipod and he would play it to the birds to get them to come closer. We saw fabulous toucans and loads of other weird and wonderfully coloured species plus a very rare crested turkey which the guide was really excited about and seemed disappointed that we didn´t quite share his enthusiasm!

The butterfly farm was another highlight but the best bit had to be the zip lining through the cloud forest. Suspended hundreds of feet above the forest floor we zipped across on wires from platform to platform, over waterfalls, sometimes hanging updside down and (my favourite) suspended from the back of the harness face down so it feels like you´re flying! This one was called the Superman but we renamed it to Supergirl (or Supachica in Spanish!).

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Posted by lauraj 08:02 Archived in Ecuador Comments (2)

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