LASA TOUR 2009-10
Sun 6 Dec 2009 - Sun 20 Dec 2009 27 °C
Even though it’s just 93 miles from the Colombian border it took 5 and a half hour’s to get there by bus. We ended up staying in a hotel on the same street as when I was here in 2005. A lot had changed since then as there are no armed guards on every street and my favourite restaurant is no longer there.
While in Quito we visited the Basilica and you are allowed to climb to the top of one of it’s towers and from there you can see the city.
We also took a one day tour up Volcan Cotopaxi. You can do a two day tour to the summit which is 5,900 meters and camp during the night but we weren’t fit enough for this so you get a ride to about 4,200 meters and walk up to a hut which is at 4,800 meters. I tried walking up further but didn’t get too far as it started snowing and I kept losing my grip.
The flight to Galapagos stopped in Guayaquil which meant it was almost twice as long but was still only 2 and a half hour’s.
While looking for a hotel in Santa Cruz Island a man stopped us and took us to an apartment which only cost $30, what a bargain as it was one block from the sea front. It was also handy as we could cook for ourselves as food is really expensive here.
One day while walking along the seafront to the Giant tortoise center we saw lot’s of amazing wildlife just mingling with the locals. There were sea lions, Pelicans and some birds I have never seen before all waiting for food. The birds don’t fly away even when you get close, it’s very strange. One of them is called the yellow warbler. Even though it was great to see the giant tortoise it’s a shame that it was not in their natural habitat. You must read the story about lonesome George.
We took a boat trip to Floreana Island. The sea as quite rough, especially for the size boat we were on. It took two hours to get there and I think most people felt ill by the time we arrived. Unfortunately I think this was the wrong tour to do as we didn’t see much wildlife and I was hopeless at snorkeling. I didn’t have flippers and found it hard to breath through the mask. Also there was a strong current and you soon drift away from the boat. Maybe I’m just upset because I didn’t see any Blue Boobies but I guess it gives me a reason to come back one day and do a tour to a different Island.
Back on Isla Santa Cruz you can walk to a secluded beach called Tortuga Bay. You see a lot of Iguanas, actually so many I got bored of them even though some were different colours. In the bay you can see the water tortoise swimming and seals. We came across one tortoise that as trapped between rocks and Margarita helped it free. As I mentioned before, the birds don’t fly away from us humans and I was eating a packet of crisps on the beach and within a minute was surrounded by birds. I got a little scared as it was like a Hitchcock film but they didn’t attack me although they followed me to sea.
The day before we left we walked for a couple hours from one town, Bellavista (20 or so houses) to another town, El Cascajo (less than 20 houses) and of course it rained. Luckily in the second town shortly after starting to walk towards the beach which was still about 10km away a jeep stopped and let us ride in the back. At the beach in Garrapatero there was a great place underneath trees for BBQ’s. There as also a reserve but we only saw one flamengo there.
We visited Baños but were unlucky with the weather as we trekked for a few hours up the hills but when we got to the top we couldn't view the nearby volcano.
We really enjoyed Cuenca. A lot of the buildings are beautiful, we thought the architecture was great in this city. Nearby is La Cajas national park. We went there for a couple of days. The first day we walked close to 20km. The landscape was amazing and we saw a few different kind of birds but unlike the Galapagos they didn't stop and pose for a foto! The night was very cold staying in a hut and Margarita suffered with altitude sickness and I suffered with her keeping on waking me up to tell me she was suffering, sorry babes love you!
The second day trek was difficult even though it was shorter. The were some steep climbs in the first half of it. The lakes weren't as beautiful as the previous days but it was good exercise. The clouds cleared in the afternoon and we both got really sun burnt. My nose was glowing red!
The bus trip to Perú was crazy. The bus to the border was about 6 hours. When near the border we had to change bus. This bus was full and our seats were taken. We were standing at the back of the bus when someone explained to us that we needed to get our passports stamped for leaving Ecuador near where we changed buses. The bus stopped and the driver said he would wait for us at the Perú entry point while we took a taxi back to get our passports stamped. I didn't trust this guy so we took all our luggage with us. Why do they make some borders so complicated? Is it too easy to have the passport office at the border? Any way we took a taxi who conveniently overcharged us, and when we got to the Perú point do you think our bus was there waiting? bearing in mind it was 2am. Well read the next blog to find out.