🇪🇨  ECUADOR - 2018

Ecuador is a democratic republic in northwestern South America,  bordered  by Colomnia, Peru and the Pacidic ocean. The Galápagos Islands also belong to Ecuador and are situated about 1,000 km from the mainland. Quito is the capital ( the highest in the world !) but Guayaquil is the largest in the country.

spanish is the official spoken language. However 

Quito

We began our journey in Quito  after taking a direct flight from Amsterdam with KLM (12 hours). Quito is about 2,800 m high so be prepared to get used to the altitude. I suffered from headaches and felt a little dizzy for the first couple of days ( nothing that a couple couple of paracetamol couldn’t sorted ).   We stayed in a charming little boutique hotel in the old town  Which is where all the historical buildings and churches are located.  However it is well worth taking the hop on hop off tourist bus which takes you around the old and the new part of Quito. 

Pichincha

The highlight of our stay in Quito was to take the cable car up Pichincha volcanoe. At 4,100 m above sea level, we had spectacular views over the city. Remember to take a warm jacket as it is rather cold up there !!!

On top of the world

The Galapagos Islands

Set in the Pacific Ocean the Galapagos are an archipelago of 21 volcanic islands (7.800 km2) mostly uninhabited  except for 3. The total number of inhabitants lies in the region of 25.000. They lie about a thousand miles from the mainland, either side of the equator.. They can can be reached by boat or a 2 hour flight from Guayaquil. Although famous for its marine iguanas, the islands offer a diversity of animal and plant species found nowhere else on Earth. The islands are heavily protected (by sniffer dogs when you enter and when you leave). The islands were explored by Charles Darwin and his findings formed the concept of evolution through natural selection ( the Darwin finch adapted its beak on different islands to feed accordingly)

Torturant Bay

Santa Cruz island

One of the smaller islands in the Galapagos, Santa Cruz is largely dominated by a dormant volcano. Puerto Ayora is the capital. It also has the Charles Darwin centre which is a beautiful national park. Additionally the island has the longest lava tunnel (2,000 m) in the world !

Family run hotel located a few blocks away from the port. Offers B&B

The owner, Yolande, is super friendly and will do anything to make your stay enjoyable and relaxing. The breakfast sets you for the day and there are plenty of restaurants within walking distance for lunch and evening meals. 

Tortuga Bay

The place to go if you want to chill on the beach with marine iguanas or paddle in the mangrove and spot white tip sharks !!!

Flight of the pelican

As Tortuga Bay was quite a long walk back to Puerto Ayora we decided to take a boat ride back to Puerto Ayora - not for the faint hearted !!!

Puerto Ayora

The Darwin Centre

Lava tunnel

Pinzon island

Pinzon Island is about a 2 hour motor boat journey from {uerto Ayora. it is uninhabited so the wildlife is abundant. Olivia went snorkelling with sea lions, giant turtles, penguins, white tip sharks and of course iguanas. Great day including lunch and drinks. A little expensive for $120 each but worth it. 

The “Rock with no name”

On the way to Pinzon we circled this amazing outcrop named as the Roch with no name ! Felt like Jurassic Park !!!

Santa Cruz

Mindo

Back on the mainland we are heading to Mindo, north of Quito. Popular with backpackers as it nestles in a cloud forest. 

SaguambyResort

Luxurious accommodation alongside the river.

Best way to explore

The best chocolate in the world !

A 4 month old cacao plant

The natural fruit

The GI one

The whole process of making chocolate from harvesting the beans manually takes 4 months

Nothing but chocolate !!!

From 100% pure to60%

The orchid garden

There are 5,000 species of orchids in the world of which 2,000 can be found in Ecuador alone ! 

Mindo Lago

An interesting place to stay if you want to experience the clod forest

We were very keen to experience s stay within the cloud forest so we choose this place. Make sure you have some insect repellent with you as mosquitoes will eat you alive. Each log cabin is well equipped although a little TLC is required. As they are located in the forest, the cabins can be a little dark and damp. Our cabin was near the pool which was great. We didn’t bother eating there as the menu didn’t appeal to us. The place is well known in Mindo for its frog concert ( hundreds of frogs start their song at sunset). The tour of the area is very popular but don’t join it if it is too busy as you won’t be able to see any frogs ! We just enjoyed sitting outside and listening to the concert.