Amazon Adventure & Galapagos Discovery - Ecuador
I’m traveling to Ecuador for a 12-day land based Travel Adventure. I’m traveling as a solo with the help of a tour operator: Exoticca.
January 16, 2024, Tuesday / Travel Day
January 17, 2024, Wednesday / Quito to Amazon
January 22, 2024, Monday / San Christobal, Galapagos IslandsI slept well, the room is air-conditioned by individual units. I wish the hot water worked as well. Breakfast is served from 7-9 AM and I went at about 7:30. It’s a set menu of Egg & Cheese omelet, a strip of bacon, and a large croissant. Clever that it can be eaten as is with Jam & Butter or can be made into a breakfast sandwich for those on the go. They served a small pitcher of Leche Caliente (without requesting…wow). The Llamas met at 9:30 for our full-day scheduled tour. We went up into the Highlands to visit Galapaguera, the home to amazing giant tortoises. MWF are feeding days where they place fresh greens out in various locations and the tortoises come in from the wild to feed. There will be many found at the primary feeding locations. They also have a Nursery Area where the young are allowed to grow before being released. They are quite small when young. These are the tortoises that put the Galapagos on the map. They are amazing to see. The next stop was at Puerto Chino to see seabirds, but I took advantage of the beach as I had already been walked out. The Sea Lions already had the choice spots picked out but I found one and enjoyed the clean fresh waves… Afterward, we returned to the hotel for a two-hour break, I had a Hamburger next door at a cafe and rested. We left at 3:00 pm for the short drive to La Loberia for two hours of snorkeling and swimming. I just used my swim goggles but I went further and saw much more than most. I saw numerous fish as expected and a lot of small to medium-sized (18-24”) sea turtles that were swimming around individually and in groups. I then had beach time and watched the Sea Lions train their young. It was very nice. Once returning to town many (7) signed up for the 360 water tour around the island on Wednesday. I stopped for a Chicken Shawarma with Fries and Soda ($9) from El Arabe (Jordanian) as I knew I wouldn’t go back out this evening after a long day. It was a very good day in the Galapagos.
January 24, 2024, Wednesday / San Christobal, Galapagos IslandsIt was pouring rain when I woke at 6:30 am. Not encouraging for the biggest excursion of the trip scheduled today. It was improving by the time I arrived at the Tour Office. Seven of our 11 plus five others are sailing on a San Christobal 360 Tour…i.e. sailing completely around the island. This is the most popular tour here @ $180 pp. and over 8 hours in time, We met our guide, Christopher, picked up our gear bags and walked down to the pier at about 7:30. am We then took a harbor water taxi to our Boat…and we met the Captain & Crewman. There is a government official to ensure life vests are used, but once he is off they come off. Soon on our way for the longest sailing period of the day doing a little fishing to Bahia Rosa Blanca. We were shuttled ashore in a Dingy and walked across a volcanic outcropping to a sheltered bay. Here we snorkeled and saw numerous Sea Turtles and fish. Upon return to the boat we were served the raw Tuna we caught earlier…actually very good. From here we sailed to Punta Pitt, passing a pod of Whales, where we were served lunch and watched Red-Footed Boobies. The next stop was at Bahia Sardinia, a beautiful beach where the group went snorkeling, but I swam into the beach and enjoyed that, eventually the group walked over to me returning from their snorkel, humorous as it looked as though I was hanging with the sea lions. We stopped at Cerro Bruno a large outcropping and a photo opportunity. The prime photo is through the arch with Kicker Rock in the background. Also here were some Blue-footed Boobies. The best and final destination is last: Leon Dormido or Kicker Rock (photo). This is a series of very high huge rock outcroppings located off the main island of San Christobal. This is the best snorkel opportunity in the Galapagos. This is deep water which allows for a variety of unique opportunities. We saw huge Sea Turtles, Tiger Sharks, Sting Rays, a variety of Fish, and at the very end the Hammerhead Shark. WOW. What an experience. We received a towel and began sorting our gear on the way back to Puerto Baquerizo arriving at about 4:45 pm. This was one of the best excursions I have ever done and very glad that I did it. After cleaning up I went to Giuseppe’s for dinner: Nona’s Meatballs, and a nice Salad. Then the final walk along the Malecon as I returned to the Blue Marlin. An outstanding day.
January 25, 2024, Thursday / San Christobal to Guayaquill
I woke early so began to pack and was at breakfast at about 7:00 am. The newly arrived Exottica Group had questions and is not getting the extra day on the island. I’m glad we got it. Our airport shuttle is at 10:50 am and we were at the airport straight away. A small wait once there but soon on our way to Guayaquil. I got an upgrade to seat 2A and boarded first actually. I was also first off the plane. A first for me on both. We were picked up by Hotel Shuttle in Guayaquil and we stayed ay the Wyndham Garden Hotel near the Airport. I have a very nice king room and it will be very nice to take a hot shower, and sleep in a large clean bed. At about 6:00 I went next door to a Red Lion for a nice Hamburger and some Coca-Cola. Very nice way to decompress from the trip. An easy travel day.
January 26, 2024, Friday / Guayaquil, Ecuador
I slept very well and I have a late check out so easy morning repacking as I’ll check both bags through to Tampa. I enjoyed this hotel and took the 11:00 am Airport Shuttle. AA is not open as yet so time for KFC. I was kind of pleased with myself: I ordered from the kiosk, paid by iPhone, and got my food…simple. However, I had to have the lady next to me open my mayo packet…Oh well…not quite independent? I got through security and check-in without a problem and to my gate two hours before departure. Smooth process and a nice Airport. We arrived in Miami at about 7:00 pm and had the huge process of customs and secondary security. My Tampa flight was a little late and only an hour flight but still midnight before arrival. The DD and DW picked me up and we were home at about 1:00 am. Long day, but the trip was well worth it.
I was very pleased with Exottica. I thought giving us an extra day in Galapagos was better than staying in Guayaquil where there could be security concerns. They handled last-minute airline changes very well. Exceeded expectations and I will travel with them again. I’m setting up Bosque Travel as an affiliate.
Carlos - a native of the Highlands, was our guide for four full days while in Quito, the Amazon Basin, Highlands. He was personable, knowledgeable, helpful, translating, and always Smiling. You can tell he loves his country. One of the best, in my top five, I have had in all my travels.
Boris - a native of San Cristobal, was adequate, but too much of a hustler for me. Does his job because it's his job. A bit lost in translation perhaps.
Christopher - (360 Excursion) 20 years on the island and was excellent and friendly. He knew how to manage groups of people.
Galapagos Dual Economics
Tourism here is based on the unique varieties of animals. Beaches are nice but found all over the world so it’s the unique species of animal that is the Galapagos. For years It had primarily been affluent American and European tourists who visited; however, during COVID-19 tourism wasn’t possible. The Ecuadorian government began to allow native Ecuadorians easy access to the Galapagos. The fee was now minimal so they were the dominant visitors for the past several years and restaurants catered to them. Now that full tourism has returned there are two styles of restaurants and tours. A local lunch averages about $6, and a tourist lunch $12. I had lunch from a local stall at Mann beach and it was good, but also not the quality of the standard. But Ecuadorian food has not appealed to me in general. The dual pricing also seen in other areas...so negotiate.
This adventure was one of my most unique and enjoyable experiences as a traveler.