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October 29th 2018
Published: November 18th 2018
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This year I am starting a seven-week trip to South America. The first 2 weeks are in Ecuador, starting in Quito, and doing an 8 day visit to the Galagos, and then return to Quito. I will be travelling with my girlfriend Patty. In fact, Patty was the inspiration for this part of the trip. She loves animals, and is fascinated by Darwin’s theory of Natural Selection, which was initially conceived in 1835 by his visit to the Galapagos.

Following the Galapagos part of the trip, Patty will be returning to Toronto, and I will be travelling to Chile to do a motorcycle trip from Osorno, Chile to Ushuaia, Argentina.

Our itinerary is as follows:

Nov 5, 2018 Quito

We were met on arrival and transferred to your hotel. Today we visited the historic city of Quito. We walked the colonial center of one of South America's oldest capitals with its narrow streets and hanging balconies. We also visited San Agustin Monastery, one of Quito's most beautiful religious buildings, Independence Plaza, La Compañia Church and San Francisco Church, the first great colonial building. Drive to El Panecillo Hill for a panoramic view of the city. Every Monday morning they do a changing of the guards in independence plaza. We arrived just in time to see this amazing event. Normally the President of Ecuador is there and makes a speech to the people, but unfortunately he didn’t show up.

Nov 6, 2018 Fly to the Galapagos

AM This morning, we were transferred to the airport for your flight to the Galapagos at 7:15 am. From there, we were transferred to our yacht, Natures Paradise, a relatively new 34 meter ship with 8 guest rooms.

The other people on the trip were:

Chris Willby and Carol Wilde from England

Valerie and Walter Yeap from Australia, and originally from Malaysia

Kim and Eric Melka from Wisconson (celebrating there 5th anniversary)

The Herscott family from Boston – Allan and Lori, and there two grown sons Michael and Jeff

Jess Lim and Peter Ellis, from Austria after having spent 5 years in NYC (he proposed to her on the ship!)

Donnie Weatherhead and Erin Murphy (on their honeymoon)

And our fantastic guide Peter Friere, from the Galapagos, Ecuador

PM Kicker Rock: This afternoon we explored Kicker rock or León Dormido as it is called in Spanish is a huge structure formed of two eroded volcanic cones that tower over the sea at about 104 meters and sits in the middle of the open water. It is one of the most well-known landmarks in Galapagos with many popular sea birds that surround the area.

Nov 7, 2018 Galapagos Cruise

AM North Seymour Island: The island was named after English nobleman Lord Hugh Seymour. Formed by uplifted submarine lava, the island is home to a huge colony of about 2,500 land iguanas and large populations of sea lions, blue-footed boobies, common noddies and frigate birds. Along the coast it is possible to see land and marine iguanas and the biggest colony of Magnificent Frigate birds.

PM Plazas: South Plazas is located at the east of Santa Cruz Island, and forms part of two islands known as Islas Plazas. Despite its small size, some of the most interesting and outstanding species of the Galapagos are found here. The Plazas land iguanas are smaller than its relatives found on other islands. Throughout the island there are several hybrid iguanas, a result of crossing a male marine iguana and a female land iguana, they are unique, recognizable at first glance by their black/gray color, with a land iguana's crest, but face and tail of the marine iguana. The big population of iguanas is due to the presence of tunas, their favorite food. Swallow Tailed Gulls nesting in the rugged cliffs are seen along with other sea birds as: Audubon shearwaters, red-billed tropicbirds, frigate birds and brown pelicans.

Nov 8, 2018 Galapagos Cruise

AM Rabida: This Island is unique because of the red color of the rocks and sand. The volcanic material in this island is very porous and external factors as rain, salt water and sea breeze have acted as an oxidizing agent. A short walk along a trail lead us to a coastal lagoon behind the beach, which permits the observation of land birds, such as finches, doves, yellow warblers and mocking birds. At the lagoon there is a colony of flamingos. The beach is often full of sea lions, and there were good snorkeling opportunities.

PM Bartolome: This Island is situated across Sullivan Bay. It has an altitude of 114 meters, from where we observed one of the most beautiful sceneries of the Galapagos Islands such as: Volcanic cones, lunar-like crates, lava fields, and the famous Toba formed pinnacle eroded by the sea. There is very little vegetation on this island. It has two breathtaking beaches where marine turtles exist and at the base of the pinnacle, as well as a very small colony of Galapagos penguins.

Nov 9, 2018 Galapagos Cruise

AM Sullivan Bay (Santiago): Santiago, also called James, or San Salvador Island, is in the west central part of the Galapagos archipelago. It is the fourth largest island in the archipelago (following Isabela, Fernandina and Santa Cruz). Along with some of the large western volcanoes of Isabela and Fernandina, Santiago is also volcanically active, with many young flows and cones to be seen, particularly along the south, west, and east coasts. These may even be seen from the summit of Darwin Volcano and from space. Several historic eruptions have been reported over the last 2 centuries. Santiago consists of two coalesced volcanoes: a typical shield volcano on the northwest end and a low, linear fissure volcano at the southeast end.

PM Dragon Hill (Santa Cruz): The visitor site at Dragon Hill has been open for visits on 1993. This site is in northwestern Santa Cruz Island and consists of a trail that lead to a hyper-saline lagoon behind the beach, frequented by flamingos, pintail ducks and other species of birds. This site has been re populated with land iguanas from Seymour, Isabela and Santa Cruz islands. There is a short walk to the Hill, which offers a beautiful view of the bay.

Nov 10, 2018 Galapagos Cruise

AM Santa Cruz Highlands: The Highlands of Santa Cruz is a very interesting site due to the rich wildlife, hills, ferns, volcanoes and lava tubes present. Exploring the lava tubes is a surreal and unique experience. Here you can see all the different agricultural zones that are present in the Galapagos in one place. The variety of birds makes this a bird watchers delight. Twin Craters: The Twin Craters or Gemelos, meaning twins in Spanish, are two caved in magma chambers of a previous volcano. After years of erosion and extinction, the once full chambers caved in leaving two similar craters that can be seen on a short hike that passes by a Scalesia forest.

PM Fausto Llerena Breeding Center - Charles Darwin Station (Santa Cruz): Dry landing. We visit the Station where the Galapagos giant tortoise breeding program takes place as part of our efforts to preserve the fragile Galapagos environment and where the famous Lonesome George (the last surviving specimen of his specie) lived for decades. Admire a prickly-pear cactus forest and variety Darwin’s finches and other land birds. The Darwin Station also works providing environmental education to communities and schools within the islands, and to tourists visiting the Galapagos Islands. You will also have some free time to visit the town and shop for souvenirs.

Nov 11, 2018 Galapagos Cruise

AM Prince Phillip Steps (Genovesa): El Barranco is located at the southern part of Darwin Bay and it is also known as Prince Philip’s Steps. Passengers will climb to a plateau that is part of the stretch of land that surrounds Darwin Bay on its eastern side. There is a big population of Masked boobies and Red-Footed boobies in the trees; Storm petrels and Short-eared Owls have found the ideal place for nesting in the lava flows.

PM Darwin Bay (Genovesa): This bay has origin when the crater of this island collapsed below sea level. The wet landing is on a beautiful white coral sandy beach. This is a favorite island for birdwatchers: red footed-boobies, masked boobies, wandering tattlers, lava gulls, whimbrels Yellow-crowned, blackcrowned and lava herons, and yellow warblers can be seen in the area. Continuing the trail, visitors climb gradually to the edge of the cliff seeing Red-Foots nesting in the Mangrove trees below. Bird watching includes sightings of Sharp-Beaked Finches, Large Cactus and Ground Finches, Galapagos Doves and Swallow-Tailed Gulls. Reaching the end, the trail at the cliff's edge offers an incredible view of the island and the many birds living there.

Nov 12, 2018 Galapagos Cruise

AM Espumilla Beach, Buccaneer Cove (Santiago): Espumilla beach is located at the northern coast of Santiago Island in James Bay. During the last presence of the “El Niño phenomenon”, one of the two lagoons of this site underwent a process of sedimentation, thus causing the disappearance of a representative colony of flamingos. The main attraction is the palo santo forest. The beach is an important site for nesting marine turtles. At the nearby Buccaneers Cove we have a great snorkeling opportunity. PM Santiago Island – Egas Port: Egas port is also known as James Bay. It is home to quick footed Galapagos lava lizards, Galapagos fur seals along the grottos and tide pools and is a great snorkeling site.

Nov 13, 2018 Galapagos Cruise ends. Fly to Quito.

AM Las Bachas (Santa Cruz): These two small beaches are found to the West of Black Turtle Cove. Their sand is made of decomposed coral, which makes it white and soft, making it a favorite nesting site for sea turtles. Behind one of the beaches there is a small brackish water lagoon, where occasionally it is possible to observe flamingos and other coastal birds, such as black-necked stilts and whimbrels. The other beach is longer, but it has two old barges that were abandoned during the Second World War, when the USA used Baltra Island as a strategically point to protect the Panama Channel. Later you will be transferred to Baltra Airport for your flight back to mainland Ecuador. .

Nov 14, 2018 Quito

Full day tour to highlands. At 8 am, we travelled north of Quito to Calderón, a small town where bread dough figurines are made in many shapes and sizes. We crossed the equator to Cayambe and saw the Globe of Guachala monument were able to stand in two hemispheres at the same time. We enjoyed lunch at a hacienda and then the Otavalo market which is sure to be one of the highlights of your trip. For more than 4,000 years, Otavalo's market has served as the social and economic heart of the region.

Nov 15, 2018

This morning, Patty left the hotel at 1:30 am to go to the airport for her 5 am flight back to Toronto.

I left later to catch my flight to Lima, Peru, and then on to Santiago, Chile.

What an amazing experience!!!!!!

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