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Quito, Sacha Lodge and the Amazon rainforest; The Galapagos
A world away
Technically we're only traveling half-a-world (a hemisphere), but from Great Falls to Quito it is a world away in perception, and it's a little bit shocking that we can be transported from the high plains of Montana to the foothills of the Andes in a matter of a few hours. We had woken up in our own beds; three flights later we bed down in a cozy …
Our gracious hostess Gloria gave us recommendations for some of the nearby attractions and we set out to sample the flavor of la Mariscal and the historic district. We wandered through a crowded, covered marketplace full of local crafts, run mainly by colorfully dressed women, almost all of whom seemed to be tending small children.
The streets …
To Sacha Lodge
After breakfast at the hotel, and with the assistance of staff from the hotel, Adventure Life, and Sacha Lodge, we made the quick flight to Coca, where we had lunch in the Lodge office while staff transferred luggage. It's a very short walk from there to the dock on the Napo River where we climbed aboard a 60-foot motorized ''canoe''.
The Napo, …
A full day in the forest
A full day in the Amazon means we use every last ray of daylight. Because we're so close to the equator the sun comes up at 6 a.m. (plus or minus a couple of minutes) and sets at 6 p.m. Today we got a wake-up knock at 5:30 and we were in the canoe by 6:30. Our first destination was the parrot clay lick a couple of miles downstream in the Yasuni …
monkeys, lizards and stinkin' turkeys
After another early wake-up and breakfast we canoed and hiked to Sacha's other above-the-canopy lookout, this one built like a tree house 150 feet up in a 700-year-old kapok tree. In an hour-and-a-half we saw 22 species of birds, most of which I had been at best only dimly aware existed, including toucans, oropendulas, euphonias, caciques, and my …
We heard heavy rain in the night and awoke to continued rain. As we departed we were issued ponchos for the lake and river legs. Halfway back to Coca we left the rain and stopped to pick up about 20 Ecuadorians who were also on their way upstream. There were 30 of us in the canoe, but the load presented no problem. We were warmly greeted by …
The Galapagos: our first glimpse
Our plane was a little late boarding in Quito so we had a chance to start getting to know the other three couples who would be our companions on the Hike Galapagos tour, and Andres, our guide, who lives in Quito and happens to be a doppelganger for a former colleague of mine.
We saw a little more of the diversity of Ecuador's geography as we flew …
Tortoises and snorkeling
Not about to waste any daylight, I got up just before sunrise for a little pre-breakfast scouting on the waterfront. A couple of ruddy turnstones foraged among the sleeping sea lions. A great blue heron hunted in a little cove before flying off to light incongruously on a streetlamp.
A bus ride into the highlands brought us to one of the …
On to Santa Cruz
After breakfast we transferred to Santa Cruz via a three hour ride in a small boat. We stopped briefly off shore from Santa Fe island to admire the Opuntia forest.
We had lunch at a restaurant called La Garrapata, which Andres told us means ''the tick.'' It struck us as an unfortunate name for an eating establishment, but the food was …
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