Posts tagged: Quito

Galapagos Cruise: Day 6-7-8: Fernandina, Rabida and The End

By , December 7, 2010 9:30 pm
Sleeping Female Sea Lions

Sleeping Female Sea Lions

Day 6 – Fernandina is the far west island, which few cruise ships venture off to. We knew right away that we would see unique things on this island when we were greeted by the skeletal remains of a large whale.

Skeleton Of A Whale

Skeleton Of A Whale

Then for the first time, we saw marine iguanas swimming. If you remember the movie Alien 4, it looked just like aliens swimming, just a little tinier.

Marine Iguana Swimming

Marine Iguana Swimming

While we were taking pictures of sea lions, we saw a flightless cormorant. It’s not especially beautiful but it gained our respect when we learned there are only 1,000 still alive in the world and that they are all living on this one island. We eventually spotted a few more and counted over 30, which is 3% of the world population.

Flightless Cormorants

Flightless Cormorants

Afterwards, we sailed to Tagus Cove in Isabela Island. The scenery was still rocky but there was an orange hint everywhere. Our snorkel session brought us to a spot where penguins and sea lions were swimming within one meter of us. The sea lion wanted to play and would even touch us sometimes but his size was too impressive for us so we backed far away.

Sea Lion Swimming With Us

Sea Lion Swimming With Us

Sea Turtle Chilling

Sea Turtle Chilling

In the late evening, we crossed the equator line for the 3d time! Then we had a moment of whale watching as everyone onboard the ship came on deck to see the Bryde’s Whales.

Whale Watching

Whale Watching

Bryde's Whale!

Bryde's Whale!

Sunset Before Crossing The Equator

Sunset Before Crossing The Equator

Day 7 – On the 7th day, we landed on a black beach in the backside of Santiago Island. All around us were birds diving into the water looking for fishes. This was also another great spot for observing fur seals. They were very noisy and the younger ones kept fighting each other. After our 2-hour walk, some of us went snorkeling, but I went off to play soccer while MuiMui decided to tan on the beach.

Boris' Feet On The Black Sand Beach Of Santiago

Boris' Feet On The Black Sand Beach Of Santiago

Bird Going For A Dive

Bird Going For A Dive

Young Fur Seals Playing

Young Fur Seals Playing

For our afternoon excursion, we explored Rabida Island with its red beach and popularity among lazy sea lions. After a quick hike up, we found a great spot to take a group picture.

Sea Lions On Rabida Island

Sea Lions On Rabida Island

Group Shot

Group Shot

Both Pretty & Lazy

Both Pretty & Lazy

Day 8 – It was our last day and with a morning flight to catch, we woke up extra early to indulge the last of the Galapagos. We took the small boat out to black turtle cove. There were many mangrove trees so we had to maneuver our way in. Suddenly under us was a school of Eagle Spotted Rays passing through. It was a beautiful morning and the water was shallow enough to get a clear view of them. Minutes later, we realized there were also many white tip reef sharks resting in the water. As we continued further, there were two turtles mating in the water. It was a beautiful moment and I was already pleased with everything we saw, but this was definitely a great way to end the cruise.

Spotted Eagle Ray

Spotted Eagle Ray

Sea Turtles Mating

Sea Turtles Mating

*** There is a lot of hype about the Galapagos and after experiencing it ourselves, this is definitely a must do. It was one the most expensive highlights of our travel so far, but we had an amazing time so it was all worth it.

There are a few cost effective ways to reduce the price:
1. Go off peak season! The weather is still great although the water is cold, but there are usually wetsuits onboard to rent. Whatever the season, the animals are always there.
2. Don’t book overseas. Go to Quito and relax for a few days and book your cruise there.
3. If you have to book overseas or if you are in Quito, book direct and avoid the middleman. While it is hard to book directly with the owner, they usually have an agency in Quito.
4. The Galapagos is very popular especially during peak season but there are hundreds of cruise lines so if you can book last minute, you can save even more.
5. If a cruise is out of the question, fly to the Galapagos and enjoy Santa Cruz Island. There is so much to see there. You can even take a water taxi to a few other islands.

While the prices vary in the type of ship you select, no matter what the size is, bring seasickness pills!

Thanks Again Kelly, Sam, Jennifer, and Christian for your pictures!

Iguana Up Close

Iguana Up Close

Heron

Heron

Fernandina Volcanic Landscape

Fernandina Volcanic Landscape

Who's On My Head

Who's On My Head

Orange Sea Turtle

Orange Sea Turtle

Yellow Flycatcher

Yellow Flycatcher

Alpha Male Doesn't Want Us Near

Alpha Male Doesn't Want Us Near

Flickr Photoset | Slideshow

Ecuador: Our Home Away From Home In Quito

By , November 8, 2010 5:00 am
Virgen de Quito On El Panecillo Volcanic Hill

Virgen de Quito On El Panecillo Volcanic Hill

We arrived in Quito, Ecuador on a Sunday and while it was quiet and chill for the most part, Amazonas Street was busy with bike riders and El Ejido park was filled with art vendors and families, especially children running around. For our first night, we stayed at Casa Bambu. We really enjoyed the rooftop setup and view, but we wanted something closer to the center so we moved to the Mariscal area.

Children Waiting To Zipline At El Ejido Park

Children Waiting To Zipline At El Ejido Park

While walking around Mariscal, there were lots of bars and restaurants that we knew instantly we were in gringoland. I couldn’t stop admiring this yellow house and after a few minutes, I saw a small sign on the window that said Home Hostel. Boris and I checked it out and the staff was so much friendlier, the interior of the house was magnificent, and we were in the heart of Mariscal, so we couldn’t refuse. Johnny, the owner, is so great that our one-night stay here turned into one week’s time.

The old town of Quito is without a doubt, a well-preserved center with many Spanish colonial style architecture and historic places to visit. It was very easy to roam for hours and get lost down an alley that leads to something great, like La Ronda. It was difficult to miss this alley, as there is a huge arm in the middle. During the colonial days, this was home to the most influential people due its close distance to the river. Later in the 20th century, it became a bohemian community where many poets, artisans, and musicians lived.

La Ronda Street

La Ronda Street

Giant Arm

Giant Arm

Not to be missed is La Compania de Jesus (Church of the Society of Jesus). From the outside, it looks like another church, but once you step inside, you are blinded by the amount of gold, seven tons of gold leaf to be exact. It took 160 years to complete construction of this great interior. I badly wanted to take a photograph but photography is prohibited inside and there was security at every direction. While I don’t like to pay entrance fees (they accept student id), I enjoyed my 15 minutes inside the church.

La Compania de Jesus

La Compania de Jesus

Many make it to the outside of Basilica del Voto Nacional (Basilica of National Vow) to see the gargoyles, but the best part of this unfinished neo-gothic basilica is actually inside. From the third floor, you can climb a metal winding staircase to leads to the inside of the clock tower. Then there is another set of narrow metal staircase that goes to the bell tower. When we peeped out, we could see the winged Virgen de Quito on El Panecillo volcanic hill. When we thought the tour was complete, it got even better. We climbed back to the third floor and crossed a wooden bridge to get to the other side. I started to get scared at this point since the bridge was a bit shaky and then we had to climb this steep ladder that led outside. We were right on the roof so it was hard to dismiss how high we were. Of course the fun just doesn’t stop. There is an outdoor metal staircase, for those daring enough to climb. It took me a few attempts to make it up, but as Boris said to me, I will not regret it. When I finally made it to the top, with a few locals laughing at me, I was wooed away with an incredible 360-degree panoramic view of Quito.

Circular View Of Quito

Circular View Of Quito

Inside The Clock Tower

Inside The Clock Tower

Roof Of Basilica del Voto Nacional

Roof Of Basilica del Voto Nacional

Overall, Quito is a great city to relax in and spend a few days to get acclimated to the altitude. We found a variety of cheap eats and booked a few tours during our stay. Thanks Johnny and Staff at Home Hostel for making us feel right at home.

Statue Of Jose Maria Velasco Ibarra, Former President Of Ecuador

Statue Of Jose Maria Velasco Ibarra, Former President Of Ecuador

Bridge Across Roof Of Basilica del Voto Nacional

Bridge Across Roof Of Basilica del Voto Nacional

Me & Frenchie

Me & Frenchie

Iglesia y Monasterio de San Francisco

Iglesia y Monasterio de San Francisco

Inside San Francisco Church

Inside San Francisco Church

What We Paid: Colombian
Pesos
1800
USD eRate
2500
Euro eRate
Ipiales
– Bus from Popayan To Ipiales: 8 hours 20,000 11.11 8
– Private Double Room with Shared Bath 15,000 8.33 6
– Dinner 11,900 6.61 4.76
– Collectivo from Ipiales To Border 1,500 0.83 0.60
USD eRate 1.4
Euro eRate
Quito
– Collectivo from Border To Tulcan, Ecuador 0.75 0.53
– Bus from Tulcan To Quito: 7 hours 3.50 2.45
– Private Double Room at Home Hostel
shared bathroom, hot water, wifi, great owner (Johnny) and staff, central location, free breakfast, highly recommend
15 10.50
– Lunch 2 1.40
– Dinner 5 3.50
– Local Bus 0.25 0.18
– Entrance To Basilica del Voto Nacional 2 1.40
– Entrance To La Compania de Jesus: student id accepted 1 0.70

Flickr Photoset | Slideshow

Panorama Theme by Themocracy