Starting our travels through Ecuador
25.04.2012 - 03.05.2012 36 °C
We got up early in Pasto because we had plans to catch the morning bus to the Colombia/Ecuador border, and we were more than ready to leave our not so clean hotel room. The ride from Pasto to the border town of Ipiales in Colombia takes about 2 hours and was the most beautiful bus ride we have had yet. We drove up and down through the Andes, passing waterfalls and farms along the way. Once we arrived in Ipiales we then had to take a short and crowded taxi ride to the border. Even though we have crossed more than a few country lines already, I still get a bit nervous of what to expect when entering a new country, but fortunately the crossing into Ecuador was relatively painless and also free. They even had signs posted telling people not to bribe the customs officers.
Once across the border, we took another taxi to the closest town in Ecuador called Tulcan. Then we got on yet another bus for a 5 hour journey to Quito. We were ecstatic to be in Ecuador, back where busses are cheap. (Especially compared to Colombia) Our ride to Quito only cost $4.50 and I was able to try a new delicious food that a woman was selling at the bus station. She was selling Bananna's covered with cheese and then fried, and they were fantastic. Anyway, we arrived in Quito in the Early evening on the 25th. My parents had a flight in the next day and we already had reservations to stay at Hotel Quito for when they arrived, so we figured we would try to just stay there the day before as well. Unfortunately, much to my surprise they were completely booked, so we ended up staying down the street at a nice boutique hotel called Stubel Suites. The Stubel Suites and all the accomodations following there have been very luxorious by our standards, but that is just one of many nice perks of having family come to visit. I will say Hotel Quito is by far the nicest place we have stayed on this trip, and we have now spent a few nights there on two seperate visits to Quito. They have a huge pool, nice spa and gym, a great restaurant overlooking the city and very comfortable beds. In fact, while we were staying in the hotel, Ms. Ecuador was staying just a few rooms downt the hall, so I imagine it must be one of the nicer hotels in the country.
After checking into our fancy hotel in Quito we headed out for some dinner, and turned in early after a full day of traveling. The following morning we got up, had breakfast, and moved over to Hotel Quito. My parents flight wasn't arriving until the evening so we spent the day exploring the city and mainly the old town. Quito is very picturesque in a valley surronded by clouds and mountains. There are over 40 churches in the city and we did our best to explore them, as well as the rest of the architecture in Historic Quito. Our family arrived that evening with no problems on their flight, we had a happy reunion and went out for a nice dinner. We used the next day to explore Quito some more (and try out the new camera that we got), before heading to the Galapagos Islands the day after. We saw some more of Quito's churches and had a local lunch in a small restaurant downtown. There is also a cable car in Quito that we took up to an elevation of 4,100 meters giving us a nice view of the city and surrounding mountains. After a fantastic dinner and desert at Hotel Quito, we were off to bed all excited to head to Galapagos early the next morning.
We flew to the Galapagos Islands through Guayaquil the next day, with high expectations because of all the good things we have read about the Islands. We were definitely not dissapointed with our time there. I will not go into too much detail on everything we did on the Islands, because we were there for 6 days and stayed very busy. But to quickly summarize, we visited 3 islands, Baltra (very briefly), Santa Cruz, and Isabella. We hiked a volcano, went snorkeling a couple times, diving, kayaking, swmming, and more. The animals were definitely the highlight of the Islands, although Isabella had a fantastic and long beach as well. We saw a huge variety of animals, which you can see pictures of in the gallery, and got to learn a lot about all the preservation and conservation efforts going on in Galapagos. I think the snorkeling and diving were really the highlights for us, as we saw penquins, sea lions, rays, turtles, white tipped sharks, hammerhead sharks, and huge schools of fish. Plus the animals here have not developed a fear of people, so in most cases you can watch them from just a few feet away. The Sea Lions in particular I think were interesting because they are just as interested in watching us as we are in watching them.
Although it was really hot on the Islands and they are a bit difficult to get to, it is a trip everyone should make at least once in their lifetime. There are many different things to see and do in Galapagos, and there are plenty of activites and tours to keep you busy and happy while visiting. Anyway, after a packed 6 days there we flew back to Quito and headed off right away to visit Mindo for the last couple days of my parents vacation. But I will save that for the next entry, because I have yet to get all our pictures uploaded. Bye, until next time.