How can I possibly do justice to such a wonderful trip without repeating superlatives time and time again. The Galapagos Islands have always been very much at the top of my bucket list, ever since hearing about it in School. So when we got the chance to go there we took it immediately. Initially though we decided to explore Ecuador for the first week.
Quito actually became quite familiar to us as we stayed there for 4 nights in between excursions to the Cloud Forest and the Amazon. We were very fortunate to stay in the wonderful Casa Gangotena which is situated right in the middle of the old part of the town, so very easy to walk to the wonderful churches and also the lively area of La Rhonda. The hotel has been totally and carefully refurbished to keep the grand traditional style of a by gone era, the rooms are spacious and beautifully decorated. The staff wonderfully attentive and the beautifully presented food, especially the high tea which is included in the price of the room, quite delicious.
Couldn’t leave Quito without visiting the equatorial line!
After the first couple of nights we were taken to Mashpi Cloud Forest where we stayed in the Award winning Mashpi Lodge for two nights. From the very start of our stay we were treated like honoured guests, nothing was ever too much trouble. All the large rooms looked out onto the Forest, so you could open your windows and hear the birds and catch sight of them as they settled on the trees or flew by. We were provided with Wellington boots, as the ground was wet and there were always ponchos available if it got too wet. Although we were in the cloud forest, so visibility was sometimes poor, the sun did break through and gave us wonderful views over the lush vegetation of the Reserve. Our time was fully occupied with cycle zip wire, walks during the day and evenings, visits to the butterfly farm, swimming in pools at the base of waterfalls and seeing the most wonderful collection of humming birds.
Returning to Quito, again we were greeted by the staff at Casa Gangotena like family and made to feel very welcome, for our over night stop at the hotel, before starting out on the next part of our journey to the Amazon.
We left the hotel early in the morning to catch a flight to Coca where we were met by our lovely guide Rodrigo who guided us all the way through our stay at La Selva Lodge. After a 2 hour fascinating winding trip down the Napa river, skirting sand bars, avoiding large ferries carrying enormous tankers and various other local traffic on the way, we arrived at the Lodge. We had a family suite which we shared with my sister and the other couple travelling with us were spoilt with a lovely spacious room.
We were barely given time to settle in before we were taken on our first outing of many giving us an introduction to the Amazon jungle. Woken up early each morning by one of the staff calling to us outside our rooms then having a sumptious breakfast before we embarked on a boat ride or trek though the jungle depending which was thought to be most appropriate for sightings. Always back for lunch at midday, after which you were given time for a short nap and then onto the next organised event including a night canoe trip. Other than the most amazing array of birds we were lucky enough to see squirrel monkeys, red howler monkeys, sloths, an absolutely enormous anaconda, tarantulas, giant frogs and shown how the indigenous people of the amazon used the plants and trees to survive. It was truly an amazing experience for the whole of the threes days.
Back to Quito, to be greeted by the staff at Casa Gangotena with ‘welcome home’, time for a quick bath and then joining our group to partake of the hotel’s wonderful high tea, which is part of their Bed and Breakfast plan. We then decided to return to the lively area of La Rhonda for the evening to enjoy, live music, local cocktail and traditional food.
Waking early the next morning, feeling very excited, to fly to the Galapagos to start our 7 day Cruise with Ecoventura on the Letty. Watch this space for the next instalment ….