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  • Writer's pictureUrsula

Ecuador & Galapagos 13.8.-9.9.23

From the border we drive on a well maintained road through a very beautiful hilly landscape to Otavalo.

We spend our first three nights at the historic Hacienda 'Pinsaqui'. Our suite (number 1) is huge and Simon Bolivar is also said to have stayed here. Nothing is isolated in the well preserved buildings and we are at a good 2000 meters. In the evening, the fireplace is fired up in the suite and there is a warming bed bottle in the bed: wonderful!

We are well provided with good wines and excellent food. In addition, there are many excursion possibilities. We decide to visit Laguna Cuicocha, but forgo the 6 hour hike around the crater lake.

We use the days in Quito to visit the historic city center with the imposing cathedral. Here we are sprayed by two elderly pickpockets with a sticky mud-like mass, which then immediately try to clean the dirt from our clothes with water and paper. We are immediately skeptical and send them away without anything having gotten away.

A little outside the city center we take a guided tour at WiKiRi Sapoparque, an institution that cares for the conservation of frogs. We enjoy the colorful little animals in the different terrariums and let the 'chef' explain us the breeding of the different mealworms and other insects.

We leave our car for a week at the airport hotel in Quito and fly to Galapagos on San Cristobal Island. The transfer from the airport to the pier, where the first seal is already waiting for us, continues with the Zodiacs to the Silversea Origin works flawlessly.

After moving into the spacious cabin, we will be given the snorkeling equipment with a short wetsuit and a very good mask and fins.

Overnight, the ship heads for the island of Genovesa where we do two hikes and a snorkeling excursion. On the hikes we encounter mainly the red-footed and Nazca boobies, frigate birds and like everywhere the cute seals. Far away we can also spot a short-eared owl.

The daily snorkeling trips are more fun than they have been in a long time. It has thousands of fish, you discover turtles, sharks and are circled by arrow-fast seals.

The next morning on North Seymour Island we sight the first blue-footed boobies, some mating frigatebird males with their puffy red sacs and light brown land iguanas.

In the afternoon we go on a hike through a 20km long black lava field on Santiago Island in Sulivans Bay. The undulating knitted lava surprises again and again with beautiful shapes and we find now and then a lizard or a cactus. Otherwise there are no living creatures.

On the islands of Fernandina and Isabela we admire the fauna and flora on a zodiac tour. Here we discover for the first time the Galapagos penguins and a huge gathering of aquatic iguanas.

On Santa Cruz Island we leave early in the morning by bus to the Montemar Tortoise Reserve. There the partly ancient giant tortoises are kept free. In addition, organic coffee is grown, which of course will be tasted.

In the afternoon, we take a short tour through arboreal prickly pear cacti and look for the pale Santa Fe land iguana. And on the beach, as almost everywhere, the sea lions cavort.

The journey continues in a beautiful evening atmosphere.

On Espanola Island we enjoy the morning on the beautiful sandy beach, decorated with seals, and another brilliant snorkeling excursion.

In the afternoon we sail to Punta Suarez where the big albatrosses nest and the red water iguanas are native. We also spot a Galapagos hawk.

It is always fascinating from how close the animals can be observed:

And already we are back on San Cristobal where we visit the Breeding Center of the tortoises in the morning and take a little walk in the town.

The week with the varied excursions in moon-like landscapes and the impressive wildlife flies by. In the evening we take a last look at the striking rock in front of the island of San Christobal, before we continue to Guayaquil the next morning.

In Guayaquil we have enough time to walk on the Malecon at the riverside and to visit the quarter 'Las Penas', a colorful artists' quarter. Up to the lighthouse we have to climb 444 steps.

In the evening we treat ourselves to a fondue at 'La Fondue' of course... and it is amazingly good.

We continue via Quito to Machachi where we spend the night in the very nice Hacienda 'El Rejo' with a beautiful view of the surrounding mountains.

We set out on a short round trip through an imposing nature to the volcano Cotopaxi.

On the tour around the lagoon Limpiopungo we always have the impressive Cotopaxi in view with constantly changing cloud cover.

By car we then drive up to 5000m to the hiking trail towards the crater. On the way we meet a fox, which shows no shyness at all.

Unfortunately the weather gets worse and we can't see the highest volcano Chimborazo. Therefore we enjoy the time in Baños with a massage and a birthday dinner.

After an overnight stay in Riobamba we continue towards Cuenca where we move into an apartment for one week.

On the second evening we visit our family with whom we lived almost 5 years ago during our language stay. The conversations were again exciting, entertaining and funny. A few days later, we invite Luzma and Gonzalo to join us for a Zurich Geschnetzeltes with Rösti and a photo opportunity.

Of course, a walk through the beautiful historic old town must not be missed including aperitif at sunset.

Now we are going to Peru for one month, from where we will report in October.

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