Our flights from Arequipa through Lima in Peru and then into Quito, Ecuador were thankfully uneventful. The scenery was beautiful when low enough to see it.
We had arranged transfers to and from airports for all of our trip – it is so much easier particularly when you don’t speak the language and always feels a bit special seeing your name on a sign like someone important! Our driver for Quito was a lovely man and we saw him often at the hotel we stayed at – La Cartuja Hotel situated in the new city, which is about a 40-minute drive from the airport and perched above the greater city area on a cliffside. There was lots to see and do within close walking distance and plenty of restaurants which was very handy given that we made this our base while also doing a 4-day cruise around the Galapagos Islands and 2 days in the Bellavista Cloud Forest.
We were very pleased that we chose Cometa Travel to arrange our tours (on recommendation from our sister, Yasha). Every part of it was perfect and more than met our expectations.
There was just one little drawback. It seems that Bron’s health wasn’t content with playing up in Peru with infection and altitude sickness. Once we got on the yacht Angelito 1 in the Galapagos, disaster strikes again. This time with every traveller’s worst nightmare – traveller’s diarrhoea! Yes folks – adhere to those warnings to carry antibiotics always – simple Immodium will not challenge this vicious affliction.
However, despite being stuck in the cabin for half the time, and inconveniencing other passengers by making a nighttime diversion to San Cristobal Island for hospital treatment, this place is just stunning. Our recommendations are to book a cruise with a maximum number of passengers of less than twenty (ours had 14 but the max was 16), stay at least 7 days (we only had 4) and be prepared to fall in love with the unique beauty of it all. Bob did all the tours, walking along the stunning beaches, up close and personal with the amazing wildlife, snorkelling in clear blue waters with turtles, iguanas and sea lions, bush walking to understand the geology and ecology of the islands, socialising with the other passengers and taking lots of photos. Bron met the giant tortoises, watched the activity from the cabin, enjoyed the stretcher portage, zodiac transport and ambulance ride, and on the final day – an early morning cruise in the zodiacs through the mangrove swamp to see the bird and water life.
We are not ruling out a return trip for longer some day and much better health to enjoy it will be the order of the day!!!!
Our trip to the Bellavista Cloud Forest was truly beautiful. Whilst not being completely well, we both participated in the long bushwalks each day getting to see all manner of birds, insects, orchids and worms, as well as vistas through the valleys and cloud forest canopy. The hummingbirds were a definite favourite. The food was also beautiful and in abundant supply. The whole ethos is very much about caring for the environment and encouraging people to explore and value its beauty and uniqueness. We certainly did that. Again, if we were to make a change to this itinerary it would be to stay longer.
We were also disappointed that the only bit of the Quito Old City that we experienced was on our way back to the hotel after visiting the cloud forest and as we dropped off some fellow adventurers at their hotel. What we saw was very beautiful and we do believe we missed something special.
All too soon our time in Ecuador came to an end. But we want to mention another highlight of our journey. We met some pretty amazing and interesting and very personable people. They are happy to chat and share their stories, are keen to support or provide advice, great for a laugh over food and/or drink and create more colours in your memories than you would ever expect. We felt truly blessed in Ecuador – everyone we met whether fellow travellers, yacht crew, guides or hotel staff, were just wonderful.
Next stop – Buenos Aires, Argentina.