Trip Report Ecuador: Quito, Galapagos, Sacha Lodge
We recently returned from an amazing trip to Ecuador! Here are some details, which may be helpful to others planning a trip, I will try to be as brief as possible (hard), and willing to answer questions if anyone would like more detail.
Our trip was planned through Enjoying Ecuador Travel www.enjoyingecuador.com in Ecuador, through emails, and everything turned out as planned. They were very responsive and did a great job organizing our itinerary.
Day 1: arrival Tue. night, stayed 2 nights in Quito, at Cafe Cultura www.cafecultura.com - not a standard hotel, more like a big old house, very unique and cozy. Only complaint was street noise, but I guess in a city like Quito it is hard find a quiet place.
Day 2: Wed. City Tour of Quito - old town, churches, Panecillo, la ronda street, teleferico cable car and mitad del mundo (equator monument) and museo de sitio Inti-nan (in same area).
Day 3: Thu. Flight to Galapagos, 2 nights at Hotel Silberstein www.hotelsilberstein.com in Puerto Ayora, Santa Cruz Island, no complaints w/ this hotel-- hot water, large room, a/c, pool. Lunch at Il Giardino www.facebook.com/IlGiardinoGalapagos – excellent food! Walked that afternoon to Charles Darwin Research Station. Dinner at La Garrapata www.facebook.com/garrapata.restaurante -- good fish. Compared to NYC where we live, all the meals in Ecuador were a bargain-- usually our bill for 2 people was $35.
Day 4: Fri - Still on Santa Cruz, walked to Tortuga Bay (about 45 min), large, very pretty beach but too rough to swim, walked around rocky point and saw iguanas and pelicans, on the other side is a calm lagoon where swimming is allowed. Very hot walk back. Lunch at the Rock -- again great fish, large portion. For dinner we went back to Il Giardino, again an excellent meal.
Day 5: Sat. made our way to Baltra airport to meet up w/ our cruise, on board on the Eclipse www.oagalapagos.com/eclipse/about-eclipse.htm for 4 nights. In brief -- I chose this ship because I get seasick and felt I would do better on a larger vessel. The Eclipse is not the largest boat in the Galapagos, but has capacity for 48 passengers and most boats have capacity just for 16 persons. I also wore wrist band and took dramamine and one day was really rocky and I never felt nauseous, we had a great experience w/ this ship, all the staff, food, and the facilities. Afternoon stop: Black Turtle Cove -- saw sea turtles, pelicans and rays.
Day 6: Sun: am: Rabida Island: red sand beach where we saw sea lions and flamingos.
Pm stop: Santiago (James) island: see sea lions, beautifully colored crabs, marine iguanas, and more beach/snorkel time—sea lions were swimming close to shore. (I ended up not doing any snorkeling, I found the water too cold, but then I am sensitive to cool water, I like it 78 or higher, most people (and my husband) could manage 30-60min w/out wet suit.
Day 7: Mon: this was the rockiest sea day. am stop: Fernandina Island: one of my faves, lava reminded me of Hawaii, more sea lions, many iguanas, flightless cormorants. pm: panga ride around northern cove off Isabela island: saw sea turtles, penguins, many other birds, a few boobies, and rode into a cave. Snorkeling was also offered.
Day 8: Tue: am stop: Urbina bay at Isabela. Another fave of mine, saw land iguanas and giant tortoises. pm stop: snorkeling with turtles, rays and tropical fish
Day 9: Wed: depart cruise in Baltra. In the morning we visited again the Charles Darwin Station which we already saw during our free day in Santa Cruz. Flight back to Quito. Overnight at Cafe Cultura.
Day 10: Thu. Originally had nothing planned this day as I was not sure what we would feel up to, agent called us to ask if we were interested in doing a day tour. We decided to go to the Papallacta Hot Springs www.termaspapallacta.com, and it ended up being an easy day which we needed at this point, the baths are in a beautiful setting and very relaxing.
Day 11: Fri: Flight to Coca and travel to Sacha Lodge www.sachalodge.com in the jungle. Accommodations were nice but not fancy, good staff/service and pretty well organized. In the jungle the wildlife is not in your face like the Galapagos and of course the scenery is 180* different, but still is special in its own way. Assigned 2 guides to our group of 4 – an English speaking naturalist and a local guide - both very knowledgeable.
Day 12 + 13: Sat/Sun: had am and pm jungle walks, canoe rides, visited canopy tower, and had night walks. Saw toucans at a distance, squirrel and capuchin monkeys amongst the trees, howler monkeys at a distance, many birds (I am not a birder, so names escape me), insects/spiders, small + large frogs, and shown different medicinal plants in jungle, butterfly farm, parrots (mostly at a distance but did see parakeets up close on canopy tower), caiman. And experiencing all the sounds of the jungle.
Day 14: Monday. Last night - back to Quito to Cafe Cultura. For dinner we took a taxi to Zazu restaurant www.zazuquito.com - fabulous food and a great ambiance.
Between our trips to Galapagos and Sacha Lodge, we left our suitcases in storage at Cafe Cultura and just brought carry on duffle bags, and this worked without any problem.
I would also like to say that I found 95%+ of the people we dealt with in Ecuador to be friendly and pleasant, which added to our trip enjoyment.