Ecuador Wildlife Adventure 23.10. - 6.11.06
Posted at 05:27, 8 November 2006 in South America
23.10. - 27.10.06 Kapawi Lodge / Amazon Jungle
Stefan and I met up with the other 6 people of this GAP tour (4 Canadians and 2 UK). We started this trip with a short flight to Coca, from where we were flown in two "shifts" by helicopter to the Kapawi Lodge. Wow, for 1 1/2 hours we had a beautiful scenic flight over the "Broccoli Plantation" of this planet. Green to every side of the globe, very impressive. Once in a while a brown river looking like a snake made his way through the green forest, and rainclouds could be seen.
The Kapawi Lodge is an Ecuadorian project to have the local Achuar Indians run such a place. Per 2011 the lodge will fully go to the Achuar Community, and now they are being trained - lovey people!
The lodge has 10 bungalows, sitting right on a lake (when there is water ;-), and it is the most remote lodge in Ecuador. It would take 2 weeks walking to the next village (Shell).
They kept us very busy there :-) Jungle Walks, Boat Tours, Piranha Fishing, Night Walks, a visit to the Achuar Community, Slide Shows etc. - all really interesting and fun. And we were very lucky, as we got to see a lot of mammals; from the large Red Howler monkey to the smallest monkey, the Pigmy Mormozet. But also we saw the Amazon Pink River Dolphin, lots of birds, insects and the large caymans.
In comparison to my first Amazon trip in Peru, this here was much more exciting. I loved the Jungle Walks - even though we were sweating and the moskitos were trying to eat us (no luck thanks to good repellent!).
The visit to the Achuar Community was also very interesting. Our Achuar guide translated, and he and the chief of the house were communicating in the local way, which was funny to experience. They do not look at each other when talking, and they also speak at the same time. After the introduction we were allowed to ask questions, and in return the chief of the house wanted to know thing about us - all in all an unforgettable afternoon.
We were also very lucky with the weather, no rain for 4 days! So at night - laying in the hammock - we enjoyed the bright stars in the sky and listened to all the jungle noises - how romantic ;-)
Only on our last day, when the propeller plane from Shell should have come to pick us up, it rained so hard there, that the plane could not take off. So we got to stay longer at the lodge, until they sent 3 tiny little planes to get us. We felt like VIPs :-) But the planes were only sitting 3 people, I did not really like that...
We arrived in Shell in the afternoon and then (after some confusing driving around Shell...) got a bustransfer to Quito. The scenic 4 1/2 hours drive took us up into the vulcanic mountains, and we were able to see the Tungurahua Volcano spit big ash-clouds, very impressive and scary! The road still has detours from the last eruption in August 2006, and we could see the destroyed houses from then.
But we made it to Quito safely, and all of us were totally exhausted from the long travel day.
At 1 am in the morning then Stefan surprised me with a little birthday celebration: lighting a candle, singing Happy Birthday and having presents for me - I was overwhelmed!
After a short night, Dawn and Stuart (the UK couple), Stefan and I went shopping. Not that we really needed anything, but you know how women are...and hey, the guys were very patient with us ;-)
We then met Martina and Claudia, two Swiss friends from the Peru trip. They were on the Galapagos Islands, and so had a lot of information for us. It felt good to see them again, and we celebrated my birthday together.
In the afternoon we then strolled to the Old Town, doing lots of shopping at an indigo market.
The evening two of the Canadians joined us for a birthday dinner - yes, I got really spoiled today and was able to celebrate lots :-) And after all the local food in the last weeks, I craved for the unhealthy stuff... We had big fun that night, guess the Chilean white wine did his job :-)
29.10. - 5.11.06 Galapagos Islands
A short flight to Baltra, and we already saw the turqoise coloured ocean. At the dock dingi boats waited for us to bring us to our boat, the Pelicano1. We were all exited to see seelions laying on the bench at the docks... not knowing yet, that Galapagos animals do get close to humans!
Stefan and I liked getting a cabin on the top. The GAP boat in general was very comfortable, and being only 16 people plus crew made it cozy.
Every day was full of adventures and exciting animal encounters - if you think I take a lot of pictures, well then you should have seen us on Galapagos!!!
Every island has another landscape, be that red, white, black or green sand; black lava rocks or lava tubes: white tree branches, green bushes or cactuses, lush beaches or rough cliffs - all very diverse and beautiful.
But of course the animals are the best part of it. Seelions awaiting us when getting off the dingis, swimming around our feet, laying on the beach nursing their babies, howling males protecting their females, newborn squeeqing baby-seelions - absolutly incredible! We never made it far on the walks, as just standing there and watching the animals was superbe.
Lots of colourful birds can be seen, I liked the Blue Footed Boobie. His feet really look like he dipped them into a jar of blue colour. But watching the Albatros exercising the mating dance was very funny aswell.
Snorkeling then made the highlight. We saw lots of colourful fishes, the White Tipped Riff Shark (is ca. 1 m long!), Sting Rays, Turtoises etc. But the highlight were the Seelions swimming with us. Their playful and curious way was great. They came up very close to your snorkeling mask - eye to eye :-), and then elegantly dived away, only rarely touching us.
And for me the greatest of course was to see the Penguins - one jumped off a rock directly towards me snorkeling! And we could watch them dive...
The weather wasn't that good, but nevertheless we enjoyed Galapagos very much. Never ever have I experienced wildlife closer than here. Even from the boat we always saw something, be that Manta Rays jumping, Turtoises mating!, Boobies diving into the water to catch fish, Pelicans sitting on the roof.....
What more can I say - it was the best I have ever seen!!!
06. - 07.11.06 Quito
After being on ocean level, flying back to Quito's 2'800m made us tired. But still 4 of us booked a tour to visit the Equator Line at GPS 00.00.00 and the Otavalo Indigo Market. An interesting day who took us into the green volcanic landscape around Quito.
On Tuesday Stefan and I strolled around the Old Town of Quito, visiting the colonial buildings and some churches. We even dared to climb the very top of the tower of La Basilica. Steep ladders with no real safety... Scary!
Then Stefan left to the Airport... and I again was the one to say good-bye to everyone, as I stay another few days in Quito.