Quito Ecuador and the Galapagos

(29 Reviews)
100% Recommended

Debbie Linder

Nashville, TN
Luxury travel, river cruise & vacation specialist

I was born in Chicago and eventually moved to the western suburbs. We traveled quite extensively as a family and I was always looking forward to the next trip. So I was hooked at a very young age. I started in travel and worked for a leisure agenc...

Heading to deep water to snorkel. We saw sharks!

The Galapagos - #1 on the wish list/bucket list and must do before I die list. I had been to a travel program in 1980 at a Museum in Chicago about the Galapagos and I was hooked. Everything happens in time I guess. So when we found the time to make the journey we had to combine it with Machu Picchu since MP is only a few days and thats a long way to go for a short trip. We like the 3-6 weeks trips these days! We are very fortunate, I get that. 

We flew to Quito. Quito, formally San Francisco de Quito, is the capital city of Ecuador, and at an elevation of 9,350 feet above sea level, it is the highest official capital city in the world. It is located in the Guayllabamba river basin, on the eastern slopes of Pichincha, an active volcano in the Andes Mountains. With a population of 2,671,191 , Quito is the second most populous city in Ecuador, after Guayaquil. 

We took a fabulous 6 hour walking tour one day and a foodie tour the next. They took us to 6 different spots for local foods/snacks and a full history of what we ate.We travelled through backstreets to the southern part of Quito and admired the city’s historical architecture as we made our  way to a small, family-owned sweets shop. We watched the  delicacies being made before trying a few of the sweets, including majar de leche, a caramel delicacy. They talked of the history and production process behind mistelas, which are sweet treats made with a fragile layer of sugar and filled with whiskey or rum.

The next day a 5 hour cooking class at someone's home. They spoke no English but you really don't need works when you are cooking, we laughed and snacked the whole time. It was really a great experience to spend the day at someone's home and see all of their treasures. Tamales and Empanadas were about the best I've ever had!

The Galapagos Islands and the surrounding waters represent one of the world’s most unique ecosystems and are rich areas of bio diversity. Recently granted UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization). World Heritage Site status, the Galapagos Marine Reserve is the largest marine reserve in a developing country and the second largest marine reserve in the world. There are 21 main islands, hundreds of smaller rocks and inlets the first started to appear about 80 million years ago.

The Galapagos Islands is unique to the rest of world where as it’s been separated from the rest of the world for tens of thousands of years, whatever life is there, either had to fly, swim or float on plant life of sorts, the mammals that made it to the islands have to survive for long long periods of time without food, like Iguanas, and tortoise, the bugs probably came on the birds.

The Galapagos Marine Reserve covers 85,000 square miles. This reserve, which lies a 650 miles from the Ecuadorian mainland was set up in 1998 to protect the waters around the Galapagos Islands and the many species of animals and fish that live there.There are so many marine species in Galapagos because of the cold ocean currents that bring rich nutrients for food and the great variety of habitats, coral reefs, mangrove lagoons, rocky areas and sandy beaches.

Many  species depend on the Galapagos marine life for their food, such as sea birds that eat fish and the marine iguanas that feed on algae growing on the bottom of the sea.In certain areas in the Galapagos Marine Reserve, you can dive or snorkel and come into contact with amazing aquatic species which live underwater such as Whales, whale sharks, hammerhead sharks, rays, manta rays, sword fish and turtles, just to name a few.Cold, hot and warm marine currents come together here, generating a wide diversity of animal life, from small colorful fish to large mammals.

We flew to Baltra to board the Celebrity Expedition - a nice size yacht. Excellent accommodations, great food and an amazing staff of marine biologists. We took the Inner Loop Itinerary.

Each day we stopped at 1 or 2 islands for hiking or swimming. An insane amount of wildlife. When you get to an island, there is no dock so we would board our Zodiac for a quick trip to the shore and jump out in the water.  My dream came true when I swam with a Sea Lion for almost 15 minutes. I have that video posted!

The story of Darwin and evolution is well publicized but the thought of his experiments when you are there is really 1 in a million. When you see the amount of unspoiled and untouched animal and bird species it really makes you realize what an amazing place the Galapagos really is.

You are not permitted to touch anything and with that rule the birds and animals have zero fear. We had a 2 foot Iguana walk right in front of me and if I had not moved my foot he would have walked on me! Birds laying eggs and even hatching eggs 2 feet away and no fear. 

Its something everyone needs to experience in their lifetime. This type of trip needs to be on your short list. After what we just experienced on our planet we have to seize every moment.

Lets talk about it!


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