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Diversity in the centre of the earth – Ecuador

Ecuador – the home of the Panama hats, the famous archipelago Galapagos, and its namesake – the Equator. Here is my personal experience of this wonderous country.   

 When I first heard about my upcoming trip to Ecuador, the first thing I thought about is the Galapagos, and why wouldn’t I? Those fascinating and remote archipelagos are on everyone’s bucket list. But it turns out this amazing little country with its capital, Quito high up in the Andes, has so much more to offer! 

Our journey started with a Galapagos Cruise, followed by a stay in Quito city and ending with an Amazon Cruise.  

After transiting through Santiago, we stayed overnight in the beautiful town of Guayaquil, famed for its delicious seafood. We then took a short flight to Baltra Island, 1000 km offshore. Here we boarded the Santa Cruz 11, one of the largest vessels cruising the islands, although it is still categorised as small ship or expedition cruising.  

Life on board is very different from your traditional cruise. Don’t expect magic shows, discos or bingo. What you will enjoy is the magic of the documentaries, nature talkspresentations….and great cocktail and wines! 

Wi-Fi is non-existent, so you really are at one with nature. Trust me, every day you will see thousands of amazing species of birds, reptiles, and mammals. 

 You will remain active by swimming, kayaking, snorkelling, and walking, just like Charles Darwin in the 1800s. Expect your photography skills to improve by the day!  

After our once in a lifetime Galapagos experience, we spent some time in the beautiful historic city of Quito. Here we discovered the Inca and Spanish history, the culture, and traditions. We learnt that the Panama hat originated in Ecuador, their chocolate is divine, and that we needed bigger suitcases to bring home our beautiful handmade souvenirs from the Otavalo Markets! 

We were excited to arrive in the small frontier town of Coca on the banks of the Napo river in the Yasuni National park. Here we embarked our Amazon cruise on board the luxury 14 cabin Manatee Explorer.  

Just a tip, while the wildlife in the Galapagos are fearless and observable up close, in the jungle you must actively seek and wait patiently to see its amazing creatures.  

For some reason we expected to see monkeys and macaws visibly perched or hanging on the trees when exploring but we were mistaken. They are much more elusive, so expect to creep silently and sight from afar. There are two things to remember about the Ecuadorian Amazon. One, when it rains, it REALLY rains! And two, an iPhone torch doesn’t cut it on an evening jungle walk, so check your packing list! 

Would I do the Amazon first next time? Probably.   

When I get a chance to return to Ecuador, I’d love to explore its other wonders. Like the Tren Crucero that weaves through the varied terrains of the Andes, or stay in a luxury jungle lodge oreven the sophisticated Mashpi Lodge situated in the rain forest cloudsNext time!  

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