We traveled to Ecuador during the Covid-19 epidemic. Our own vaccination was required before we could travel. While we did have to wear our masks on the plane and in public spaces, however, when in our hotel rooms, in our guide’s car and on the catamaran, we were able to remove our masks.
Upon arrival in Quito, we went through customs. This took about 30 minutes. We did have to provide the completed form that we were given to fill out on the plane. After customs, we found our guide waiting for us to take us to the hotel for our stay in Quito.
The Ecuadorian people are very welcoming. They are glad to have tourists back and make every effort to insure your comfort and enjoyment. The staff at the hotel Illa Experience went out of the way to make our stay memorable. We enjoyed some type of Ecuadorian tea or cocoa each evening when we returned from our travels. The rooftop view in the evening is not to be missed. The restaurants we visited each evening were just a short distance walk down quaint streets, and the food was worth the walk.
Our guide was so knowledgeable about his country. He spoke of the history, the cultures and the current struggles of his country. He was patient with us, endeavoring to give thoughtful and honest answers to all of our questions and to help us with the language and pronunciations. After discovering our common love of music, he even gave us a sampling of his music by serenading us on his guitar on our last day. What a joy that was!
We learned of the early history of the region, dating back to the 1400s and even earlier. We saw beautiful cathedrals covered in gold, we visited a public marketplace on their Saturday event, we talked about and saw the earliest designation of the equator line, as well as the newer location designated now that we have GPS for location. Quite honestly, I am amazed that they were only off by about 200 meters in the 1700s. We saw the simple living conditions of most of Quito, an ancient city. We traveled the narrow cobblestone hilltop streets and ventured through the valley surrounded by seven volcanoes. We were able to hike to a beautiful valley where we saw, Cara Cara birds nesting on the cliffs, deer in the fields, wild horses in the valley and all manner of beautiful plants and unusual ground coverings that promote water flow. We tested our favorite potato soup at multiple locations along the way, each with a different flavor. We were greeted by smiles and simple courtesies all along the way.
After three days in Quito, we boarded our plane to fly to the Galapagos Islands. Upon arrival, after proceeding through the line here to pay the entrance fee to the Islands and ensure we were not bringing any prohibited items to the Islands, we were allowed entrance. The line took about 20 minutes. We were then greeted by the guide for our trip through the Galapagos Islands. We were ushered to our ship The Seaman’s Journey, a catamaran, that we would call home for the next four days along with our fellow eight passengers. Once onboard the catamaran, we started our trip with shoes stored away for our voyage. While on board or just with our group on outdoor excursions, we and the crew ditched the masks. We only had to wear our mask if we were in public spaces or parks. Each day, we had our three meals with a variety of simple choices and plenty of fruit drinks at a large dinner table along with our fellow passengers. On our trip, we joined a family of four from Germany, a couple from Switzerland, another couple from Ohio and our group of three. We enjoyed getting to know our fellow passengers. For our trip through the Islands, we explored deserted islands with beautiful white sand beaches, volcanic rock outcroppings and massive rock tunnels we motored through on dinghies, hikes through arid brush to visit the large tortoises, and snorkeling through clear waters with the sea lions as our playful companions. We saw hundreds of blue footed boobies, multiple pairs of albatrosses, the colorful oyster catchers, wave-surfing iguanas, and always the sunning sea lions. We were even escorted to shore by a pod of about thirty dolphins at one location.
Our flight from the Galapagos to Quito went as expected. Before our return trip to the States from Quito, we did have to take a Covid PCR test before we could fly back to the United States. Our travel assistant met us at the airport in Quito with a technician to take the test. The results were emailed to us. Our results did take 2 hours instead of 1 because of a storm electrical outage in the area. Make sure to get the assistant’s phone number because we did have some issues with the emails and had to have them emailed to another address. Upon arrival back in the States, we again went through customs. This line took about 30 minutes.
This was truly a memorable trip. The images and the people will bring a smile to our faces long after we have returned to our regular days. It is definitely a trip I will remember fondly. To fully experience all that the islands have to offer, you need to be fairly ambulatory because a lot of the walking requires you to traverse sandy beaches or hop lava rocks. The hike to see the large tortoises was over four miles round trip. To get to the highest viewing point on one hike required the equivalent of about seven flights of stairs. For those people considering a trip of this nature in the future, I would suggest good walking shoes that you can wear when wet or that easily slip on and off, plenty of sunscreen, a light jacket for the cooler evenings and don’t forget your sunglasses and camera! Everything else you need is provided.