Toronto to Ushuaia

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by djeady, Oct 5, 2017.

  1. BillyGoat4130

    BillyGoat4130 Adventurer

    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2014
    Oddometer:
    26
    Location:
    Live Oak, FL
    I found this RR last night and went through it until the wee hours this morning and then also again before I went to work, just finished it. Super riding, narrating and photos. Thoroughly enjoying!
  2. djeady

    djeady Been here awhile

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    Riding the Trampoline of Death

    I got up in the morning and did a little bike maintenance - oiled my chain, topped up the oil, checked the tire pressures, that sort of thing. The front tire was a bit low, so I added air.

    I had a cold shower - my only choice in most places - and started to pack up and think about where to get breakfast. At that point Ingrid came in and told me a breakfast was included so I finished loading the bike and went down to the house and had a lovely breakfast cooked by Ingrid's mother.

    I had looked at my route for the day and discovered I had two choices, go back to Popayan or ride the road called the Trampoline of Death that starts in Mocoa and heads towards Pasto. It gets the Trampoline portion of the name from its rough surface and the death portion of the name from the sheer 500 - 1000 foot drops off the side of the road with little or no barriers. There are also frequent landslides and road cave-ins and most of it is a one lane track so when cars and trucks meet, one of the has to back up to the nearest wide spot so they can pass. It goes through the most northerly part of the Andes and the views are spectacular.

    I asked Ingrid about the road and she said she had been over it and it wasn't too bad and worth it for the views. She also said that rather than going to Pasto, I should stop just outside in Lago de Los Cochas which turned out to be great advice.

    I concluded the only real difference between this road and a couple of the other roads I'd ridden this week was going to be the size of the drop off. The road surface couldn't possibly be any worse.

    I headed off. The road to Mocoa was all paved and an easy ride. I stopped at a gas station just outside Mocoa and filled my tank and also bought some emergency snacks for the long ride through the mountains - two packets of Milo cookies, a bottle of mango drink and a Pepsi that I drank there.

    One of the attendants asked where I was from and when I said Canada he made me repeat it, then one of the other attendants confirmed in broken English. They just shook their heads at me.

    The first challenge was getting to the highway. Google Maps routed me to the right spot, but the bridge was gone and I had to pick my way back and find another bridge and then get back to where the highway started on the other side.

    The first part of the road was a nice two lane highway, but as it climbed into the mountains the pavement ended and I was on a narrow one lane track of hard packed dirt as promised. The road surface was actually pretty good and I saw lots of crews out filling the potholes and doing other repairs. While the track was narrow, there were lots of wider spots where vehicles could pass and except for the blind corners you could usually see approaching vehicles from a long ways off and plan a place to pass.

    As promised, the views were spectacular and I rode up and up and up into the clouds and above the clouds until I reached the top of the first mountain.

    Partway up the second I realized my front tire was flat and stopped.
    I stopped in one of the passing zones and put the kickstand down, but the bike rolled off it and tipped. Some guys in a truck stopped and helped me get it back up and then I maneuvered to a place where I could get it on the centre stand. The mirrors survived this time!

    I got the bike up on the centre stand and started to get my tools out. I examined the wheel carefully and couldn't see any damage, so decided to try just re-inflating it. It seemed to be holding air so I decided to put my air compressor I my tank bag and just stop periodically to check the pressure. It actually wound up holding for the rest of the day. The only explanation I can come up with is that when I topped up the tire that morning, the valve may not have sealed properly and had a slow leak. Will keep an eye on it.

    I put everything back on the bike and headed back up the road.

    There were lots of places where there had been landslides or cave-ins, but thankfully nothing fresh. There were also lots of water crossings, but these were either paved or filled with fist sized round stones that were easy to ride through.

    After going over the second pass, the road got wider and the hills more gradual and I eventually was on a paved surface again riding down a long set of winding curves to San Francisco.

    From there it was a very pleasant ride through the hills. As I approached Laguna de la Cocha there were some very pretty views of the lake from the hills above.

    I found the road and turned off and soon found myself in another impossibly beautiful place with colourful houses and restaurants lining both sides of the river, with colourful bridges across to the places in the opposite side.

    There were a couple of hospedaje and I picked the one that advertised wifi and secured a room with private bath for $10 per night. The place was a ramshackle wooden structure and my room was like being at an old cottage with plywood walls and light coming in through the floorboards above and below, but it was cosy. There were tons of blankets on the bed which was a good thing as it got down to 4 Celsius over night. Being at 2800 metres really affects the temperature.

    I was able to park the bike on the bank of the river and the owner of the hospedaje said the area was very quiet and safe.

    As I checked in I chatted briefly with a nice lady from Malaysia named Lim. As we were the only two guests we sat and had dinner together - trucha a la plancha from the lake.

    She works as a snorkelling/scuba guide and then travels for several months. This year she started her trip in Tehran and then went up through Armenia to Eastern Europe before flying to Quito.

    We went for a short walk after dinner and the I wrote for a while and tried to stay warm.
    [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]


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  3. djeady

    djeady Been here awhile

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    Some video:






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  4. djeady

    djeady Been here awhile

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    Laguna de la Cocha to Ipiales

    After a cold night I woke up at my usual time. All was quiet and I grabbed my phone to check for messages - no wifi. Then I went to turn on the light - no power. I went back to bed and slept for another hour, finally getting up when a rooster started crowing. You have to love a place where even the roosters sleep in.

    I got up and dressed. There was no sign of life in the hospedaje so I let myself out and went for a walk towards the lake.

    The town is unbelievably scenic and I took many pictures. At the end of the pavement I followed a dirt track down to the reeds around the lake. You couldn't actually get to the shore of the lake itself.

    Close to the end of the track was an enormous green Volkswagen camper van with www.cactusontheroad.com stencilled on the top of the windshield. No one was stirring. I looked up their link and they are a couple from Germany who have been travelling in South America since 2016 and the van is a 1987 AWD that they restored.

    I walked back to the hotel taking more pictures and enjoying the town. People were starting to stir and I exchanged good mornings with them as I walked by.

    As I got to the hotel there was a lady walking down the road with an enormous bunch of flowers. I asked if I could take her picture and she agreed.

    When I went back into the hospedaje the owner was up and I had a nice breakfast of fried eggs and a bun with quest and some coffee.

    I took a picture of my room to show how rustic it was. When the sun came up in the morning it shone through the cracks in the floorboards both from below and above.

    Lim came down and said good morning and I asked if she wanted to walk down to the lake, because I wanted to see if anyone was up at the camper. She said it was too hot for her and she would wait until later, but asked me to pick up a big container of water for her. I went out and got the water, stopping to take a picture of a mother and daughter who were helping to repair the family boat. I brought the water back and then walked down to the lake, but the camper was gone.

    It was almost noon and time for me to leave so I packed up and said my goodbyes. My front tire was down a bit, so I added air. If all I have to do is top it up every morning, it's not going to be a big deal. I'll replace the tube when I replace the tire which will probably be somewhere in Ecuador as it is starting to cup - seems to be a common issue on the KLR.

    I rode back up to the highway and towards Pasto. Very nice ride up over a low mountain, but a bit chilly.

    I rode into Pasto briefly but decided there really wasn't anything I wanted to see there, so turned around and headed for Ipiales and Las Lajas.

    As I approached Las Lajas there was a cable car that ran overhead for those who didn't want to take all the steps. I carried on to the parking lot and parked with the other bikes.

    After securing the bike I walked down through the twisting approach to the church that was line with souvenir stands and restaurants.

    Las Lajas commemorates a vision of the Virgin Mary that was seen on the wall of the canyon in the mid 18th century. Since that time there have been several shrines and churches in the site. The current one was built in the 1940s.

    You approach the church from above and don't really appreciate its size until you get down to the church and the levels below. The final stretches of the paths are lined with plaques thanking the Virgin for wishes fulfilled.

    The church is quite majestic to look at, both from the bridge and also from below where there are even more souvenir stands and restaurants. You can even buy beer at many of the little food stalls.

    After exploring the church and taking pictures I decided to go into the museum below. It provided an interesting history of the site and the various buildings that had been there. The real surprise was that the museum had several galleries filled with pre-Colombian artifacts. This was a civilization that disappeared before western contact. I spent quite a bit of time in this area. The museum was well worth the $1 admission fee.

    I went back to the bike - much harder going uphill, stopping for an ice cream at one of the stalls.

    There were a couple of small hotels at Las Lajas and I could have stayed there. It would have been nice to see the church lit up at night. I decided instead to go into Ipiales and I found a hotel and headed towards it.

    I was able to park my bike in the back storage area of the hotel - required a bit of maneuvering to get it in there.

    I unpacked, did my sink laundry, and then headed out to find some food.

    I walked between two of the squares downtown but didn't see anything that appealed to me.

    Both squares were heavily decorated for Christmas, oddly with large statues of Disney characters. Hard to get the connection between Bambi, or Pinocchio, or Snow White, or even the Three Little Pigs with Christmas, but I guess it appealed to the kids who were lining up to have their pictures taken.

    In the second square there was a long lineup of parents and kids leading up to an empty corralled off area. I couldn't figure out what was going on until I saw the Christmas train come by filled with kids and preceded by a police motorcycle with flashing lights. I would have liked that ride.

    I walked back to the first square and found a restaurant on the second floor that looked nice and went in and had a nice meal of lamb in a whiskey and mustard sauce that was very tasty.

    There was a private room with glass walls in one corner of the restaurant and there was a young couple I there obviously celebrating something. There were rose petals sprinkled on the floor and three musicians came in and played for them. - pretty fancy.

    After my dinner I walked back to the hotel and called it a night.
    [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]


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  5. djeady

    djeady Been here awhile

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    Las Lajas[​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]


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  6. djeady

    djeady Been here awhile

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    The museum[​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]


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  7. djeady

    djeady Been here awhile

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    Ipiales[​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]


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  8. djeady

    djeady Been here awhile

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    Don't wanna feel like a refugee

    We've all heard about the problems in Venezuela, but what we don't hear about are the large numbers of Venezuelans fleeing to Colombia. I met a lot of Venezuelans in Colombia, some there legitimately and working, others sad and desperate.

    Once in Colombia the only place they can go is to Ecuador since there is no land route to Panama, the only other place they can go is Ecuador. As a result the border between Colombia and Ecuador is completely congested with Venezuelans trying to cross.

    On the Colombian side everybody lines up together and it took 2.5 hours to exit Colombia. They did have an express line for families with children, handicapped persons and seniors. I gave some though about whether I could pass as a senior, but decided I don't look the part in my motorcycle gear.

    I then had to check the bike out. As I was figuring out that process, Bryan came over. I'd had a message from him the previous day saying he was having trouble getting out of the country. He had misinterpreted his allowed 90 day stay as being from September 19 to December 19 rather than 90 elapsed days and wound up having to pay a fine for both him and the bike.

    He waited while I checked the bike out of Colombia. Then we crossed over into Ecuador and began the process of getting in. We first joined a long line that wrapped 3/4 of the way around the building. Then we learned that there were actually two lines, one for Venezuelans and one for everybody else, and we moved to the correct line that was significantly shorter, but still moving very slowly. Eventually we reached the front of the outside line and were about to join the queue inside when an agent came out from one of the offices and took about half a dozen of us inside for processing.

    Now that we were in Ecuador we had to get the bikes in and after lining up at one office for a while we were told we were in the wrong place and sent over to another set of windows where we stood for a while and nothing happened. It appeared everyone had gone to lunch.

    We talked to a Colombian biker riding a KLR who was returning to Colombia and he tried to help and eventually told us we had to go back to the first office. We waited for a bit and then a customs agent came out and walked to the bikes with us and took our information. We thought this meant things would go quickly from there, but wound up waiting more than 2 hours as other people came in and were processed. We watched some people simply walk to the head of the line and demand to be processed and getting attention.

    We finally decided they have forgotten about us and went in to the office and began to protest. It was clear that the agent had no recollection of us and she asked for our documents again. We protested that we had already given her all the information and she looked through her files and you could see the light come on. She completed the paperwork and we were on our way. It was 4 pm and I had been there since just after 9 am, and Bryan had been there since 8 am.

    I found a potential hotel and we headed for it. I think Bryan was concerned because the routing seemed to take us away from the town but it simply took us in the back way.

    The town was a maze of one way streets and we circled the area where the hotel was supposed to be before finally pulling over. Bryan saw signs for a couple of hotels down the road and checked them out. The first one wasn't suitable because it didn't have parking, but the second one had parking in an internal courtyard and had rooms available. It turned out to be the hotel we had been looking for. They only had a double room available so we decided to share the room which was basic, but adequate although there was a bit of a smell coming from the washroom area.

    We walked out to find dinner and went quite a distance only finding fast food places, none of which could offer us a beer with dinner. We finally asked a couple of ladies on the street and they told us we should go to a Chinese restaurant a few blocks away that had good food, Chinese and otherwise. We went there and had a good dinner.

    On the way back we walked through a market and a fun fair in a park near the hotel. The fun fair had some unusual games of chance and we watched for a while trying to figure out how they worked. One game was a variation on roulette, except the numbers were laid out like a bingo card at the bottom of a bowl light area. A steel ball was launched from the top of the bowl and moved fairly randomly among the numbers, each of which had a magnet underneath, before coming to rest on one number.

    Afterwards we walked back to the hotel and called it a night. [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]


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  9. djeady

    djeady Been here awhile

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    More pics[​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]


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  10. djeady

    djeady Been here awhile

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    Off to the Galapagos for Christmas- will catch up with everyone in the New Year.


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  11. KShow

    KShow Been here awhile

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    Dec 16, 2007
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    Location:
    Shenandoah Valley, VA
    Yep, so are we. 9:30 flight today, sitting at the airport now. A3 gate.
  12. djeady

    djeady Been here awhile

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    Just landed at Guayaquil. I'm on the Xavier - may see you at some point. I'm the tall bald guy with the white goatee.


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  13. KShow

    KShow Been here awhile

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    Location:
    Shenandoah Valley, VA
    We're going to be on the Golondrina, currently at the Isla Grill. Look for a redneck with a big goatee, a bald guy, And my wife
  14. mjt1577

    mjt1577 MinisterOfSillyWalks

    Joined:
    Apr 5, 2009
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    Location:
    Duncan, BC
    Amazing journey so far...thanks so much for sharing...can't wait to start my own adventure that way and I appreciate all the information and advice that you and others provide...Happy New Year and safe travels!
  15. djeady

    djeady Been here awhile

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    Getting to Quito

    I wanted to be in Quito by the 21st to meet Ian, my friend from the UK who I am travelling to the Galapagos with. This is the last hard date of my trip.

    I was up early and sat in the lobby which, was the only place you could get wifi, and did some updates. Bryan slept in quite late, but eventually we headed out to look for some breakfast. This has proved surprisingly difficult in some of the cities and today was no exception. We stopped at one little cafe and the breakfast that was offered was a sandwich so we decided to try elsewhere. After checking a couple more places we walked back and the sandwich turned out to be really good.

    We went back to the hotel and loaded up the bikes and got ready to go. Bryan's bike wouldn't start. We determined it was a fuel problem and he began unloading the bike.

    He fairly quickly determined this was a repeat of a previous problem - fuel had leaked up from the tank and damaged the fuel pump control module. He had been able to figure out a workaround before and did the same now and eventually we were back on the road.

    He's very frustrated with the quality and cost of service from BMW in Bogota.

    We had a nice ride into Quito. Lots of great views. I lost Bryan briefly and stopped at a gas station where he caught up with me - his fuel pump was overheating. He was going to have to fill his tank just enough that it cooled the fuel pump, but not enough that it leaked out of the top and into the electronics.

    We continued on into Quito and Google Maps suddenly directed me to take an exit which I just barely made. I had to wait for Bryan to get turned around and catch up with me.

    The road was a narrow two lane track that twisted up the side of a steep hill. I could see that it led directly into the downtown of Quito, but I know Bryan wondered where the heck I was taking him.

    We got to the hotel and they asked if we were both staying. Since it was late and there was no difference in cost, I invited Bryan to share the double room.

    There was a message from Ian waiting for me and I tried to call his room, but he didn't answer.

    We parked the bikes in the hotel garage and took our bags up to the room. I tried to reach Ian again, but still no success. We were just about to head out and find some food when Ian called. He came up to the room and we chatted for a few minutes. He suggested that we take a tour of Cotopaxi the next day. He was very tired so he begged off dinner and Bryan and I headed off to find some food.

    After wandering about for a bit we found a place called El Arabe that looked busy and went in and had a good meal of shishkabob and a potato salad followed by some so-so Mediterranean desserts and very good mint tea.

    After that we walked back to the hotel and called it a night. [​IMG][​IMG]

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  16. djeady

    djeady Been here awhile

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    Cotopaxi

    Ian knocked on the door just after 8 the next morning. We were about to find some breakfast and he had already eaten.

    We went down to the lobby and Ian booked the tour for nine. Bryan and I went to find some breakfast. We tried the place at the back of the hotel, but they were so busy they advised us we would have to wait at least a half an hour for our food, so we found another placed just up the road and had a reasonably quick breakfast. They didn't have coffee so we swung by a coffee shop on the way back to the hotel and picker up coffee to go.

    We got back to the hotel and went quickly up to our room to pick up our knapsacks, then headed out with our driver whose name was Wilson.

    We worked our way out of the city, stopping at an outlook point to get a nice view of the city.

    As we approached the park, the driver stopped to pick up Dorothy who would be our guide for the tour.

    We had some great views of Cotopaxi as we approached and stopped several times to take pictures. Our guide asked us if we would love like to see the refuge or go for a walk around a lagoon at a lower level. We decided we would see the refuge and then go to the lagoon afterwards, if there was time.

    We were able to drive up to about 300 metres below the shelter and we would have to walk the remaining distance. At this point we were at almost 15,000 feet and could definitely feel the effects of altitude. There were two choices to get to the refuge, a steep trail that led directly there and a sloping path that zigzagged across the steep path. We chose to go directly up the steep path.

    We were warned not to overexert and then started up the slope. I found my best approach was to climb a hundred feet or so, then stop and let my heart rate get back to normal. Ian only made it a short distance up the path before deciding he was still too tired from travel to make the climb.

    I carried on with Bryan and Dorothy trailing behind. After a number of stops I reached the refuge and felt an immediate sensation of elation. I went in and used the washroom, then got myself a cup of coca tea and a hot chocolate. I was also able to get a stamped certificate and a sticker for the bike. The climb had taken me about 45 minutes.

    Bryan and Dorothy arrived a while later and I bought them both hot drinks to celebrate. We also got a stamped certificate for Ian.

    After taking some pictures we headed back down. This was much faster than going up and we were back in the parking lot in about 15 minutes.

    We headed down to the lagoon and were able to spend about an hour walking the path and taking pictures of some of the local wildlife.

    It was then time to leave the park and we dropped Dorothy off at her town just outside the park, giving her a good tip because she was so knowledgeable about the park and the wildlife.

    Then it was back to Quito where we paid our driver and after a brief rest in our rooms we headed out to find some dinner.

    After wandering the streets looking for a place to eat we eventually wound up back at El Arabe and had another good meal.

    We then walked back to the hotel and called it a night.

    On the way in, Bryan and I stopped at the bikes and I swapped the valve in my front tire hoping it would resolve my slow leak. [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]


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  17. djeady

    djeady Been here awhile

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    More pics[​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]


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  18. djeady

    djeady Been here awhile

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    Crossing the line and Old Quito

    Ian was at the door early and we started the morning by heading over to Moto Bolivar to have breakfast in their little cafe and look at their collection of old motorcycles. I also wanted to inquire about getting my rear tire mounted and possibly replacing the front one along with an oil change. They have a Pirelli at a good price so I will consider it.

    Afterwards we went back to the hotel and Bryan packed up and headed to his hostel. I packed my stuff up and moved into Ian's room as our accommodation for the tour was based on double occupancy.

    Ian and I took a cab out to see the Intiñan Solar Museum and the Ciudad Mitad del Mundo. Bryan and I had taken a route into Quito that bypassed these sites so I wanted to go back and see them.

    The Solar Museum was interesting, but a bit touristy. We got an hour long tour that covered some of the local history, the history of defining the equator, and some demonstrations of unusual effects around the equator such as how water drains in the north and south hemispheres, balancing an egg on the head of a nail on the equator, etc.

    There were also some demonstrations of how muscle strength changes at the equator. I'm a bit dubious of these - will have to do some research.

    The final exhibit was on the Amazon rain forest and included various stuffed animals as well as two actual shrunken heads!

    Afterwards we took a taxi over to the Mitad del Mundo exhibit where we had to pay yet another entry fee just to go in and walk around the monument. Interesting, but again very touristy.

    We passed on sampling the barbecued cut that was on offer.

    We then took the cab back to the hotel where we rested for a bit before starting out to see some of Old Quito.

    We had a look at the cathedral and wandered a few blocks through the streets looking at the old buildings. We decided to have an early dinner as we hadn't had lunch and there was a meeting about the tour at 7 at the hotel.

    We checked out places around the main square, but they were mostly coffee or fast food places. I checked Google and found a restaurant with great reviews a few blocks away and headed towards it. We had a few wrong turns, and Ian was getting a bit frustrated, but I persevered and we found the place. It turned out to be very much worth the little bit of frustration. The restaurant was in part of the old Colon Theatre which was in the process of being restored. It had a great view out onto a pedestrian mall and the food was amazing. We both ordered pork loin which had been roasted for 6 hours. They first brought us an appetizer of deep fried yucca which was the smoothest, creamiest yucca I have ever had. We then had our main course, which was fabulous, followed by a really nice dessert. At the end of the meal, the waiter brought over bottles of infused alcohol (cane?) and poured us each a shot. A great end to a great dinner that I think wound up being about $30 for the two of us including a couple of beers each.

    We then walked back to the hotel, making it just before dark.

    We showed up for our meeting about the tour and had to wait a bit because the meeting for another tour group ran overtime. There seemed to be a lot of questions. Ian and I were the only ones there for our meeting and we only had a couple of questions, so it wrapped up quickly.

    We then went back to our room and organized the luggage we were going to have the hotel store. For me it was my small bag, my tank bag, and my helmet, boots and coat which they put into plastic bags and labelled.

    Then it was early to bed for a 4:30 am start the next day. [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]


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  19. djeady

    djeady Been here awhile

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    More pics[​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]


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  20. djeady

    djeady Been here awhile

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    A week in the Galápagos Islands

    I'm going to shortchange the Galápagos Islands by summing up a week in a single post. They deserve more.

    We left the hotel at 6 am and were loaded on a bus to take us to the airport. We also got to meet the 4 other passengers from South Africa who would be travelling with us - the Govind Family.

    There was a festive mood at the airport and as we line up we got the opportunity to pose with someone dressed up as a Christmas bear - couldn't pass that up.

    The first leg of our flight to Guayaquil was a short one and we had to change planes even though the plane we were on was continuing to the Galapagos.

    The second flight took us to San Christobal where we were transferred to the Xavier III which would be our home for the next week. There would be 16 passengers on board along with 7 crew.

    The week was very busy - we often had a walk or activity then snorkelling in the morning and then again in the afternoon.

    All meals were on the boat and were generally buffet style. Food was great.

    Each evening we had a briefing in the lounge before dinner and we usually played cards or read afterwards. Most nights everyone was asleep before 9 as we were all tired from the day's activities.

    At night we often navigated to a new location so we would fall asleep to the sound of the motor and wake up to the sound of the anchor chain going out.

    We started out the week with Oswaldo as our guide and he was good, but he left us on Thursday and Jorge joined us. He was excellent with an in-depth knowledge of the flora and fauna and the history of the islands.

    I've attached some of the photos I took with my iPhone. I also have about 1000 photos on my camera and a couple of hours of video and will try and post some of that when I get a chance.

    We travelled through most of the southern and eastern islands of the Galapagos and got to see almost all of the unique creatures that live there. It's hard to imagine a place that consists mainly of lava flows interspersed with cactus and trees that are actually a species of sunflower. In land we saw both land and marine iguanas, the giant tortoises (in the breeding centre and in the wild), many species of finch, blue footed and nazca boobies, frigate birds, brown pelicans, albatrosses, mockingbirds and much more.

    In the water we swam with sea lions, sea turtles, white tipped and black tipped sharks, the odd marine iguana, several kinds of rays, and many parrot fish, surgeon fish, sergeant majors, trunk fish, puffer fish and others. We didn't see much in the way of coral reefs - mostly isolated areas of coral growing on the underwater lava.

    The week came to and end and we said goodbye to our new friends and flew back to Quito to celebrate New Year's Eve.

    On the way out of San Cristobal we got to observe one of the unique Ecuadorean New Year's Eve traditions as a man dressed as a parody of a woman was approaching passers by and rubbing up against them in a lascivious manner.

    On the way into Quito we saw many people buy the papier mâché effigies that are traditionally burned on New Years Eve to bring good luck. Apparently these were originally effigies of politicians and other popular figures, but now they tend to be figures like Disney characters, Spider-Man, the Hulk, and wrestlers, although Donal Trump also made the odd appearance.

    I'm not sure how burning Mickey Mouse in effigy brings lunch, but it is definitely the thing to do in Quito.

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