One of my favorite trips ever was to the Galapagos Islands, via a small cruise ship, much like the one contributing writer Robert Waite took in his compelling narrative below. The fellow pictured above, a marine iguana with a face only a mother (or mate) could love, is one of countless friendly creatures my wife and I encountered during our eight-island cruise. But I’ll leave it to Bob to chronicle his own experiences, which complete his trilogy on traveling to Ecuador, including visits to the colonial-era capital, Quito, and the Amazon.
By Robert Waite
Santa Cruz Island, Galapagos – Want to feel young again, even if you are in your sixth or seventh decade? Head to the Santa Cruz highlands, where you will be a veritable spring chicken compared to the Galapagos giant tortoises ambling about.
Many tortoises reach 100 years of age or more, and one —… Continue reading
Ecuador, a relatively small nation (about the size of Nevada), packs a wallop for its size — offering a remarkably diverse set of natural and cultural attractions.
I’ve been lucky enough to travel to all four of its main regions: The Andes (including the colonial-era city of Quito); the Amazon basin; the Pacific coast, anchored by the city of Guayaquil; and the Galapagos Islands, 600 miles out in the ocean. All are memorable.
In this informative and engaging piece, contributing writer Robert Waite continues his recent journey through Ecuador by taking us to Yasuni National Park and the Napo Wildlife Center deep in the Amazon rainforest. Here’s his report:
By Robert Waite
Yasuni Park, Ecuador – There are two indigenous tribes located in Ecuador’s Amazon rainforest, the Tagaeri and the Taromenane, who have had virtually no contact with the outside world.
I say “virtually” because there have been… Continue reading
By Robert Waite
Quito, Ecuador – There are three things to keep in mind when planning a visit to Quito, capital of Ecuador.
First, it is high. Not Cusco-high, but — at 9,350 feet (2,850 meters )– you’re 2,000 feet (610 meters) higher than Mexico City. It may take you a few days to acclimate.
Second, it is hilly. As one who once lived on Russian Hill in San Francisco, I thought I knew hilly, but Quito even beats the City by the Bay.
Third, it is old. The present-day city was established by Spaniards in 1534, almost 100 years before the founding of Boston. And indigenous peoples lived here for centuries before that.
And if I were to add a fourth, it would be not to miss the surrounding countryside, known for its mountains, lush natural beauty, and a chance to straddle the Equator itself.
I have no idea why I came to trust Dave.
The man loved snakes, scorpions, and spiders. I hate spiders — and I’m not too keen on snakes or scorpions.
But this was the rain forest, where Dave seemed at home, and where, to me, everything seemed strange and foreboding.
I watched as a line of ants, dwarfed by the leaves they were hauling, marched past my feet.
I listened as distant howler monkeys made eerie noises like the wind wailing through the trees.
I cringed as a bright yellow spider made its resolute journey across the shoulder of one of my companions. Dave’s face lit up as he snatched the spider and held it in his palm, showing it off like a trophy.
“Completely harmless!” he announced. Anne, the young woman who provided the shoulder, merely shuddered.… Continue reading