View Full Version : The Story of our trip to Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador & Galapagos Trip 31.7 to 15.8.10

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December 8th, 2010, 04:42 PM
:)I would like to share with you the experience of our trip to Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador and the Galapagos with the Celebrity Xpedition ship from the 31.07.10 until the 15.08.10.

It was a really fantastic trip and I only have good word for the Celebrity Expedition team and ship, it was wonderful.

Please be patient..... I have this story in Spanish...... but it is long and I have to translate it so the English might not be perfect...... and I will take my time .......... chapter by chapter....... but I hope you enjoy it and maybe it will give help and tips to future travelers.

The first chapter is LIMA......... here goes.... :)

December 8th, 2010, 04:44 PM
Friday 30th of July 2010 and Saturday 21st of July 2010

The flight from Malaga to Madrid (Spain) was scheduled for Saturday at 9 am and a couple of days before we received a call informing us of the change in the flight time, the new departure time was for 6:55 pm, which meant that we would need to be in the airport by 5:30 am, leave home at 4:30 am and get up between 3:30-4am and this way we would begin a long journey tired. Luckily, my husband, after a lot of difficulty, managed to change the flight on Saturday for another on Friday afternoon - and this was the best decision, it was a perfect solution.

We have worked on Friday morning and caught the flight at 5:40pm to Madrid. The good thing was the next day having had a great nights sleep, a good breakfast and a shower, we then took the flight from Madrid to Lima, Peru at 12:40 pm



The flight was with Iberia and had a duration of 12 hours. Although it is a long flight, I find it much more bearable being a day flight rather than a long flight at night.

Approaching Lima, from the plane we could see the mountains of the Andes:


December 8th, 2010, 04:45 PM
Landing at Lima airport:



Having completed all the formalities at the airport, there was somebody waiting for us with a sign with our name for the transfer to the hotel.

On the way to the airport to the hotel the first thing we noticed was the way they drive in Lima. Overtaking on all sides and constantly using the horn! Coming out of their lane into yours and therefore forcing you to also have to change lanes! They turn or make a u-turn where they want, without prior advice. One of the two has to stop but you never know whose turn it is to do so! As they explained, they have one foot on the accelerator and the other on the brake!

These are some pictures of the first impressions of everyday life through the different streets that we saw on the way from airport to hotel, in some very normal areas and other better areas (and some really beautiful but these will be a little later in when I explain the excursion of the following day in the centre of Lima):




December 8th, 2010, 04:47 PM
We saw many local buses:


And the driver reading his newspaper at the traffic lights!:


My attention was drawn seeing a lot of signs pointing the way to the “playa” which means beach in Spanish …....but it didn´t look like the way to the beach and when I asked they told me that they were public parking areas or “beaches of parking areas” …..


And we saw all types of cars on these beaches:



December 8th, 2010, 04:48 PM
And more general street scenes:





December 8th, 2010, 04:51 PM
There were 7 hours time difference between Spain and Peru and we arrived at 6:30pm local time in Lima (1:30 am in Spain), but we had to get our bodies and minds used to the local time in Lima and therefore we decided to do something and not go straight to bed!

“Magic Circuit of the Water” - Parque de la Reserva - Lima City (http://www.go2peru.com/lima_travel_guide.htm)


Beautiful fountains with playing water, colored lights and laser rays which dance with the music rhythm. This newly revamped park is a pride of Lima's citizens. The Parque de la Reserva was inaugurated by the Mr. Luis Castañeda Mayor of Lima's Municipality (May 2007).

The Magic Circuit of the Water Tour is currently the world record holder for the largest fountain complex in the world, consisting of 13 distinct fountains, many of which are interactive. All of the fountains are lighted at night, many with continuously changing color schemes.

The largest fountain in the Park of the Reserve, named "Magic Fountain" (Fuente Mágica) contains a jet which forces water to a height of over 80 m. Additional attractions are the Tunnel Fountain of Surprises (Fuente Túnel de las Sorpresas), a 35 m walk-thru tunnel of water; the Children's Fountain (Fuente de los Ninos), a walk-in automated fountain; and a tunnel connecting the two sections of the park which contains an exhibition highlighting recent public works projects in Lima. The Fantasia Fountain (Fuente de la Fantasia), site of a regularly-scheduled laser and picture show, is 120 m in length and contains jets that are synchronized to music.


The park gates open Wed-Sun at 4pm, until 10pm. Tickets are sold at the gates and cost only S/.4 soles (that is, some US $1.3): children under four have free admission.

December 8th, 2010, 04:52 PM
The first fountain which we saw – the “Traditions Fountain” was really spectacular:


Precisely at this fountain was where we saw many newlyweds who come to get their wedding photos:





December 8th, 2010, 04:55 PM
The Fantasy Fountain (Fuente de la Fantasia) is the site of a regularly-scheduled laser and picture shows, where it has a length of 120m and contains a jet that synchronizes to the playing of music.

At 8:30pm was a show where the Magic Fountain expresses the magic, grandeur and overwhelming flow of water. (9.30am Its main feature is formed with water and a majestic figures spectacular Central Geiser over 80m. high, large central dome, “lily” overflowing water and palm trees with a crown of vertical jets and multicolor spray screen to receive the laser projections. Apparently there is an even more impressive show at 9:30am but we couldn´t wait as late as we were extremely late.

Here are some of the photos of how we saw it:


The Fantasy Fountain:



December 8th, 2010, 04:56 PM






December 8th, 2010, 04:57 PM

We also saw this fountain:


It was now 9.15pm and we had not eaten yet and for us (in our home time) it was already 3:15 am so we took a taxi and returned to the hotel.

Right next to the hotel was the promenade with these views ... ... ... .and with a cross lit up at night:


Right reside the hotel was this lovely church:


When we arrived at the hotel the easiest was to just order the room service and after dinner we went to sleep. We slept very well and we woke the next day feeling much better and really looking forward to seeing Lima.

December 8th, 2010, 04:59 PM
Sunday, 1st of August, 2010

At 9 am we were met at the reception for a group tour of downtown Lima.

Lima is divided into several districts or areas and is very noticeable class differences in each area.

Here you can see quite clearly the differences:

A lower class area:


A médium class area:


And a good or higher level neighbourhood:


December 8th, 2010, 05:01 PM
We arrived at the center of Lima which was really beautiful with squares and some impressive buildings with beautiful architecture. The only regret was that the bus didn´t stop and as it had darkened windows we couldn´t take any good photos. But it didn´t worry me as we had booked a private guide for 2pm to show us what we wanted to see so we knew that we could return later to see again the places that we really liked. Nor am I worried as we had hired a private guide for 14h to see what we wanted so we knew we could come back later with confidence to see the most beautiful.

Where we did stop and got off the bus was in the Plaza Mayor, a place that I loved, where the Government Palace, the Cathedral of Lima, Lima Archbishop's Palace, the Palacio Municipal de Lima and the Union Club are all located.


Empezando por el mano izquierda, un edificio del lado sur de la plaza, sede de la Revista Caretas: Starting from the left, the building on the south side of the square are the headquarters of the Magazine Caretas:


Then the Town Hall:


And the Government Palace:



Al otro lado de la plaza está la Casa del Oidor (en el fondo en color amarillo con madera), una de las edificaciones mas antiguas de la ciudad. Aquí habitaba el oidor, enviado de la monarquía española que asesoraba al virrey, y el Palacio Arzobispal:

On the other side of the square is the Casa del Oidor (Magistrate´s House) (in the background with yellow wood), one of the oldest buildings in town. Here lived the judge, sent by the Spanish monarchy which advised the Viceroy and the Archbishop's Palace:


December 8th, 2010, 05:05 PM
The Archbishop´s Palace: This important place in the middle of town reflects the immense power the church had in Colonial Lima. Constructions for the Cathedral of Lima and the original 'Palacio Arzobispal' started shortly after the foundation of Lima in 1535. The palace was built using only the finest materials shipped in from the old world, like cedar wood and mahogany, tiles from Seville, bronze and marble. In 1924 the Archbishops Palace was completely reconstructed and renovated...


And beside the Archbishop´s Palace is the Catedral:



We went inside and as it was Sunday they were celebrating Mass:



December 8th, 2010, 05:07 PM
When we left the cathedral we went to the Museum of Central Bank of Peru. This museum consists of paintings about the independence of Peru and about the scenes of war. We could also see some huacos and sculptures of ancient pre-Inca cultures of Peru. There are exhibitions of archaeological ceramics, gold, wood and textiles from the Moche, Chancay, Inca, Lambayeque, Nazca, Chimu and Chavin cultures.






And I couldn´t resist taking a photo of this couple making love, hihihi


December 8th, 2010, 05:09 PM

It displays the private collection of gold-based Cohen Hugo based on masks, bracelets, nose rings and other pieces typical of the Peruvian coast. It looks like that it should be a valuable collection judging by the security door type that protects safe:






December 8th, 2010, 05:10 PM

We left the museum, and we walked along different streets. We felt safe at all times because there were so many different kinds of police on all sides:




Even this friendly policeman posing for his photo!


My attention was also attracted by the taxis, we were told that almost anyone can be a taxi driver without requiring a license. You will notice that the numberplate is painted on the side of the car as well as being installed in front and behind and is apparently necessary to avoid car theft, as it is easy to install a number plate but is more difficult o change if you also have to piant the side of the car:


December 8th, 2010, 05:11 PM
Many taxis also had religious phrases in the back windscreen of the car:


We saw many typical shops and souvenirs along the way:




We even saw that the famous "Octopus Paul" (who “selected” the World Cup match winners, and has just recently died) is famous also in Lima, but we have not heard the end who won: the octopus Paul or the Guinea Pig Jimmy !!!!:


December 8th, 2010, 05:13 PM
After we walked through some streets we arrived at the Basilica and the Convent of San Francisco de Jesus





The Church and Convent of San Francisco is besides the Cathedral of Lima probably the most significant religious complex in Lima. The church with the impressive main portal, the affiliated convent and the two churches of 'El Milagro' and 'La Soledad' form together the most successful and impressive monument of Colonial architecture in whole Latin America. Under the temple and convent there are underground galleries transformed into gloomy catacombs that served as a cemetery of Lima during the viceroyalty.

It is forbidden to take photos in the catacombs and the following are not my photos but are some taken from the Internet.

It surprised me that the bones of the skeletons were not kept together but they were classified according to the type of bone, in other words all the femur bones were kept together and all the skulls were in another place, etc.

In this place more than 25 thousand people who had lived in Peru in that period were buried. The convent catacombs have a series of subterranean passageways to which the general public have access since 1950.



December 8th, 2010, 05:14 PM


On the way to the catacombs is the library, some rooms such as hall, the choir and the sacristy. The library is the second largest in Latin America with major works including the first dictionary published by the Royal Academy of Spanish Language.

After this visit we returned to the bus and carried on through the different districts in Lima, arriving at the Miraflores area where we saw the beautiful views of the Chabuca Granda Alameda with the nice restaurant downstairs called "La Rosa Nautica Limeña" built in a breakwater by the sea, so that the view must be spectacular:




In passing from the bus we saw the “Parque del Amor” or Park of Love, which is supposedly inspired in Barcelona:


December 8th, 2010, 05:17 PM
We returned to the hotel after 1pm…….. just in time to have something quick like a sandwich to eat before our private guide Eduard, from Lima Cabs arrived………..

As I mentioned Edward from Lima Cabs came to pick us up at 2pm. We had contracted him for 3 hours and as we were only going to be in Lima for 1 day we wanted to see the maximum and the idea was a total success as Edward was charming and totally concentrated on showing us exactly what we wanted to do and see.

We returned to the centre in order to see and enjoy what we had just quickly seen in the morning. We started with the Plaza San Martín which is one of the most important areas of the city of Lima.


The square was inaugurated on July 27, 1921 to mark the centenary of the independence of Peru.The design of the plaza was the work of Spanish artist and architect Manuel Piqueras Cotolí. In the middle, there is a monument in honour of General Jose de San Martin, designed by the Spanish sculptor Mariano Benlliure.


The following photo was taken just inside the Grand Hotel Bolivar, which in the twentieth century was the most elegant building of Lima, where this beautiful Ford was parked in the entrance hall:



Then we walked along the Merced Street, a pedestrian walkway connecting the two plazas, Plaza San Martín to the beautiful Plaza Mayor which we had seen earlier in the morning. It is a shopping street and the funny thing is that it was Sunday where you would normally expect to find everything closed but all the shops were open and full of people:



December 8th, 2010, 05:18 PM
I was amused to see this sign advertising “rotos” meaning "broken or damaged ones" (I had seen several similar signs on the way) and the guide told us that the sign was referring to money or bank notes in bad condition or torn and those with the signs pay a slightly lower value for them as they are notes which are no longer accepted in the shops!:


On the same street there were some beautiful buildings and incredible architecture:



Including the San Agustin Church:


Look what a lovely façade:


San Agustin Church was built and founded in 1573 in front of the plaza of St. Augustine, in the vicinity of the Plaza Mayor of the capital.Due to the large number of earthquakes that have plagued the city, this building has been rebuilt several times, as this forms the list of damaged buildings due to this earthquake. Another cause of its destruction is due to political confrontations, a clear example is the sharp deterioration of the church in 1895, where the tower of the building was totally destroyed by a rocket from Pierola and caceristas forces. The front was built in 1710 with stone, and was decorated with beautiful ornaments. This consists of three naves and three blocks, of which, the centre one is the one used to access the building, the front and outside is of a Churrigueresque style where the portal is entirely carved in stone and is one of the best known doors throughout the city which reflects this style.

December 8th, 2010, 05:19 PM
On the way we also visited the Post Office building which at the same time is a small museum explaining the history of the post in Peru:







December 8th, 2010, 05:30 PM

Further along the street I was surprised to see this vehicle which appears to be prepared for riots for when they need to hose the water to disperse the crowds, you can see the water hoses on the roof:



After a while we arrived at the Plaza Mayor which I liked so much when we saw it in the morning and I enjoyed be able to spend time there with no hurry or rush and be able to appreciate it.




December 8th, 2010, 05:34 PM

Further along the street I was surprised to see this vehicle which appears to be prepared for riots for when they need to hose the water to disperse the crowds, you can see the water hoses on the roof:



After a while we arrived at the Plaza Mayor which I liked so much when we saw it in the morning and I enjoyed be able to spend time there with no hurry or rush and be able to appreciate it.




December 8th, 2010, 05:36 PM
The panoramic photos come out very small in the forum but are nice because you can see the entire square, but you must click on the photo to see it larger:


After Edward, our guide, took us totally unexpected to see the Osambela-Oquendo House, which today is the headquarters of the Cultural Center Garcilaso de la Vega where one can study Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization.

The Casa de Osambela or known as well as Casa de Oquendo is one of the most traditional buildings that combines the cultural and historical patrimony of Lima. This impressive mansion was built by Martin de Osambela, a merchant, banker and ship-owner as his family residence at the beginning of the 19th century (the construction took nearly four years and was finished in 1807). Really unique for Lima (at that time) are the 3 levels of the house and the lovely ‘mirador’ (look-out) on the roof, from where the owner used to watch the incoming ships of Callao's harbour. Impressive are also the five wooden balconies. Inside you find a spectacular patio and around 40 bedrooms. If you like to visit, the friendly staff or ask for Mr. Lizardo Retes, who takes care of the house, will take you on a tour through the mansion. They will be happy about a tip for their service.

The building had two owners, and its first was the man who commissioned its construction.


Don Martín de Osambela lived in the house from the time of its construction in 1808 until 1823 when as a Spaniard loyal to Spain he was forced out at the hands of republicans at the declaration of Peruvian independence. Don Martín was born in 1754 in Navarra, Spain, before moving his entire wealth to Lima after some misunderstanding with the Spanish Royal family.

Don Martín de Osambela was involved in the Spanish fight against the revolutionaries, donating vast sums of money to the Spanish cause. But it was in vein. San Martín was soon standing just metres from the mansion of Don Martín proclaiming Peruvian independence to a crowd of cheering creoles.

Most elite Spaniards in the city of Lima swiftly switched allegiances and co-signed the declaration of independence, but Don Martín did not. He did however meet with San Martín, invited him into his home and even donated his personal library to the newly formed republic as a good will gesture. These books formed the basis of the new National Library. As San Martín left to meet with Bolivar in Guayaquil, a wave of anti-Spanish sentiment swept the city. Many of those born in Spain found themselves without property or titles, these being confiscated.

Don Martín de Osambela was forced to rent out his house at a low price to Peruvians in order for he and his family to be allow to keep it. He could not longer run a business in Lima, and the rent was the only income he had.

Things eventually got so bad that in 1825 he fled the 14km to Callao, where the fort there was still controlled by the Spanish – the only part of Peru where they had not been pushed out. Here he and a great number of other Spanish hold-outs died of scurvy before the Spanish commander Ramón Rodil surrendered.

Despite his services and loyalty to Spain, his disagreements with the royals decades earlier had not been forgotten, and no grand recognition was awarded. He did however receive minor honours from lower authorities.

New owner

His widow and children eventually returned to the house, but ended up selling it to lawyer named José de Oquendo… who on his death in 1854 left it to his two daughters María Rebeca and María Sara.

Both daughters lived most of their early lives in Paris, where María Sara married and stayed, becoming a famous writer. María Rebeca married a Chilean, returned to South America, eventually split with her husband and returned to Lima, to the home still known as the Casa de Osambela.
María Rebeca, part of high society both in Lima and Paris, eventually became a painter, for which she received a fair amount of recognition. Her work was exhibited in Paris in 1874 and 1878. From her husband she duplicated her already impressive wealth and used part of it to restore her colonial homes in Viña del Mar (http://enperublog.com/2006/09/07/chile-vina-del-mar/), Chorrillos (http://enperublog.com/2007/05/24/chorrillos/) and of course Lima.

She adored her son Enmanuel, blinding herself to the life he led in Paris as a millionaire playboy. He would return to Lima each year under the pretext of a visit, but he was really only interested in more money to fund his lifestyle. Eventually he had spent her entire fortune, and she had to open an art school for women in her home to support herself. Seeing that his mother had no more money, Enmanuel commited suicide in Paris in 1932.

Eventually María Rebeca became extremely poor, so much so that she lost her historic home to the bank. After begging to the bank for pity, she was allowed to stay rent free in what was once her home until she died in poverty in 1941.

The house is on the Jirón Conde de Superunda Street, number 298, on the street that leads to the plaza. Standing opposite of the Presidential Palace, on the other side of the plaza facing it, turn to your left and head straight down the street. Ask Lizardo if you can see the view from the roof. Also, be sure to see the library and its almost 500 year old books.





December 8th, 2010, 05:51 PM
It was really interesting to see the house incide, wonderful:




Lovely balconies:



The library with many valuable books:


December 8th, 2010, 05:53 PM

Then we were taken up to the rooftop where we could see the panoramic views of the San Cristóbal Hill in the far distance, where we could see the multicoloured houses which are the “shanty town” or “favela” type houses of Lima.




We also saw 2 "black-headed vultures” or as the Peruvians call them “gallinazos” or buzzards:



December 8th, 2010, 05:54 PM
What caught my attention was to see the state of the roofs of the neighbouring houses. I thought that they were abandoned and uninhabited houses but, no, quite the opposite. Our guide told us that they were never finished or repaired firstly because nobody sees them, and secondly because it never rains much in Lima, the most might be just 4 drops but the house owners have no fear of rain leaking in through the roof or dampness coming in:



In the following 2 pictures you see the houses directly under this roof and you can see that these houses are inhabited and are more or less in good condition:



Terminado la visita del centro de Lima decidimos volver a ver las fuentes en el Parque de la Reserva, ya que al estar tan cansada la noche anterior vimos muy poco y nos quedó con las ganas de verlo un poco mejor. Lógicamente es mucho más bonito iluminado por la noche y no con la luz de día, como se ve con esta primera fuente, pero no importaba.

December 8th, 2010, 06:05 PM
When we finished our visit to the center of Lima we decided to return to the “Magic Circuit of the Water” fountains in the Parque de la Reserva.

As we had been so tired the previous night and we saw very little, we still had the desire to see them with more detail. Obviously it is much more beautiful lit up at night and not in daylight, but we still wanted to see them.





Where we spent most time was the “labyrinth of dreams fountain”: the water comes up from the ground in circles and the many people try running inside and between them. It is thus necessary to interact and play with the water jet sprays but these are completely random so it was great fun as people went in dry but if they calculated wrong, well, it gave them a good shower and they came out really soaked!



December 8th, 2010, 06:09 PM

And others:



You could see that the local people also enjoyed themselves very much in the park:



And some were more cold than others!:


December 8th, 2010, 06:11 PM
Returning to the hotel we made our last stop in the Larco Mar Shopping Center located in the Miraflores district built on the cliffs of the city facing the Pacific Ocean.



Two characteristics make it stand out from any other mall anywhere in the world:


You can see that the location of the cafeteria is very near to the cliff!


The second striking feature is that it was built in the waterfront area formerly occupied by a public park, which was virtually "ripped-out or dug-up" from the place (which led to vehement criticism at the time) to make way for a more artificial park area in fact the coverage of the basement car parking and multipl-cinemas. An old memorial that gives name to the green area called "Parque Salazar" was relocated leaving from the park to the commercial area of Miraflores.

December 8th, 2010, 06:13 PM
We had a couple of hours to relax in the hotel and time for a shower and time to recover after such a full day in Lima, but we could not leave without having seen any of the typical music and dance so we went to the Juniors Restaurant which offered a dinner with a Peru folkloric show.

This was the restaurant:



We started by trying a “pisco sour”, Pisco, the name of the traditional drink and patrimony of Peru (http://www.go2peru.com/webapp/ilatintravel/articulo.jsp?cod=19988155), is the symbol of Peruvian pride and nationality.

The Spaniards brought a grape liquor that with the time was elaborated in Peru.

It was named "pisco", name that has three origins: means a Quechua word that translated to English means "bird". The mud container was called "botija", where pisco was deposited. Pisco (http://www.go2peru.com/paracas_travel_guide.htm), city and name of a town that belongs to the Ica (http://www.go2peru.com/ica_travel_guide.htm) valley, correspond to a very important event. The great Independence leader José de San Martín disembark in the Paracas bay (http://www.go2peru.com/webapp/ilatintravel/articulo.jsp?cod=1998894) in Pisco, September 8th, 1820.

The botija was a practical container that used in the elaboration of pisco and then to transport and keep it. In the botija the grape juice was fermented and distilled. Afterwards the pisco is stored in botijas. When the botijas are empty they stowed them face down, until being used again in the next vintage.

All this shows that no other country can copy the Peruvian PISCO

Recipe :

7 ½ oz (or 3 parts) Peruvian Pisco
• 2 ½ oz (1 part) key lime juice
• 2 ½ oz (1 part) sugar syrup
• 1 egg white
• Angostura bitter

Pour the Pisco, key lime juice and syrup on a jar blender with enough ice to double the volume.

Blend on high. Add one egg white and blend again.
Serve. Pour a drop of Angostura bitter on each glass.
Tip: to make the sugar syrup just put ½ cup of sugar in a pot with 3 tbs of water, bring to a slow boil (always stirring), and cook until all the sugar has dissolved. Let the syrup cool before mixing with the Pisco and lime juice.


We saw the following scenes:




December 8th, 2010, 06:15 PM






December 8th, 2010, 06:26 PM






We returned to our hotel very tired but we had spent a really fantastic day in Lima.


Host Walt
December 9th, 2010, 01:46 PM
Thanks so much Caramelo for sharing your experiences and your photos.

I moved your thread from the Roll Call board to the main Celebrity board so that everyone can read your thread and see your great photos.

December 9th, 2010, 05:12 PM
Thank´s Walt.....

Here´s the next part:

December 9th, 2010, 05:14 PM
Monday, 2nd of August.

We were collected for the transfer to the airport at 8am. The flight left at 11am and arrived at 14.05 pm at La Paz, Bolivia. La Paz is one hour ahead of the time in Peru. We had very little time in La Paz, only from the arrival at 2pm until 6:30am the next morning when we went to Cuzco, but in such a short time we have seen a lot!



Our Lady of La Paz had a population of 1,552.156 inhabitants in the metropolitan area of La Paz including the city of El Alto in 2001. The estimated population for 2010 of the metropolitan area is 2,087,597 inhabitants. The city center is approximately 3650 m (meters above sea level) and together with the city of El Alto, it is the second largest town and village in Bolivia. Its more than 3.600 meters in height are a major challenge for travelers from the plains, but its beauty and typical air invites one to overcome the height and to enjoy it to the maximum.
La Paz, at the time of the Aymara community was known as Chukiyawu, which means "The Golden Town", whose name was not made in vain ... It is known that these territories which belonged to the Inca Empire, were one of the richest land in precious metals, which later drove the Spanish conquerors to madness.

We saw from the plane the Lake Titicaca, the highest navigable lake and the highest in the world, with 180 kilometers long and 60 kilometers wide.


These were the first images arriving in La Paz:


The views coming down into La Paz were very interesting because there were many mountains and terraced hills along the way and I imagine it must be very difficult for a pilot to land in La Paz!



December 9th, 2010, 05:18 PM
It is the highest airport in the world ... ..the airport is in the area called "El Alto" and is about 4.100M above sea level. When you exit the airport you slowly descend towards La Paz. Our hotel was about 3,650 m above sea level.

Given the altitude in La Paz it is very normal to experience altitude sickness:

The acute mountain sickness (AMS), colloquially known as mountain sickness, altitude sickness, evil moor, mountain sickness or altitude sickness is the lack of the organism to altitude hypoxia. The severity of the disorder is directly related to the ascent rate and altitude reached. Conversely these symptoms usually disappear when descending to lower levels.

It usually occurs after 6 or 10hours of exposure to hypoxia and the symptoms are generally not feeling well, headache etc. Luckily I took medications purchased in Spain, I took the pills starting the day before and did not have many problems at all, but my husband who does not like to take pills then had problems later in the day. The hotel gave us a machine with an oxygen bottle for our room and you connect for about 10 minutes from time to time and it helps a lot.


The following image is not mine but found on the Internet but it is just to give you the idea of the type of oxygen machines offered by hotels:


Returning to the arrival, if I was surprised at the way the people drive in Lima, well La Paz was incredible, much worse!

We stopped to take some panoramic photos of La Paz from a height. The number of streets with uphill / downhill were amazing and all connected by steps. The driver told us that there are houses that you can not reach by road and that have only pedestrian access but just walking down the steps is easy enough but it is very difficult to walk up to them. Some deliverers have to even go up with heavy weights like gas bottles etc. and he told us that there are some houses that do not have a refrigerator or washing machine etc.. as there is no way to deliver them!! He said the best business in town is the ice cream shop where they sell to the poor women have to go down each day ... ..and to make their return more comfortable or bearable well they compensate themselves by buying an ice cream for the way!



December 9th, 2010, 05:24 PM


We saw lots of street signs advertising for the boys trying to attract them to do military service:


"The military service lasts 1 year but your pride for being a soldier lasts a lifetime"


"Bolivia is the Patria,tricolour is the flag and camoflaged is the uniform"


"Thanks Bolivia for allowing me wear this glorious uniform"

December 9th, 2010, 05:25 PM

On the streets we saw many scenes of daily life and the nice thing was that the women were dressed in their traditional clothing and Bolivian hats:






December 9th, 2010, 05:27 PM
When we left the luggage at the hotel we started our tour that lasted about 3 hours.

The first stop was the Valley of the Moon is about 10 kilometers from the centre of La Paz, towards the village of Mallasa.




The Valley of the Moon is a mysterious landscape adorned by a small maze of canyons, pinnacles and unusual stalagmites of clay, and is a section where erosion has eaten the top of a mountain.

Not being on solid ground, clay instead of stone, over the centuries, the elements have created a work of art of something different. It's like a desert of stalagmites.


I had not expected to see much in La Paz thinking that perhaps it would be one of the weaker stop-overs of the journey but when they reached the Valley of the Moon I was amazed as to how big and beautiful it was. We could not see all of it as there was not enough time but we saw the most important parts, the Ladys Hat, Mother Moon and the Devil´s look out place.



December 9th, 2010, 05:29 PM

There was a local man playing both the flute and the charango instruments.




The charango is a stringed instrument used in the highlands of the Andes in South America. It has five pairs of double strings although there are variations with less or more strings but (almost) always orders or five games. The charango is a centenary tradition in Bolivia and Peru, 1 and also has significant presence in the music of Argentina, Chile and Ecuador.

The flute is a flute originally from South America, the Andean region (Bolivia, Ecuador, Peru, Chile and Argentina), which was played in the Inca empire.

Naturally it was a "touristy attraction" because he wanted us to pay him a tip ... .... but we paid gladly …………….you can not imagine how wonderful it was to see him totally alone with nobody around and playing in such a special place where there was so silence, it was really a magical moment and I think I'll never forget it. He then stayed on one foot copying the condor bird!



December 9th, 2010, 05:35 PM

We left the Valley of the Moon and drove through some pretty good areas judging from the style of the houses which we saw:


But you can imagine the difficulty of building the houses perched on top of the rocks:



This house attracted my attention with its collection of bells of all kinds:


December 9th, 2010, 05:36 PM
These two bridges are new and they will connect the house of Evo Morales to the city:


And this is supposedly the home of Evo Morales with the flag. The photo is not good as we were moving in the car:


Along the way we saw many who apparently are unemployed but offer their services to passers-by. If you need a plumber or an electrician you only have to go around this neighbourhood to look for one:



From there we went to the historic part of town and stopped at the main square, Plaza Murillo where today the national government´s headquarters are located and therefore it is the most important city in the country.



December 9th, 2010, 05:38 PM
The Plaza Murillo is the heart of La Paz, named in honor of Pedro Domingo Murillo (1759-1810), a Bolivian patriot, mestizo and precursor of Bolivian independence.

Monument of Pedro Domingo Murillo:


The front of the Presidential Palace "Palacio Quemado" overlooks the square. Near the entrance of the "Palacio Quemado" the guard members of the Battalion Colorados stand on guard. The current occupant of the palace is Evo Morales.



The 1st Regiment of the Infantry Colorados of Bolivia is a Bolivian Army military unit that is the bodyguard of the President of the Republic and whose office is the custody of the Government Palace.

We also saw plenty of the Utopian Police (Police Tactical Unit Operations), so I assumed that with so much police activity and bodyguards at the door that Evo Morales was on this day at the Palace.


Junto al Palacio Presidencial se encuentra el Congreso Nacional de Bolivia y también la iglesia de Nuestra Señora de La Paz.

Next to the Presidential Palace is the National Congress of Bolivia and also the church of Our Lady of La Paz.

the National Congress:


The church of Our Lady of La Paz.


December 9th, 2010, 05:40 PM
When we were finished in the square, we went to the Killi Killi Mirador which is the best viewpoint of the city. It is located in the Villa Pabón, from here you can admire its topography and see the panoramic views, you can see areas like Chuquiaguillo, the Summit, Miraflores, the Southern area, the Centre and the slopes up to Pura Pura and with the privileged position of the Mirador, of nearly 360 degrees, allows the observer to know the city of La Paz with just a glance.



Here again you can see the beautiful mountain of Illimani in the background:




December 9th, 2010, 05:41 PM
I think that the football stadium in the next photo could be perhaps the Olympic Stadium Hernando Siles La Paz which is the largest sports complex in Bolivia. It has a Capacity of 42.000 seated to 45.000 spectators if they are located in stands, and was named in honor of Hernando Siles Suazo, the 31st President of Bolivia 1926-1930.

The stadium is located in the Miraflores area of La Paz, at an altitude of 3.567 meters above sea level, making it one of the highest professional stadiums in the world.



December 9th, 2010, 05:43 PM
Our last stop was the Witches Market, a traditional market, in the street “Calle de las Brujas” which offers us an encounter with the traditions, native products, herbs, amulets, gifts, herbs, coca as well as healers, yatiris, kallawayas.

Need a potion to succed in business, love, or good health? You´ll find them all in the Witches Market!




Sacrificing an animal fetus and dissect for offerings to the Pachamama is the best way to attract good luck and ward off curses, according to the customs of western Bolivia.



Pachamama is Mother Earth, also called virgin. A sparkling hearth consumes the fetus, while the home or business is imbued with the sacred smoke. Then, the remains are buried in a ceremony that is fed and watered the earth.


December 9th, 2010, 05:46 PM

They say that the llama fetus is used to search for welfare in the home, the pork to attract money and the sheep to curb lawsuits.

The deer fetus is to help that the miners will be safe from the mines and those of cats and dogs, always when they are together, can help an abandoned woman recover her husband.

Offers in La Paz are not as audacious as in El Alto because the city banned the sale of sacrificed animals slaughtered, with the exception of the llama.

August is the highest income for witches, as the earth opens to receive the offerings of their children. This seemed to be true as we went in August and they told us that it was the main time of the year for the ceremonies as “August is the month where a lot of things happen” and this blesses them and gives them luck for the next year (August to August).





Just as well I made no negative comment about the market like "who buys this rubbish" or something similar, as just when we were leaving our guide proudly showed us his purchase was one of the plates filled with various objects that he planned to use the following Saturday to celebrate with his wife, the ceremony of burning the contents of the plate.

December 9th, 2010, 05:48 PM
We returned to the hotel and had one hour before going to the restaurant Dinner Show Peña Huari, a show with music and dinner from Bolivia.




The stage with the Zampona instruments:


For dinner there was a buffet of salads and cold meats, cheese etc, and for the main dish for something typical of the area I tasted the meat of the llama. However I had some pangs of conscience - but on the other hand it is like asking who has never ever tried as lamb, pork or beef? It was actually very nice.


Bolivian folklore, is one of the richest in the Americas. In Bolivia there are so many different customs, legends, rituals, rhythms, dances, instruments and textiles, that even the Bolivians don´t know it´s full richness totally.


December 9th, 2010, 05:49 PM






December 9th, 2010, 05:51 PM

The Dance of Toba is a figurative representation of the tribes of the Bolivian Chaco. From pre-colonial relationship between the Andean and Amazonian culture was of domination and resistance. In their raids, the army took prisoners silvicultural Quechua, called ch'unch'us. The arrival of these eastern to the western world in the Aymara inspired the creation of a dance named ch'unch'u precisely, it is not just a way of cultural appropriation.


We have seen that many of the dances mean something, such as the celebration in honor of a saint or a virgin or other naturopathic doctors were against evil beings and demonic character, and so are in many of their dance wear masks and disguise, etc.:




We returned to the hotel after the show and we connected to the oxygen machine for about 10 minutes before going to bed ……. which was a great help …….. we went early to bed as we had another early start …… we had to be at the reception at 6:30 am for the airport shuttle.

TO BE CONTINUED ………. in CUSCO, PERU. ……………..

land lover
December 10th, 2010, 01:50 PM
HI Caramelo..

Lori from the Xpedtion thread............

ONE word Fanastic......

Christine Frances
December 10th, 2010, 02:15 PM
Can't wait for more:D

December 11th, 2010, 01:13 PM
Thanks so much for your nice comments. I´ll be back sooooooon with more! :)

December 11th, 2010, 01:57 PM
Caramelo, thank you for your fascinating travelogue!!
Can't wait to see the Galapagos part!

December 12th, 2010, 06:10 AM
Thanks Dan & Joe, yes the Galapagos part will be worth the wait!

December 12th, 2010, 06:13 AM
Tuesday, 3rd of August.

After having had some in the hotel before going to bed we slept very well until 3 o'clock in the morning when suddenly the hotel alarm went off. There was no reason for the alarm and I think it just went off by mistake but it took us a long time to get back to sleep and I think that just when we'd gone to sleep our alarm clock went off!

We were collected for transfer to the airport at 6:30 am

The airport of La Paz:


I enjoyed seeing the airport full of local people and not only with tourists:


The flight from La Paz to Cuzco only lasted 45 minutes and again we had a one tour difference in the local time so we left La Paz at 9:25am and we arrived in Cuzco at 9:20am!



First images taken from the plane landing at the airport of Cuzco:


December 12th, 2010, 06:17 AM
When we left the airport somebody was waiting for us with our name on their sign to transfer us to our hotel.

Cuzco in Quechua (indigenous language spoken by the Andes spoken by between 8 and 10 million people) means "navel or belly-button of the world because the 4 main Inca Trails to N. S. E & W of the great Inca Civilization great leave from of this city.

It is a city in southeast Peru, at 3300 meters above sea level right in the Andes, and was the capital of the Inca Empire and today is considered the archaeological capital of America.

These were our first impressions of Cuzco on the way from the airport to the hotel:





In the photo below the monument has the texto f the hymn of Cuzco:


The Hymn to Cusco is a composition of Musical cusqueños Luis Grandson Vantage point and Ojeda Robert Bell that the Provincial Municipality of the Cusco adopted in the years 1970s like hymn of the city. The letters of the hymn translated into English are the following:


Cusco, Cusco is your name sagrado

like the sun of inkario inmortal
everybody takes in pecho

to you as song and flag triunfal.

Invincible bastion of your race,

greets the towns standing up to you;
and the mother country that honor in your estirpe
of places in the forehead laurel.


eternal Cusco, your golden reliquias

worked goldsmiths of the Sol.
Your feats carved siglos
and your image the glory esculpió

That puts naciones

standing up that shoots to their song of estrellas
and that the world renders homenaje
to you inclining in your honor his pendon.

December 12th, 2010, 06:20 AM
More images of the typical streets on the way to the hotel:





And women dressed in their traditional clothing with llamas waiting for the tourists who pay to take a picture with her!


December 12th, 2010, 06:22 AM
We had some free time until our excursión at 1:30pm.

This break suited us wonderfully and we relaxed a bit and then we walked to the main square, Plaza de Armas, about 300m from our hotel (in our excursion I´ll go into more detail about this Square).

We eat something light at an Italian restaurant in the square. I did like the bottles placed on the ceiling of the restaurant:


But not respecting the rules to avoid problems with the altitude we did not take any alcohol, but only the local mineral water of Cuzco or in this case Cusco (you find it written both ways with a “z” or an “s”):


We also ate more peaceful knowing we were in a safe place in case of an earthquake!:


Joking aside it is said that in Cuzco they have big earthquakes every 3 centuries.

December 12th, 2010, 06:26 AM
We were collected at 1:30pm to start which today was with a group of about 25 people.

The first stop was already in La Plaza de Armas of Qosqo where the Cathedral and its two smaller churches (the Church of the Sagrada Familia & the church of Triumph) are located.


The Qosqo Cathedral is without doubt one of the most remarkable monuments of America Colonial, it´s renaissance structure is 86.80 meters long and 46.20 meters wide and 20.70 meters high. It is shaped like a Latin cross, a central nave and two aisles, twenty arches, supported by stout columns that end in simple awned cornices. Inside the cathedral there are ten chapels, including the vestry, all barred doors guarded by gold.



The entrance ticket:


Today to visit the monument, you enter through the door of the "Church of Triumph" which is precisely the same place of the old cathedral made on "Sunturwasi," meaning that the place had been occupied in the Inca by Wirakocha Inca palace.

The Church of Triumph:


December 12th, 2010, 06:28 AM
The Church of the Sacred Family


The Cathedral is notable for the large variety and quantity of art treasures it holds.In the vestry are pictures of unquestionable merit suchas the famous Christ attributed to Van Dyck and portraits of the bishops of Cuzco.The entire temple is full of pictures, many of them of great artistic value, such as the Madonna placed on the Altar of Sorrows, the Virgin of Bethlehem "historical anecdotes depicting a scene, the" Virgen of Almudena "," The Death of Santa Catalina ","The Apotheosis of San Cristobal”, and many others.

It was forbidden to take pictures inside the cathedral but I scanned some postcards that we bought there:



My attention was drawn to the painting depicting Christ and his apostles in the "Last Supper" by Marcos Zapata from Cusco. The painting is arguably the most famous of the cathedral since the middle of the table can see a tray containing a roast guinea pig, a speciality dish in the Andes, inherited from the Inkas and consumed only on special occasions; also the artist put on the table Andean products such as papayas and peppers, or elements of their ancestral world:


The next visit was to the Convent of Santo Domingo which is another important building dating from the sixteenth century.It was built on the old sanctuary of the Temple of the Sun Qorikancha



December 12th, 2010, 06:30 AM


It is a convent of the Order of Preachers.During the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the Convento de Santo Domingo became the way where the friars trying to reach Spain had to cross.




When the earthquake of 1650, the structure of the Convent of Santo Domingo was seriously affected.Then they began the repair work which only finished in1680.

The inclination of 7 degrees impregnable walls made it survive earthquakes since the time of its construction until today. The following picture is from a postcard I bought.


December 12th, 2010, 06:33 AM
I was surprised to see so many police when we came out:


In the above photo they don´t seem to be so many but in the following photo you can see their workmates beside the wall and in total there are 13! :


And if I include their 10 friends who were in the Plaza de Armas, hahaha


Just outside you had the local women trying to get the tourists to pay for a photo with them and their baby llamas or they tried to sell some of their textiles:



And this one with a client:


December 12th, 2010, 06:38 AM
Once we had finished in the center of Cuzco we move to the suburbs.

We noticed the radical change between the center and tourist area and the streets even just a few hundred meters from the center, similar to what we had seen in Lima and La Paz, humble and poor areas... ... ... so closebut so different.On the other hand we also saw great potential for future growth.

Our agency gave us another entrance ticket that would be needed for both the sites which would visit today and also for what we would see tomorrow:


We stopped a few miles from Cuzco to see the famous fortress of Sacsayhuaman, strategically built on a hill overlooking Cuzco.Its fame comes from its enormous carved stones joined with astounding precision, which formed the outer walls.Some of them exceeding 9m in height and weighing over 350 tonnes, one of the greatest architectural works of the Incas. The stones fit so perfectly that no blade of grass or steel can slide between them. There is no mortar. They often join in complex and irregular surfaces that would appear to be a nightmare for the stonemason

What is sad is that just 30% remains of what it was, because with the arrival of Spanish colonizers and their descendants and future, they used the stones and blocks to build the foundations of many buildings in Cuzco.

Sacsayhuaman was actually a Sun Temple and also was where the Incas performed their sacred rites and festivals.



The Sun Temples were privileged complexes, much like small towns within the city of Cusco, where the general God or the Sun was worshiped, but where also lesser gods and individuals were worshiped.




It still is surprising that for a culture so close in time, there is so little written about it and there are still so many unknown answers or information.

December 12th, 2010, 06:42 AM
These are the views from there ... ... ....in the background you can see the letters on the mountain "Long live the glorious BIM 9 Cusco Peru, I supposed it was to celebrate a battle won by the 9th Motorized Infantry Battalion Cusco:



It was funny to see this woman take her llama in the same way that you take your dog for a walk:


But the llama didn´t want to go:


But she managed in the end:


We saw a group of sellers waiting for the tourists:


December 12th, 2010, 06:43 AM
In the surrounding area you can see a replica of the Christ the Redeemer in Brazil, but this one which was a gift from a Palestinian settlement is somewhat smaller.Interestingly it appears that the largest is in Bolivia but the Brazilian one is more famous and seems to be bigger because it is up on a hill.


When we left Sacsayhuaman we saw some nice landscape and countryside on the way:



And some country houses:



December 12th, 2010, 06:45 AM
Then we went to Tambomachay, or Tampumachay (from Quechua (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quechua_language): tanpu mach'ay, resting place) which is an archaeological (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Archaeology) site associated with the Inca Empire (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inca_Empire), located near Cusco (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cusco), Peru (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peru). An alternate local name is the El Baño del Inca, "The Bath of the Inca".
It consists of a series of aqueducts (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aqueduct), canals (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canal) and waterfalls (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Waterfall) that run through the terraced (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terrace_(gardening)) rocks. The function of the site is uncertain: it may have served as a military outpost guarding the approaches to Cusco, as a spa (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spa) resort for the Incan political elite, or both.

It lies at an altitude of 3700 meters above sea level and 7 km northwest of Cusco and 2 km. from Sacsayhuaman and occupies an area of 437 meters.



I have heard about the “black sheep” but what about “black llamas”? hahaha:


It also known as "Baño de la Ñusta" (Bath of the Ñusta) or "Balneario Inca" (Incan Watering Place). The monument is remarkable due to its architectonic excellence. We can appreciate four walls or graded terraces embedded to the hill, made of irregular carved-stone polyhedrons, brilliantly assembled, and which make up three parallel cultivation terraces. A thick wall (15 meters long and 4 meters high) decorated with four niches erects on the last polyhedron. The stones had been perfectly adjusted. It has four large trapezoidal niches of 2 meters on average. In front of the building there was a circular large fortified tower that must have had defense and communication aims.
The water itself was worshiped as the source of life.

Tambomachay has an extraordinary hydraulic system. Two aqueducts, artistically carved on the rock, transport and keep a constant flow of clean water during the whole year, which comes from a large puddle located at a higher level.

This network of underground channels pours its waters in a small stone puddle situated at the lowest level. This puddle had to be a liturgical spring, where the Inca worshiped the water with the noblemen of the Empire.

The "Baño de la Ñusta" is very similar to that of Ollantaytambo, made of stones perfectly assembled, with carved edge and drainage gutters. Even though it is now an opencast work, the foundations seem to indicate that it was a closed precinct originally. We enter through four trapezoid portal platforms with double jamb.

If you look the monument from the river you will be able to see two thick walls that cut the support wall. The wall that faces the river has two big niches and the other, almost perpendicular to the first one, has a door with double jamb. This kind of door was used by the Incas to stress the significance of a place. Through that door we get to a small room in which we can see the water that springs from the bowels of the Earth.

So far we haven't been able to discover the origin of the spring that supplies such clear and abundant water to the sources. Some people think that the slight slope in where the site is situated does not have the capacity to produce said water and that it can come from the opposite bank of the river. However, the one thing that cannot deny is the perfection of the channel carving. The sound of the water, the quietness and peace of the environment, as well as the closed and secluded form of the space in which it was constructed, give Tambomachay a peculiar atmosphere. Besides, it is a great sample of the skills of Andean architects to harmonize constructions and landscape.




December 12th, 2010, 06:46 AM

Our last stop was the Temple of Quenco.

It is located on the hill Socorro, 3 km from the city of Cusco and one kilometer of Sacsayhuaman. Apparently this is a place of worship of water. We found many carved rocks among which a large monolith stood out and it is believed that this was used for magical rituals to worship the water.



December 12th, 2010, 06:48 AM
We returned to the hotel at 6:30 pm and after a shower we walked back to the Plaza of Armas which was very close to the hotel and we dined at the Makayla restaurant which offered typical Andean food and it was located on the 1st floor with nice views overlooking the square lit up at night.

This is their website:

http://www.makaylacusco.com/index_es.html (http://www.makaylacusco.com/index_es.html)

These were the views from our table:





I got a fright as suddenly my husband jumped from the table and ran from the restaurant.He said something, but it all happened so quickly that I didn´t understand what he had said. I just knew something had happened ... ... ... it was not normal to go out running in this way without any explanation.The only thing I could think of was thatbefore dinner we went to a place to change money and I thought maybe he has forgotten his wallet and ran off to look for it ... ... ... could find no logical explanation to the situation ... ... I only knew that something had happened ....BUT WHAT ??????


December 12th, 2010, 12:55 PM
It seemed a long time but may have only been a few minutes, but eventually my husband returned and what was my surprise ... ... ... .. to see that he was not alone but accompanied by 2 other people ……. And I knew them …. It was a couple from Malta who we had met a year ago on another trip in South Africa and during that holiday we shared several excursions together day after day and eventually built up a friendship with them – when we returned journey we exchanged several emails butasthe months passed, due to their very stressful job, they had no time and the contact died out. The last email was from last Christmas.

By chance we met up again in Cuzco. What an amazing coincidence!I understand that you can be in the same city as someone without knowing it, but to coincide in the same street, at the same time, and to be looking in the right direction to see one another is incredible.My husband had seen them from the 1st floor restaurant overlooking the square and ran to catch them, knowing that if he had waited to explain it to me then he wouldn´t have had time to catch them!

We were all so happy with the unexpected reunion and we celebrated by taking a "pisco sour".They had a reservation at another place for dinner and we had already eaten, but we've arranged to have dinner together the next night.Both they and we had booked the trip with different itineraries and different agencies but in general would be covering some of the same places ... ... ....and now I can tell you as an anecdote that over the entire trip we met by chance one night in Cuzco, again at the entrance of Machu Picchu, at the airport in Balta, even on an island in the Galapagos being in twodifferent ships and where normally two boats do not go to the same island at one time to avoid overcrowding, and even on the flight back to Baltra to Guayaquil, ie up to 5 times and by chance without having arranged to meet!So I think fate was trying to tell us something ... .. that we need to stay in touch.

Wednesday, 4th of August.

We went down for breakfast and on the elevator door was this sign again reminding us that we were in an active area for earthquakes:


For breakfast we replaced the coffee with coca leaf tea (Mate de Coca)

Mate de coca or coca tea (Quechua kuka) is a coca leaf tea popular and typical of the Andean regions of Bolivia, Peru, northern Chile and northwestern Argentina.

It is an ancient beverage consumed as both a stimulant and to treat altitude sickness or mountain sickness, not being harmful or toxic.It also has a symbolic value.The drink produces an energizing effect similar to coffee.The sale and consumption of coca leaf is legal in Peru and Bolivia.It is common in restaurants to end the meal offering a coca tea in bags or sachets to stimulate digestion.It can be sweetened with sugar or honey.



Everyone jokes about coca tea relating it to drugs but seemingly it has nothing to do with the same, as the drug is mixed with chemicals etc., and leaves alone only help to give some energy in the same way as if you were to drink a “red-bull. "The truth is that I did not notice any effect ... no extra energy ... or anything ... ... ....just as if I had taken a chamomile tea, for example!

After my coca tea we have collected at 8:30 pm for a private tour of the Sacred Valley.El Valle Sagrado of the Incas in the Andes is composed of many rivers flowing through gorges and valleys, has many archaeological monuments and indigenous peoples, among them are Pisac, Ollantaytambo and Chinchero

The valley was appreciated by the Incas due to its special geographical and climatic qualities.It was one of the main points of production because of the richness of their land and place where it produces the best maize in Peru.

We were lucky with today's guide, Juan Carlos, who was really great and explained everything extremely well.First we made the trip in reverse to get to the places before they got crowded with the bus tours.

Again we went through many of the narrow streets of downtown Cuzco:




December 12th, 2010, 12:57 PM


We went out of Cuzco towards the countryside where we saw a lot of scenes of everyday life.



We could see from a distance where we had been the day before visiting the Incan ruins of Sacsayhuaman:


December 12th, 2010, 12:58 PM
More scenes of the daily life:







December 12th, 2010, 01:00 PM



In the middle of the country miles from anywhere we found these local women trying to sell their products and textiles:



We carried on driving through the countryside:


December 12th, 2010, 01:22 PM




December 12th, 2010, 01:25 PM
After a while we arrived at the destination of our first stop, the village of Chinchero:


The following image was a poster that was exhibited at our hotel in Cuzco but I'll put it here because it explains exactly what we were going to visit here in Chinchero:


Entering the village there is even a statue dedicated to the women of Chinchero:



On the street where we were going I was amused to see some pigs eating in the street and the whole scene around him:



December 12th, 2010, 01:27 PM


The next image shows us again as to how superstitious the people are in this country. The photo is not good, but if you look just above the roof of the house, where you can see the 2nd yellow square from the right and you'll see some symbols for luck placed on the roof:


Here you can see it better:


Chinchero is a village in the Peruvian province of Urabamba, at 3780 m altitude, 30 km northwest of the city of Cuzco. The village women work at weaving. Also characteristic for combing their hair with many braids and plaits. When you arrive in the village they will reciev you in one of the houses where they have all gathered to show you the complete weaving process.


They first wash the wool with natural soap made from roots:


December 12th, 2010, 01:29 PM
They cleverly use a spinning wheel to spin the yarn:


They use natural dyes to dye the wool:


One of them is the cochineal, a parasite that lives in the leaves of the prickly pear.The lady has put some of the cochineal insects in the palm of her hand and with her finger has squashed out the burgundy-colored natural dye:


They also use other dyes such as those from leaves, roots etc.


They use the wood stove to boil the wool with natural dyes:



December 12th, 2010, 01:31 PM
I don´t know whether you can see it properly, but if you look in the following image at into the dyed wool of the lady at the center, as the wool has two colors, the bottom part is almost an orange color and this color is obtained by adding salt to the cochineal, while the top remains as burgundy or purple color.


Below, the ladies were preparing the warp of the weave that has a special process in order for the design to be appreciated on both sides of the fabric:



There was a huge variety of products from hats to ponchos and rugs:



December 12th, 2010, 01:32 PM
After the visit we went back down the steep street again and took the car to continue:







December 12th, 2010, 01:35 PM
We passed through the village of Urubamba and it coincided that today was their market day and therefore the town was crowded and we saw many women dressed in their traditional clothing, their hats and braids in their hair:


There were also plenty of moto-taxis around town ... ... ... ... ... ..and these were not for the tourists but were used by the local village people.





December 12th, 2010, 01:37 PM
We arrived at the town of Ollantaytambo which is called "Live Inca Village", since the inhabitants maintain their ancient customs and traditions.

This typical Inca town, located 93 km northeast of Cusco, was named in honor of the chief Ollanta, who according to the traditional legend, fell in love with a princess daughter of the Inca Pachacutec. As the story goes after winning numerous battles, the ruler Pachacutec offered the general anything he wanted. Ollanta asked for the princess Kusi’s hand in marriage. It was sacrilegious for people in different casts to marry. Ollanta was forced to leave and Kusi was jailed with her son. Ollanta gathered forces and started a rebellion which lasted 10 years. Ollanta was eventually defeated and enslaved. When Ollanta was taken, Pachacutec had just died and Pachacutec’s son took over. Pachacutec’s son listened to the story of the two lovers and granted a pardon and allowed their marriage. The two lovers then lived happily with their child.

Ollantaytambo is an attractive little town located at the western end of the Sacred Valley (about two and a half hours by bus from Cusco). The town has been built on top of original Inca foundations and is the best surviving example of Inca town planning.

The town is divided in canchas (blocks) which are almost entirely intact. Each cancha has only one entrance (usually a huge stone doorway) which leads into a central courtyard. The houses surround the courtyard. Good examples of this construction can be found behind the main plaza.

The town is located at the foot of some spectacular Inca ruins which protected the strategic entrance to the lower Urubamba Valley. The temple area is at the top of steep terracing which helped to provide excellent defences. Stone used for these buildings was brought from a quarry high up on the opposite side of the Urubamba river - an incredible feat involving the efforts of thousands of workers. The complex was still under construction at the time of the conquest and was never completed.

After Manco Inca was defeated by the Spanish at Sacsayhuaman following the unsuccessful siege of Cusco (1536) he retreated to Ollantaytambo. Francisco Pizarro's younger brother Hernando led a force of 70 cavalry, 30 foot soldiers and a large contingent of natives to capture Manco Inca. The Inca's forces, joined by neighbouring jungle tribes, rained down showers of arrows, spears and rocks upon the unfortunate Spanish troops. In an intelligent move the Inca's flooded the plains below their stronghold making it difficult for the horses to manoeuvre. Hernando, uncharacteristically, ordered a hasty retreat. Ollantaytambo became the only place ever to have resisted attacks from the Spanish.

However, their victory was short-lived when the Spanish returned with four times their previous force. Manco Inca retreated to his jungle stronghold in Vilcabamba and Ollantaytambo fell into the hands of the Spanish.


You can see the tourist influence with the words "Kodak" painted on the facade of a house:



If you look at the photo above, on the left hand side in the middle of the mountain you can see the colcas (agricultural deposits), I will give you more details about them later:

The archaeological complex of Ollantaytambo was a strategic military, religious and agricultural.In the complex, located on the hill overlooking the village, some buildings stand out such as the Temple of the Sun, the Mañaracay or Royal Hall, the Incahuatana and the Baths of the Princess.At the top is a consistent fortress in a series of carved stone terraces and was built to protect the valley from the potential invasions of wild ethnicities.One of the best preserved areas is that lying north of the Hanan Huacaypata square: a total of 15 blocks of houses built on walls of stone.


I also found this map of Google which will give you an idea of the location of everything within Ollantaytambo:



December 12th, 2010, 01:40 PM
We climbed up the terraces or platforms:


I was very curious to know and understand how the stones which the Incas used to build their cities were transported so far and high without having the roads or machines like today.

Juan Carlos our guide explained everything extremely well, and with old drawings where you could compare what you saw with your own eyes to what with drawings showed which made it so much easier to understand. Being so high and far from everything, I found it fascinating to think they achieved to move the huge stones and pieces from several miles away. Normally I am not very interested in archaeological sites but as Juan Carlos explained everything so well, I really enjoyed it and found it very interesting.

The Sun Temple was constructed with huge red porphyry (pink granite) boulders. The stone quarry is named Kachiqhata (Salt Slope) and is located about 4 km (2.5 miles) away on the other side of the valley, by the upper side of the opposite south-western mountains. He explained to us that the boulders were carved partially in the quarries, and taken down to the valley's bottom. In order to cross the river Quechuas constructed an artificial channel parallel to the natural river bed that served for deviating the river's water according to conveniences. Therefore, while that water flowed through one channel the other was dry, thus stones could be taken to the other side of the valley. More over, the boulders were transported to the upper spot where the temple is erected using the inclined plane that is something like a road which silhouette is clearly seen from the valley's bottom. They had the help of log rollers or rolling stones as wheels, South-American cameloids' leather ropes, levers, pulleys, and the power of hundreds and even thousands of men. Today, on the way from the quarry to the temple there are dozens of enormous stones that people know as " tired stones" because it is believed that they could never be transported to their destination; those stones are the reason why some authors claim that the Sun Temple was unfinished when the Spanish invasion happened.






December 12th, 2010, 01:41 PM
The Wall of the Six Monoliths at the Sun Temple:



The highlight of the Sun Temple are some peripheral walls and a classical larger wall which according to most historians are part of the main altar which consists of six enormous stone blocks that weigh about 90 tons and has as vertical joints a few other smaller stonesmaking a rare wall in Inca architecture.


Here are some more photos of the colcas (agricultural deposits), which the Inca archeology and architecture were "Qollqas" or "Pirwas" that is, barns or storehouses for food, clothing and weapons of the local army.




December 12th, 2010, 01:43 PM
To the north of the entrance to the religious sector there are a number of water fountains which due to their position they must have performed duties of "Ceremonial fountains, ie, used to worship the god of water.There is one inside a building where water still flows, and to the east is another called of " Nusta Bath" ("The Bath of the Princess"):


The Water Temple Fountain:


The Nusta Bath or The Bath of the Princess:


When we finished the visit to Ollantaytambo, we took the car and returned to the town of Urubamba for lunch and we stopped at a restaurant where we enjoyed a typical Andean buffet:




December 12th, 2010, 01:44 PM





And what could be nicer than eating listening to "The Flight of the Condor” played on the panflute?:


December 12th, 2010, 01:46 PM
We left Urubamba and drove towards the town of Pisac, and saw the following scenes in the streets, with the moto-taxis, you could see that they used actual motorbikes:




My attention was drawn to the fact that in these small villages with basic infrastructure and quite poor people, that they had the children beautifully dressed in good school uniforms:


And in the next picture you have the mixture of the modern (the boy with his cap backwards and cool sunglasses with white frame) with the moto-taxis and people in the background:


December 12th, 2010, 01:48 PM
We arrived in Pisac, 33 kilometers from the city of Cusco.Pisac is famous for three reasons: their artesian markets; their Sunday Masseswhich are celebrated in Quechua and are accompanied by the sound of pututos (marine snail horns which are inherited from generation to generation), and finally, as a means of payment they use barter, meaning that their dealers not only sell but also exchange goods.For example, those living in the highlands are supplying their products in exchange for something else which they want to buy.



We went directly to the main square which is full of color with the market where you can buy textiles and many other things.





December 12th, 2010, 01:49 PM



We saw again women with braids in their hair and their hats:




December 12th, 2010, 01:51 PM

And here again we see the superstitions, lucky charms etc:




And finally we saw this beautiful girl:


December 12th, 2010, 01:54 PM
We finished in the market and started on our way back to Cuzco.Along the way we saw the views of the valleys:


Also we could appreciate the damage which the area suffered by the heavy flooding last February:


We stopped along the road where we saw some nice panoramics arriving in Cuzco:





December 12th, 2010, 01:57 PM

We have said goodbye to our guide Juan Carlos and he lives in upper part of Cuzco, you will see in the next 2 images where he goes down to his house with extremely sloped roads and steep steps:



The driver dropped us off in the centre of Cuzco at our hotel.We showered and relaxed a bit and at 8pm we met our friends from Malta who we had bumped into by chance the previous day.

The restaurant was the Tunupa which was also in the Plaza de las Armas.

Our friend took the guinea pig which is a specialty of the area and originally from the Andes.


His wife tried the alpaca:


The alpaca is very similar to the llamaIt differs in the size, the alpaca is smaller than the llama and its hair is finer and a more silky fiber that of the llama, etc.

December 12th, 2010, 01:59 PM
My dish was lamb:


There was a folkloric show at the restaurant where again you can see the masks related with spirits and devils, superstitions, etc.:



We spent a very pleasant evening together and after such a coincidence of the unexpected meeting up we promised to keep in touch this time.We said goodbye and went back to the hotel and straight to sleep as we had a very early start the next morning at 5am.

TO BE CONTINUED ……………..in Machu Picchu.

Christine Frances
December 12th, 2010, 02:26 PM
Absolutely fascinating:D Can't wait for more!

December 12th, 2010, 04:08 PM
wonderful. Can't wait for the next installment. We're in the Galapagos and Machu Picchu in February with Celebrity

December 14th, 2010, 05:19 PM
Thanks Christine Frances: I hope to have time in the next few days to translate & continue.

Thanks also Taxjam: You can be sure that February will be one of the best trips of your life time................. I hope I don´t spoil too many surprises with my photos & details when it comes to the Galapagos?

December 14th, 2010, 05:59 PM
My dish was lamb:


There was a folkloric show at the restaurant where again you can see the masks related with spirits and devils, superstitions, etc.:



We spent a very pleasant evening together and after such a coincidence of the unexpected meeting up we promised to keep in touch this time.We said goodbye and went back to the hotel and straight to sleep as we had a very early start the next morning at 5am.

TO BE CONTINUED ……………..in Machu Picchu.
Thank You for a wonderful travelogue. I enjoyed the pictures and commentary. :)

December 15th, 2010, 04:59 PM
Thanks Tom47. I had hoped to be back sooner but have been very busy the last few days. Hopefully I´ll get some time over the next couple of days to continue with more. Thanks again. :)

December 16th, 2010, 03:53 PM
Thursday 5th of August.

Today we had to get up early at 5am and we were collected at 6 o'clock to take us to thePoroy train station in Cuzco to take the train to Machu Picchu.


You have to be at the station 30 minutes before the train departs.Our train was due to leave at 6.55 am. The passengers are only allowed take with them one piece of baggage which should not weigh more than 5 kilos!I am sure that we had twice as much because our small case must weigh about 1 kilo when it´s empty, but luckily nobody contolled neither the baggage or the weight.We have left our big luggage in the hotel in Cuzco as we would be spending one more night there on the return from Machu Picchu.


When travelling this route there are about 90 kilometers distance from Cusco to Machu Picchu by train and the trip takes three hours and 40 minutes, going slow, not more than 20 km /hour because ofthe complicated geography by the edge of the river Urubamba, but the scenery was so beautiful that I have enjoyed every second.


The journey begins at the Poroy station in Cusco, passes by the mountain Picchu via a winding zigzag track until reaching the highest point called "El Arco" in the northeastern part of the city.

It descends through the towns of Pory, Cachimatyo and Izcuchaca to the Pampa de Anta, an ample livestock area of undisputed geographical beauty, through the narrow gorge of Pomatales, into the Sacred Valley of the Incas, by the Pachar train station.Then it carries on through the Urubamba River to the right until arriving at the Ollantaytambo station and then continues to the Puente Ruinas station in Aguas Calientes also known as the Machu Picchu Village.


These were some of the images which we saw along the way:



December 16th, 2010, 03:54 PM



And an image that usually surprises me in many different countries, the very basic house in a humble area, but with their satellite dish!:




December 16th, 2010, 03:55 PM



And like in the old days, the farmers working their land with the help of animals instead of machines, or even themselves only with their hands:




December 16th, 2010, 03:56 PM
I was amused to see the sign about Elvis but it seems that it was just publicity for the town mayor and did not mean the singer!:





We have seen the hugh damage caused by the flooding of last February and, although the main part of the railway line has been fixed, there are still many things to repair.



December 16th, 2010, 03:58 PM


Soon we were served breakfast:


The train continued on and I saw this site which I guessed, from the large amount of luggage they had, that it was accommodation for those who want to go along the "Inca Trail". There are two known ways to reach Machu Picchu.The first is the traditional train and the second is for those who enjoy adventure travel is the "Inca Trail" hike that requires a lot of effort over four days:




December 16th, 2010, 04:00 PM
I don´t know whether you will be able to see in the next picture a small, narrow road with a precipice by the middle of the mountain, well this road is a piece of the Inca Trail.


We continued our route, not only enjoying the views seen through the windows of the train but also through the skylight in the roof:




We even saw some archaeological ruins of the Incas in the middle of the country:


December 16th, 2010, 04:02 PM
We arrived at the village of Aguas Calientes:






From Aguas Calientes you take a bus - they leave every 30 minutes - to Machu Picchu.It takes about 20 minutes to drive up some very narrow roads with many precipices:


December 16th, 2010, 04:03 PM

You can tell the height from the next image, from above you can look down and see our train below:


December 16th, 2010, 04:07 PM
Once up at the top we found our guide Fabrizio waiting for us to show us Machu Picchu.We were together in a group of 6 people.We went through a control for passports and entry tickets, and as we were just going in we came face to face again with our friends from Malta, we were going in and they were coming out.It was the second time that we bumped into them just by chance. We couldn´t stop long to talk with them as we were together with our group, so again we said goodbye to them and continued our excursion.


We passed through passport control and about 100m further we turned the corner and there it was, the Machu Picchu, so much more beautiful seen in person than I had imagined.There are no words to describe it.We were very lucky with the weather as apparently it had been overcast in the morning but when we arrived was totally clear and a splendid sun.



Our guide Fabrizio:


December 16th, 2010, 04:14 PM
Machu Picchu (the "Old Mountain") is the contemporary name given to an ancient Inca Andean village of stone built mainly in the mid-fifteenth century in the rocky promontory that connects the mountain Machu Picchu and Huayna Picchu in the eastern slopes of the Andes Center, located at the top of a peak at an altitude of 2430 m above sea level and 400 m above the Urubamba River. It had two sections: one south, called Machu, and another north called Huayna (“Young Mountain"). In reality the sanctuary is to be found in the centre of the 2 on the ridge that serves as a bridge between the two.

In 2007 Machu Picchu was elected one of the "New 7 Wonders of the World."

We can only admire the Incas for what they did ... they literally crushed the top of a mountain to build a city composed of hundreds of buildings with an area of agricultural production, irrigation and other facilities.

The cutting and shaping stone, dry stone techniques (mounting large bricks without mortar) used for the construction of buildings of Machu Picchu remains a mystery and there is only speculation about how this could have been done. Using clever techniques, the Incas managed to transport heavy stone blocks and carve and polish them with surprising neatness.


Several churches, a prison and a quarry (where they extracted the building materials), a flat area known as the Plaza de Armas and an irrigation system that still works today are in the urban sector, which is justnear the terraces in the agricultural sector where the crops were produced for ensuring food.There are even buildings on top of the steep high mountain called Huayna Picchu ("young mountain").

The exact reason for the construction of Machu Picchu is not determined.Experts have concluded that it could have been a sort of religious shrine, perhaps in a place where the rich Incas had retired.Tourists visiting this unique natural heritage are convinced that the mystery may never be fully revealed because until now, there are only hypotheses and guesses.For some, it was a projected expansions by the Incas, others believe it was a monastery, where girls (acllas) were taught how to serve the Inca and Willac One (High Priest).This is presumed because of the 135 bodies found in the investigations, 109 were female.

Since its discovery in July 1911 by the American Hiram Bingham, Machu Picchu has been considered, by its extraordinary magnificence and harmonious structure as one of the greatest architectural and archaeological monuments of the planet.


Hiram Bingham arrived with experts from Yale University in topography, biographies, geology, engineering and osteology.They were taken to the site by Melchor Arteaga, a local resident who gave them instructions on how to get there.

Subsequently, in 1914, Bingham returned to Machu Picchu with economic and logistical support from the university and the Geographical Society of the United States leading a specialist team with a publication that was already circulating around the world: "The Lost City of the Incas”.

The surprising perfection and beauty of the walls of Machu Picchu, built by joining stone over stone, without cement or glue, have led to many myths about its construction.Many of the stone components are still very stuck together, I could not put a paper between them!

But beyond the myths, the real allure of Machu Picchu (declared Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO in 1983) is in its squares, its aqueducts and watchtowers, its observatories and in its sundial, evidence of the wisdom and technical Andean builders.

Everything indicates that the citadel of Machu Picchu was quickly deserted after 1540, when the Spanish, in a campaign against the rebellious Incas of Vilcabamba, began its penetration into Cusco.

Fabrizio took us to show us the most important sites such as terraces of the agricultural area, the caretaker's house, the main door, the Sacred Plaza to the Temple of Three Windows, the Main Temple and a cave where the Incas performed curesreligious ceremonies and rituals as well as the industrial area with 2 stone monoliths and the Temple of the Condor.



The terraces in the agricultural area:



December 16th, 2010, 04:19 PM
The cottages are deposits or "Qolqas" as stores:



The Main Square:



The Sacred Square is the platform around which the Incas built religious buildings, and therefore would have had a purpose for performing rituals:


The Temple of Three Windows, located on the northern edge of the square is formed by three walls of polygonal stones and adobe roof was supported by a single stone pillar located in the center of the temple.


December 16th, 2010, 04:21 PM
The main temple is located in front of the priest´s house and has good architectural style.It has three walls, leaving the side facing the open square.The stone blocks used in the building are as large as those used in the Temple of Three Windows and also have a good finish in both the assembly of the stones as well as the grinding or polishing of the same.On the back wall there is a special altar made of stone and the three walls have trapezoidal niches with a very good finish.Unfortunately, earthquakes have affected the back wall which represents a risk of collapse:




In the industrial area one of the rooms, which has two round carved in stone mortars, was the area of the city where they did leather work, weaving, and pottery. Another theory suggests that mortars, full of water, were used to reflecting the stars and could be easily observed by Inca astrologers:




December 16th, 2010, 04:22 PM
The Temple of the Condor was a shrine built to worship Apu Kuntur, the Condor God.The temple was built using the contours of the rocks which together with stone walls formed the labyrinth in whose lower part is a sculpture in the shape of a condor near some caves with evidence of ritual use.The Incas had the sun as their chief god, but had other minor deities worshiped in addition to certain animals such as the majestic "Condor of the Andes.Under the wings of the condor is a cave, where they found a mummy.In the back of the temple is the prison, which consisted of a series of niches with a maze of underground dungeons.





We also saw this image, which looking at it closely, looks like the shape of the face of a person:


December 16th, 2010, 04:25 PM
We finished the tour and left Fabrizio, but we stayed there, and climbed up to the higher areas where we got some nice photos and some of the Machu Picchu with the llamas.

I found it difficult to climb so much uphill with the height and I was breathless, but that is purely my own fault for not doing more regular exercise and being more fit, but it was worth to see such beautiful views from there.






And the llamas also enjoying the views:


December 16th, 2010, 04:26 PM


The day had been a real dream.We returned to the hotel and enjoyed a nice quiet dinner, and I started with a pisco sour as an appetizer and my husband a “Cusquena” beer "



December 16th, 2010, 04:29 PM
Friday 6th of August.

After many early risings and appointments and day-tours, the luxury today was to be able to “forget the clock!"We got up a little later than the previous days and went for breakfast at 9am.After getting ready we went back in to the Machu Picchu around 10:30 am.This time we took a different path and we climbed the mountain of Machu Picchu itself.


This was the way:


We saw the fantastic views of Huayna Picchu ( 2,667 meters high), standing opposite the sanctuary of Machu Picchu to serve as an excellent background of the photos of the city.The mountain was put on surveillance, communication station and point of worship of the people of Machu Picchu and there are numerous archaeological discoveries.

As I explained before the sanctuary is actually in the center of both mountains and is located on the ridge that serves as a bridge between the two, and I think it may be better understood in the following image, where you can see the Huayna Picchu in the front, below in the middle the sanctuary and on the left and below in the photo is the mountain of Machu Picchu:


We reached a height much higher than the previous day, and like yesterday where I had problems with shortness of breath and with so much uphill there came a time when I had trouble breathing and could not go higher, so I decided to just sit down where I was in the shade and rest and my husband continued on his own to reach the observation or lookout point with these views:


There were these beautiful views of the mountain peaks covered with snow, which I think must be Salcantay (6.270 m) and Humantay (5.917 m) belonging to the Vilcabamba mountain range:



December 16th, 2010, 04:32 PM
After quite a long time he returned and we went down together to enjoy the really beautiful views of the Machu Picchu and in front of us the Huayana Picchu.

Like yesterday we again had wonderful weather, something not always guaranteed as in Machu Picchu you often have mist or fog with little visibility and logically then you don´t get to see views like ours today.


Everything was really beautiful so we enjoyed just sitting on the ground, without cameras or anything, and just watch the scene.You had the feeling of great peace and tranquility, and from this height you didn´t notice so many people around.


They were really very special feelings and emotions. The place had a big impact on us and we will never forget it. (The only other place that has left a similar feeling was the Iguazu Waterfalls in Brazil and Argentina).

We saw this little lizard perfectly camouflaged among the rocks:


And we saw more llamas:




December 16th, 2010, 04:46 PM
Coming down the path we met up by chance for the 3rd time with our friends from Malta.We arranged to have dinner again together tonight when we all arrived back in Cuzco.

We left Machu Picchu at about 13:45pm just in time to go to the toilet and take the bus down to Aguas Calientes at 2pm to then catch our train.

At Aguas Calientes we looked for a place to eat something and went to a pizzeria but when we saw the other customers pizza made in an open oven with the bottom completely burnt black and the top part of the pizza still and uncooked, and they had not even begun with ours, then we were in time to change restaurants and we had a sandwich at a nearby coffee shop before catching our train at 4pm.


On our train, the Vistadome, we had a fashion show on the way back with the attendants modeling woolen clothes, which were for sale (not cheap). yes, a train fashion show, featuring alpaca shawls and sweaters:




The train took 3 hours, 45 minutes and then it was a further half an hour by car from the train station in Ponroy to our hotel in Cuzco, so we arrived at 8:20pmOur friends were already waiting for us so we left them having a drink while we took a quick shower and we all went to dinner at 9pm.

It was a very enjoyable dinner. After, as we were all very tired after the 2 very full and active days and thinking of the early rise again at 5am to fly….. our friends to Guayagil and us to Lima for a connection later to Quito in Ecuador, so we said our goodbyes and we went off to bed.


December 16th, 2010, 08:47 PM
Caramelo, this is some of the most beautiful photography I have seen on these boards. I am enjoying your travelogue and pictures very much. I feel like I am right there with you, exploring and seeing all through your eyes.

Thank you.


December 16th, 2010, 09:16 PM
What a wonderful travelogue , really educational amd interesting. Thank you for sharing!Makes me even more excited about my upcoming Ecuador /Galapagos trip.


eileen & jay
December 16th, 2010, 11:48 PM
Caramelo, thank you for posting your beautiful photos and commentary. I am enjoying your travelogue and awaiting your next posting.

Thanks again for sharing your trip.

December 17th, 2010, 09:08 AM
Thanks so much for your nice comments LittleYiaYia, Brazilgirl and Eileen & Jay.

We have rain forecast for this weekend so maybe that will make me sit down and do some more of the story!

December 17th, 2010, 11:37 AM
Caramelo, thank you so much for sharing your outstanding photos and great information. It is so wonderful to see great pictures of places that are part of your memories also. We hope to use some of your information on our forth coming return to the area. Can't wait for Equador. Again, thanks so much.

December 17th, 2010, 04:38 PM
wow.....also bcnvcanada for such nice words. You have the memories and are lucky to be returning soon..... when I get some more time I will continue.... now arriving in Ecuador.... we´re getting closer!!!! I just need your patience as it is a lot of work and needs its time, but soooooooon!!!!

December 18th, 2010, 11:38 AM
Saturday, 7th of August

You can notimagine how hard itwas to hearthe sound ofthealarm clock at 5am!

We finishedpacking andwe got ready andwe were collectedat5:50 am for thetransfer. We did not havetimefor breakfastat the hotelbutwethought we would have it instead atthe airport.

At the airportourguideinformed usofthebadnews: ourflightfor7:50 am with the Taca airline fromCuzcotoLimahasa delayofmorethan 4hours, a disaster for us as our next flight with Lan airlines fromLimatoQuitowasat12:50pmand with a 4 hourdelaymeant that we wouldmissourconnecting flight toQuito.

Because theguide had not officially been informed of thisdelayand she was not totally sure of this, well we had todothenormalqueueforcheck-in until it reached ourturnandthat was whentheemployeeofTacaconfirmed to us thatourflightwas to haveadelay ofmore than4 hours.

We had to wait quite some time totally nervous not knowing what would happen, but fortunately in cases of emergency the airlineTacahasan agreement where they can send their customers over to Lan and have them placed on their flights andvisa-versa.

Eventually, afterthedisappointmentandsuffering, we actually benefited as we were put on a flightwithLanat8:50amtoLimaand this was great as our connectiontoQuitoat12:50pm was also withLan which meant that wecouldcheckin our bags forthetwoflightstopick them updirectlyinQuito and not have to collect them and re-check them in in Lima.

Images leaving Cuzco on the way to Lima:



And we arrived in good time, in spite of everything, to catch the nextflight from Lima to Quito.


Taking off in Lima:


And again we could see beautiful views of the mountain peaks of the Andes covered with layers of snow from theplane:



December 18th, 2010, 11:41 AM
I think the airport in Quito must be oneof the most difficult for pilots to land with so many mountains in the vicinity, our flight managed to land the second attempt, but the flight of our friends landed on the 4th attempt and the pilot warned that if the 4th attempt didn´t work then he would have to divert the plane to another airport!

You can see the mountain on the left hand side:






December 18th, 2010, 11:45 AM
We arrived at the airport in Quito at 15:15pm and everything went perfectly well, our bags were there waiting for us, and our new guide and driver Silvia and Carlos.

The first poster we saw at the airport reminded us that we were in the middle of the world:


This other image is of the colorfuls culpture that exists in the Mariscal Sucre airport in Quito, Ecuador, dedicated to the Amazon River, on the right side the text reads: "This is Gloria de Quito Discovery of the Amazon"


When we left the airport these have been some of the first images we saw of Quito:



And in this row of commercial premises we saw one that sold meat, kebabs etc., and even, I felt sorry, but there were also pigs:


Being very limited with time in Quito we started our tour directly at 15:30pm before it got dark.

December 18th, 2010, 11:49 AM
We thought that if we came to Quito and did not visit the place where the equator crosses the country and the world, it was like not having been in Ecuador.


We had to go 40 minutes north of the capital to San Antonio de Pichincha to find this, but there is not only one monument but two.

Our first stop was the IntiñanSolar Museum, a very interesting museum about the indigenous cultures of Ecuador and the properties of the equator line:





Among the attractions, you can see replicas of the Indigenous people and the items used by them, as well as the clothing of the prehispanic settlers and the type of housing and customs of the Wuaraoni race:


December 18th, 2010, 11:53 AM

We saw some original huts from the year 1875



A place of burial, the deceased is placed in a tight fetal position in a pot like the one in front of dark color (although I do not understand how you can fit inside as I don´t think even a cat would fit!) and the remaining artifacts are for them to have,and on the right hand there is a pot where they even put food for the deceased:


We even saw some guinea pig, which, as explained in the chapter of Cuzco, is typical of the area and originally from theAndes.



December 18th, 2010, 11:56 AM
We saw some totems with different meanings, concepts and origins:



To demonstrate the properties of the line, the guide who had showed us the museum conducted a series of equatorial related experiments all of which fascinatingly work.




In the Ecuador, as well as weighing a little less, you do not have the strength that you have elsewhere, or you look like you´re drunk trying to walk a straight line with your eyes closed, I don´t have photos but it's true, I was unable to walk in a straight line, and I hadn´t even had a drink!

The next pictureis not me,but one taken from the Internet, but it serves to give the idea of the experiment and of one who can not walk a straight linealong the Ecuador line:


December 18th, 2010, 11:58 AM
Finally they showed that you can balance an egg on a nail, also due to the Coriolis effect. I did not manage it......it was too difficult but my husband did, and at the end he got a certificate!







December 18th, 2010, 12:02 PM
They also explained the Coriolis force and the effect is totally different within only a meter of distance depending on the point where you are standing and where you make the observation.

For example, when the basin is places directly on the equator line itself with one have on the left of the line and the other have on the right, in other words, in the middle of the equator line, then when the plug is opened and the water goes out, it just goes straight out and the leaves move neither clockwise nor anticlockwise but just goes straight down.



While in the northern hemisphere, the water goes down the drain in an anti-clockwise direction, but in the south it is clockwise. I have no idea as to how this can change so much in a total distance from one point to the other of 2 meters, but it works and I saw it!



The equator crosses through the museum and determines the latitude 00°00'00 mathematically calculated by GPS and by satellite. The native sages from the valley of Lulumbamba discovered, through solar and astronomical observations, that on the 21st of March and the 21st of September, the sun is falling directly onto the valley and there is no shade on Quito, the "land of the vertical sun, on a strip of hundred meters.



December 18th, 2010, 12:09 PM
Between the two dates of the equinoxes in March and September, the bodies do not cast any shadow because the sun is perfectly in the overhead, so the sun's rays fall perpendicularly on the equator (Ecuador). This phenomenon can only be appreciated in the parallel of latitude zero zero, at 12 noon on these dates for about 5min. This does not happen in Europe as it is outside of the tropics of Cancer and Capricorn. In a complete cycle of sun a year, it moves from the Tropic of Capricorn to the Cancer and returns to Capricorn, then passes twice by Ecuador on the 23rd ofSeptember and the 21st ofMarch.

An accurate sundial, unique in the world, that contains both sides of the equator, a stone cropping calendar of the 4 seasons index which indicates the solstices of June 21 the longest day in the global North and the December 21 South and equinoxes of March 21and September 23 when the sun is perpendicular and no shadow.




The following image is the Monument to the Equator seen from the Solar Intinan Museum:


Between 1979 and1982 a monument of 30 meters was built the point where it was believed that the equator was going through the country at that time and over the years, countless tourists have photographed crossing the line. Residents say among other things, that putting one foot in the northern hemisphere and one foot in the southern hemisphere one weighs less! But really the whole structure is 240m south where the real Equator line actually is, and which was proven by the recent GPS technology (which now houses the Museum Intiñan which had previously visited.)

We then went to see the monument that marks the Equatorial Line at zero latitude 240m away from the Museum Intiñan.

These were our first images with the name Ciudad Mitad del Mundo, (town of the Middle of the World) the images should be next to each other, but here is one below the other:



December 18th, 2010, 12:12 PM
And the Middle of the World Town scanned from a postcard:


And on the way to the monument:



And on the way we passed the planetarium and the signof the"Pacha Mama" or "Mother Earth " who is so respected and loved in these countries:


The monument is a pyramid with each side pointing to a cardinal direction, and is crowned by a globe of 4.5min diameter and 5 tons:



December 18th, 2010, 12:20 PM
Inside the monument is a small museum that displays items from the indigenous culture of Ecuador, such as clothing, descriptions of the various ethnic groups,and samples of their activities.

The Middle of the World contains a sign for the latitude0° and a yellow line separating the two hemispheres: North and South, then, you just take a step from one to enter the other:


Having finished these two visits we went to the center of the city of Quito.

San Francisco de Quito, or simply Quito is the capital city of the Republic of Ecuador and the of the province of Pichincha. Its average altitude is of2850 meters making it the second highest administrative capital of the world (after LaPaz) and the highest official capital of the world. The population of the city for 2010 is calculated as 1,640,478 and 2,215,820 inhabitants if we include all the suburbs because the city is divided into 32 parishes,which are subdivided into districts.

We managed to arrive just before dark.From a height we saw these views of the city of Quito:



Silvia, our guide,explained that Quito was celebrating between the 1st and the 10th of August their festivals for the First Cry of Independence (August 10, 1809) and the establishment of the first Board of Governors of Quito.

Because of the festival all the roads leading to the centre of town were closed and traffic was chaos, but we were extremely lucky with Silvia, the guide, and Carlos the driver, who knew all the back streets to avoid traffic and when we arrived at the centre there was an important street where we wanted to go and if we couldn´t use this street then we would have lost about 30 minutes (and it was already nearly dark), but Silvia managed to get us through by telling the police that she lived on this street and had to get through, and it worked, ha ha ha

From the top coming down to the center we first saw the Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus which is considered by its dimensions one of America's largest basilicas. It is one of the most important neo-Gothic architecture of Ecuador and its structure and style is compared with two of the great cathedrals of the world: the Basilica of Saint Patrick, located in New York and the Cathedral of Notre Dame,Paris. It is 115 meters high and consists of 24 chapels representing the different provinces of the county. The central nave of the church is 140 meters long, 35 wide and 30 meters high which there are14 bronze images that represent 11 apostles and and 3evangelists. This shrine was inaugurated and blessed by Pope John Paul II during his visit to Ecuador on 18 January 1985.



At the highest point of the main tower, one can see the city and surrounding mountains.


December 18th, 2010, 12:26 PM

Also from there you can see the Panecillo Hill which is a natural elevation of 3,000 meters above sea level, nestled in the heart of the city of Quito. Because of its location it has become the most important natural viewpoint with panoramic city views. The Panecillo Hill is the place where theVirgin of Quito is located, a giant aluminum sculpture there since1976 and it is said that everyone goes there to pray for their dreams to come true.


Then we came down to the historic center through these streets:




It was now getting dark quickly.

We went to Independence Square or Plaza Grande (colonial name), around which stands the Archbishop's Palace, the Municipal Palace, the Hotel Plaza Grande and the Metropolitan Cathedral.

We saw the Statue of Independence, which was just what they were celebrating with their festival these days in Quito:


December 18th, 2010, 12:32 PM
You can see the Government Palace on the right of the photo with the stone columns and the front is the cathedral:

We saw the Government Palace when it was almost dark and the streets in the centre were crowded with people ready for the festivities. This building is the headquarters of government and official residence of the President of the Republic of Ecuador and was built between the 17th and early 19th century. The third floor of the palace is used as the private Presidential rooms where he lives with his family. The building has many hallways and reception rooms which are used for official occasions.Access to the upper floors is restricted and is only possible to visit the ground floor.



The construction of the Cathedral began in the sixteenth century but was completed in the nineteenth century. It has a beautiful atrium that opens onto the square, and several sculptured room doors which stand out in its facade. In one of these, Saint Peter shows the keys of the kingdom in his hand.

On the opposite side of the cathedral we find the Archbishop's Palace, one of the oldest buildings in the city which today is a commercial center, with cafes and restaurants, craft sales, in the central courtyard are made artistic performances such as dances, and Ecuadorian indigenous music on Fridays from 19:30pm.



There were some beautiful buildings, the photos are a little blurry but will just give you an idea:



December 18th, 2010, 12:37 PM
Carmelo... We have a trip planned on the Xpedition in April and I just heard there are no bathrooms facilities on galapogos. How long was each tour? Did people have problems if the tour was three to four hours and have to go back to the ship to use the bathroom. I heard if you go back you cannot return until after lunch. Do you know if people experienced any problems because of this. Thank you. Ronniemj

December 18th, 2010, 12:40 PM
The facade of the Hotel Plaza Grande:



The Saint Agustin Church:


The San Agustin Church was built in 1573 by order of the Augustinian fathers. In 1868 an earthquake caused much damage in the structure that had to be rebuilt. In 1987 another earthquake damaged the church and to date there are still repair jobs being done. The church, at the top, has a tower measuring 37 meters high, and 3 additional meters to the statue of St. Augustine, which enhances the presence and style of the temple.

We walked down the ‘Street of the Seven Crosses’, more officially known as Calle García Moreno, which runs north-south through the heart of the Old Town. Along this street there are still seven crosses which is why it is named so. These are found in Hospice and in the churches of ElCarmenAlto, The Company, El Sagrario, the Cathedral, La Concepcion and Santa Barbara.

The Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus which we had seen from above and now we saw it again but this time from below:


TheTabernacle Church:


The oldest church in Quito and its monastery, SanFrancisco:


December 18th, 2010, 12:45 PM
Just weeks after the founding of Quitoin1534, began the construction of this church, which took 70 years to complete. Atruly imposing temple, its symmetrical facade fills the landscape, the white walls, dominated by its twin bell towers and its beautiful carved stone portico, the majestic entrance make this a huge religious complex. On the main altar, the famous Bernardo de Legarda made the famous winged Virgin of Quito which is covered by a spectacular dome of baroque carving. Excavations in the church of San Francisco have unearthed several artifacts from the aboriginal time to colonial times. The find included pre-Inca pottery. Some theories suggest that the church lies over the palace of Huayna Capac, the Inca emperor.

We also were able to enjoy some of the local customs of the festival, such as when they took out the horses decorated with ribbons and braids etc:



At the end we were very tired after so much activity these past few days and the early start this morning with the concern of the flight delay, etc.., so when we finished the tour, we returned to the hotel where we enjoyed a nice quiet and relaxing night just with our dinner in the room with room service and a nice glass of wine.


December 18th, 2010, 12:50 PM
Hi Ronniemy, don´t worry about the lack of toilets in the Galapagos. This is true and as it is total nature and wild they also don´t want anyone not to respect this or go behind a bush etc. As you know in advance, you go to the toilet just before leaving the ship to go ashore. Most of the shore trips were about 2 hours and maybe maximum 3 hours so people managed. Two of the stops we had free time and they were the only islands with inhabitants and in these towns you had bars with toilets. I didn´t hear of anyone finding this a problem. You will have a super time as it really is a wonderful trip.

December 19th, 2010, 10:45 AM
Sunday, 8th of August

Silvia & Carlos, the guides from yesterday, collected usa t 6am for the transfer to Quito airport.

On the way to the airport we saw the bull-ring of Quito:


At the airport in Quito we took our flight at 7:50am to Baltra, first stopping in Guayaquil (duration 40 minutes) without getting off the plane, and continuing to Baltra (one & a half hours) arriving at Baltra about 10am local time.

Images departing from the airport of Quito:






December 19th, 2010, 10:47 AM


Here again we could see the beautiful mountains with peaks covered in snow:



And then as we descended inGuayaquil, we thought that they had had a lot of flood damage but then they explained that it was not flooding, that this was normal, it was water from rivers but there had been no damage.



December 19th, 2010, 10:49 AM





We were on the plane without being able to get off and who did we see getting on the plane in Guayaquil to have a connecting flight to Baltra? Well, yes, of course, again our friends from Malta. Coincidence or more than coincidence? ......it was the 4th time that we had bumped into them by chance!

Before leaving Guaquil they had to spray the plane for the strict regulations before reaching the Galapagos:


December 19th, 2010, 10:51 AM

These were the first images arriving in the remote area of Baltra:




I was happy to see that our plane was called "Solitario or Lonesome George" after a Galapagos tortoise suspected of being the last survivor of his subspecies, as we were hopeful to possibly see him during this trip.We'll talk more about him when we reach the chapter about the Santa Cruz Islands and PuertoAyora.



December 19th, 2010, 10:56 AM
The airport is very small and I was amused to see the suitcases arrive with a tractor and a trailer:





The Galapagos Islands are a small archipelago of islands belonging to Ecuador in the eastern Pacific Ocean. The islands are quite remote and isolated, lying some 1000 km (620 miles) west of the South American continent. The Galapagos archipelago consists of 13 main islands and 6 smaller isles, which together embrace some 50,000 sq km (19,500 sq miles) of ocean.


The Galapagos were born from volcanos erupting violently out of the sea. Plant and animal species traversed 1000km of ocean to colonize the islands, leaving species isolated and evolving independently on different islands. Observing this had a resounding impact on the formations of Darwin´s Theory of Natural Selection and the theory of evolution by natural selection.

The Galapagos Islands consist of 13 major islands and 17 smaller islands and some 40 rocks that make up the archipelago were born from a fiery volcano deep in the Pacific Ocean. These islands have never been part of a continent, and unlike other similar islands like Hawaii, the Galapagos Islands have only relatively recently been discovered by man and more recently had human inhabitation.

The Galapagos Islands can be divided into four different areas within the archipelago: Western, Southern, Northern and Central Islands. Each region of Galapagos has distinguishing features showcasing both the geological features and the wildlife that lives there. Many Galapagos Islands have their own endemic wildlife - species found there and nowhere else in the world.

The western islands take you to the youngest of the Galapagos Islands - Fernandina and Isabela. These islands are still in the process of formation and are home to the only active volcanoes in the Galapagos Islands. Stark black lava fields cover much of these islands only pioneer plants such as cactus and mangroves that require little nutrients or soil survive.

The Southern Galapagos Islands (San Cristobal, Espanola and Floreana) are the oldest of the chain. Born millions of years ago from the Galapagos Hot Spot. Over the millennia the plates shifted and the islands drifted further away. As years progressed the volcanoes became extinct.

Cruises which visit the north will make one of the most unusual island arrivals in Galapagos. Unlike the other islands with a looming central volcano at Genovesa the caldera has collapsed. The highest point of the island is now a mere 250 foot above the sea and your yacht sails into the island's belly. To protect the area cruises holding over 40 passengers are prohibited by the Galapagos National Park.

The Central Galapagos Islands are those surrounding Santa Cruz. These islands are younger than those to the south and older than those to the west. The central Galapagos Islands retains the dry rugged look similar to the western Galapagos while being able to support a more complex mixture of plants and animals similar to the southern Galapagos.

We went through the different controls for imigration, customs, the payment of the USD$100 entrance fee to the Galápagos, etc.


December 19th, 2010, 11:00 AM

We saw this advert hanging in the airport which I found amusing, but it is entirely correct:


Once all the formalities were completed we went to the Celebrity ship meeting point at the airport. As we were almost the first to arrive (we had booked our flights independently and not through Celebrity), we had to wait a while with 4 other passengers and we talked with them until we were collected with a bus to take us to the point of departure of the zodiac boats, or as they call them, pangas, which would take us to our ship the Xpedition.





December 19th, 2010, 11:05 AM
We embarked on many different cruise ships up to now, but it had never been so funny as this time, watching the first crabs, sealions and iguanas, and then everyone getting on with his handluggage into the panga or zodiac boat.

Crabs: it is a species of decapodcrustaceans of the infraorder Brachyura, is one of the most common crab on the Pacific coast and islands of South America. It is one of the characteristic species of the Galapagos Islands, where it is known as cliff crab (in English known as the Sally Lightfoot Crab) and is very abundant and easily observed by marine iguanas. The pups are black, but adults have a characteristic brown or reddish color, which tends to be blue on the bottom. It feeds on algae andsmall animal remains:



The first marine iguana marina which we saw:


And a sea lion sleeping just below where we were waiting to board the panga boat:




December 19th, 2010, 11:07 AM




And these were the first images taken from the zodiac boat on the way to our ship:


And as I love the song"Guantanamera" and it took me many years to learn the meaning (the people from Guantanamo), I could not resist taking a picture with the name:


December 19th, 2010, 11:10 AM
And then more pleasure……… the first sight of our ship the Celebrity Xpedition:



And now came time for the real embarkation and we took our hand luggage and boarded the Xpedition:



Just to the right you will see in the next photo a pelican in the water:


Galapagos pelicans have dark brown body and white collar. They have a long beak with a bag underneath.These seabirds fly gracefully above the ocean to feed and plunge into the water with their wings spread and beak open.

December 19th, 2010, 11:13 AM

Once on board we were welcomed on the Xxpedition with a glass of champagne


Then we were taken to our respective cabins.The cabin was better than ehat we had expected and after 8 days travelling and going from hotel to hotel it was a treat to unpack and hang the clothes in the wardrobe. You need to take into account that this trip is not a normal cruise but is an expedition trip and as we were once told by the Captain of a ship on an Antarctic trip "who has come to this ship looking for the exquisite meals or the luxurious cabin has chosen the wrong ship".




Normally we should have changed the time back an hour in the Galapagos but the ship kept the time without any change to take advantage of an extra hour of daylight in the evenings and to be able to be on land more time.

We went for lunch and the ship departed at 2pm and at 4pm we had the emergency drill:


December 19th, 2010, 11:15 AM
We had some free time and used it to see some of the ship:







December 19th, 2010, 11:16 AM






December 19th, 2010, 11:19 AM



We were very much looking forward to this trip as it promised to be something totally different to what one normally sees. Here you can see the entire route of the week in the Galapagos:


The best was that at 4:30pm we had our first visit to land on North Seymour Island. There were 2 options: the tour of more activity and the other a little less intense, the details were in our information received in the cabin:



December 19th, 2010, 11:24 AM

North Seymour Island is an island belonging to Ecuador's Galapagos archipelago and is located near the island of Baltra. It is named after an English nobleman called Lord Hugh Seymour. It has an area of 1.9km² and a maximum altitude of 28 meters. It was formed by the elevation of a submarine lava formation and is largely flat and arid with little vegetation, including cacti, palo santo and saltbushes.

There is a circular trail for visitors to North Seymour Island about 2miles long across the interior of the island and takes you to explore the rocky coast where you can observe the nesting sites of the colorful blue-footed boobies andc olorful frigates that are visible through out the year.

We chose the first option: "long walk activity" with a dry landing, ie, the panga boat goes directly to the main land without you having to wet your feet getting out of the boat.

The first image arriving at land:


We walked about 2 km on a trail of rocks where we saw our first images of the land iguanas





December 19th, 2010, 11:25 AM

The sea lions, the baby looking to take some milk from its mother:






December 19th, 2010, 11:31 AM
In the next image you think it is a long tooth that comes out of the mouth but it is actually just a small shell!:



The blue-footed boobies have attractive bright blue feet:


It is a bird common in the Galapagos Islands that nests near the coast in many of the islands of the archipelago and it also feeds near their shores.

Is an endemic subspecies with an average lifespan of 15 to 20 years. Unlike its relative the Red-footed booby the bluefooted booby fishes on the shore and make their nests on the edge of the coast.

The male is small compared with the female. It is characteristic of the males to whistle while the females cry.



We saw lots of eggs, chicks and juveniles:

These were the smallest:


December 19th, 2010, 11:32 AM


And now the chicks are a little bigger:





December 19th, 2010, 11:37 AM
What is fascinating is the comical mating ritual dance performed by blue-footedboobies. I think I have a picture of it but in a later chapter.

The next 3 pictures are from another passenger on the ship of the boobies in flight:



Also the blue-footed boobies who find it easy to dive from a great height into the sea at a speed of100 km to fish


Sometimes boobies went right in the tourist trail so we had to take a little care so as not to step on them when walking around!

And here's a booby with a land iguana:


We also saw a red-footed booby. It was the only one we saw during the whole trip! This is the lighter booby weighing about a kilo. Red feet are adapted tograb on to the branches. This type of booby is the only one that nests in trees.



December 19th, 2010, 11:43 AM
I saw a snake in the Galapagos: the Galapagos reptile may be slightly poisonous to humans and are very difficult to find due to the fact that snakes are very shy and elusive. These snakes are constrictors and all types are generally small, reaching an average of 2 to3 feet long. Its colour is dark brown with longitudinal yellow lines. The Galapagos Islands snakes usually feed on insects, lavalizards, marine iguanas and chicks.


There was also a little canary mangrove:


One of the biggest attractions of North Seymour in the Galapagos Islands is looking at the huge frigate birds with their red pouches hanging from their necks. They inflate their red pouches when they are trying to attract or draw the attention of a couple, these birds are also well known for stealing food from the blue-footed boobies.

These are the females and juveniles frigates without red pouches:



And a Galapagos hawk:


December 19th, 2010, 11:46 AM
And here are the males with their red pouches:



It seems that when they are inflated they are barely left with room to breathe, ha ha ha!


And in flight:


The tour lasted a total of one hour and a half and we came back on board around 6pm.

Returning to the ship we saw the last sea lion with our boat in the background:


December 19th, 2010, 11:50 AM
My favorite time each day was when we returned to the ship and had an aperitive snack in the BeagleGrill and took half an hour having a glass of wine and reflecting on experience of that day and chatting with other passengers, seeing the photos on the camera etc.:


At 7:30pm Captain Fausto Pacheco welcomed us with a glass of champagne and presented his team of the staff on board.



After the Cruise Director, Jorge Parrales, gave us the explanations and details of the next day's activities, which he would do from now on every evening and it was very important to be able to choose amongst the different options available each day.




After the talk we went to dinner. In this class of ship which is not a cruise but an expedition ship, there are no fixed tables and you were not seated with the same people each night which was so nice because you could talk with different people every night. The dinner was every night between 7:45pm and 9:30pm.The clientele was about 80% of American clients, maybe a 20% of Canadians and very few Europeans as this route was not generally offered on sale in Europe, then we were just a few from Europe: us, a young couple from Belgium, a couple from Luxembourg and another from Greece).

December 19th, 2010, 11:53 AM
After dinner,everybody goes to bed early as there is little night entertainment and there are not many activities as one has to get up early in the morning, but we took the habit of going to take the last drink on one of the terraces where we met almost every night with a very nice French lady who has lived many years in the U.S. and she went out to smoke a cigarette and more than once we ended up smoking a cigarette every night with her. We have stopped smoking for more than10 years but we got a taste for"oneafter dinner" which we really enjoyed....... especially after such a wonderful day!

Images of the subset that evening:



We went to sleep really looking forward to the following day.

TO BE CONTINUED…………… in Kicker Rock & San Cristóbal Island

December 19th, 2010, 11:56 AM

Your thread is FANTASTIC.... I am sitting on the edge of my seat, waiting for more.

I did an in-depth South America in 1976. Back then, there were no digital cameras to record what I saw. And, sadly, the photos I did take have faded. I just loved the photos of Machu Picchu; it brought back many fond memories. With your permission, I would like to copy some of your photos to my photo album.

And those zodiacs. They bring back memories of landings on the Antarctic peninsula in 1999 and 2000. Fabulouso!!!!!

I now know why the Galapagos is on my Bucket List.

I've bookmarked this thread so I don't miss anything.

December 19th, 2010, 01:00 PM
Can't believe each installment is better than the last!

Can you tell us the camera and lenses you used?

December 20th, 2010, 01:43 PM
Hi Cheryl,

Glad you´re enjoying the travelogue and of course you are welcome to use whatever photos you want. I reduced the weight of the photos to put them here on cruise critics but if you want any with more pixels then just let me know and, as I see your email, I can always send you them

Thanks Taxjam. :) I have little idea about cameras and am not a professional at all, and have no idea even about lenses. I use the combination of 2 different but normal cameras: Sony DSC-H50 which has a good zoom, and is simple to use, and what I like is that it has the screen-display to see the photo before you take it rather than a look-though small square. The second camera which I am very happy with is a Sony Cyber shot DSC-HX5 which is a small pocket camera which is good for night images or shows etc. without having to use the flash, does panoramic photos and also takes very good quality videos which is great in certain places where cameras are allowed but videos not.

December 20th, 2010, 01:55 PM
Monday, 9th of August

The ship's activities were entirely optional allowing each passenger to participate in 2 or 3 different activities daily.



The first day, although it meant an early rise, we opted for the first outing at 7am and it was a ride in the zodiac boat around the KickerRock.


Kicker Rock, also known as the Sleeping Lion has an impressive rock formation. It is an islet from the top of San Cristobal and is seen as a silhouette of a lion. It consists of a rocky cliff in the form of an obelisk that rises from the sea and the rest of the island.



Between the rocks a channel has formed which can be crossed in a small boat.


December 20th, 2010, 01:58 PM

Kicker is a volcanic cone type lava ash that has been eroded by the action of the sea of which there is only left tiny portion, consisting of two rocks, which are perfectly vertical walls, forming a small channel, its highest point reaching 144 meters.


We saw some sea lions sleeping on the rocks and also a blue-footed booby. We also saw a large turtle in thewater.



Here it seems that the sea lion is even posing for the camera, ha ha!:



December 20th, 2010, 02:01 PM

We returned to the ship at 8am and enjoyed a good breakfast.


At 9am we went back in the zodiac boat, this time to go to Puerto Baquerizo Moreno.

On the way to land we saw dolphins:





December 20th, 2010, 02:03 PM

The town of Puerto Baquerizo Moreno is located on the island of San Cristobal.


Most visitors do not know that the Galapagos Islands have their own population but about 20,000 people live in the four inhabited Galapagos Islands.

These were the first images landing at Puerto Baquerizo Moreno :





December 20th, 2010, 02:06 PM
WOW...Great Review...

December 20th, 2010, 02:08 PM

There was a sea lion waiting on the steps of the pier to welcome us:



Puerto Baquerizo Moreno is the capital of the province of Galapagos, Ecuador. It is located southwest of the island of San Cristobal, the eastern most island of the archipelago.

Despite being the capital, the city has the second largest population of the islands 5,600 inhabitants, mainly fishermen. Primary industries include fishing, tourism and culture farms. The city has an Interpretation Centre, but the tourism infrastructure is not as advanced as in PuertoAyora.

The town takes its name from President Alfredo Baquerizo Moreno(1859-1951).

We went in the local bus to the Interpretation Centre. Here the visitor can obtain information about the history of the islands, their natural environments and conservation.



The center comprises of three separate buildings connected by walkways and gravel paths and has two performance halls, one devoted to natural history, to see how the islands were formed millions of years ago, and another on the Galapagos of our days.


December 20th, 2010, 02:13 PM
The Information Office of the Centre, has a small library on Galapagos which can be used by locals and visitors. This room is destined for temporary exhibitions.The Centre has a screening room for 40 persons and an auditorium that will accommodate250 people for environmental education activities.




Then we had free time for an hour and a half, and where went back to the centre by bus we decided to walk as we had seen that it was not far away and we were close to a beach with a lot of sea lions. We had seen them before from the zodiac boat:


So we went down to this beach, the “Mann” beach, where we have been quite a while watching the sea lions who were very funny, playing, fighting, in and out of the water and the babies looking for their mothers and others just sleeping.



December 20th, 2010, 02:14 PM






December 20th, 2010, 02:16 PM






December 20th, 2010, 02:18 PM




Afterwards we walked back to the centre and saw a little of the different streets and shops before returning to the meeting point to board the ship to return.


And the village even seemed to have some nightlife with its discoteque, haha


December 20th, 2010, 02:20 PM




The village had activity, and my attention was caught with its amusing cable system!


We returned to the dock


December 20th, 2010, 02:22 PM

I found it funny to see these two sea lions sleeping and playing in a wooden boat and there were also some on the steps where we had to go down to the bo at at about 11:30 am.






December 20th, 2010, 02:40 PM
At 1:30pm there was a meeting to try and choose the snorkelling equipment, wetsuit, mask, fins and snorkel and a big bag to put everything into.


At 2:30pm there was also a talk explaining the basics of snorkeling for those who had no experience which was our case.

At 3:30pm we returned ashore on the Española Island, one of our favorite islands of the whole trip.


This island is 14km long and7km wide and has 61km2 and a maximum height of 206m.


We landed at Punta Suarez in the extreme west of Española and a 2km-long walk through a stone path was awaiting us.

Inmediately when we arrived we saw some Iguanas.

These Galapagos animals are found throughout the archipelago on the shorelines. Their size and quantity is very variable and in somec ases can be found colonies of up to 3,000 per mile of coastline.
The Galapagos marine iguana feeds almost entirely on algae only found on the banks or under the sea surface. The algae which they eat are red or green. The brown algae is not part of the diet of marine iguanas as this range will cause indigestion.

The smallest marine iguana is found in the Genovesa Island and the largest live on Fernandina and Isabela Islands.

The Española island where we are today have the most colorful iguanas. These iguanas have green and red spots. The red pigment comes from an algae that blooms during the warm months, which also coincide with the period of mating iguanas.

The Galapagos marine iguana eats once a day, but the larger ones eat only every 2 or three days.

The daily activity of the iguanas depends or is determined by the temperature and state of the tide.

The large males often take advantage of the midday when the sun is warmer to warm up and then plunge into the sea for food.

The rest of iguanas wait until the tide goes out to feed on the shores of beaches.

The Galapagos marine iguanas have incredible swimming abilities. Their tails are flattened and they swim by lateral undulation of their bodies, with their limbs held to the side. Their claws are long and sharp in comparison to the Galapagos land iguana that enables them to cling to rocks along the shore, and resist being pulled away by heavy waves.
They can spend only a limited time in the cold sea, where it dives for algae. However, by swimming only in the shallow waters around the Island they are able to survive single dives of up to half an hour at depths of more than 15 mts.

After these dives, they return to their territory to bask in the sun and warm up again.

You think that the marine iguanas are spitting but they are actually only clearing the and and getting rid of the particles of salt which accumulate in their noses.

Upon arrival we saw some marine iguanas of the redc olor variation only found on this island. They were relatively small in size but were always in groups of many together.




December 20th, 2010, 02:42 PM


And the iguanas along with the sea lion:



And with the blue-footed booby:



December 20th, 2010, 02:46 PM
We had to be careful not to step on them as they were everywhere:


Again there were the Sally Lightfoot Crabs:



And in a big group:


Then we saw some boobies. The male and female flirting! During courtship, the couple dance with a perfectly timed movement, showing off their coloured feet. To demonstrate his power, the male arches his wings projecting his chest and head upwards, at the same time offering his partner the material to make the nest. The two boobies, facing each other,make small steps, as if it were a dance.


And with the baby:


December 20th, 2010, 02:51 PM
This baby looks like it´s wearing a crash helmet, hahaha:


And now is the courting dance:




Have a look at this video (it´s not mine, but taken from Internet, but just to give you the idea):


The nazca boobies were known before as masked boobies. These birds are white with brown wings and unlike the blue-footed boobies have a fixed mating season with one peculiar situation: sibling murder. Siblicide is not uncommon in avian life. In fact, herons, cranes, and even egrets perform it.



December 20th, 2010, 02:59 PM
We saw a Galapagos Lava Lizard which are the most abundant reptiles of the Galapagos. Likemany animals in Galapagos they have no fear of the presence of humans and they can be easily observed at short distances. Lavalizards can be found in al lthe main islands of Galapagos. Its length is 17 to25 cm, with males two o rthree times larger than females. Physical characteristics are similar to those of other species of lizards. Males are dark with yellow-green spots, while females are reddish brown with no markings, although they may also have red patches when they reach maturity during the breeding seasons.


And a hawk:


The waved albatros is the only family member of the Diomedeidae living in the tropics. There only breeding place is on the Española island of the Galapagos Islands. The nests are built in areas of lava. The main sources of food for the albatross are fish, squid and crustaceans.

To feed, these albatrosses follow routes straight to one place off the coast of Peru, about 1000km east of their breeding. During the periods when not breeding, these birds live mainly off Peru and Ecuador

The population of these albatrosses is protected by the staff of the Galapagos National Park but are vulnerable because of illegal fishing and tourism.

The albatrosses are seabirds by excellence and spend most of their life at sea, flying sometimes hundreds of miles a day. The waved albatross breeds on theGalapagos Islands and spend the rest of the year off the coast of Peru.

They have a wingspan of 240cm from one point to the other tip of the wing. It differs from other albatrosses by its bright yellow beak and ivory neck. It has a white head and gray body with clear striations.

First we saw theAlbatross baby:



And then the mother with the baby:



December 20th, 2010, 03:01 PM
And other adults:


And their courtship seems very similar to that of the blue foot boobies:




We saw this bird who managed to catch a crab, then he dropped it and then he caught it again:



December 20th, 2010, 03:04 PM

Here at Suarez Point we could also see the spectacular geyser-like blowhole shooting a thunderous spray 30 yards into the air.




We returned to the ship around 6pm very happy with the day that we had enjoyed.

As we were having our usual evening aperitive, we saw how they raised up the zodiac boats to put them away until the next day.


We just had time to shower, go to the chat about the next day's activities, and then have a nice quiet dinner remembering all that we had seen and sharing our experiences with the other 4 people sharing the same table for dinner.


December 20th, 2010, 03:11 PM
PS: Thanks Jim & Mary Ellen, gald also that you are enjoying the travelogue

December 20th, 2010, 05:21 PM
sorry.......... I meant "glad" and not "gald"!!!!! :)

Lard Greystoke
December 20th, 2010, 08:07 PM
It is characteristic of the males to whistle while the females cry.

This is true of all males.

December 21st, 2010, 02:49 PM
hihihi Lard Greystoke! :D

December 22nd, 2010, 01:36 PM
caramelo - Thank you so much for the wonderful travelogue! We're going to the Galapagos and Machu Picchu with Celebrity in May. After reading your travelogue I'm even more excited about the trip!

December 23rd, 2010, 01:34 PM
This has got to be one of the best trip reports I have ever seen. Thanks so much for taking the time.

December 26th, 2010, 04:42 PM
Thanks for your nice comments andawayigo & Lucy Diamond and glad you´re enjoying it. I will now add the next part.........

December 26th, 2010, 04:45 PM
Tuesday 10th of August, Floreana Island





In the panga boat we saw a sea lion jumping out of the water like a dolphin:


These were the first images arriving at the island:


December 26th, 2010, 04:49 PM


We found another boat moored near to ours and close to the island:


Coming closer we had to laugh to see it was the Coral I, the ship that our friends from Malta were traveling on!



Today was the first day we did a wet landing.

In a dry landing, passengers will step directly on rocks or a dock and a wet landing, passengers will set foot into the water on the shores of the beach with the help of the naturalists and crew.

This was the beach where we landed:


December 26th, 2010, 04:59 PM
There was a sea lion on the beach waiting to welcome us:


The place of our visit Punta Cormorant is on the north coast of Floreana Island. The trail is an approximate distance of 720 meters, the same passes by a lagoon, observation points and a medium fine sandbeach.

The island has an area of 173 km2 and its maximum height is 550 meters above sea level. Its name is to honor the first president of Ecuador, Juan José Flores. This island is also known by the name of Santa Maria indistinction to one of the ships of Christopher Columbus. It is the smallest island of the Archipelago de Colon (Galapagos Islands), and has about 150 inhabitants and is one of the four inhabited islands in Galapagos, but because of their legends it is the most famous of all the islands and achieved great notoriety because of the mysterious disappearances, deaths and poisonings in the beginning of the 20th centuary.

The Wittmer Hotel was functioning in the populated port area of Velasco Ibarra on the Floreana Island. During the years 1930 with the arrival of several European immigrants misterioros events occurred.

In 1926 a Norwegian fishing factory was installed on the island, and soon after Dr. Friedrich Ritterand his partner Dore Strauch arrived at the same place.

In 1932 The Wittmer family from Germany, with Heinz, Margret and her son Harry arrived, which finally broke the solitude.

In 1934 came a flamboyant Austrian named Eloise Baroness Wagner-Bosquet and her two lovers Rudi Lorenz y Robert Philipson.

One day, Eloisa mentioned to the Wittmers that she was thinking of leaving the island and travelling toTahiti with her favorite lover, Philipson. But nobody ever saw them leave Floreana. Today, there are speculations about her disappearance and the truth has never been discovered.

Rudi Lorenz sold all the possessions of the Baroness to the Wittmer and embarked on a boat but was shipwrecked and died of thirst in Marchena Island.

Four days later, Dr. Ritter became ill from eating poisoned meat, something inexplicable because he was a vegetarian. After the death of Mr. Ritter, Dore left Santa Maria. The Wittmer family remained on the island.

The Wittmer family and their descendants: the Cruz family, Zavala and other families of the first inhabitants of the island continue to live in Floreana.

We walked until we reached the lagoon where you can usually find a large population of flamingos, but at the timeof year we went we were lucky to see a single flamingo, one better than none!




The next photo did not come out very well and it looks far away and blurry, but we saw a flamingo flying........and I had never seen one fly but only on had seen then on the ground:



December 26th, 2010, 05:05 PM

And now he landed and was on the ground but far away:


There were plenty of "paper wasps" on the island (in the tropics and subtropics there are about1,100 species but in Europe there are only 9 species).

We continued until we reached a beautiful white sand beach and dunes. Inmediately entering the water we could see the turtles.

But I have no photos because we had made a big mistake ... ..... when we heard that it was a wet landing well we took special watershoes, but when we were on dry land then we dried our feet and changed back into our normal shoes and socks..............but now on the beach, these normal shoes were not appropriate because to see the turtles we needed to enter the water, so I quickly changed to taking off my shoes / socks and turned up my hems of my trousers to my knees to get into the water, but of course.....and I was too heavily loaded with shoes in one hand with my bag, the camera, etc...... and when we finally got into the water the turtles were gone.

This was the beach and some of the many birds we saw:



A brown pelican:


The brown pelicans are instantly recognizable by their large size and huge pouched bill. They are usually brown, but during their breeding season have bright white and brown markings around his head.

Other birds:


December 26th, 2010, 05:09 PM

And again the Sally Lightfoot Crabs:


It was very funny to watch them eating, using their feet or claws, using first the left then the right and so on:


Then we had an hour to do snorkling.

Near Punta Cormorant is the Devil's Crown which is a half-submerged volcanic cone with beautiful coral formations.


We didn´t go out very far and stayed near the landing area on the map which is the area where it says "landing" and is to the right side of the landing area.



December 26th, 2010, 05:15 PM
The water was cold but with the wetsuit one was warm enough. It was the first time that we tried and we saw that it could be something very nice but for some reason, whether by mistake due to our lack of knowledge or due to the equipment with the wrong mask / snorkle that was not the best, we just have swallowed gallons of water. On one side it was very nice because we found a large green turtle bathing with us but on the other side we kept having to come up to the surface to breath fresh air!! (After we returned we learned that the main problem was that the masks and snorkels were not very good or the right sizes for us).

The green turtle is a large sea turtle. The species which is an endangered species,is distributed throughout tropical and subtropical seas around the world, with two distinct populations in the Atlantic and Pacific. They are green because they have fat under its shell. I did not get to take photos... .... but I will put a couple of photos that are not mine but from other passengers and the ship personnel to give you an idea of the image of them bathing amongst us:



Finished our snorkeling, we were drying ourselves and changing clothes, removing the wetsuit for dry clothes, when again we met our friends from Malta, which as I said before they were in the Coral I ship, and they were coming on to the island when we were leaving. Again a big coincidence!

We left the island and the sea lion came to say goodbye to us on the beach:


We left the island behind us:


December 26th, 2010, 05:21 PM
We arrived on board around 11 am and saw that we had a new passenger... ... ...another sealion sleeping on our boat, in the next photo, on the left hand side at the bottom:




As an anecdote, we managed all day to avoid the paper wasps, but it seems that on the beach, attracted by the boat´s yellow towels, one got into my bag... ... ...and where in the morning I had no problem........but on returning to our cabin I noticed a sharp pain in the back of my neck ......I had been stung and it was sore, but fortunately unlike some other passengers I didn´t have any allergic reaction to the sting. Luckily my husband managed to find and "eliminate " the wasp as I couldn´t remain relaxed thinking that it was in the cabin with us!

After lunch, at 3:30pm we had a ride on the zodiac dinghy looking for turtles and we also saw some rays.

On the way we also passed another boat, the Galápagos Legend:


This was the area where we concentrated our search:



December 26th, 2010, 05:28 PM
First we saw a blue-footed booby. In the following photo you can see our panga boat in the bottom left hand side and people looking at the rocks and into the water in case they could see something:



There were some sea-lions in the water:


Afterwards we found some few spotted eagle rays which is a group of cartilaginous fish of the family Myliobatidae, mostly large species living in the open ocean and not at the bottom of the sea.

The eagle rays feed on mollusks and crustaceans, crushing their shells with their filed teeth, while the bay devil and ray manta filters plankton from thewater. They are excellent swimmers and are able to penetrate the water up to several meters above the surface.

Compared with other rays, they have long tails and well-defined bodies. They are ovoviviparous, birthing maximum six offspring simultaneously. Ranging from 48 cm to 9.1 in length. They were very difficult to photograph... ... ...just look for the black coloured fish under the water.



And finally we found a seaturtle, the photos are not good and you have to use a little imagination to see the turtle under water.


December 26th, 2010, 05:36 PM
Now you can see him better because he has put his head out of the water:


After the zodiac ride we went ashore.

Again we had a wet landing to the north of the island.

We climbed to the observation point of the Baroness, named in honor of the eccentric Baroness who I mentioned earlier,who arrived to Floreana in the mid 30's and disappeared mysteriously with one of her three lovers. Baroness Eloisa von Wagner liked this place where she spent hours of her time and where she knew of all the vessels approaching the island. Only a short distance away (30 m) are the ruins of what is knownas the House of the Baroness.

The ascent of the trail is fairly easy, except for the last 33m where the slope is steep, however, steps have been implemented in this sector.

In the following photo you have to look just above the hill where you can see people -us, but as it is quite far away maybe you can not see it properly. Well this point on the top is the observation point:


This site is especially attractive for its stunning beauty. From the viewpoint, the landscape includes the coastline from the Enderby island to the Post Office Bay, as well as Cerro Pajas, the pool of flamingos(Punta Cormorant), the upper area and a rose wood forest.

These are the views from above - I loved the colour of the sea.




And our ship and two other ones in the background:


December 26th, 2010, 05:41 PM
We returned back to our ship.

That night after dinner at about 10:30pm we dropped the anchor on the beach of Baltra and turned on the lights and this attracted the fish, and we saw a pelican, a flying fish, sea lions and even small sharks, but not one photo came out because it was too dark for photos.

It was a pleasant evening with a good temperature and a very clear and cloudless sky and on the deck level 6 there was a meeting place for those who wanted to watch the stars,but we decided to stay below watching the fish in the water illuminated by the lights of the boat.

After some time, we went off to bed.


December 26th, 2010, 06:34 PM
This has to be by far the best review I've read. The pictures are freaking awesome. Thank you very much for taking time to write and post this review.

Saludos hasta España (Greatings to Spain)!

December 27th, 2010, 04:30 PM
Thanks dforeigner...... wow, I´m flattered!!!! :)

December 27th, 2010, 04:33 PM
Wednesday, 11th of August.



Today we had the luxury of being able to sleep a little bit later as the first landing today was at 9am.

We arrived at the Bachas beach which is located north east of the coast of Santa Cruz. Bachas Beach is a beautiful white sand beach punctuated by lava formations of about 1 km in length.


The first images arriving:




December 27th, 2010, 04:35 PM

Long ago, a rusted pontoon, a relic of the Second World War, a barge beached itself here and was slowly buried by the elements. You can still see parts of this barge sticking out from the sand. In fact, “bachas” is a poor pronunciation of “barges,” two of which were wrecked offshore at that time: the locals mispronounced the name and it stuck, which is where the name Bachas Beach comes from!



The beach was beautiful, on one side white fine sand dunes and on the other side lava rock formations and other rocks completely covered in green making a total color contrast:




December 27th, 2010, 04:38 PM


We left the beach for a while and we went to one of thel agoons. Along the way we saw these cactus......the one in the second photo is very old:



In one of the lagoons we spent a long time watching a flamenco.



December 27th, 2010, 04:40 PM


We went back to the beach and saw again some more sally lightfoot crabs ………..I have no idea why this one is covered with foam!!!!:


And again a mangrove canary and some other birds:




December 27th, 2010, 04:45 PM
And a lava gull which is a rare gull species whose plumage is gray and brown. Endemic to the Galapagos Islands, it is the only one typical of the archipelago of the four present. Called by the Islanders brown gull and by the Anglo-Saxons lava gull. They inhabit the beaches of these islands, feed on detritus and hunt newborn marine iguanas, they nest alone and have no specific breeding season being able to breed throughout the whole year. They incubate two eggs for 24 days. When they reach adult size they measure up to about 45 cm long and from 90-100 cm wingspan.


And, of course, we saw more iguanas!:






December 27th, 2010, 04:50 PM
We also saw a Great Blue Heron, which are really beautiful, and have a wingspan of nearly 2 meters, 130cm tall and weighs about 2.5kg. and in the Galapagos Islands they generally can live up to17 years of age.

It is a fierce and efficient predator feeding mainly on marine iguanas, lava lizards and common fish, and looking for food constantly throughout the day and night. Galapagos great blue herons have gray-blue feathers on most of their bodies and a plume of feathers on the chest and back. It also has a long yellow beak and funny long legs.

The blue heron is tall and the wings, the peak of the neck, and legs are too long and when flying he has to hold his head back against his shoulders and his long neck is bent back, his long legs further back in an upright position and flies with slow but strong wing beats. When on earth or in water his walk is strong with long steps.

Great Blue Heron:




I am putting this picture even though I unfortunately cut the head of the blue heron a bit, but as he began to fly you can see how big he is:


And here is the beautiful landscape in the background:


We returned to the ship at approximately 12 o´clock midday.

December 27th, 2010, 04:55 PM
At 3:30 pm after lunch we went ashore again on the island of Bartolomé:


These were the first images arriving at the island:


It is very difficult to see in the picture below but just above everything there is a kind of lighthouse and we walked up to this point:



The Bartolome Island has the most spectacular landscapes of the Archipelago. It is a volcanic island and has an area of 1.2km² (112 hectares) and a maximum altitude of 114 meters . Here is the famous Pinnacle which is a huge black lava formation that has eroded over time.

The Pinnacle:



December 27th, 2010, 04:57 PM
Where we landed, we had to climb over the sleeping sea lions on the steps:



Upon arrival we climbed up the wooden staircase to the summit in order to appreciate a spectacular view of two beautiful bays and observe fascinating formations of lava and volcanic cones:

Where we climbed the steps... ... ... ... ... ...I realized on the way that I'm not physically fit for this, ha ha ha:



Images as we went up:



December 27th, 2010, 05:00 PM
Our naturalist or guide explained about the rocks formed from volcanic lava to us:



Upon reaching the summit are the best views of Santiago Island and James Bay to the west, and the pinnacle in the distance, as well as North Seymour, Baltra Island, Santa Cruz Island and the Rabida Island. Bartolome Island is surrounded by turquoise waters and white sandy beaches that really add to the beautiful landscape. Close to the Pinnacle Rock you can also see two beautiful beaches in the form of a crescent.

And the incredible views from above:





December 27th, 2010, 05:03 PM



When we came down we had another opportunity to do snorkeling - we went to the zodiac to another area of the beach and on the way by boat by chance we were lucky enough to see a penguin out of the water:




December 27th, 2010, 05:07 PM

Seeing the Galapagos penguins swimming in tropical waters, right at the equator is really special because they can not be found anywhere else in theworld with hot climates. These penguins depend on thecold Humboldt current for food.They feed only during the day near the shore and their favorite food is sardines.

Then we saw other penguins in the water.They swim in a very graceful way leaving only their heads above water with the rest of their bodies submerged.

They also sometimes swim with their heads underwater when looking for fish.

Andwhen they come into action, they plunge into the water and move with astonishing speed, using their powerful flippers for propulsion and their legs as a rudder

They are very small and very fast which made it practically imposible to photograph them.

A penguin in the water:



I am now nearly atotalexpertonpenguins as I've seen them in the Antarctica, inSouthAfrica, NewZealandand nowin theGalapagos!!!!!

We tried snorkling a second time but we have not been more successful than on the first attempt. We swallowed gallons of water again! We decided not to do it again on this trip until we learn more at home on how to do it properly.

We returned to the ship where we enjoyed another quiet and relaxing evening.

TO BE CONTINUED ……… On the Isabela & Fernandina Islands…………...

December 28th, 2010, 06:50 AM
You have been on an amazing, interesting, beautiful trip, and I want to sincerely thank you for taking the time and great effort to post in the forum and share it with us.
The information you have given is very well thought of, the pictures are wonderful (and some of them absolutely gorgeous), and you have showed us so many pictures of all the places you have been, that it actually makes me feel a little like I was there.
This is a post to keep alive, as I am sure it will help so many people in planning their trip to these areas.

December 28th, 2010, 09:53 AM
Caramelo, thank you so much for taking the time to write your review; you keep me in suspense waiting for the next chapters! I love the history of places I go and you've done an excellent job of giving us that, not to mention your awesome pictures. I can't imagine the time you've put into this and we appreciate it very much.

My husband and I are seriously considering this cruise, but I'm not the most coordinated person and am wondering about the wet landings...how deep is the water at these wet landings and is it hard to get back into the raft? Do you recommend keeping on your water shoes after the landings or is the terrain too hard for them?

Thanks again for all your time in posting your review and pix.

December 28th, 2010, 04:46 PM
Thanks so much Dalitos and Terre.

Terre: do not worry about the wet landings at all, as at the very most we are talking of a few inches or cm of water but not a big amount..... the water hardly would reach the top of your shoe! You need adecuate shoes as it would be a shame to wet your normal shoes but it is in very little water.

For example, these are not my photos but ones found on the internet, but they show you exactly what and how a wet landing is like:



Yes, it is a lot of work doing this travelogue but thanks to all of you and your comments it is worth the effort, and I do hope it serves as good memories to those who have done a similar trip and as help to all the future travellers to the Galapagos

I´ll be back sooooooon with more!

December 28th, 2010, 06:13 PM
Thursday, 12th of August



Isabela Island is the largest in the archipelago and has an area of 4,588 km2, which corresponds to 60% of the total surface of all the Galapagos Islands. It has 6 volcanoes an 5 of them are still active, the most important of them is called Volcano Alcedo. It is 1,707 meters above sea level.



We landed at Bahia Urbina which has a trail that starts at the beach, where a wet landing is made, the route is approximately 3200m, and crosses through sand, pumice, lava, coral and vegetation in an area where the coast suffered a rising.


These were the first images arriving ashore:


December 28th, 2010, 06:23 PM
The boat on the left of ours is the National Geographic ship:


Urbina Bay went through a volcanic uplifting back in 1954, leaving marine skeletons, which makes the course very interesting:


Also in this area there is a large amount of vegetation which attract our attention such as the muyuyos, chamomile and rosewood, butamongall these plants stand out the beautifu lflower such as Darwin cotton, endemic to the Galapagos Islands.

The muyuyo flower: These large shrubs are endemic to the archipelago. They are named because of the white wool that covers the seeds. Its flowers are yellow with a purple corolla at the base of the petals and turns pink with age. It grows in rocky areas. It produces a fruit the size of a grape and its liquid is gummy, like hard glue. Its branches are used for rustical handcraft furniture, as well as for fences for livestock:




The Darwin Cotton Flower:


December 28th, 2010, 06:28 PM
We were ashore for about two hours, and on the way we saw for the first time the Galapagos turtles.

This animal can be more than 1.80min length and weighs over 225kg. Galapagos turtles are herbivorous and feed on creeping herbs, fruits, leaves and cactus, but also eat carrion when given the opportunity and even other bodies of the same species. These animals are extremely slow moving at a speed of 0.25km/h. The current population of the Galapagos tortoise is estimated at about15,000.There are15 sub-species of Galapagos giant tortoises. The Galapagos tortoise grows continuously for about 30 to 40 years to reach its maximum size.

It is worth mentioning that no one knows exactly how long a giant Galapagos tortoise can live, how ever it is believed they can easily reach 150 years of life and sometimes more!



We also saw the yellow coloured land iguanas:




And it´s nest or resting place:


December 28th, 2010, 06:32 PM
We returned to the ship.

When we had our Welcome Cocktail on the first day aboard the captain said there was an ope ninvitation, no time or date, for passengers who wanted to, to go and visit the ship's bridge. So today it was the best opportunity and fitted invery well with the schedule and the plans so we went on the spur of the moment to see the bridge:


All the staff and the captain were very friendly and helpful showing us and explaining the operation of machinery and the ship and answering all of our questions.




At 3:30 pm we returned ashore for about 2hours on Fernandina Island, landing at Espinoza Point.

Punta Espinoza is located on Fernandina Island, the youngest of the Galapagos Archipelago and most volcanically active. She has an amazing combination of barrenness with lots of wildlife.


Fernandina Island is the westernmost area of the Galapagos Archipelago and is one of the youngest islands and also its volcano is one of the most active.There are no human settlements on Fernandina Island and there is only one authorized place for visits which is Punta Espinoza.The volcanoes behave differently to the other volcanoes in Ecuador. The total volume of gas is low (compared to continental volcanoes). Galapagos eruptions have low intensity explosive (such as Mount St. Helens, Mount Etna, etc.). In volcanic Islands the lava does not leave from a single strand. Eruptions on the island volcanoes are often through fissures. These fissures can be radial or circumferential. The Galapagos eruption began on Friday, May 13, 2005. A circumferential crack located the southern flank of the volcano was the source of diluted rock. The height of the crack is about 1,100 meters above sea level and its length was 6 kilometros. When the cracks are short, the eruptions are long because the lava has only a small area of escape. That is why the eruption in the Galapagos in 1995 took almost four months. Then, once a small crack opened and formed a cone which had a diluted rock while the eruption continued. (Something like a red hot pot). A month later, the cone wall broke and the lava began to flow towards the coast. It took a week for the lava to reach the ocean. When the cracks are long (like this present eruption) the eruption tends to be short, since all the rock has a higher diluted exhaust area. The bark of these lava flows cools slowly, and create an isolated layer. Below, the lava continues to flow for at least a month before it cools completely.

You can see the volcanic lava formations in the following photos:


December 28th, 2010, 06:34 PM


And the bird on top of the cactus:


And arriving ashore we saw the first sea lion sleeping his siesta:


And sharing the siesta with an iguana:


And his friend having a swim:


December 28th, 2010, 06:36 PM
Luckily we saw a turtle come out of the water, quite a young one judging by his colour:




And we could not be without the Galapagos marine iguanas which are the only of its kind that have the power to swim in the ocean around the world:




December 28th, 2010, 06:37 PM

And with the crab on top of his tail:


It is also funny how they all have their arms around and are hugging each other:


And with a Blue Heron:


And they seem very modern with a “punk” style and the spikes on their heads:



December 28th, 2010, 06:39 PM

& in big numbers or groups:




I also found this sea lion funny with his wide and square shaped feet:


December 28th, 2010, 06:46 PM
And this one with the 2 lava lizards on his back!:


Finally we saw a flightless cormorant, also known as the Galapagos cormorant. It is a cormorant native to the Galapagos Islands and is an example of the unusual fauna inhabiting these islands. It is unusual in that it is the only cormorant that has lost the ability to fly. With a population of 1,500 individuals tested, is one of the rarest birds in the world.It is found only on two islands, Fernandina, mainly in the east coast, and in Isabela, on the northern coast and west coast. Population has experienced severe fluctuations, the El Nino event in1983 caused a reduction of 50% of the population, after that there were only 400. However, the population recovered quickly and in 1999 their number was 900 individuals. This species lives in the rocky shores of the volcanic islands it inhabits. They look for food in the coastal waters and they normally do not travel further than 1km of the area where it reproduces.

The Flightless Comorant:



Although they can´t swim, I think that this is a comorant in the water:


It was a very full day and another of our favourite excursions of those offered by the ship.

Upon returning to the ship as always enjoyed a drink with canapés chatting with other passengers.This particular hour I always enjoyed.

TO BE CONTINUED, on the Santiago Island…………..

December 29th, 2010, 03:22 PM
Friday, 13th of August



At 8am we had a wet landing in Puerto Egas on the Santiago Island.


Puerto Egas is a black sand beach located on the west side of James Bay in the north west of Santiago Island. The island has an area of 585km2, which means that (in size) it is the fourth largest island in the Galapagos Islands. The Sugar Loaf Volcano is located on the south side of the beach, which has deposits of volcanic tuff, the same that have favored the formation of black sand beach. The crater located north of this site, has a salt water lagoon which dries up in the summer and turns into a salt mine.


These were the first images arriving:



December 29th, 2010, 03:28 PM
And as always, the first waiting for us were the sealions!:



The hike was about 2 km and was the weakest outing of the trip where we saw relatively little compared to other days.

Yes, we saw different types of birds, such as the Smooth-billed Ani (in Spanish they are called garrapateros) which is a large near-passerine bird in the cuckoo family. It is a resident breeding species from southern Florida, the West Indies, Costa Rica, Trinidad and Tobago, south to western Ecuador, Brazil and northern Argentina.

They are introduced birds. They compete with native and endemic birds for territory and food, feed on insects and lava lizards. The garrapatero was recorded for the first time in the Galapagos in 1960.

The Smooth-billed Ani has proved to have an exceptional capacity for adaptation in a new environment. The first report of their presence was made in the 1960’s. By the middle of the 1980’s they were widely distributed on the southern part of Isabela Island on Galapagos. Today they are almost all around the archipelago.

The Smooth-billed Ani is found in open and semi-open country and cultivation. The nest, built communally by several pairs, is a deep cup lined with leaves and placed usually 2 - 6 metres high in a tree. A number of females lay their chalky blue eggs in the nest and then share incubation and feeding.

Each female is capable of laying up to 7 eggs and nests have been found containing up to 29 eggs, but it is rare for more than ten to hatch. Incubation is 13 - 15 days, with another 10 days to fledging. Up to three broods may be raised in a season, with the young of earlier broods helping to feed more recent chicks.

The Smooth-billed Ani is about 33 centimetres long and weighs 95 grams. The adult is mainly flat black, with a long tail, deep ridged black bill and a brown iris. Their flight is weak and wobbly, but this bird runs well and usually feeds on the ground. The Smooth-billed Ani is a very gregarious species, always found in noisy groups. The calls include a 'whining ooo-leeek'. The Greater Ani feeds on termites, large insects and even lizards.

The Smooth-billed Ani will occasionally remove ticks and other parasites from grazing animals. There are records of several of these birds ravaging into finch nests for either the eggs or the chicks.
This common and conspicuous species has greatly benefited from deforestation.

This species is called 'El pijul' in the Venzuelan folklore. It is mentioned in the popular Venezuelan song 'Son Jarocho'.

Smooth-billed Ani:



A Galapagos Mockingbird, a bird native to the Galapagos Islands which is included on the red list of endangered birds:


We also saw a White Heron. The white heron is slender and elegant, wearing a long neck that, in general, remains folded in an "S ". The plumage is entirely white, soft and plentiful, and the beak is long, pointed, yellow and sharpe nough to easily thread a fish and its iris is pale yellow.

The white heron:


December 29th, 2010, 03:30 PM

This time, as a change from the sea lions we saw the Galapagos fur seals. The main differences between them is the change in the type of skin or hair which you can notice in the following images:



And a fur seal together with an iguana:


The Striated Heron also known in some parts of the world as the Little Heron, is a fairly common sight in Galápagos tidal pools, mangroves, ponds and rocky shores. Similar in size to a Lava Heron, the Striated Heron is also rocky gray in color. They can be easily differentiated, however. The Lava Heron’s coloring is uniform, whereas the Striated Heron has a black crown and dappled wing feathers.

They usually perch on a branch or rock near the water’s edge, head back, waiting for a small fish or crustaceans to swim by. They then lunge forward, trapping their prey in their sharp beak and quickly gobbling it. The Striated Heron is a clever bird, occasionally dropping a leaf into the water and snapping up fish that come to look at

Sealions have small, cartilaginous external earflaps; seals lack external earflaps.


We saw some very nice natural bridges with some sally lightfoot crabs:


December 29th, 2010, 03:33 PM


And the crabs with some iguanas:


And some marine iguanas, the first one looks as if he is waving to us!:


What nails! :



December 29th, 2010, 03:35 PM
And introducing his girlfriend to us:


Afterwards those who wanted had the chance to do some snorkling:


The last images before returning to the ship:

An iguana swimming:



December 29th, 2010, 03:38 PM


At 3:30 pm we returned ashore with a wet landing at the place called Cerro Dragon on the Santa Cruz Island.



The Santa Cruz Island is an Ecuadorian island in the Pacific Ocean, part of the archipelago of the Galapagos Islands and is the second largest group of islands after the Isabela island, situated in the center of the islands. It has an area of 986 km².

We walked by a salt water lagoon behind the beach, where occasionally you can see flamingos. We didn´t see them, and only saw the lagoon:



December 29th, 2010, 03:40 PM

Everything looked so green:


We saw a Black-Necked Stilt:


Again we saw a den or nest of the land iguana.......... so we knew that they couldn´t be very far away!


And exactly so……… very soon we found one:



December 29th, 2010, 03:41 PM
And after we saw a brown pelican:


And the brown penguin with the Cerro Dragon or Dragon Hill in the background:


Just at the end we saw the sun set and a blue-footed booby:


We returned to the ship where we enjoyed another pleasant evening aboard.

TO BE CONTINUED ……… with the last day of excursions in the Galápagos ……… with more of the Santa Cruz Island

December 29th, 2010, 04:28 PM
Carmelo -- this is the best review I have ever read on Cruise Critic. I assume that English is a second language for you because you said at the beginning of the review that you had to translate it from Spanish. What beautiful English you write! As someone who once spoke Spanish fluently, and now "hablo solo un poquito de Espanol," I am impressed with your fluency and your ability to make me feel the wonder and joy of your fantastic journey. Your photos almost make me feel that I am there. I think I will have to add this trip to my "bucket list." Muchisimas gracias!

December 29th, 2010, 04:53 PM
Caramelo, I just want to add another big Thank You for sharing your wonderful journal and photos with the rest of us.
As others have stated, they are among the best we have ever seen and they are greatly appreciated.

May B
December 29th, 2010, 11:42 PM
What natural and man-made wonders you have introduced to us, Caramelo. I add my sincere thanks for taking so much time and care in showing us so much!

I am so glad you are a penguin specialist. You are also a special kind of teacher. I look forward to having my entire family read your posts.

December 30th, 2010, 10:14 AM

Wow!!!The Galapagos photos are amazing!I can´t tell you how much I am enjoying the details , it makes me so excited about my upcoming trip.

We also booked our own flight to Baltra. Did you have any problems hooking up with the Celebrity land group?

Were there any children on the ship? If so , did they enjoy the experience?Were there any excursions which allowed "beach time" , just to be lazy in the water with the creatures?

Thanks again for the marvelous review.


January 2nd, 2011, 06:23 AM
Thanks again all of you, Jazzbo, Fleckle, Maybo, Brazilgirl, etc. for your comments.

Jazzbo, I must confess that I am actually Irish, but have lived in Spain for more than 25 years, so I first did this travelogue in Spanish for a travel forum here in Spain, and now I have to translate it into English, and I am cheating using the Google translater and as I am trying to do it quickly as I don´t have too much free time after work, so I haven´t taken much care to check that the English is correct........ and after being 25 years away unfortunately my Enlish is now a bity "rusty"!!!! ;)

Brazilgirl: We got our own flights to Baltra but had no problem what so ever meeting the Celebrity Group. Celebrity have their own stand at the airport and as the airport is small well you can see their sign and meeting point very easy. We were lucky as our flight arrived in before the rest of the group so we just waited for them...... maybe only 30 minutes difference between our and their flight. However if your flight will arrive later than theirs then I assume you provide Celebrity with your flight & arrival details and you will have no problems.

There were at least 2 families with 3 or 4 children each, aged between maybe 8 and 15 and all seemed to love the trip.

For those who want to enjoy the beach, you will have to use the time they offer to those who want to go snorkling......... maybe about an hour or 45 minutes on at least 4 or 5 different ocasions.

You´ll have a great trip as it really is something special, and although I am maybe spoiling some of the surprises with my story and photos but no two trips are the same but I have heard that all trips are fascinating, so I´m sure you will really enjoy it.

I´ll be back soooooooooon with some more!

January 3rd, 2011, 04:30 PM
Saturday, 1st of August



The first images arriving ashore:





January 3rd, 2011, 04:37 PM
And this time it was the brown pelican who welcomed us to Santa Cruz:


In the Santa Cruz Island are the headquarters of the National Park of the Galapagos Islands, and the Charles Darwin Research Station.

The Charles Darwin Foundation conducts scientific research, biological and conservation projects for the conservation of species of the Galapagos for the last 47 years. Nearly two hundred people work there including scientists, educators, research students and volunteers. 90% of staff working in the foundation are Ecuadorian. This Foundation is an non-profit organization that depends entirely on donations from individuals, foundations, corporationsand governments around the world

The National Park Service operates a tortoise breeding center where they are prepared for reintroduction into the wild.



First we saw the following, and I was surprised to see that their necks were so long.




January 3rd, 2011, 04:38 PM


Then we learnt a little about the conservation of turtles, first about the incubation





January 3rd, 2011, 04:45 PM

The highlight of this trip was to see the famous Lonesome George.


Lonesome George, weighing 90kg (14st 2lb), is the last known individual of the Pinta Island Tortoise which is one of eleven extant subspecies of Galapagos tortoise, all of which are native to the Galapagos Islands.

Tortoises on the Galápagos have been hunted for their meat by sailors and fishermen to the point of extinction. Charles Darwin, when he arrived in the Galápagos in 1835, described how he and the crew of the Beagle lived entirely on tortoise meat. Also, the habitat of the tortoises has been eaten away by goats introduced from the mainland.

George was first seen on the island of Pinta on 1 December 1971 by American Joseph Vagvolgyi. Relocated for his safety to the Charles Darwin Research Station, George was penned with two females of a different subspecies, but although eggs have been produced, none has hatched.

Scientists have been trying to get George to mate since 1993, when they introduced two female tortoises of a different subspecies from the neighbouring island of Isabela into his pen, but he has been in no hurry to procreate.

On July 21, 2008, it was reported that George had unexpectedly mated with one of his female companions. A total of thirteen eggs were collected and placed in incubators. However, on November 11, 2008, The Charles Darwin Research Station reported that 80% of the eggs showed weight loss characteristic of being inviable. To the disappointment of the Darwin Center, by December 2008 the remaining eggs had failed to hatch and x-rays showed them to be inviable.
On 21 July 2009, exactly one year after first announcing George had mated, the Galapagos National Park announced that a second clutch of five eggs had been laid by one of George's female companions. On December 16, it was announced that the incubation period for the first 5 eggs had ended and the eggs were shown to unfortunately be inviable; also a second batch of 6 eggs laid after the first batch by the other female but also ended up being inviable.

I had read a lot about Lonesome George before going on this trip and I felt very sorry for him thinking that, because of his name “lonesome” that he must be very lonely and sad, but I was very happy to see him because he is quite the opposite, as it looks like George lives like a king in the Tortoise Breeding Center in the Galapagos National Park, surrounded by two females of the subspecies similar to his, and he is neither lonely nor sad but just so far has failed to give the offspring to ensure their continued type. I even had to laugh a lot.....because when we were looking at him...... he became “active” and climbed on top of one of the females who accompany him......but with his years he soon got tired and the funny thing is that he did not get down again, but stayed there with all his weight crushing the poor female below, and I think that he just went to sleep as he did not move any more after that!!! ha ha ha!!



I present you to Lonesome George:



January 3rd, 2011, 04:54 PM

This last photo is not a good one…….. but just for you to imaging Lonesome George “sleeping in action” on top of the poor female!:


When we had finished this visit we went back down to the center of Puerto Ayora.

These images were taken just walking through the streets of the village:



We could not miss the tree with the giant tortoise:


January 3rd, 2011, 04:55 PM


And I found the following image amusing, the Church of Hope (Iglesia de la Esperanza) next door to the discotheque Panga or Bongo!!!:


January 3rd, 2011, 04:57 PM
But the funniest images were certainly those which we saw in the local fish market with the sea lions and pelicans waiting for their share, ha ha ha........and right next to this sign warning not to give foodt o the animals:







January 3rd, 2011, 05:00 PM




We returned to the ship and after a buffet lunch we saw a typical Ecuadorian Folkloric Show of the Galapagos on board the ship, and I really enjoyed the girls' dresses with the pictures of the Galapagos animals:


In the installment / chapter on La Paz, Bolivia, I explained that the instrument which the girl in the picture above is playing is called a charango:


January 3rd, 2011, 05:04 PM



In the afternoon we returned on land where we have had a walk through the Highlands of Santa Cruz Island and went to the place where you find the famous giant tortoises.

The road up to the Highlands was like this:


We saw some tortoises in the far distance:



January 3rd, 2011, 05:10 PM




And it was funny to see this bird travelling on the tortoise´s back:


January 3rd, 2011, 05:14 PM
That night......it was sad because the cruise had come to an end and it was time to say goodbye to everyone, the passengers and the staff:


These were the Naturalists or guides who explained everything to us each day on land:


And we could not be without the Bakes Alaska Cake to say farewell on the ship: