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Our South American Adventure

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Our South American Adventure - Page Text Content

S: Peru and Ecuador Explored

FC: Peru and Ecuador Explored

1: South American Itinerary Oct 1:Arrive Lima, Peru Oct 12:Wet landing Santiago Island Peru Star Hotel Sail around Bambridge Island Oct 2/3:Tour Lima with Tony Caballero and Oct 13:Dry landing Bartolome Island Marie Eugenia Camino Dry landing North Seymour Island Open water snorkeling Oct 4:Meet, Jimmy, Amazon Trails guide at airport Tour Ollantaytambo ruins and city Oct 14:Dry landing Santa Cruz Island Lunch at Pakaritampu Restaurant Charles Darwin Center Vistadome to Aguas Callentes Shopping el Mapi Hotel Oct 15:Dry landing Espanola Island Oct 5:Tour Machu Picchu with Jimmy Wet landing Gardner Beach for snorkeling Lunch at Santuary Lodge Paz y Luz Retreat Oct 16:Dry landing San Cristobal Island Galapagos Island National Park Resource Center Oct 6:Tour Pisac ruins and Indian Market with Jimmy Return to Quito Paz y Luz Retreat Holiday Inn Express Oct 7: Tour Cuzco and sights with Jimmy Oct 17:Mindo Rain Forest Midori Hotel Mindo Ropes & Canopy zip line Le Mitad del Munco (Equator Line) Oct 8:Arrive Quito, Ecuador Holiday Inn Express Holiday Inn Express Oct 18:Otavalo Market Oct 9:Arrive San Cristobal in Galapagos Islands Cotacachi Leather Market Board ship, Eric Cotopaxi National Park Wet landing at Playa Ochoa Holiday Inn Express Sail around Kicker Rock Oct 19:Return to Colorado Springs Oct 10: Wet landing Genovesa Island Open water snorkeling Oct 11:Dry landing Fernandina Island Dry landing Isabela Island

2: Oct 2, 2011: In Lima, Peru staying at the Peru Star Hotel. Hernan Caballero (aka Tony, aka Gringo) and Maria Eugenia offered to be our local guides. We enjoyed the Museo Larco where our English speaking guide explained 3000 years of Peruvian history. | The museum features chronological galleries of ancient gold and silver and excellent archaeological collections | Judy and Liz in the garden of the Peru Star Hotel | Guide, Tony, Mari, Judy and Lynn at Museo Larco

3: We went into the beautiful Santa Maria Magdalena church. The alters were covered in silver and gold. For lunch, Tony and Mari took us to a Peruvian buffet. We tasted some amazing dishes based on yuca, corn, potatoes, and pork. We drank a blue corn drink called chachi and, of course, pisco sours. In Barranco we visited Dédalo , an art collective featuring the work of over 1000 different artist. | Santa Maria Magdalena Church | Pisco sours and chicha at Bolivarcito Restaurant | Dédalo is an art collective in a 100 year old house

4: Oct. 3 Tony took us to his factory, Helices Caballero, where they manufacture marine propellers. They have also been asked to produce the dove statue for the Gold Innovation Award. | After touring the factory, we went back to their apartment for a lunch of Chifas, Peruvian-style Chinese food.

5: The Plaza mayor is Lima's main square. This is the spot where Francisco Pizarro founded the city in 1535 and where Peruvians declared independence in 1821. Government buildings, the Lima Cathedral and the Archbishop's Palace surround the plaza. | Balconies are to Lima what the Eiffel Tower is for Paris. The abundance of these balconies adds to the particular harmony and originality to this part of the city. | The changing of the guard at the Palacio de Gobiaro | Spending time with Tony and Maria and seeing Lima with them, made for a very special memory.

6: Oct 4: From the Cuzco airport our Amazon Trails guide, Jimmy, took us down to Ollantaytambo. The town dates from the late 15th century and has some of the oldest continuously occupied dwellings in South America. It is considered the best preserved Inca village in Peru, with narrow alleys, street water canals and local color. Above the town and the terraced fields is the Inca temple, second in beauty only to Machu Picchu. | Ollantaytambo was occupied by the Quillque natives before the Incas conquered this area. | Ollantaytambo is one of the starting points for the three-day, four-night hike known as the Inca Trail.

7: After a lovely lunch at Pakaritampu Restaurant, we were off to Aguas Calientes on the Vistadome train. | Pakaritampu Restaurant | In Aguas Calientes

8: Oct 5: Machu Picchu was exactly as expected and so much more. It is situated on a mountain ridge (altitude 7,970') above the Urubamba Valley, surrounded by mountain peaks and valleys through which the Urubamba River flows. Most archaeologists believe that Machu Picchu was built as an estate for the Inca emperor Pachacuti (1438–1472). Often referred to as the "Lost City of the Incas", it is perhaps the most familiar icon of the Inca World. | Terraced Fields in the upper Agricultural Sector | Sacrificial Stone Alter

9: Although known locally, it was unknown to the outside world before being brought to international attention in 1911 by the American historian Hiram Bingham. Most of the outlying buildings have been reconstructed in order to give tourists a better idea of what the structures originally looked like. In 2007, Machu Picchu was named one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. | Temple of the Sun | With our guide, Jimmy, at Machu Picchu. | Interior of an Inca building, featuring trapezoidal windows | The central buildings of Machu Picchu use the classical Inca architectural style of polished dry-stone walls of regular shape. The Incas were masters of this technique, called ashlar, in which blocks of stone are cut to fit together tightly without mortar.

10: The Intihuatana ("sun-tier") is believed to have been designed as an astronomic clock or calendar by the Incas. It is not used to tell time, but to identify the seasons. | The Temple of the Condor | The Royal Tomb | Machu Picchu is 7,970above sea level. Jimmy suggested we drink water and go slow.

11: The Botanical Garden at Machu Picchu | The pools of water in the Observatory were used to observe a solar eclipse safely.

12: Oct 6: Pisac, in the Sacred Valley, is known for its Incan ruins at the top of a hill, above the town. The ruins are separated along the ridge into four groups: Pisaqa, Intihuatana, Q'allaqasa, and Kinchiracay. | Pax y Luz Retreat | The Sacred Valley grows much of the food for Peru. 35 varieties of corn and 200 species of potatoes are native to the Andes region.

13: We walked from the ruins down to the town center. Pisac is well-known for its market attracting tourists as well as sellers who walk as long as 5 hours from their remote mountain village on market day to buy and sell their goods. Realizing we would be carrying them for a long time, we only bought some small items. Women and children in local dress would pose for photos for a small tip.

14: Oct 7: Just outside Cuzco is an animal sanctuary, Santuario Animal de Ccochawasi, where they rehabilitate injured or abused animals. Jimmy wanted us to see the condors. I think we were most fascinated by the Peruvian Hairless dogs. Liz and Judy visit with one of the condors. | The Peruvian Hairless dog | Noting the irony, we walked to Tambomachay, an Inca Water Temple. Used for purification rites, it is sometimes called the Inca’s bath. The Inca worshiped water as a vital life element and channeled a natural spring into 3 waterfalls for the temple. | A very wet Puma head

15: Qenko, an important Inca Temple may have been used for solstice and equinox ceremonies, fertility and even marriage rites. The amphitheater, with 19 carved seats would be used by the royal Incas and their mummies. Annually, sacrificial llama blood would be poured into a bowl at the top of a main channel; if the blood flowed the length of the channel, it would be a good omen. Jimmy claimed that on summer solstice, the large standing stone in front, cast a shadow of a puma. Beneath Qenko are several tunnels and caves, there is a carved alter and niches for mummies. | Puca Pucara, meaning ‘red fort’ in Quechua, was probably not a fort, but rather a lodge or storage facility (tambo). There is a fine viewing platform overlooking the city of Cuzco.

16: llama raw hide | Cuzco's Plaza de Armas from above. | Llama and alpaca. | These women let us take their photo for a tip. The woman on my right is 95 years old. On right, the Christo Statue above Cuzco

17: Sacsayhuaman looms over Cuzco and during the Inca Empire it was considered the ‘head of the Puma’. The city of Cuzco was the body of the puma. This hillside temple/fortress has 3 ramparts of zig-zag walls that run for nearly 1000 ft. The largest stones, 27 ft tall, weight 400 tons. Engineers know that it took a tremendous amount of man power to move the stones, using log sleds and levers, but they do not understand how they fitted the huge stones so perfectly together. After the Spanish conquest, stones from Sacsayhuaman were used to build the Cathedral and government building in Cuzco. | Jimmy told us that the field in front of Sacsayhauman is still used for festivals and celebrations by the citizen's of Cuzco.

18: When the Spanish arrived, Cuzco was the capitol of the Inca’s empire. Paved roads fanned out as far as Chile and Colombia and the city buildings were literally covered in gold and silver. Today, Cuzco’s Plaza de Armas is surrounded by colonial stone arcades and 2 churches; the Cathedral and Jesuit Iglesia de la Compania. Two flags fly over the square, the red-and-white flag of Peru and the rainbow flag of the Inca nation. It’s eight colors represent the four corners of Tahuantinsuyo, the Inca Empire. The Cathedral was built on top of an Inca | palace to celebrate the victory of the Spanish over Manco Inca. Using paintings to tell the stories of the bible, the Cusco School of Art was Baroque in style, but had elements of daily Peruvian life. The last supper painting in the Cathedral has Christ eating cuy (guinea pig) and drinking chicha (a blue corn drink).

19: Oct 8: We flew to Quito – the starting point of our Galapagos Island Adventure! | The Galapagos Island first appeared on maps around 1570 as ‘Insulae de los Galopegos’ (Island of the Tortoises). There are 15 main islands, 3 small islands and 107 rocks & islets. The islands are located at the Galapagos Triple Junction. The archipelago is located on the Nazca Plate (a tectonic plate), which is moving east/southeast, diving under the South American Plate at a rate of about 2.5 inches per year. It is also atop the Galapagos hotspot, a place where the Earth's crust is being melted from below by a mantle plume, creating volcanoes. The oldest island is thought to have formed between 5million and 10million years ago. The youngest islands, Isabela and Fernandina, are still being formed, with the most recent volcanic eruption in April 2009, where lava from the volcanic island Fernandina started flowing both towards the island's shoreline and into the centre caldera.

20: Oct 9: Frank met us in Quito and after short flights from Quito and Guayaquil, it was still morning when we arrived on San Christobal Island. Our ecoadventure guides, Ivan and Karina Lopez, took us by bus and then panga (a rubber dingy) to our ship, the Eric. We had a welcome drink with Captain Pablo and met the crew. Our group is made up of 2 South Africans, 3 Australians and 12 Americans. The Eric has 4 decks; the Iguana, Boobie, Dolphin and Sun Decks. After cabin assignments (we are on the lower, Iguana deck), a quick briefing, a life boat drill and selection of snorkel gear, we were off on our first excursion. | "Toto, I don't think we are in Kansas any longer." | Sea Lions on the pier The Eric

21: We took the pangas into Wreck Bay on Playa Ochoa island for swimming with sea lions and tropical fish. The water was so cold, no one stayed in very long. We sailed around Kicker Rock (the larger rock looks like a boot from one side) and admired the sunset.

22: Oct 10: We made a wet-landing at Darwin Bay, on Genovesa Island, a coral sand beach where swallow-tailed and lava gulls gather near the tide pools.There are forest of Optuntia cactus (no thorns) and mangroves where colonies of great frigate birds nest. The males inflate their red-throated pouches to attract females as they fly overhead. The trail leads through a rich inter tidal zone where wildlife flourishes. We saw Red Footed Boobies (the only Boobie that nest in trees) and Nazca Boobies on their nest on the ground. | Sea Lions greet us on the beach. The Panga, ready to go. | The Swallow-tailed gull is the only gull to feed only at night. Its night-adapted eyes allow it to feed miles from shore on fish and squid from the surface of the ocean.

23: The Optuntia Cactus feels soft. | Red Footed Boobies and Boobie Babies Nazca (formly known as Masked Boobies | Female Frigate Bird. The males have a red throat.

24: After lunch there was more snorkeling or kayaking. Lynn enjoyed the sun and I went out on the kayak. We had a dry landing at Prince Philip's Steps. Before Prince Philip slipped on the steps and fell in the ocean, they were just called 'the steps at the cliffs'. | Marine Iguana on Genovesa Island

25: More opportunities to see Boobies, Marine Iguanas and Frigate Birds. We also saw the Short Eared Owl and little Storm Petrels. The petrels live in crevices in the lava flow. The owls wait by the cracks and try to catch them as they come out.

26: Oct 11: Dry landing onto the lava rocks of Fernandina Island where we saw more Marine Iguana, Sea Lions, Brown Pelicans and Sea Turtles. The Sea Turtles are the hardest to photograph, but later while we were snorkeling, we saw the turtles up close and personal.

27: Karina told us this was the skeleton of a small whale that was beached and died 2 years before. The bones were moved up above the tide line. | This Marine Iguana has a Lava Lizard on his head. The lizard grooms the iguana. Not sure how well it does it's job, Iguanas are still pretty stinky. | Sally Lightfoot Crab can actually walk on the water for a few steps. | The roots of the Lava Cactus break up the lava so other plants can move in.

28: Darwin's Lake is is 80 times saltier than the ocean. No one knows why. | After lunch, we crossed the Bolivar Channel where we saw some whale spouts about a mile from the ship. We had a dry landing at Tagus Cove, on the western island of Isabela. Isabela is the largest island in the Galapagos, it was formed when 6 volcanoes merged. We climbed a ton of steps to see Darwin’s Lake, a salt-water lagoon in a volcanic crater. Later we rode in the panga, around Isabela, looking for Galapagos Penguins and the Flightless Cormorant.

29: Oct 12: We made a wet landing at Egas Port on Santiago Island for a walk along the intertidal zone. There were more Marine Iguanas, Pelicans, Hawks and on this island, we saw Fur Seals. The lava rocks are beautiful here. Thanks to tectonic uplifting and erosion we saw how creative Mother Nature can be.

30: After lunch we hiked around Chinese Hat Island where we saw more young Fur Seals, Blue Heron and lots of crabs. We sailed around Baimbridge Island to look for the missing Flamingos in the volcanic caldera. They were not there. | Chinese Hat Island named because it looks like a .....

31: We were invited to sit at the Captain's table for dinner and just as we were finishing, Ivan and Karina came out of the kitchen with a cake for our Anniversary. They sang a few songs for everyone and entertained us royally. Later Frank sang a few songs and then gave Captain Pablo a guitar lesson. | Our 39th Anniversary was Oct 10, but the boat was rocking too much for a celebration that night.

32: Oct 13 Oct 13: Dry landing on Bartolome Island where we climbed to the top of a volcano for views of the lava fields, the ocean and Pinnacle Rock. In places the landscape is very moon-like with the craters and lava rock. A very long walk

33: Our guides, Ivan and Karina | Our Group: Bob & Donna, Ari & Cheryl, Susan & Tom, Barbara & Jeff (in front), Judy & Frank, Liz & Lynn, Carol & Gordon, Kathy, Jennifer & Bob

34: From the beach we snorkeled around Pinnacle Rock and saw Sea Lions (I had one swim right beside me), starfish in many sizes and colors, sea urchins as big as basketballs and lots of brightly colored fish.

35: In the afternoon we hiked North Seymour Island into a dry and dusty interior. We saw Land Iguana, much bigger and more colorful than the Marine Iguana. We saw Blue Footed Boobies and their babies as well as some male Frigate birds trying to attract mates with their inflated red throats.

36: Oct 14: Dry landing at the dock on Santa Cruz Island. This is the largest city in the Galapagos Islands and the port is very busy. As we took the bus up to the highlands, we noticed lots of shopping, hotels and dive shops. We stopped to look at the ‘The Twins’, craters-like bowls that were formed by a collapse of the earth because of the lava flows that passed below it. | One of the best ways to find giant tortoises, rarely encountered in the wild, is by visiting one of the privately owned cattle farms that is in the tortoise’s migration path from the lowlands to the highlands.

37: In a Lava Tube | his species from Pinta Island. Super Diego (from the San Diego zoo) was successfully breed with females from Española Island. Super Diego has saved this species from extinction. | Iguanas are also breed at the Darwin Center. | A tour of the Darwin Center taught us about the efforts to rehabilitate the islands. All 6 species of giant Tortoises are endangered. Lonesome George (right) is the last of

38: Oct 15: The first thing we saw as we landed on Espanola Island was a new born sea lion and it’s mother. It was probably born in the night as the mother hadn’t even had time to wash it. Our hike took us pass Blue Footed and Nazca Boobie nests, but this island is known for its nesting colony of Wave Albatross. These are big birds and the babies are huge! | Blue Footed Boobie and chick Nazca Boobie and chick Wave Albatross Baby Ivan and Karina said May and June are good months to visit the Galapagos Islands because the birds are mating and doing their dances, but I like seeing all the babies.

39: The Marine Iguana on this island have a red coloring. It makes them a little more attractive. Ivan took us to see an ocean blowhole that was pretty dramatic. The afternoon at Gardner Beach, one of the prettiest beaches ever, was for snorkel and sun. There is a Sea Lion colony of about 700 that hang out of this beach.

40: Lying with the lions. One of our last Panga rides.

41: Oct 16:We went through a Galapagos National Park information center where we learned a little more about the human impact and colonization of the islands. There are 4 cities in the Galapagos islands, the smallest is on Floreana Island with only 125 people, San Cristobal has a population of 10,000 and Santa Cruz, 17,000 people. There is no city on Baltra, but there is an airport. The airport was originally built by the US military and used as a post until the end of WWII. Though the first protective legislation for the Galápagos was enacted in 1930, it was not until the late 1950s that positive action was taken to control what was happening to the native flora and fauna. In 1959 the Ecuadorian government declared 97.5% of the archipelago's land area a national park, excepting areas already colonized. The Charles Darwin Foundation (CDF) was founded the same year. In 1986, the 27,000 sq mi. of ocean surrounding the islands was declared a marine reserve, second in size only to Australia's Great Barrier Reef. In 1990, the archipelago became a whale sanctuary. In July 2010, the World Heritage Committee agreed to remove the Galapagos Islands from its list of precious sites endangered by environmental threats or overuse. We returned to the boat for lunch and good-byes. Frank had written a song for Ivan called, ‘Wonderful’ because he said it so many times. The chorus was, ‘It’s wonderful, wonderful, because it’s Paradise’. Ivan loved it! | Finding the wi-fi hotspot at the airport

42: Oct 17:Back in Quito, we had to make the choice of touring downtown or going up into the Cloud Forest and riding the zip-lines. We hired Hugo for 5 hours and took to the hills. Zip-lining was as much fun as I thought it would be. We had guides with us to hook us in and give us the best rides, including some upside down! Time was running out on our meter, but we stopped at the Equatorial Monument (La Mitad del Mundo) for some quick photos at the middle of the earth.

43: Just outside of Quito is where the measurements were first made that proved that the shape of the Earth is in fact an oblate spheroid. Mitad del Mundo is supposed to be the middle of the earth, but it is actually 240 meters away - right where the Indians said it was before the French came along and built the monument in the wrong place. | Hugo's driving was almost as exciting as the zip-line ride! | In two hemispheres at one time.

44: Oct 18: Our last day in Ecuador. We could either go tour downtown Quito or go up into the mountains to the market towns of Otavalo and Cotacachi. We hired Lincoln for the day and he proved to be an amazing tour guide. He took us to Otavalo where we shopped for 2 hours and bought many treasures. Cotacachi has about 80 shops selling leather jackets, handbags, wallets, belts, boots, shoes and even saddles. Unfortunately, it all begins to look the same. | Otavalo, capital of Otavalo Canton, is a largely indigenous town in the Imbabura Province of Ecuador. The town has about 50,000 inhabitants and is surrounded by the peaks of Imbabura 4,630m, Cotacachi 4,995m, and Mojanda volcanoes | The indigenous Otavaleños are famous for weaving textiles, usually made of wool. Although the largest market is on Saturday, we found plenty to choose from.

45: Lincoln took us to a private artisan's shop called El Garn Condor where we got a demonstration of weaving techniques. | We had lunch at Hosteria Cuicocha, at Cuicocha Lake, in the Cuicocha Volcano. | Lincoln picked us up at 8:30am and dropped us back off at the hotel at 8:30pm! We would have been back earlier, but we added some stops. We stopped in Carapungo to buy “guaguas de pan”, colorful dolls made of bread and glue, used to honor the dead. Also, we stopped in Cayambe to buy some of their famous biscuits "bizcochos" . (They taste like a really nice pie crust. ) Then, 30 minutes from Quito, the Pan-American Highway was closed and we had to circle all the way around the city. Quito is spread out over a very large area. Good-bye South America!

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  • Title: Our South American Adventure
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