24.05.2012 - 10.06.2012 20 °C
So, last time I wrote, we were about to spend a week in the Galapagos islands on a boat. I'm pleased to report we had an amazing time. I went ready armed with sea sickness pills, as late May/June can be the start of choppier sea conditions. We had arranged a last minute deal on the cheapest boat we could find, splurging a little by doing a 8 day/7 night cruise rather than the 5 day option.
We were the only people in the group of 10 staying for a whole week, but it was well worth it. The weather was gorgeous, scenery was spectacular and we were lucky enough to get very up close to the wildlife in its natural surroundings. Pretty much every day was at a different island. I don't swim so missed out on the (sometimes twice) daily snorkelling sessions in the beautifully clear water, but Dave partook and saw many tropical fishes, turtles, manta rays, sting rays and sharks. On one occasion, he noticed all the small fish had suddenly vanished, only to see an 18 foot shark swimming past - scary!
We also saw many seals, blue footed, red footed and Nazca Boobies, frigate birds, pelicans, herons, tortoises, iguanas and lizards. The one thing I was disappointed in was the behaviour of some tourists and guides. It's a huge responsibility to be somewhere as special and protected as the Galapagos, but I saw some groups of people who only cared about the photo opportunity of them with the wildlife, at the expense of stressing out the animals by getting too close. Tourism shouldn't be encouraged at the expense of the wildlife. Rant over.
We came back to Cuenca, to spend more time there before we finally left Ecuador. It's definitely one of my favourite cities. We also managed to find yet another local vegetarian restaurant where local dishes are cooked at low everyday prices, replacing the meat with soya meat. I was prepared to not eat that well in South America, but we've found these gems in many places, populated with locals rather than tourists. A great surprise for us, but it means we get to eat proper south American fare cheaply. We think it's a health kick for people here, and have found similar places in Peru too.
That's right, we're now in Peru after an impressive and unintended 48 days in Ecuador. Much longer than the original 5 weeks we had planned, partially due to the Galapagos week, but also because there was so much to see and do in Ecuador. We're aiming to spend less time in Peru, so are currently in sunny and warm Trujillo, and will be fast tracking to Cuzco via Lima (on luxury VIP class buses that take 20 hours) for the start of this week. We've booked our Machu Picchu permits, and train tickets, accommodation etc, so will be in Cuzco for the biggest Incan festival of the year - Inti Raymi - very excited! Loving Peru so far and getting my head around slightly different Spanish here, but it's nice to see the beauty here for a change.