Ok - here goes! I'm going to probably break it up into three posts as there are a lot of pictures! If you want to take a look at ALL the pictures (about 900 total that we uploaded) they are all here sorted by day.
Day One found us in Quito, Ecuador. We had flown in the night before (once the pilot found the airport that is. It was foggy, and we did a few fly by's and circled for a bit and he had the balls to announce to the passengers that "he couldn't find the airport". That instills some confidence. Needless to say we all clapped pretty loud when we landed. What happened to flying by insturments? Do they still have to see everything?) and after a particular hairy cab ride from the airport to the hotel around 11:30 at night, we woke to a beautiful day. This was the view from the hotel room. Everywhere you looked, there were towering mountains. Quito itself sits at about 9300 feet above sea level. Those mountains - about 15000 feet!
Day Two started off foggy again. Our group headed to the airport in the morning to fly to the Galapagos. It is about 600 miles off the coast of Equador, but because of the elevation, the plane needs to stop and refuel in Guayaquil. That little stop added about an hour to our short trip. Once we landed though, it was beautiful and warm. (not the not so huge airport!)Baltra. This airport was built by the US during World War II. There is pretty much nothing else on the island but the airport. After a very short (1 km) ferry ride across the channel you land in Santa Cruz - our first destination.
Our first stop on the way across to the south side of Santa Cruz was Los Gemelos or "The Twins". It is a set of two crater sites on opposite sides of the road. They are about 100 feet deep and quite amazing too behold.
After a quick stop at the hotel in Puerto Ayora to drop our bags and freshen up a bit, we headed to dinner.
naranjilla - almost like an orange or passionfruit, but with a less acidic flavor. This was pretty much my favorite meal of the entire trip. The tuna came with a pesto like Chimichurri sauce. I plan on making it to go with beef, chicken or fish at home it was so good and flavorful.
After a long day of flying, hiking and our first sights of the Galapagos, we collapsed into bed ready for another day.
The morning of Day Three got us up early and off to the Charles Darwin Research Center
Coming up next time: a long hike, more tortoises and snorkeling!