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Ecuador -- Mainland and Galapagos Islands, Oct. 2011

Liz and I flew to Quito, Ecuador, then to the Galapagos Islands (Ecuador) for a few days, and finally back to Quito. We birded the mainland before and after visiting the islands. It was a fantastic experience, especially seeing Darwin Finches and Marine Iguanas in real life. Link to map of the trip.

Day 01, October 14

Day 01, October 14. Fly to Miami, Florida, and then to Quito, Ecuador. Stay at San Jorge Hosteleria at Quito.

Photo: Sunset over the northwest coast of Columbia and Pacific Ocean.

Day 02, October 15

Day 02, October 15. Guided hike on the grounds of San Jorge Hosteleria at Quito. Second night at San Jorge Hosteleria.

Photo: Liz hiking on the grounds of San Jorge Hosteleria at Quito (high elevation tropical forest in the Andes Mountains). Dense vegetation covers steep mountain cliffs while fog obscurs waterfalls in the background.

Day 03, October 16

Day 03, October 16. Early flight to the Galapagos Island. Arrive on Isla Balrta. Visit Bachas Beach on Isla Santa Cruz. After dinner, set sail for Isla Genovesa far to the northeast. Little sleep during rough water sailing, but greeted at midnight by flock of nocturnal Swallow-tailed Gulls far out at sea.

Photo: Jim arriving on Isla Santa Cruz, Bachas Beach.

Day 04, October 17

Day 04, October 17. Day at anchor in Darwin Harbor, Isla Genovesa. Two hikes (Darwin Beach and El Barranco) and snorkling along volcanic cliffs. After dinner, sail towards Isla Bartolome for another rough night at sea.

Photo: Liz chatting up a Nazca Booby on El Barranco Trail.

Day 05, October 18

Day 05, October 18. Morning ashore at Isla Bartolome. Afternoon on Isla Santiago. Sail towards Isla Santa Cruz.

Photo: Jim and Liz on boardwalk near summit of Isla Bartolome; Isla Santiago in the background.

Day 06, October 19

Day 06, October 19. Isla Santa Cruz. Morning at Black Turtle Cove. Afternoon at Dragon Hill. Sail to Puerto Ayora.

Photo: Liz aboard ship off the north coast of Isla Santa Cruz between Black Turtle Cove and Dragon Hill. The window and door open into our cabin.

Day 07, October 20. Morning at Darwin Research Station with giant Galapagos Tortoises and Land Iguanas on Isla Santa Cruz. Bus across Isla Santa Cruz, then ferry to Isla Baltra. Fly to Quito. Stay the night at San Jorge Hosteleria at Quito.

Photo: Liz and others on early morning visit to the Darwin Research Station, Isla Santa Cruz, to see breeding facilities for Galapagos Tortoises and Land Iguanas.

Day 08, October 21

Day 08, October 21. Leave San Jorge Hosteleria at Quito early and drive to San Jorge Hosteleria at Tandayapa. Guided hike in afternoon; guided hike at night. Stay overnight at San Jorge Hosteleria at Tandayapa.

Photo: Hikers in opening (old farm field) in the Tropical Cloud Forest on the grounds of San Jorge Hosteleria at Tandayapa.

Day 09, October 22

Day 09, October 22. Early morning birdwalk at Tandayapa. Drive to San Jorge Hosteleria at Milpe. Guided hike and birdwalk at Milpe. Return to Quito and stay the night at San Jorge Hosteleria at Quito.

Photo: Liz on trail in the Tropical Rain Forest on the grounds of San Jorge Hosteleria at Milpe.

Day 10, October 23

Day 10, October 23. Depart San Jorge Hosteleria at Quito for early flight to Miami. Long layover, then late flight to Las Vegas and bus ride home.

Photo: Backing away from the gate at Quito Airport heading for home.

Note: All distances, elevations, and other facts are approximate.
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