Ecuador tour – Part 1 – August 2012.
1. Long flights, lost luggage, freezing cold (yes, even at the equator!)
We started well from Heathrow after the taxi dropped us off. A long flight to Miami, followed by one to Quito, where, after delays, we arrived at 23.30 on Tuesday 31 July, dog tired. We waited for our cases, which didn’t appear, though many of the locals had trolleys piled high with 6 or 8 really large cases. We were really worried as we had never lost any cases before, but, as we made our claim to American Airlines and spoke to others, it became clear that non-arrival of luggage was commonplace. They simply didn’t have room on the plane for all the cases.
Quito is about 2,800m high so it wasn’t that warm. Just as well! At least we didn’t sweat very much and start to smell!
Our group was small, only 5, plus Gustavo and our driver. It was a nice number for birdwatching. Too many and those at the back of the group often arrive too late to see a bird.
We drove out of Quito, stopping occasionally to search an area for birds. One of the rarest on the first day was the Andean condor which we were lucky enough to see in flight on the first morning. Photographically, those first two days were frustrating. I had my camera, but no tripod! I had my battery charger but no cable! Hand-holding a camera weighing 5.5Kg isn’t easy for more than a minute or two. Keeping it still to take a picture is even harder.
|Here we are on a high mountain path in the Andes|
Bellavista Lodge was also high, at about 2,300m in the Tandayapa Valley, about 2 hours North West from Quito if you took the fast route. We took all day, naturally. This map shows where the reserve (coloured green) is in relation to the capital:
|Bellavista Lodge (in green) high in the Andes|
The Lodge was quite remote and natural. Our room was basic but attractive. We both had a shower and dressed again in the same clothes before going to dinner. The cloud forest lived up to its name and it rained quite a lot. One of the receptionists lent me a cable so I could charge my camera battery. Gustavo rang American Airlines. There was only an answering machine. Gustavo told them we were leaving the following afternoon and that if they didn’t send our cases soon, they would have to deliver them to somewhere much further away!! It was true.
|Our room at Bellavista Lodge|
On Thursday 2 August, we woke at 5 and left at 5.30. This was to be the pattern for the whole holiday. We had a packed breakfast and spent the morning birdwatching around the lodge. This was very enjoyable and took our minds off the subject of cases. As soon as we stopped and came back to the lodge for lunch, the thought of having to manage without our luggage loomed large again. Fortunately, while we were out that morning a taxi had arrived from Quito with our cases. We were over the moon! We had a shower, changed into clean clothes, I assembled my tripod and we went out twice as happy as before lunch. What a relief!
|Dining room at Bellavista Lodge|
Ecuador - Part 2
Ecuador - Part 3
Ecuador - Part 4