Ecuador & The Galapagos – 2009

A tiny country with incomparable diversity, Ecuador was the WOW! Travel Club’s destination in fall of 2009. Starting our journey in the colonial capital of Quito, we traveled to the equator where we straddled the hemispheres and participated in fascinating physical experiments like balancing an egg on a pin!

Next stop: the Amazonian rainforest. We flew in small planes into the remote jungle near the Peruvian border. Here, a group of indigenous people called the Achuar (unknown to the outside world until 1972) are developing ecotourism as an alternative to oil company deforestation. At Kapawi, we searched for monkeys, freshwater dolphins, caiman and hundreds of bird species. We also spent time with the Achuar in their primitive communities learning about their customs and culture.

Then we flew 600 miles into the Pacific to board a small expedition ship for a cruise around the Galapagos Islands. On our daily hikes, we were careful to step over sleepy sea lions, marine iguanas and Blue Footed Boobies which littered our path. These creatures had absolutely no fear of humans. WOW! – what an amazing adventure we had!

Highlights:

Quito

  • We explored this beautiful colonial capital dramatically hemmed in by mountain peaks, packed with colonial monuments and  architectural treasures, especially in its UNESCO Heritage Old Town
  • Sharon Valdez, a WOWee traveler who is a classically trained soprano, “wowed” the group (including her husband, Don) with a (surprise!) a cappella performance in the historic El Rosario Chapel at the Convent of Santo Domingo

Avenue of the Volcanoes

  • We drove south along the Avenue of the Volcanoes and had lunch at the remote Hacienda Antisana with a view of the snow-capped 18,800 ft peak – a stunningly beautiful place with nary a tourist in sight
  • After a one-hour flight over the unending forest canopy, we landed on a dirt airstrip and took a 20-minute canoe ride to the remote Kapawi Ecolodge – voted one of the “World’s Best” by National Geographic

Kapawi Ecolodge

  • We explored this unspoiled Amazonian rainforest on hikes and boat excursions
  • We spent time with the Achuar in their primitive communities learning about their customs and culture

The Galapagos

  • 600 miles off the mainland, we boarded a 40-passenger expedition ship – the Isabela – for a cruise around the Galapagos Islands. The trails where we hiked were littered with sleepy sea lions, marine iguanas and blue footed boobies which had absolutely no fear of humans. It was an experience unique in all the world!
  • We spent an additional night on Santa Cruz Island – at the Red Mangrove Inn – feasting on fresh lobster as we recalled our amazing adventures!

What our WOWees have to say:

Susie SSusie Sprouse:
Thank you for planning and preparing the trip of a lifetime. I’ve found that sometimes when my expectations are high, reality fails to meet them – absolutely NOT the case this time! The reality FAR exceeded my expectations – and they were very high! I couldn’t have been happier!
Michael AMichael Allosso:
My favorite thing? Bonding with my WOW friends … I know that sounds cheesy but it’s been my favorite thing. I love my WOW friends, we’ve become a family. It’s like grown-up camp with all the sophistication and elegance that a grown-up camp should have, but still maintaining the youthful energy and vitality of bonding with a group of people – some of whom you’ve just met – and becoming life-long friends. There’s no downside. It’s just extraordinary!