25 Days To Go

John and I are ready for a vacation. I mean really ready. Good thing the clock is ticking on our big journey this year, to Ecuador! It is going to be a great trip with good friends–Lori and Joe with whom we explored the Alps. Can’t wait to travel with them. Two more couples will join us along the way! Meg and Alex live in Denver and will meet us in Quito, and Chad and Shawna will be traveling from Phoenix later on.

We are so excited to spend time in Quito, the capital city of Ecuador. At 9350 feet, it is the second highest capital city behind Bolivia’s La Paz. Quito boasts some beautiful architecture, and it has one of the best-preserved historic centers in the world . We have chosen Hotel Mansion del Angel as our base there. The property used to be the home of a tobacco tycoon, and it has been  beautifully restored.

We are really looking forward to participating in Ciclopaseo on our first Sunday in Ecuador.  This is when a route of 30 km running from the North to South of the city is closed to traffic. I can’t wait to see the city from two wheels!

From Quito we will be going on several day trips:

Otovala: The Saturday market in this town outside of Quito boasts some of the most impressive textiles in all of the Andres.

Textiles in the Otovalo Market

Mindo: This region is a cloud forest area that covers about 100 square miles and features the convergence of three rivers. It is famous for its birdwatching, orchids, and butterflies.

Lush Life in Mindo

Cotopaxi: This is an active volcano in the Andres that can be seen from Quito on a clear day. We plan to hike to the refuge at 15,748 feet.

Cotopaxi Volcano

Quilotoa: This is a 2-mile wide caldera caused by a volcano collapse. We hope to do the 6 mile circumference hike with a high point of 12,844.

Quilotoa Crater

After eight days in the Andes, we fly to the Galapagos Island. We chose our 16-person catamaran the Cormorant based on amenities and itinerary.  We will get to explore 20 sites of interest across six different islands.

Points of Interest

As you might guess, we are busy getting ready for the trip. I have been swimming and hiking a lot to increase my stamina, especially since I lost so much strength when I was hospitalized for meningitis in May.

I have also been reading a lot of books about Ecuador, the Galapagos, and about Darwin’s theory of natural selection, which was formulated here, in the global heart of evolutionary science. Here’s a partial reading list:

Ecuador & the Galapagos Islands

The Beak of the Finch: A Story of Evolution in Our Time

The Origin of Species

Darwin Comes to Town

No Turning Back: The Extinction Scenario

Galapagos at the Crossroads

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