Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Gretchen's Top 5 Ecuador Highlights

Gretchen just spent two weeks exploring Ecuador with Tropic. She came back energized and excited about all that the country has to offer.

Gretchen's Top 5 Ecuador Highlights:

Getting ready to dive into the turquoise
waters of the Itabaca Channel
1. Arriving in Galapagos and immediately getting into the water - by snorkeling and kayaking in the Itabaca Channel! This activity is exclusive to Tropic, and it's an awesome way to be introduced to the Galapagos. Within minutes of being on the water, we saw scores of blue footed boobies, brown pelicans and frigate birds, and once in the water, we saw turtles, dozens of fish species and sharks! What a way to kick off a Galapagos wildlife adventure!

2. Beach barbecue with the Cruz family on Floreana (hot new BBQ tip from Galapagos - stoke your fire with a hair dryer!). Claudio definitely knows how to tell a story - he's animated and so much fun to listen to. He's willing to share his family's history with visitors (they were some of the islands' earliest residents), while using a hairdryer to stoke the BBQ fire - yes, really. He's also a mean cook - the barbecue was one of the best meals of our trip!

3. Hiking high in the Andes with views of Volcan Cotopaxi. The landscapes are like a painting. Totally idyllic.

This one may be small, but look at
all of those teeth!
4. Piranha fishing in the Amazon. I'll admit, my fishing skills could use some work, so casting a handline to catch a fish that has a mouth bursting with teeth made me glad I'm not an expert angler. Our group caught (and released) several.

5. Truffle making at Pacari in Quito, where the chocolate is so good, the earth moved (really!). The chocolate making was fun and informative (and the results were delicious!), with Pacari staff educating us about the process of sustainable, 'better-than-fair-trade' chocolate production. This is one of Tropic's unique 'May I Introduce You' Quito tours.

During the instruction I also experienced the second earthquake I had felt in 24 hours in Quito, giving me a grand total of three earthquakes that I've experienced in my life. The Quitenos pay attention when it happens, but you can tell that these tremors are pretty routine.

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