Ecuador and Galápagos, 20 Sep - 4 Oct 2017

This is the story of an epic adventure. These two photos are iconic of our experience:

Orca off Isabela

Same orca, different perspective
This trip was nearly two years in the making. Jill's mom, Marie, started talking about a trip to Ecuador that a mutual friend of ours had made. I mentioned that I had always wanted to see the Galápagos Islands, and it turned out that she has, too. So we embarked on a grand plan.

I started by researching various Galápagos tour groups; I found this website describing  Galápagos  trips in 2009 and 2013 particularly helpful. We chose Ecoventura for our tour group; they came highly recommended, have been in operation for a long time, and have a strong commitment to sustainability. I also highly recommend them; they were very helpful preparing for the trip, and the service provided by the crew and guides was top-notch. For a ship, we chose the MV Origin, partly because of its very large windows (hoping that would reduce chances of seasickness). Additionally, its newer design makes it more than 30% more efficient than the other ships in Ecoventura's fleet.

We chose to go in the fall for a few reasons. First, the schedule meshed well with mine. Second, we were hopeful that the cold currents would return (which they did!) bringing with them marine life such as whales (which it did!). We chose the northern itinerary because of the possibility of seeing whales while cruising:


Our flight plan was dictated by two factors: we wanted to pick Marie up in El Paso, and we chose to stay in Guayaquil rather than Quito. Here is our flight path:

Ecuador 2017 Flight Path
We had 10 other passengers on board, for a total of 13. There were John, Leysa, Francois, Cedric, Sarah, Suzanne, Mariangela, Pedro, Barb, Pete, Jill, Marie, and me. The crew outnumbered the passengers by quite a lot. This was not planned - the ship normally holds 20 passengers - but we were there at the "low season". The smaller complement of passengers meant that we got to know everybody - it was a lot of fun getting acquainted! There was quite a diversity of talent and experience on the trip and it made for excellent conversation.

As mentioned, our crew was fantastic. Unfortunately, I did not catch all of their names. But the ones I did catch were: Captain Homero Gonzalez, our concierge Roxane, our head chef Eduardo, our bartender Jairo, our cabin service man Ricardo, our Panga drivers Cristian and others. And the rest of the crew - more servers, chief engineer, electrician, first and second officers, assistant chef, and others. They were all very friendly, very helpful, and I cannot recommend them highly enough.

Finally, I want to thank our naturalist guides Sofia, Fabricio, and Natasha. They were of good cheer at all times. They were extremely knowledgeable and helpful. They took great care of Marie and the rest of us. It was an epic trip. I took over 6000 photos, and Jill took over 7000.

I have broken the trip up into many sections to make for more convenient reading:
  1. Guayaquil (many birds)
  2. San Cristóbal (birds, sea lions, iguanas)
  3. Genovesa (boobys, fur seals, iguanas)
  4. Santa Cruz (north) (land iguanas, birds)
  5. Isabela (land iguanas, tortoises, cormorants, penguins)
  6. Fernandina and Isabela (undersea reptiles, Galapagos hawks and other birds, ORCAS)
  7. Rábida and Santa Cruz (north) (birds, aquatic wildlife)
  8. Santa Cruz (south) (tortoises)
  9. San Cristóbal, Guayaquil, Panama and home (lizards, birds)
There is navigation at the bottom of each page to the previous, next, and this page. If you prefer, you can just look at the Google Photos link (warning: nearly 500 photos!) or the "Very Best" Google Photos link (about 50 photos). With the exception of the one Orca picture above, these are my pictures. Jill will follow with albums of her own. Edit: here are some of Jill's photos, mostly of the people on the tour.

Here is a collage of the very, very, very best of the animal photos; all of these photos are in the "Very Best" album:



Enjoy!

Ross Cunniff, 8 October 2017
Ross at work, photo by Jill

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