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Ecuador expidition 2010

Discussion in 'Ecuador' started by Dom, 17 Aug 2010.

  1. Dom

    Dom Well-Known Member

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    As some of you may or may not know, I recently returned from a 4 week expidition to Ecuador, with 4 days on one of the Galapagos Islands. Over the course of the 4 weeks, we did community work, mountain trekking, a rainforest experience, and the few days on The Galapagos.
    So now that I'm back, i thought i'd write up a bit about some of the places I visited, and I'l post some more pictures in the Ecuador gallery.

    Ok, so I'm going to skip writing about the community project, since it contains very little to do with wildlife etc.

    Crater lake trek.
    Our first trek was around a huge crater lake, unfortunatly, i cannot remember it's specific name, so I'l just refer to it as the crater lake.
    So, we pulled up to the start of the trail, which started at around 2800 feet. It was very chilly to begin, and the clouds very low. After walking for about 5 minutes, we were lucky enough to see an Andean Condor take off and soar across the lake. Very pleased to see that!
    As we continued on the trail, our guide mentioned the possibility of seeing spectacled bears. Of course, we didn't see any!
    The whole trek took us just over 4 hours.
    Wildlife highlights: Andean Condor. Black chested eagle.

    Pasachoa ecological park.
    Pasachoa is a large national park covering some very high cloud forests. The park is more "wild" than the crater lake from the previous day, and again, we were in prime bear territory! Again....we didn't see any. Pasachoa was much easier than the crater lake in terms of walking, and in my opinion had much better scenery. (But i like walking through cloud forests)
    Wildlife highlights: Black vultures

    Quilotoa crater lake.
    Quilotoa was our most spectacular trek, and most difficult. Quilotoa is situated very high up in the Andes, but is well worth the drive. After arriving, you walk up a short hill, and reach a view over the lake. It really is amazing, looking out across the green-blue lake, and beyond its crater.
    Then came the trek down, which was easy, if not a little dusty. Trekking back up was pretty hard going, but the satisfaction of finishing was well worth it.
    Wildlife highlights: Riding a llama named Paco.

    Cotopaxi national park.
    Cotopaxi is the largest active volcano in Ecuador (possibly the world?), and the national park is named after it. The park itself seemed pretty barren, with very few trees, and mostly open plains.
    We walked around a small lake in the shadow of Cotopaxi, which was very tranquil compared with the previous day's trek. The lake was home to plenty of birds, and our guide mentioned the chance of seeing "fox wolves". We didn't see any, but a pair of Condors made up for that. Of the birds on the lake, our guide showed us what he called "pointed ducks", from Canada.
    Wildlife highlights: Condors, Grass Wren, Caracarra (possibly)

    Vivarium in Quito.
    After our treks, we had some time in Quito, the capital city of Ecuador. On one afternoon, I took a taxi to one of the parks (name escapes me again), to visit "vivarium". Vivarium is basically a small collection of reptiles and amphibians, mostly snakes. It was $3 to get in, which i thought was pretty good value. The tanks weren't too bad, and the staff were ever watchful to make sure the visitors didn't bang on the glass etc.
    Wildlife highlights: Yacare caiman

    Rainforest experience
    The rainforest experience for us was 5 days in part of the rainforest, living with a native community. It took us 5 hours to get there from Quito, over the andes, and back down the other side. On arrival, we had to cross a river on foot and walk a few kilometers to the village. I'd been hopeful that in the rainforest we'd see some wildlife, even if it was just a monkey. No such luck. Where we were staying, nearly all the large mammals and birds had either been hunted or scared away. However, the experience was still brilliant. On one of the days, we were taken on a walk through the forest, which was great. We saw lots of insects and spiders, and even got to taste some lemon ants! (they do taste of lemon).
    Wildlife highlights: Ants! (Bullet, fire, leaf cutter, lemon and army)

    The Galapagos islands
    Now, the part of the trip i was most excited for. We travelled to the island of San Critobel, and spent 4 days in total on the island.
    During our time there, we snorkelled with turtles and sea lions, walked along the coast and onto the cliffs to see marine iguanas and seabirds, and visited a tortoise breeding centre.
    During our boat trip and snorkelling, we visited Kicker rock, which is home to blue footed and nazca boobies. We also saw dolphins around kicker rock.
    The second day we visited a remote beach, and walked along it up to the cliffs. Along the way, we saw plenty of lava lizards, marine iguana and Darwin's finches. Up on the cliff tops, we had a view over the sea, and a view could clearly see the seabirds returning to their nests. Whilst on the cliffs we also saw green turtles in the sea below.
    On our final activities day we visited a tortoise breeding centre in the highlands. There are around 50 tortoises in the sanctuary, which is a large streach of land, with a small trail along it, which leads to the baby tortoise corrals. On the way we saw several large adults, and two juvinilles. The tortoise corrals were home to the youngest tortoises, ranging from 2 to about 5 years old.
    All in all, i loved my time on San Cristobel, and just wish i had time to visit the other islands!
    Wildlife highlights: Galapagos sea lions, marine iguana, Blue footed and nazca boobies, magnificent frigatebirds, Tropicbirds, green turtles.

    So thats it really! Apologies for length, any poor grammar or spelling mistakes.

    Thanks!

    Oh and capybara steaks taste like a cross between fish and chicken! YUM!
     
  2. Chlidonias

    Chlidonias Moderator Staff Member

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    it sounds like you had an excellent trip, well done. Now you need to start saving for more travel (as they say, travel broadens the mind but empties the pocket :D)
     
  3. siamang27

    siamang27 Well-Known Member

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    Sounds like you had a great time! Bummer about not seeing any birds/mammals in the rainforest, though.
     
  4. condor

    condor Well-Known Member

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    A bit late but just stumpled upon it.
    Nice report. You may well have seen carunculated caracara (Phalcoboenus carunculatus) in Cotopaxi. They're quite common there and IMO the best looking caracara. Not sure what the "pointed ducks" are, but the three ducks in Cotopaxi are Andean teal, yellow-billed pintail and ruddy duck. The last is the only to also occur in Canada, though the black-faced Andean race looks quite different than the white-faced North American race. The crate lake on your gallery photo is Cuicocha so I'm guessing that's the one from your Crater lake trek. Beautiful place, though I agree that Quilotoa is even more spectacular.
     
  5. Chlidonias

    Chlidonias Moderator Staff Member

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    some googling shows that the name mostly used on Cotopaxi sites for the ruddy duck is "blue-billed pointed duck" so I'd guess that's the one. ("Pointed duck" presumably referring to the characteristic stiffened tail feathers).