Packing 101 ….

So what can you do to pack lighter? Its always a question - how can I take less but have enough? We have an upcoming adventure 140 days, 57 on a ship the rest on the ground. 

We always seem have too much luggage and we bring things home that we never put on! So I am working hard on how to pack smarter and lighter!  This way we can travel easier by train and on flights in country (all have weight restrictions).  Ok I accept the challenge, here we go!

  • Step 1 - we need a carry on that will accommodate a laptop and double as luggage for maybe 10 days. Started to do research on backpacks (no we are not planning to travel with ONLY a backpack) but if it can do multiple things - awesome.  I started to do research and there is what we opted to start with.  eBags Motherlode TLS Weekender Convertible
  • Step 2 - more cubes and envelopes (its how we pack)

  • Step 3 - what about more than 5 days - bought a portable washing machine - Scrubba

  • Step 4 - sleep sacks (never had one before BUT what can be wrong with sleeping in silk?)

     Stay tuned for more updates  (in other words part 2)

GWV Photos …

Easter Island

We were fortunate to spend a fabulous sunny day on this island. You know how some places you have heard about and your expectations build and then you hear more and more and you build such expectations that you don’t think anything could live up to it. Well after hearing about this place and reading about it with all the history I was ready to be let down by our visit.  I can tell you that you can believe all the hype! This is an amazing place and one that we will not soon forget.

They told us that sea swells can be problematic and not many ships can tender into the island. You see there is no dock on the island. So the only way to get ashore is by tendering in. Look in this next picture at the Tender boat coming back to the ship. Where we went ashore was just past that first row of rocks and just before the second row of rocks. One tender (boat) lost its front corner window and another one lost the front door. They had to stop bring people to shore for a while after we were ashore. Even some of the afternoon ship tours were not able to get ashore and had to be canceled. We counted ourselves lucky, for sure.

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Once ashore we found our guide and headed off for a private tour of Easter Island. Along the way we heard about the history of the island and what it is like to live there. There are a total of around 8,000 people that live on Easter Island, according to the last census. The place has been growing as the previous census recorded 4,000 people.

It had rained for several days before our arrival and this day was a beautiful partly cloudy day. Everything was clear and bright. You will notice the bright fresh green in some of the pictures.

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Yes for us the island lived up to all the hype. It is a very special place that we are very lucky to have spent some time on.

Sand Boarding in Peru

We took an opportunity with a couple of friends while in Peru, to go Sand Boarding at a little Oasis called Huacachina. It was the first time for all of us to try this sport out. All of us were glad we did. We had Ace along, you can see him here at that lake in Haucachina checking out the mermaid.
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Now to go Sand boarding it isn’t like just going on top of hill and sliding down it. You drive out in the sand dunes and find a nice hill, board down and of course when you get to the bottom of the hill your driver comes down and picks you up for the next run. This was our vehicle for this little adventure.

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Look at this next picture to get an idea of where we were doing this at.

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The sand here is very fine and reminds me of the Sahara sands. After a bit of instructions we started boarding down the slopes

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After a long day riding around the dunes and sand boarding we headed back to the oasis…

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It is a tough life sand boarding the dunes of Peru…but we would do it again in a minute 🙂

 

Coming to visit us in Ecuador – here is a list of things to do

What better way to end the year than to start a list of things to do next year. This isn’t my list that follows but there are many things on this list that I want to do next year in Ecuador – Before you read the list though I just wanted to say Happy New Year to everyone and hope things are in Lucky 13!!

1. Watch the Tungurahua Volcano erupt at night from the look out over Banos. Tours can be arranged in one of the many agencies in Baños. Cost $20 per person.

2. Visit the gold mine in Zaruma where resident Spaniards found a 2 and ½ pound piece of gold and gifted it to King Felipe II several hundred years ago, causing the king such joy he decided to lower the taxes for everyone living in Ecuador. The mine is called “El Sexmo” and is now open to tourists with guided tours from actual nearby miners. Free.

3. Observe the amazing Pink river dolphins as they frollic in the unique flooded rainforest of Cuyabeño in northern Ecuador. Tours can be arranged once on the ground out of Quito or Lago Agrio. Canoe Tours start from $40 per person.

4. Scuba dive in the crystalline waters of Galapagos off Floreana Island with hammerheads and whale sharks. 2 Dives start from around $130. Best arranged once on the ground in Santa Cruz Island near the port in Puerto Ayora with local dive shops.

5. Snorkel with the worlds smallest penguin, gigantic manta rays, big marine iguanas and (friendly) reef sharks off las Tintoreras on the picturesque snow-white sands and turqoise waters off Isabela Island in the Galapagos. Day tours to Isabela arranged in Santa Cruz start around $65/person.

6. Eat two buckets of the locally-famous garlic crab at one of the best crabhouses (Manny’s Crangrejal) in Guayaquil, a city known for its numerous crabhouses. Near San Marino Mall any taxi will know where it is. $12.

7. Hunt for fossils along the banks of the Nangaritza River, the only river that connects the Amazon to the Pacific Ocean, high in the Condor Mountain Ridge (Cordillera del Condor). For more try lindoecuadortours.com $25-50 /person.
8. Deep-sea fish for Marlin and Whale-watch in August off the calm shores of Salinas. Trips can be arranged in one of the several agencies along the boardwalk. Cost: Whalewatching from $20 per person, deep sea fishing price varies depending on amount of people.

9. Bike on a rented bicycle from the city of Puerto Ayora in the Galapagos to the deserted, idyllic beach of El Garrapatero while passing through over a dozen micro-climates and witnessing the giant Galapagos tortoises grazing in their natural habitat. Cost: $5.

10. Visit a chocolate farm near Guayaquil and learn the whole process of how to make chocolate from harvest to belly. Get more info here.

11. Hummingbird watch and observe thousands of butterflies in the cloud rainforests of Mindo. Tours can be arranged once in Mindo. Start from $20/person.

12. Climb Cotopaxi, one of the worlds highest active volcanoes at 19347ft / 5897m with a guide arranged in Quito, I’ve been told even beginners can do it!

13. Explore the massive, underground lava tunnels on Santa Cruz Island in the Galapagos. Free.

14. Trout fish in one of the surreal apline lakes in the barren Cajas National Park near Cuenca. Tours can be arranged with Terra Diversa in Cuenca.

15. Go way off the beaten path and discover the Lost City (Ciudad Perdida) of Ecuador’s Amazon. Extreme adventure available through local guides only out of Nangaritza. Cost: Highly negotiable.

16. Pamper myself with a the natural mud bath in the mud pools in the dry rainforest of Machalilla National Park and spend the night playing volleyball with the local indigenous and later sleeping in one of their tiki huts. From Puerto Lopez hire a motorcycle taxi and pay a few bucks from them to take you to the indigenous community of Aguas Blancas in the park. Cost: $10 for the day tour to the mud baths and $10/person for the night.

17. View the thousands of Orchid species growing wild along the well-kept trails of the Podocarpus National Park easily reached in a $4 taxi ride from the town of Zamora. Free entrance to park.

18. Hike the 10km trek from El Tambo to Ingapirca, ancient Incan ruins and effectively Ecuador’s own “Machu Picchu”. You can also take a train, taxi or bus which can be arranged out of Canar. Ruins Entrance fee $6.

19. Get certified as a glider plane pilot in Ibarra through a one month course with a local flight instructor. They say if you can fly a plane without an engine you can fly a plane with one. Course starts around $1300. 2013 prices yet to be released. For more info write me here.

20. Visit the worlds only birds that live in a cave, in the only cave they live in at the CUEVA DE LOS TAYOS. Tours arranged out of Macas. Prices vary.

21. Tailgate, then enter a game in Quitos rowdy Atahaulpa Stadium as the National Soccer team attempts to qualify for the next World Cup in Brazil. The cheap seats start around $10.

22. Learn to kite surf with an instructor against the strangly barren cliff landscapes of Santa Marianita near Manta. Classes can be arranged on site. Prices vary.

23. Party with fun locals along the infamous Plaza Foch in Quito during Quitos Festival Week “Fiestas de Quito” the first week of December. Free if you can find a sugar-momma/pappa to buy you drinks.

24. Take a tour of a Banana plantation in Machala and learn all the ins and outs of the interesting business with CristyViajes. Tours start around $20 per person.

25. Fish for Pirana in Laguna Pañacocha, a beautiful black wáter lake backed by cloud forests. To get there, hire a local canoe where the Rio Panacayu meets the Rio Napo, to get there you’ll need to take a Nuevo Rocafuerte Canoe hired in the town of Coca. Price varies depending on season.

26. Bike the wonderful 7 hour (60km) downhill ride from the high Andes to the mouth of the Amazon in Puyo and witness the furious waterfall of Baños “Pilon de Diablo”. Bike can easily be rented in Banos. Cost: $5

27. Soak in the odd street water-wars during Carnaval in February in Cuenca where everyone goes around throwing water balloons and soaking random strangers with water guns. Free.

28. Hike the Quillotoa Volcano and witness the majestic, stunning turquoise-colored lake in the volcano’s crater. Can be done solo by taking a bus from Latacunga and getting off near the base. Cost: $4 bus fare from Latacunga.

29. Experience the naughty, packed, full-moon-style New Year’s Eve party in Montanita. Free if you sleep on the beach in a tent (doable), just don’t bring valuables.

30. Mingle with sexy locals dressed to the tilt during the 2 hour river-boat cruise on the all-you-can-drink boat ‘Morgans’ which leaves every night from the boardwalk (Malecon) of Guayaquil. Can be arranged out of my B&B in Guayaquil. $15 per person includes all you can drink.

31. Follow the rarely-visited path of the world-famous indigenous Shuar who were the ones that originated the practice of shrinking the heads of their conquered enemies. Tours now available with local guides through Macas or Zamora. Prices vary.

32. Learn to kayak in the lazy to fierce Andean rivers around the city of Ibarra with Natural Adventures. Prices vary.

33. Devour delicious seafood at the locally-famous “Parque de Mariscos” along the beach in Manta heading towards the airport. Specifically I want to eat a ‘Cazuela’ Soup, an amazing nut-based fish soup truly unique to Ecuador. Cost: $6.

34. Have a 10 minute long conversation in Spanish with a local after a month long Spanish crash course at the highly recommended Galapagos Spanish School in Quito. Cost: one-on-one classes with real teachers start around $6/hr.

35. Dance salsa to afro-latino beats on the white-sand beaches at moonlight in a beach bar near Esmeraldas after eating the local delicacy of Shrimp cooked in spiced coconut milk (encocado de camaron). I’m sure I’ll feel like I’m in the Caribbean. Cost: $5-6.

36. Visit the perplexing, friendly afro-ecuadorian community of Chota in the middle of the Andes near Otavalo and have a local Shaman (witch doctor) cleanse away my worries. Cost: $5 bus fare from Quito.

37. Have literally ten years taken off my face through the marvelous work of the locally-famous and reasonably priced Dermatologist Janeth Arevalo in Loja. Men are welcome. Cost varies depending on what is done.