Holiday review by Karen Griffiths
Name: Karen Griffiths
Date of trip: 08/02/2015
Number of people: 2
We loved the atmosphere of the Fiesta de Frutas y Flores in Ambato. The centrepiece of the festival was a huge mural, about 30feet high, mounted on the external wall of the cathedral, and made out of fruits and flowers; and the town was alive with musicians, jugglers, artists and street sellers. There was a solemn and moving outdoor service of blessing by the bishop on the Saturday morning and on Sunday, for 2 hours, we watched the carnival procession pass by - a succession of lavish floats, all decorated with fruits and flowers, of rhythmic bands and of exuberant dancers in fantastic and colourful costumes
Our abiding memory of the Galapagos is being able to see its wildlife very closeâ€“up. There were the sea lions who lay blocking our way on jetties and beaches, the pelicans who plunged headlong into the water just in front of us to catch fish, the nazca boobies who sat on their nests and tended their young only inches from our path, the blue-footed boobies who carried on their courtship dances unabashed by our presence, the iguanas who stood motionless on the rocks as we disembarked onto their islands and the male frigate birds who sat on top of short leafless trees in untidy nests with their gulac sacs inflated into huge red balloons at their throats. Pacific green turtles were more difficult to spot as they spend the daytime out at sea, but we had the good fortune to watch and catch on camera a mating pair bobbing around some distance from the shore.
We had high expectations for the week in the Galapagos and were not disappointed. Our expectations for the Ecuador part of the trip were not so well formed but we found it very enjoyable and interesting, with good hotels, knowledgeable and friendly guides and some great experiences. In addition, all the travel and transport arrangements worked without a hitch ... we could not have wished for more.
We relied heavily on Paul .. and were not disappointed
All of them were excellent. They were not only knowledgeable but they were also good company, always punctual and concerned for our comfort and well-being.
Social & Environmental Responsibility:
We certainly brought income to the people and businesses involved in tourism in Ecuador, and the places where we stayed all operated in an environmentally friendly way.
The Napo Wildlife Centre relies on visitors to provide an alternative source of income for the community who are now able to conserve rather than hunt the wildlife.
Bellavista Lodge is committed to conserving the cloudforest and our staying there would have made a small contribution towards their aim. The boat on which we travelled through the Galapagos was probably one of the least harmful ways of experiencing the wildlife of the islands - indeed, the guides on the boat told us that we were actually helping to conserve the unique wildlife by being there. However, in such a fragile environment, we could not help but feel that the visitors and all the people who live on the islands to service the visitors are probably doing more harm than good.
The places you stayed
The standards at the Quechua communityâ€™s Napo Wildlife Centre are very high. The location, by a lake, an hour and a half by paddle canoe up a small jungle creek from the wide Napo River, is idyllic. The rooms, each a separate cabin overlooking the lake, are well-equipped and clean and the grounds are full of flowers and butterflies and birds. Food was good and our guides and paddler were excellent. We appreciated the loan of wellies and the waterproof ponchos that were produced when the rain came down
We were not here very long, arriving late and leaving early the next morning, but it has wonderful views, comfortable rooms, good food and a pleasant garden
A wonderful location in the cloudforest. We had a comfortable suite with windows looking directly out into the trees, the food was good and the birds were plentiful. The wellies and waterproof ponchos provided proved useful.
Beautiful buildings and grounds and we had an enormous bedroom with a sitting area and fireplace in which, as dusk fell, a log fire was lit. After an excellent dinner we returned to find hot-water bottles in our bed
We really enjoyed returning to Patio Andaluz, checking in and out 3 times during our trip. The staff were very friendly and helpful, the location in the old town very central, the bedrooms comfortable, the public areas spacious and tastefully decorated with good sitting areas and vases of the local roses on the tables, and the food was good.
Our cabin on Ericâ€™s Dolphin deck was compact, but with adequate storage, a well-fitted bathroom, a roomy shower and windows all along one wall. Unlike some of our fellow guests we were not disturbed by noise from the engines, the anchor or the kitchens and, though the air-conditioning was not adjustable, our cabin temperature was not uncomfortable.
Public areas on the boat were tailored to the 20 guests without much space to spare except on the sundeck, a partly-shaded area with plenty of loungers and seats.
The captain and the crew were friendly, helpful and professional, the daily activities were well-organised, the food was excellent and the itinerary was planned so that we were able to see something new on every excursion