Condors

Friday, Oct 29
Up at 05:30 , breakfast at 06:30…headed out at 07:00 for the national park. We passed as huge quarry and followed trucks up the mountain
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side and finally stopped at a small lodge/restaurant to photograph the largest hummingbird, but also got some shots of the Condor nests way across the valley.  As we continued up, there were places to pull out and photo the Condors.  As we made our way up the mountain we stopped many times to photograph birds.  It took 5 1/2 hours to get to the top , but only 2 1/2 to get back including all the traffic.
Hope to link photo galleries to these posts soon.
Off to the airport at 7:30pm

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San Jorge de Milpe Orchid & Bird Reserve

Tuesday, Oct 25
Today we had breakfast at 07:00 and left shortly after. We took the same route as yesterday as far as the paved road and then turned left.
The route thru the mountains is that dirt road that Yesterday was in the clouds and foggy…..
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  today the sun was out so we could look for some birds.  This lodge is down about 3700 ft and in a very wet area.  When we arrived it was mist and fog.
The room is great, a suite it says, has a  sliding doors out to a patio with hammocks..and overlooks a big canyon, but there is so much foliage you can not really see the bottom.img_1358
The restaurant area and birding watching is again all open air..lots of birds…but we are in a sub tropical rain forest…so it’s wet. The rooms have a small box with a heater in them to dry out your camera.
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There are lots of birds in the trees so Jayne was busy .
We missed the 3:00 walk somehow, and there was not a lot of Bird to photograph so we went back to the room and took it easy until dinner at 7:00
Wednesday, Oct 26
Woke up at 05:30 and the sun was out.  No rain or fog..
Beautiful day.
After breakfast we took a walk looking for all kinds of birds. I guess from the guide , we found a bird that’s unusual….that’s all I know
Thursday, Oct 27
We had breakfast at 06:00 and left shortly after that for a reserve about 2 hours away. There were took a short walk to the top of a hill where they had a feeding station.
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There was a girl there who put bananas at the various station and Miguel must know her well as she stayed with us and keep the bananas flowing.  The birds are incredible colorful.  You will see when pictures arrive.  After an hour  Miguel and the other lady wanted to walk down the road to a second feeding station, Jayne and I decided to stay as neither of us recalled wanted any more long walks.
After about an hour we got restless and headed back toward the road only to meet Miguel running back yelling pigmy owl ….we jumped into the van and drove to the second feeding station as fast as that van would go..about 1/2 mile  …and sure enough..we got to see and photograph that cute little owl.  Poor Miguel had run all the way back to get us.
The reason I can not post photos yet as they are in the camera and those that are copied to the laptop are in RAW format, so I have to wait until Jayne gets them processed.  Some are taken with the iPhone, like the one above, and I can use those.
We  finally ended up at the San Jorge Quito lodge, the place we started at last Monday, about 4:30.  Yes we have a room down off the hill so we do not have that hike and it is a great room with a big fireplace.
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 We will stay here tonight and take a drive up to a park at about 12,000 feet early in the morning to see the condors and who knows what else.  When we return in the afternoon we will pack and head to the airport to catch our 11:30 pm flight to Dallas..
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On to San Jorge

 Thursday, Oct 20..
Yesterday was a rest day, or I thought it was.  We are staying in the Hotel Quito in between the Galapagos and the San Jorge reserve trips. 
Unknown to us the UN is having its Habitat III gathering here in Quito, so lots of security.  This hotel is having the closing cocktail tonight at 16:30.  We were up in the restaurant, 7th floor, when the fire works started…right at eye level.
I said a relaxing ,day….well a Jayne wanted to walk down to this church we passed in the taxi this morning.   It’s not far, 4 to 6 blocks…straight down.  Going down was not to bad, but coming back up..well we’re we’re about half way and I think our legs etc said that enough.  Remember we are at 6000 ft.   Thanks to the Taxi driver who was able to stop and get us back to the hotel. 
San Jorge/Quito (8000 ft)
The driver picked us us around 10:00 in an old Chev 4 door pickup.
It took about 45 minutes to get to the lodge.  The last mile I started to wonder what we got ourselves into.  The road, maybe path is a better name, was nothing but one big rut, about a mile of it.  Our room is up on top of a ridge looking down on rest of the compound.  The problem us the dining room etc is down a path that’s again almost straight down.  
Going down is ok, but coming up…no no no…we are at 10,400 ft now and I feel it. 
Lots of humming birds at the feeders…yes the feeders are are down there…
Today is a be on you own so Jayne is taking it easy. This room is cold.  Who would ever thing that on the Equator it cold.  I am cold!
The power is out!  The little space heater that is in the room is  big enough to heat a very small 3×3 room maybe…oh well..we will see…
Well …they moved us down to a smaller room that had a small wood burning fireplace in it for the night.   That was going to help, but then the power came back on.  Jayne was not feeling good so I went to dinner alone and she got in bed…I do not think either of us slept very well. 
Friday, Oct 21
Today the sun is out and we are shooting, pictures, of hummingbirds.  image2.JPG
There is a patio with lots of feeders and a Guide assigned to our group.  I guess others on the same schedule are put together for the activities.  Our group is only 3, the two of us and an older single woman.
Most of the morning was shooting humming birds and a short walk around the premises. After lunch we loaded into a old van for a 1 hour drive across Quito , in traffic, to a reserve called Jerusalem.  We walked around, but not sure we saw anything really worth the drive.  The drive back was in rush hour traffic so we got back just before dark.  I had the guide drop us off up top so we did not have that terrible climb, but assumed they would leave the key there also when they moved us back to that upper room.  We could not stay down below because they had another group coming.  Well…no key..so down I went to find someone and back up to let us in our room , then back down for dinner and back up again…NO MORE. 
Saturday Oct 22
Breakfast was at 06:00 as we were to meet a new guide, Miguel who stays with us all week, to take us to the next lodge for 3 nights.   Down the long windy path luging our stuff.  We left one big case with all the stuff we do nit need for the next 5 days as we come back here for one more night before we are taken to the airport.
I made it clear when we return that we wanted a room down below…we will see…
 San Jorge/Tandayapa (5600 ft)

We departed about 6:30 with our new guide and are taking the Yanacocha old road.  Well that was worth the trip!  The road is more like a washed out cow path winding up the mountains , 11,500 ft I measured. 
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As we worked our way along this road, our guide would stop and we would photograph differed birds.  Jayne has to put a gallery of photos together as there was just to much to see.
About 6 hours later we arrived at Tandayapa.  Again windy rut road up to this lodge, but this place is great.  Our view from our room is outstanding and the room is 1st class!  We had the room on the top floor end room
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The next morning, Sunday, we arrived at the breakfast patio, all meals are outside, at 6:15 to photo all the birds around.  Again Jayne has to put a gallery together.
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Breakfast at 08:00 and then a walk in the jungle and up the mountain. 
Jayne took a small nap and I stayed on the patio and watched the humming birds and a few very colorful ones.  Lunch was at 1:00 and then another walk at 3:00.  This time we saw a Queczal….ok what’s that you say well …..a photo soon …
Monday Oct 24th
Same routine as yesterday, but after breakfast our guide ask if we wanted to take a ride to see more humming birds at a friends place.  Off we went..
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The road was again a narrow rock strewn path. As you can see on the map we did come back partly on a paved road.  Miguel suddenly stoped the van and we jumped out to see a….Cock of the Rock…..Everyone was excited so it must be special…I’ll get a photo posted here soon…

We arrived at the place and the The place was amazing! Hummingbirds and more hummingbirds…all kinds…



Photos to come



 
 
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Black Turtle Lagoon

Tuesday, Oct 18
Ponga ride at 06:00  to the black turtle Lagoon to see all kinds of stuff, Blue footed Boobies, Lava Herons and turtles.  The tide was going out and the white tipped sharks were leaving the mangroves in mass.
Back at the boat at 07:30 for breakfast and then loaded into the ponga for our final trip to the dock to board our bus to the airport where the hurry up and wait starts. 
Back at our hotel, near the airport in Quito, we had a farewell dinner…
some left after dinner and others the next day. We were to get a taxi in the morning to the hotel  Quito for a day of rest..
 Note…will update this when I have access to photos

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ISLA SANTIAGO / BARTOLOMÉ

Monday, Oct 17
When we awoke and looked out….
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Up at 5:30 again..breakfast at 6:00 and on to the pangas at 6:30 for a morning ride along the volcanic formations to see the penguins. These are the northern most penguins, small but with the white tux on..
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The Island’s Pinnacle Rock is an icon of the Galapagos landscape.
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Some went hiking  on Santiago to visit the incredible volcanic formations from a eruption just over 100 years ago. We did not go, the Landing point was not something my or Jaynes knees would enjoy…the sea was ruff and the ponga was just to unstable..
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The weather has been great, very overcast in the AM,  cool ,but the sun comes out around noon.  I thought it would be much HOTTER. 
Later in the afternoon we headed to the base of Pinnacle Rock for a hike to the top….a long board walk and the 370+ steps to the top.. wind at the top was at least 40 kn…
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For those who saw the movie Master snd Commander, this is where the doctor climbed up and saw the French fleet on the other side of the island
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Got to say..it was a long walk up…  
and then back to the boat for a farewell drink and dinner ..
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Tomorrow….back to Quito..

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FLOREANA Island

Sunday, Oct 16
Last nights cruise from Esponola was very, very rock and roll.  So much so, that we tried to hold on to each other in one bed…that did not work to well either.
Breakfast at 06:00 and on the ponga at 06:30 for the Green beach.
I think it should be gold beach as there was more of a gold tone than green.
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Short walk to a lagoon where we found Flamingos!   Again Jayne got  lots of photos…
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we continued on to another beach where there were lots of ghost crab designs…and a big Turtle track..
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After the walk, the next event was to stop at this islet and take the ponga around to look for a special Mockingbird.  You are not allowed on the islet…Jayne and I decided to remain on the boat.
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Sitting up front we could see the group on the ponga, but then the Captain started to move the boat and positioned the bow about 20 yards from the rocks and moved the boat sideways all along the shoreline clear around the point in the above photo.  Wow..we had a ring  side seat.  Jayne again got some neat photos.
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Off to the Post Office……
Way back in the time of the whaling ships, the sailors would drop letters in a barrel to be picked up by sailors heading the opposite direction and hand delivered to the waiting spouse.
This spot is the old location of the post office…
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Anyway, we were to put post cards in the barrel and sort the ones there to see if we could deliver any.  None for the San Juans..I looked..
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ESPAÑOLA

Saturday, Oct 15
The only nesting area of the endemic Waved Albatross! Blue-footed and Nazca Boobies nest along the trails. Warbler finches and Large Cactus Finches flit among Sea lions and Marine Iguanas.
The morning started slower today, breakfast at 6:30 and boarding the ponga’s at 07:00 for A few hours on this big beach.  We were greeted with several mocking birds who want water…they are not afraid at all and climb all over you looking for water.
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There is no water on this  Island and these Mockingbirds depend on rain or the  morning dew, but have learned to get it from tourist who ARE NOT supposed to give it to them.  One guy ( not me) in our group got called out for sneaking some to a bird or two. 
There were a bunch of sea lions on the beach…just walk up to them. Again, Jayne got lot and lots of photos.  We also found what must be a small whale ..
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After lunch we again hit the trail only this time it was ROCK AND MORE ROCKS. The trail was nothing more than a bunch of volcanic rocks you made your way thru.  Probably a mile or more to the top of a cliff where the Albatross nest and fly off the cliff. Jayne got several great shots and video of the Albatross doing there mating or good-by dance. Several baby Albatross along the trail on the way up.   
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A hard walk, but worth it!
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