Sharks in the Galapagos

I did some scuba diving around Kicker Rock by San Cristobal Island and saw plenty of reef sharks

Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

but no hammerhead sharks, which is what I really wanted to see.

So, I went diving on Santa Cruz Island a few days later at the Gordon Rocks dive site and even though the visibility was pretty crappy – as you can tell from the pictures – we saw a giant school of baracuda.

Santa Cruz Island, Galapagos

that blacked out the ocean all around us

Santa Cruz Island, Galapagos

and then the sharks came hunting

Santa Cruz Island, Galapagos

Hammerheads for days

Santa Cruz Island, Galapagos

Cheverisimo!

La Boca del Lobo in Quito

Jules and I read about this funky place and it sounded fun and close to our hotel so we went to check it out. It’s in Quito’s Mariscal neighborhood, just off the main intersection. Look for the pink and blue lights.

Quito, Ecuador

The interior decor is equally as entertaining with bright colors

Quito, Ecuador

A tree growing up through the middle of the restaurant

Quito, Ecuador

And the main floor tiled with La Virgin

Quito, Ecuador

On every surface

Quito, Ecuador

Boca serves food tapas-style, so every dish we tried was small-ish and shareable. We got the platano tortillas, little fried cakes of plantain with a yogurt sauce.

Quito, Ecuador

I wanted to like these but they didn’t have a lot of seasoning and the sauce was a bit strange.

The empanadas came next and they were our favorite dish of the night.

Quito, Ecuador

We ordered 3 spinach and 3 mushroom and they were all garlicky and incredible.  They’re about 2 bites apiece, which may not be evident in the picture. We loved them so much that we ordered another round.

Next up were roasted mushrooms with a yogurt sauce.

Quito, Ecuador

I liked the flavor but the cooking was somewhat uneven so some of the mushrooms were raw.

The feta fritters were also good but a bit bland.

Quito, Ecuador

Boca’s prices are touristy – tapas dishes cost between $8-14 apiece – and I found the food quality somewhat uneven. I think that Latin American restaurants have a difficult time replicating the flavor profiles of European food and this restaurant is no exception.

However, I loved the atmosphere and the food presentation and it was a fun experience that I’d recommend to anyone who wants an offbeat place to eat in the Mariscal neighborhood.

Canyoning in Mindo, Ecuador

I actually had to look this up to see if Canyoning means “rappelling down a waterfall” all over the world or only in Latin America. It seems that the English word is a more general term for things you might do in a canyon whereas in Ecuador it always involves going over an 80 foot waterfall backwards.

Like this

Mindo, Ecuador

But first you have to get to the waterfall, which involves a lot of hiking and scrambling over a bridge made of rope.

Mindo, Ecuador

That’s only slightly terrifying, which is good because canyoning is super terrifying and the bridge gets you all prepped and ready.

Again, going backwards.

Mindo, Ecuador

Into water

Mindo, Ecuador

It’s scary town but really fun.

While special gear might help, we wore shorts and trail runners and it worked out ok. I would recommend a hat though, it helps keep water out of your face.

There are a ton of places to go canyoning in Ecuador but Mindo and Banos specialize in outdoor activities, so I’d try it there. And if I had to choose between Mindo and Banos, I’d go with Mindo.

Mindo, Ecuador

Ziplining in Mindo, Ecuador

Mindo, Ecuador

Neither Jules nor I had ever ziplined before but Mindo is the perfect place for to try it since they’re right near the Cloud Forest. We were staying at Bellavista so they organized the event through Mindo Ropes and Canopy Tours, which had 10 lines all at different heights and lengths.

I don’t know how ziplining works in other places, but in Mindo there’s a lot of freedom (and encouragement) to go a little wild.

Mindo, Ecuador

hang upside down

Mindo, Ecuador

Go tandem with your friends

Mindo, Ecuador

And bring your camera along so you can document the view from the line

Mindo, Ecuador

The guides love it if you agree to go “Superman” or try the Mariposa

Mindo, Ecuador

I’d totally recommend Mindo Ropes and Canopy Tours. Their guides are fun, the equipment is in great shape and it’s a great 2 hours worth of adrenaline filled flying through the jungle.

But look out for the kangaroo line… It’s a surprise so that’s all I can say!

Mindo, Ecuador

Bellavista in Ecuador’s Cloud Forest

Nanegalito, Ecuador

Getting to Bellavista involves taking a bus to Nanegalito and then catching a pickup truck (camioneta) up the dirt road and deep into the jungle. The lodge is located on the southern edge of the Amazonian rain forest and it’s quite isolated, so be prepared to eat all your meals there and organize most of your activities through their staff.

Nanegalito, Ecuador

The lodge itself is beautifully built out of wood and bamboo with lots of windows and balconies so the forest is visible from every room.

Nanegalito, Ecuador

It’s at high altitude so it was cold and rainy the whole time we were there but that made for beautiful clouds.

Nanegalito, Ecuador

And gorgeous rain drenched foliage

Nanegalito, Ecuador

Birding is the main attraction in the cloud forest

Nanegalito, Ecuador

Jules prefers her birding with wine, which we call Happy Hour Birding. Get into it!

Bellavista, Ecuador

Isla Santa Cruz in the Galapagos

Travel on the boat between islands looks a lot like this

En route to Isa Santa Cruz

And this

En route to Isla Santa Cruz

And this

En route to Isla Santa Cruz

Travel makes us sleepy…

The view from our balcony when we finally arrived on the island

Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

Yellow fin tuna doesn’t get fresher than this

Isla Santa Cruz

Kids ride for free on the weekends

Galapagos Islands

These guys were the highlight of my Isla Santa Cruz experience but I’ll post more pictures of them later in the week

Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

A Moment with Galapagos Tortoises

In the tortoise nursery

Galapagos Islands

Trying to escape

Galapagos Islands

Hanging out looking awkward

Galapagos IslandsSleeping and looking awkward

Galapagos Islands

Tortoise butts!

Galapagos Islands

Isla Isabela in the Galapagos

Isla Isabela is my favorite island in the Galapagos. It only has about 2,000 people and no paved roads. The beach is beautiful

Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

And our hotel overlooked the flamingo lagoon

Isla Isabela, Galapagos

Isla Isabela, Galapagos

We went to the marine iguana breeding grounds and saw iguanas on a date

Isa Isabela, Galapagos

We also saw posing pelicans

Isla Isabela, Galapagos

And penguins

Isa Isabela, Galapagos

And blue footed boobies. This was the best shot I got the whole trip and it’s not great… But they’re really cool birds.

Isla Isabela, Galapagos

At night the Iguana Point Bar heats up the beach

Isla Isabela, Galapagos

We recommend a few shots of cana, the local aguardiente made from sugar cane

Ecuadorian Aguardiente

And dance until the bar closes!

Isla Isabela, Galapagos

Yeah… Isabela is the best :)

Volcan Sierra Negra on Isla Isabela

Isla Isabela, Galapagos

The path to the caldera

Isla Isabela, Galapagos

Part of the caldera

Isla Isabela, Galapagos

Another part of the caldera. It’s the second biggest in the world and my camera is humbled.

Isla Isabela, Galapagos

The path to Volcan Chico across the lava field

Isla Isabela, Galapagos

I think Cormac McCarthy wrote about this landscape in The Road.

Isla Isabela, Galapagos

27km hike and this is the halfway point!

Wildlife on San Cristobal Island in the Galapagos

San Cristobal Island, Galapagos

Lava lizards

San Cristobal Island, Galapagos

Marine Iguana

San Cristobal Island, Galapagos

Pelican posing