Ecuador travel blog by Mark Berman -
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The overnight bus from Quito to Puerto Lopez left at 7pm and should have taken 11hrs but due to the driver being in rally mode,
it took only 9hrs. We arrived at 4am. There were other travelers on the bus and we all sat out on the road for a while waiting
for the bread shop to open and to find a place to stay but without arriving too early, so that we wouldn't be charged for the current
night. I found a nice hostel by about 5:30am, the cost for a room was $5USD with a shared bathroom or $7USD with a private one.
a few hours sleep I explored the beachfront street area where there are many cabanas on the beach selling nice food and drinks.
They have hammocks and seats under umbrellas in the sand and palm trees. There also are restaurants on the street.
For the next day I planned to go whale watching
at Isla de la Plata in Parque Nacional Machalilla. As well as snorkeling and a walk around the island to see the birds and views. I booked
a tour with 'Machalilla Tours' on the main street, it cost $30USD plus $15USD for the park entrance fee.
Garlic Prawns for Dinner
In Puerto Lopez I ate some great sandwiches for breakfast and lunch at the Blue Dolphin cabana beside the beach. I also put an order
in for hot garlic prawns for dinner for the following night after the tour.
Boat Tour to the National Park
The next morning, everybody on the days tour met at
the office of 'Machalilla Tours' and we all walked down to the boat in the fishermans area and village at the southern end of the beach where
pelicans feed on fish and sit on the boats. There was about 14 people in the group and a guide. There was also a guides helper and the boat
driver. Unfortunately there was a problem with the English speaking guide so we had a Spanish speaking one. Luckily there was a few
multi-linguists in the group to translate. It took about 90 minutes to get out to the Isla de la Plata from the mainland and it
was a glorious hot sunny day. We had all age groups in the group, so we split into 2 groups at the island - those who wanted to walk
a lot and those who didn't. We were shown a map of the nearly 3hr walk we were about to embark on around the island in which we
would see birds such as Albatros, Blue Footed Boobys and Fragata.
Walk Around the Island
The dirt track we walked along and surrounding bush and plantlife
was very dry. We started to see Blue Footed Boobys nesting, sitting on eggs or with young chicks and we were able to get very close
to them to observe and take photos. During the walk we enjoyed the views of the rocks by the sea, it was so hot but we were able to
have a shady rest every 20 minutes in the shelters along the way. Walking was really fun but hard work, we saw many nesting
birds and took a lot of photos.
Tuna Sandwiches and Snorkeling
We were now ready for lunch on the boat by the time we got back. We ate some huge tuna sandwiches and biscuits that the tour supplied
while we travelled around the island to the area where we would go snorkeling. We snorkled for about 45 minutes in the cool
water and saw many colorful fish, sea snakes and other fish. After everyone had dried off, it was time to head back to the mainland
while looking out for whales!
Looking for Whales
The whales are not in full activity in June but we and some other tour boats located a couple swimming
along and we were able to get some good views of them appearing, then disappearing, then re-appearing in the water for about 40
minutes or so. We were able to climb up onto the roof of the boat to get a better view and everyone was taking many photos trying
to get the whales tail. It was amazing how big they are and we all enjoyed it a lot. It was a great way to end the day before the
1hr+ boat ride back to the fishing village and beach at Puerto Lopez.
Cocktails at Sunset
Back at Puerto Lopez it was time for hot showers, a cocktail on the beach and to watch the sunset and to look forward to the BBQ
garlic prawns for dinner at the Blue Dolphin! I enjoyed the meal a lot and was ready for a night of fun sitting by a fire on the
beach drinking cocktails with a small group of people from my hostel and tour. The night lasted to the small hours, cocktails cost
about $3.50USD each at the beach bars, but there was so many to try! I tried some juggling on the street with some of the local
boys and had a good laugh. By about 3am it was time to go back to the hostel for some well earned sleep.
Fishing Village / Relaxing Day
The next day while the others went to the beach in Parque Nacional Machalilla I wandered down to the fishing village and took some
photos of the fishing boats. The fishermen were untangling their nets while pelicans and vultures were eating any spare fish. I spent
the rest of the day just relaxing in a hammock, eating sandwiches and using the internet. Later I enjoyed exchanging some photos that
I had taken that day with a few people in the hostel and I had a nice dinner and a couple of drinks with my new friends.
I Gotta Move
It was my
last night in Puerto Lopez as I had to head south to get back to Lima
in Peru for a
plane home 5 days later. I travelled via Cuenca, Loja and Macara
Bus to Cuenca and Beyond
I wanted to travel to Cuenca
during the day from Puerto Lopez so that I could enjoy the scenery from the bus and stay a night
there and have a look at the city. The bus in the morning was to take about 4+ hours to Guayaquil. The bus headed north for a while past
the fish markets in Puerto Lopez, then past an early morning soccer game, up the coast and through small towns such as Pedro Carbo.
People came onboard the bus with food for sale along the way and people at intersections had things for sale such as kites, drinks and
fruit. In Guayaquil I took another bus to Cuenca which lasted about 5 hours. We entered Parque Nacional Cajas and ascended into
the cloud forest where the surrounding houses and scenery became harder to see through the white mist. We came out of the cloud forest
into an amazing mountainous lake scene while continuing to travel just beneath the clouds for a while, but with the sun in some areas of
view. Then finally coming out into green valleys and farming areas and arriving in Cuenca. Coming into the bus terminal in Cuenca I noticed
some hotels nearby and walked across the road after arriving and found a nice room with bathroom for $7USD. After nearly 10 hours bus travel
that day I was ready for a quick feed next door and some sleep. In the morning I got up early for a walk around the city center. I took many
photos of buildings, statues, churches and cathedrals, the clock tower, streets, plazas, the flower market and the delicious sweet breakfast food
available at stalls while I walked around the cobblestone streets. Cuenca
is a very beautiful city
with a lot of tiled buildings and is clean and tidy. It is a modern city and Ecuador's third largest, it has a sizable student
base and a happening nightlife. It is surrounded by lovely green hills. From Cuenca
I bused south through Loja
on my way down to the border of Peru.