South America

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Brazil 2008

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Although it is called Cabañas Pimpilala (Pimpilala Lodge), it is the family home with a building for bedrooms and some outside bathrooms and showers for visitors.

Delfin and Stella, their sons and daughters and grandchildren are a warm, friendly and very fun family that made our stay a great experience. There was always a dozen or so of the family at the home entertaining and feeding us. Only 1 of the family spoke English well.

It is a rustic location with electricity only for a security light near the bedrooms building, no running water and oh so cold showers.

In 4 days we did so much - hikes in the jungle; an “organic / natural” jungle spa treatment; learned about Ecuadorian history, culture and the role of Shamans in communities; a mock wedding of 2 of our group; hike to Laguna Azul; a visit to Amazoonico Animal Rescue Centre (a separate foto album); made chocolate from freshly picked Cocoa beans; ate Chontacuro worms and learned to use a blowgun.

A highlight was a 3 ½ hour waterfall hike. An exhilarating romp through streams wearing rubber boots, climbing embankments with assistance from ropes and fallen logs and even scaled 2 waterfalls using ropes to pull ourselves up the cliffs.

Even what normally would be considered a negative was fun here - having my hiking wounds treated with Dragon’s Blood, a sap from a tree which has amazing medicinal qualities.

It was an fantastic, memorable experience in large part due to the great people in my Tour Group.

amaZOOnico is an animal rescue centre in the Ecuadorian Amazon rainforest for animals who are victims of illegal trafficking or people who think they want exotic pets and later abandon them.

The Centre’s aim is to care for, rehabilitate and reintroduce the animals back into the wild when they are ready. Unfortunately, some are so injured or never developed appropriate instincts due to being in captivity from birth that they can’t be released. It is an inspiring place.

The Centre is only accessible by boat (motor canoe) via Rio Negra and Rio Arajuno.

Cotopaxi is an active volcano in the Andes Mountains, 50 km (31 mi) south of Quito. At a height of 5,897 m (19,347 ft), it is the 2nd highest summit in Ecuador and one of the world's highest volcanoes.

Since 1738, Cotopaxi has erupted more than 50 times creating numerous valleys formed by mudflows around the volcano. The last eruption lasted from August 2015 to January 2016.

There are many day trips available which stop at a car park at 14,750 ft and then you can climb to the Jose Rivas Refuge at 15,958 ft. I found it a tough hike due more to the altitude than the steepness of the path.

Otavalo has a population of about 40,000, largely made up of the Otavalo indigenous group. It sits at an elevation of 2,532 metres (8,307 ft) and is surrounded by the peaks of Imbabura (4,630 metres / 15,190 ft), Cotacachi (4,995 metres / 16,388 ft) and Mojanda volcanoes.

Indigenous Otavaleños are famous for weaving textiles that are sold at the famous Saturday market. During the market's peak, 1/3 of the town is full of stalls selling textiles, tagua nut jewelry, musical instruments, dream catchers, leather goods, fake shrunken heads, indigenous costumes, hand-painted platters and trays, purses, clothing, spices, raw foods and spools of wool.

During the week in Plaza de los Ponchos and the many local shops, one can still find a wide range of wares. I was there on a Sunday.

Near Otavalo is the 18m high Peguche Waterfall. It is situated in a small park that is a sacred place for the Indians who have a close relationship with nature.

Also nearby is Cuicocha Lake at the base of Cotacachi Mountain. It is a deep volcanic crater that is 4 km long and 3 km wide. In the center are 3 domes of volcanic rock that form 2 islands covered with vegetation and separated by a water channel called the “channel of dreams".

Ecuador -Quito 2017

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Ecuador -Galápagos -Isla Baltra + Isla Santa Cruz 2017

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Ecuador -Galápagos -Sombrero Chino 2017

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Ecuador -Galápagos - Isla Rabida 2017

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Ecuador -Galápagos -Isla Santiago 2017

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Ecuador -Galápagos -Isla Fernandina 2017

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Ecuador -Galápagos -Isla Isabella 2017

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Ecuador -Galápagos -Isla Santa Cruz + Isla San Cristobal 2017

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