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Old 09-05-2012, 12:50 PM   #16
familygoboston
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tufbuf View Post
Sorry to interrupt but those photos are simply amazing!! Oh my gosh! Your hubby has quite the eye and the lighting is just perfect. Makes me think of upgrading to a 1-series Canon... I'm not a Nikon person. You forgot one detail about his gear, what lenses did he use? And are all those handheld shots?

I am just going through the photos and will read it extensively tonight. At first when you posted the photos of the guides, I was wondering what water activity you had in Quito since it is right at the start of the post. I realized those were photos from the Galapagos.
Thanks!! Yes, the Robbie and Laura photo was a preview
OK, I will post a photo tips section at the end...when DH gets home I'll ask your questions and any other advice he has. He was a maniac checking the web for people who posted photo advice to get the "kit" exactly the way he wanted it. He's already shared the photos with everyone on our trip, because he just does it for the sport of it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by LSmith View Post
Loving your trip report! It is so comprehensive. My pre-planning travel style is very similar to yours. I also check for passports before we leave the driveway!

Can't wait another instalment.
Thanks, "comprehensive" is a kind way to put it I know I couldn't get enough reviews like this when I was planning, so this is for all of us "uber" planners
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Old 09-05-2012, 01:23 PM   #17
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Day 8 Aug 21: Key to Quito- transfer back from San Cristobal to Quito and Farewell Di

After showering, and getting the luggage into the hallway, we made our way to breakfast. We checked out at the front desk ( you have to go and sign, even if you've left a cc number and are ok with your bill) and leave the keys. We get our carry ons and go to the piano bar to wait with the other ABD folks.

This time is actually quite nice, there is a beautiful rainbow arching over the ocean; and we can see the whole arch. Its as if we are getting special send off from the beautiful Galapagos! We have a little while to socialize, take photos and look at my DH photos on the iPad, exchange email addresses and travel agent recommendations. We seem to be one of the last ABD groups who will be offered the "deal" of 5% off another adventures if booked within two weeks, and Laura collects info for this that she will pass on to the office and our travel agents.

(photo of rainbow)


At 9:30, our 3 guides from the ship load us into pangas for the last time. Once there we board a bus and travel to Puerto Baquerizo Moreno on San Cristobal Island. Again, we have an opportunity to leave our hand baggage in a truck that will be protected and we can retrieve these things when we arrive at the airport. This allows us to enjoy the rest of the activities in the port without being burdened with hand luggage. Our first stop is the Interpretive Center. Here our head guide, Israel reviews where we've been on a big map of the islands and then we tour through the center on our own. All of the displays are in Spanish and English and there are lots of pictures and graphics. ABD guides are with us as always. This place has excellent historical and geological information about how the Galapagos were formed . After our walk through we take the bus back to the port town where we can explore for a while.

(photos from the Interpretive Center)


Our group is dropped into the port town of Baquerizo Moreno; this port is larger than Peurto Ayora where we embarked and we have a chance buy some last minute souvenirs and some ice cream bars. There are loads of benches by the pier as well as advertised free wifi, but no one in our group seems to be able to access it.

The most fun here was all the sea lions that have taken over the town, lolling here and there. The ABD kids were all playing on a playground climber and a seal lion pup was sound asleep right below them even as they shouted and clattered around. It was a most incredible sight!

The kids had a ball blowing off steam at the play area while the adults relaxed in the shade. Our guides were all nearby, and any questions or issues were easily dealt with. This place felt very safe, even though I wore my money belt, at no time did we feel unsafe or worried about others in port. There are lots of little gift shops, places to eat and lots of store fronts that sell day tours of the Galapagos islands.

(photos of PBM)









At 12:30 we headed to the airport by bus, literally it's around the corner and we all get our boarding passes from the guides and head to security for our flight. BTW- none of these interior flights require you to sort your liquids and gels separately, the only "rules" are that you can't bring in anything agricultural into the Galapagos Islands. We boarded for the return trip to Quito via Guayaquil again. Laura had snacks and chocolate for us throughout the journey, and gave us bagged lunches to pack onto the plane.

Once in Quito, we were met by our ABD driver Miguel and our bus and transferred back to the JW, which takes about 1/2 hour up in traffic at this time of day (5:30). We are quickly checked back into our rooms as we were the first day. Our "send back to Marriott bags" are waiting in our rooms when we get there.

Our farewell dinner is scheduled for 7:30 at the Marriott where we all met a week ago. We enter to a local band with drums and pan flutes and 2 dancers in traditional dress. Everyone is in a great mood, and soon we are all up dancing, thanks to my crazy mom who after using a cane to get around the islands, now jumps up and gets us started. She's clearly smelling the barn now on this trip After the impromptu dancing, we have a toast to a great trip and hit the buffet. The children are all crammed at one table tonight's and we adults spread around and enjoy each others company.

My DH passes around his iPad to collect all the email addresses of everyone on our trip. Disney cannot facilitate this contact but everyone agrees to share the address with the others and we will share the photos DH has taken with a link to his website. We also get the email address for our local guide, and it's quite likely we will contact him about an Amazon trip in the future...we've really enjoyed it here and would be happy to come back!

The ABD people have provided some amazing experiences we could not have on our own. Raoul our shadow guide (who I learn later from another guide is a very prosperous and successful business man with his own travel company here) has left some Aji hot sauce for me because I mentioned I love it and would love to take some home. There is literally nothing they won't do...and we truly feel spoiled! We feel lucky to have Robbie and Laura as our guides (and Miguel and Raoul who also took care of us!) and have a chance to properly thank them. I let them know that with 6 people with multiple challenges and 3 generations that they have made our vacation wonderful and seamless! This is literally the only time during the ADB part of our trip where we have had to tip anyone, and its very well deserved!

( photos of farewell dinner)









We also lucked out with this group, everyone has been friendly and fun. There was a mix of folks who have taken ABD trips before 2,3, and 4 times and people for whom this was a first. People from the East Coast, Midwest, and South, younger families and people in their 70's, all get along wonderfully! (which always leaves me in fear that MY FAMILY is the one everyone can't stand

In some groups, there is an "in group" and some who are out; not so this group, everyone mingles and enjoys each other. All the kids are wonderfully behaved and get along with each other, from 8 to almost 18- no one is left out. (but then apples don't fall far from the trees do they!) There have been times when my "mom" look has helped settle down squabbling siblings who were not my own, just as I'm sure the other parents have kept an eye out for my kids! It really feels like a village, everyone looking out for one another.

We were very proud to be a prompt group...with everyone showing up early (early!) for our earliest departure! Spoiler for New ABD travelers: Don't read the next line if you like to be surprised! With all this good feeling, the highlight of the evening is the slide show...all those photos the guides took show up in a trip in review slide show that everyone enjoys before departing. Some will be up in just 5 hours to head to the airport...a few of us are staying on a few more days.

All of us get a "departure card" with the time to meet our driver in the lobby of the JW Marriott. A hang tag card in our room allows us to select either a continental room service delivery or a boxed breakfast of a ham and cheese sandwich ( this one on a roll , looking better than the galapagos bag lunch for sure! ) yogurt drink, fruit, and cereal, for an early morning (pre 6 AM) departure, in our case this is available even two days later because we have booked the ABD post nights and transfers. So long after our guides are gone and we are on our own, Disney is still taking care of us.

This concludes the ABD portion of our trip.

next up-time on our own in the Mindo Cloud Forest and Old Town Quito
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Old 09-05-2012, 01:32 PM   #18
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AUG 22: On Our Own - Mindo Cloud (?) Forest

Today at 8 we meet our guide from Ecuadorian Tours, Leonardo, in the JW Marriott lobby after our (included with ABD post night, and huge ) buffet breakfast.

(our driver Patricio and Leonardo )



(this bus just for the 6 of us!!)



Just to give an idea, here is what I paid for our Ecuadorian tours:

Aug 14: Vehicle and guide for a half day (5 hours) for 6 passengers: PICK UP AND DROP OFF AT JW Marriot. Visits to the Teleferico up Volcan Pichincha and the Museo de la Ciudad.
$131.00 TOTAL for 6 guests

Aug 22: pick up and drop off at JW Marriott Hotel. Visit to MINDO.
$115.00 per passenger (includes lunch and entrance fees) = $690.00 TOTAL for 6 guests
Price includes: Transportation, English speaking guide, entrance fees and lunch.
Excluded: Tips for guide/driver (optional) and personal expenses.

Aug 23: pick up and drop off at JW Marriot Hotel. 3 hour proper visit to include the old town, the gold church, the other churches, El Panecillo and Virgin Mary (Quito’s virgin or Legarda’s virgin)
Cost per passenger = $52 per person = $312 TOTAL for 6 guests (entrance fees included, lunch excluded)
Price includes: Transportation, English speaking guide, entrance fees
Excluded: Tips for guide/driver (optional) and personal expenses.


Many people will probably do some research and discover that you can do these tours cheaper, what we found that was Ecuadorian Tours uses certified guides (there are very strict certifications in Ecuador) and were engaged, professional and very knowledgeable.

All of the vehicles we were in were safe, clean and in excellent repair, and the drivers were sober, clear eyed, and drove in a safe manner (especially as compared to some local buses). For us this was not an area where we were willing to "save a few bucks" at the expense of either our safety or the enjoyment of the tour led by an experienced guide with excellent English skills. We were extremely happy with Ecuadorian Tours, but I expected them to be since our excellent TA had recommended them!


After about a 2 hour ride into the Western Andes, we arrived in the Mindo Valley and visited the Mindo butterfly garden, and had lunch and walks around the Sachatamia lodge. We leave the traffic of Quito behind and begin to descend from 9000 feet to about 5000 feet. This road is curvy and dangerous. People pass on corners and it's narrow with a huge ditch on either side, where one misstep will certainly cause you to either fly off a cliff, or overturn the vehicle in the ditch. Most cars and trucks here have to use their engines to brake going down, or risk overheating the brakes and having them fail.

We did see an overturned local bus on the side of the road, with all the local passengers huddled next to it. It looked very scary. I would not recommend taking local busses or renting a car here, unless you like to take risks. For all the travel meds we get and worries about muggings in the city, by far the biggest risk is an accident on the road. We were very happy to pay for a good local driver with a reputable company who keeps their buses in excellent repair.

As we wind our way down, we see the vegetation change from scrubby arid mountains to mountains covered with lush green vegetation including palm trees. It's an unusual day in the cloud forest- extremely sunny and warm, no low clouds or mists as we expected. But the visibility is excellent all across the valley to the mountains. We are now on the west side of the Andes where the rain, the roads and all the flora and fauna are influenced by the Pacific coast about 2 hours away.

(photos of trip to Mindo)

(the cloud forest...look at all the trees!)





We head through the village of Mindo. This has the feel of a back packers town, with lots of hostels, many more like campsites. Leonardo tells us that many locals come out on the weekends to raft during the rainy seasons and we see many tubing concessions as we go by. We visit the Mindo butterfly farm. This has an excellent explanation of the life cycle of the butterfly, and a board with all the pupa hung on it so you can watch the butterfly come out of its chrysalis. Then there are butterflies eating fruit you can put on your finger and pick up the butterfly to eat off your own hand. Many butterfly's are flying around, but there is also a nice display of epiphytes and orchids, as well as a small koy pond, benches and little bridges. It's very pleasant!

(photos of butterfly garden)













There is a small gift shop and a bamboo forest trail. We decided instead to watch the humming bird feeders and saw a few species drinking there. Our guide promised us more at Sachatamia. We walk over by the Mindo River before re boarding our bus. We see some plants and also that the water is too low for rafting this time of year.

Our next stop is Sachatamia, where we watch for colorful taningers and humming birds. There is a hummingbird feeder garden behind the lodge with a koy pond and large covered areas to relax on rockers or salas. There are literally dozens of humming birds, feeding and flying, many different species.

Mom decides to sit here and read her book, while, the rest of us hike a jungle trail to the river and back. We see no mammals, as they are nocturnal, but we see evidence of the armadillo holes where it looked for ants the night before and many insects and interesting plants. Like most jungles spotting animals here is not like the Galapagos. You must wait quietly and patiently for the birds to come closer. The loop trail we take is no more than a mile or so down hill and then back up. We can't go all the way to the river as several backpackers are skinny dipping in the river, and Leonardo is shy about taking my teen girls down there. (But they seem perfectly willing to do it, should I be worried?? )

(photos of hike and hummingbirds)


(racquet tail)





(here is our clan hiking at Sachatamia)



After the hike, we enter the main lodge, first removing our shoes to prevent the mud from entering the lodge. They provide little booties, or you can wear your socks. We have an excellent lunch that starts with a corn, potato and apple salad. We can choose from trout or chicken, both come with carrots and broccoli and potatoes and is done with a nice sauce. Filtered water is available as are drinks from the cash bar, but we just had water. Dessert is a tasty cheese cake that is quite different from our US cheese cake.

(photos of the lodge and lunch)





(dining room)



(lodge sitting area)



(it's all about the birds here, so you can watch them while you are dining!)



(one of the duplexes spread out along the property)



We do a little more bird watching at the front of the lodge, overlooking Mindo Valley and the town of Mindo. Several feeders attract several different colorful species of birds. Our guide is helpful, but not as informed as the "driver" guide we had our first day with ET. He only knows a few species of hummingbirds, and refers to all the colorful birds we see as "another species of taningers". I'd really prefer to know which species, even if he needed to look it up in a book with me. We will have Leonardo again tomorrow to visit Old Town, luckily, his history and culture knowledge is excellent! He is able to tell the churches apart!
After a little more bird watching, we make our wind-y way back up to Quito and return to the JW Marriott at about 4:30.

(photos of taningers)







Up next- return to Quito
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Old 09-05-2012, 01:34 PM   #19
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AUG 22: On Our Own - return from Mindo Cloud Forest (con't)

Another couple who were on our ABD trip are also staying here a couple of extra days, and we decide to go to dinner with them. Our group of 8 goes to Crepes and Waffles a restaurant they tried earlier in the week and loved. The restaurant is diagonally across the street from the Marriott, we feel comfortable walking with 8 of us, and we went early while its still light and are home before 8PM while lots of other people are still on the street. If you are just one or two, be careful, while we had no problems, our ABD guide said a guest for an earlier trip had a pocket picked by a young child while on their own in Quito.

Crepes and Waffles is wonderful! We got there early and have no trouble with a table, but this is clearly a hipster place, young Quitanos flock here in their work clothes to have delicious dinners made with crepes and waffles in a place with rickety tables and aluminum chairs. They have an English menu, but it's best to just point to the item you want. The dessert menus is a photo menu, ala Friendlies style, again, pointing works well, as did our limited Spanish food words. The 8 of us have a great time laughing and enjoying the delicious homemade combinations of cheese and ham, or veal and mushrooms, or a sun dried tomato and basil crepe. It's all good! And dessert is even better! About 8 pm we walk back to the hotel, although its dark, with our large group we don't feel unsafe. Police are around, the young Quitanos are flocking into the place and it's only across the street from the JW.

(photo of Crepes and Waffles and food)

(you can see the restaurant from the JW Mariott)



(it actually tastes much better than it looks! This one is cheese, pesto, and sundried tomato crepe)



(a few of us enjoying the Crepes and Waffles atmosphere)



Tomorrow we tour old town, starting at 9 AM. Leaonardo has let us know that shorts are frowned upon, so we will plan accordingly!
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Old 09-05-2012, 01:49 PM   #20
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Aug 23: Old Town Quito and El Panecillo and the Volcano is finally out!

Although this is supposed to be our " sleep in " day, both DH and I are up at 6 AM. I take a peek out our window and see its a beautiful day and on our very last day in Quito, Cotapaxi is out in all her glory for the first time. The snowy peak not only clearly visible, but lit by the rising sun like a spot light. We hurry up to the concierge lounge to use the 9 th floor outdoor observation deck to take several photos of the 2nd largest active volcano in the world.

( Photo of view of Cotapaxi)





Back in our room, we ready for a 9 AM pick up with Leo from Ecuadorian tours. We enjoy another buffet breakfast at the Latin Cafe and meet Leo and our driver Patricio, right at 9.

Because its a beautiful clear day, Leo wants us to start at the El Panecillo and see the Virgin of Quito Monument with views from the hill of the volcanoes while the clouds are holding off. This drive to old town on the major byways, and then on the curvy roads, leads us up to a beautiful viewpoint of Quito and all of the central valley. No fewer than 8 volcanoes are in clear view, and Cotopaxi is still showing in its snow capped glory.

In addition to just taking in the views from this location, we pay the dollar to climb the Virgin monument and enjoy the views all around. Inside the statue there are interesting dioramas of the stations of the cross (Catholics visit these representations of Christ's Passion during the Holy Week of Easter) as well as panels explaining how the statue was built. There are few little shops here on the ground also.

(photos of El Panecillo)





(view of Cotapaxi from Virgin of Quito)









Afterwards, we take our mini bus to old town, we pass Calle La Ronda, though we don't get to visit here. We could easily spend another day in Quito, there are a few more churches (more churches!!) and several more excellent museums we would like to see another time. Also, the local market in the park and dining out at Plaza Foch, all of which we couldn't fit into this trip!

(photo of Calle La Ronda)



We start our city tour at Independence Plaza. We see the courtyard at the Archbishops Palace and pose with the guards at the Presidential Palace. We walk to the Compangia de Jesus, and take a tour with our guide. This is called the "gold church" and the pictures do not do it justice...it is truly a dazzling experience to go into this church. The magnificent gold everywhere. This church has been restored beautifully, and the post cards they sell you ( no photos allowed inside) do not come close to the splendor you see inside this church.

A further walk to the San Francisco, which is also very detailed, but still under massive renovation. This is the oldest church and the art is amazing. Many friezes and statues have been removed, but some of the original Moorish wood ceilings that fit together like a puzzle still remain centuries later.

(photos of Old Town Tour)



(Presidential palace)
(our family with the guards- as you can see, we will be in nobodies' brochure! And you can't blame mom for that hat...its mine, but you will note I never actually dared to wear it! Something about which, today, I am very grateful!!)







View from Presidential Palace



(Compagnia de Jesus exterior)



(a peek at all that gold...no indoor photos allowed, but this view is!)



(Typical vendor in Old Town)



Overall, we feel very safe here. Several times we are approached by people to buy cocoa leaves, have a shoe shine (we are in sneakers!) or buy lottery tickets of some sort. We are never bothered by pickpockets or anyone looking sketchy. There is a huge police presence in the square. There appear to be several different branches of police here, transit, metropolitan (who give tours and guard statues) , police at the Presidential Palace and others.

I get a very strange vibe from all the local people here about the police. I can best describe it as unease or mistrust. Of course, no one says anything directly about it, but this was just my feeling after meeting and wandering with several native people. I get the distinct idea that people here are still mistrustful that their government is not corrupt. They seem resigned to the fact that despite the fact that Ecuador is a "democracy" now, that they are not truly free and a feeling I got was one of waiting for the other shoe to drop. I suppose this is what happens when you have so many presidents and governmental changes in such a short time. But for now, things feel safe and people appear to be prospering and the everyone seems industrious. It's quite possible, we are only shown the things the government wants us to see, but I imagine this happens in many places!

After visiting the Old Town, we take the bus back to the Marriott where we get a small snack at the cafe in the hotel shop area. Afterwards my DH begins the packing process, while the girls and I go to the pool for a while (it's best not to disturb him when he's in full packing mode! )

After our swim, we clean up and head for an early dinner back at Crepes and Waffles since it was so well received the previous night. Our ABD friends, C and F are there shortly after us. They did a very good full day tour in Mindo with Grey Line, booked directly at the hotel, just yesterday after hearing about our day. They had a great experience, so that is another option and one that does not require a lot of advance planning.

C & W is again excellent- we all try something different tonight. It's incredibly busy, even at 5:15 PM, many Quito families are celebrating special occasions; three special cakes, balloons or desserts make their way through the dining area while we are there. We thoroughly enjoy watching local young people, and multi generational families enjoying their evening out. They seem happy to share their restaurant with foreign visitors, and we share smiles and see them chuckling over our attempts at Spanish with the waitresses. My DD's do a pretty fair job, having taken Spanish for years, but DH and I can't manage much ourselves!

Returning from C&W, we spend the evening readying for our trip home. There is a printer in the lobby for checking into the airport and printing boarding passes. We've been told by Laura and Robbie that by checking in early, we can avoid a big line up at the airport and proceed directly to bag drop. We are hoping this works well!

Also, as part of our post nights with ABD, we get breakfast in the morning, since our 5:50 AM departure is before the buffet opens, we have the option of getting a boxed breakfast ( ham and cheese sandwich, yogurt, juice and cereal) or a continental breakfast delivered between 5-6 AM which is just juice and croissants. So we opt for boxes to be delivered at 5-5:15. ABD has also arranged our airport transfer, and Miguel, our driver will be here to get us to the airport at 5:50 AM for our 8:50 am flight to Miami. A big TS named Isaac is roaring up from the Caribbean this weekend, not expected to make landfall in Fl till Sunday or Monday, if it doesn't veer off into the gulf, so we are hoping to make it through Miami without any problems.

TIPS For the big City
-wear as little jewelry as possible; one business man we met said, "try to look like a missionary". I thought this was great advice!
-use the smallest camera practical- its less invasive of peoples privacy and less noticeable to thieves
-stay together with your family or guide, and follow their instructions. If alone without a guide, look alert and pay attention to who is around you.
-use a clip wallet or cross body bag to hold small denominations, copies of your passport and an easily cancelled credit card (leave the bulk of your cash, passport and another CC in your safe)
- if visiting churches, try to wear pants or capris, not shorts and be sure you are respectful about photos and other restricitions.


next up- Trip Home
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Old 09-05-2012, 01:52 PM   #21
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Aug 25: The Journey Home

We are awoken by our box lunches arriving right at 5 AM...the hotel service is very efficient. We dress, gathered our bags and met Miguel in the lobby. The ABD transfers always require a pick up 3 hours early for airport drops. I understand why, but your mileage may vary. AT 6 AM , there is no traffic in the city and we arrive at the airport in 15 minutes. Once at the ticket counter, our family is able to use priority check in which doesn't take more than 10 minutes, passport control is about a 20 minute wait (you'll finally get your passport stamp here...yeah!) and there is no one in line at security. You have to pass through the duty free shops to get to the gates and your carry on bags will be inspected at the gate again.

You cannot bring liquids of any sort (coffee, water) into the gate area, even if they are purchased beyond the security check point, but we noticed they let people sit in a restricted area to finish up coffee (my DM did this and we referred to it at the "group W " bench - maybe you know the reference;-) If any one of these areas bogs down, as it might if several flights are going out at once, you can see why they build in the extra time to make it through the process. Since we move through quickly, we have about 2 hours to wait (and shop) But if your pick up feels too early, you can certainly plan to do your own transfers.

Our trip home was truly uneventful, which was good, we were tired and anxious to get home to our pets. We didn't need any more "adventures". But we have many wonderful stories to tell of our time in Ecuador and the beautiful people we have met...and now this story is over! Thank you for following along and I do hope if you are reading to research your own journey, that you have a wonderful adventure!!

Up next- my packing list and some photo tips from DH
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Old 09-05-2012, 01:56 PM   #22
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Packing List

Packing List
(approx six days worth- then do laundry or double for no laundry)
Clothing
6 pairs underwear
2 pairs of wool socks for highlands
PJ's with an extra top
2 skorts/shorts
2 pairs long pants (or combine these by using zip off convertible pants)
1 pair of capris for travel days
4 cotton spandex sleeveless blouses
one lightweight cardigan to match all blouses- to dress up in the evenings
4 quick dry tee shirts
one sun dress for adult night on the ship
comfortable walking shoes or sneakers
long sleeve safari shirt to protect arms in the sun on hikes
2 bathing suits
1 surf shirt
bathing suit cover up (more for pool use as you will be in a wet suit in the Galapagos)
1 pair of amphibious closed toe sandals
sun hat
sunglasses
windblock fleece or wool sweater
rain jacket/windbreaker
lightweight fleece gloves (ear band, or wool hat if you get cold easily)
Optional
lightweight robe and slipper- The JW provides these, but for this trip which may require late night visits between family rooms or cabins, its nice to cover up;-)
exercise clothes (we are work out fiends but with the pace and the elevation, we never got to the gym)

Gear
a comfortable day pack or bag
money belt for passports and money on transfer days and city visits
a small clip wallet or cross body wallet for keeping petty cash and room keys on your person during transfer days
reading glasses/extra prescription glasses
camera (bring your chargers...same plugs as US; for Europeans, bring an adaptor)
extra memory cards...we change these out in areas where theft or water damage could cause loss, that way we only lose the days photos, not the whole trip!! (or down load nightly if you bring an ipad or laptop)
binoculars
mask and snorkel
headlamp or flashlight
electronics (and chargers) for plane and bus rides (ipads, phones or game systems)
water bottle holder sling for kids
bag with your toiletries
Optional: Dry bag for camera equipment if you must be sure it will stay dry and it's useful for wet or dirty laundry too, though for most zip bags are fine!

Other stuff that helped us out
duct tape for marking similar ABD bags, and marking kids snorkels for quick ID in water, marking water bottles
travel laundry detergent packs or all in one toss in style cloths
lots of extra 2 gallon zip lock bags for wet and dirty clothing
packages of M& Ms and nuts for snacking on planes and other times when you aren't with the ABD guides
bug stuff and sunscreen and lip balm with SPF
note book for recording sightings, names of guides, numbers of snorkel bags, changing travel details, new friends email addresses

First Aid Kit
Prescription medications: your regular stuff plus at least 2-4 extra days worth, ask your travel doc about antibiotics for gastro upsets or infections, altitude pills.
Gastro: Imodium, laxative, rehydration salts (check the pedi aisle for the kind you add to water, not bigger than a pack breath strips), tums/rolaids
Pain relief: advil (extra if you plan to use it for altitude), tylenol, ambesol ( for teethers or tweens with braces), antibiotic cream/spray
Allergy/Itch relief: Benadryl, *cortisone cream or spray, claritin
Cold relief: *chloraseptic (in little blister packs) *nasal decongestant spray, and zinc lozenges (if you usually take these when you feel a cold coming on.)
Motion relief: ginger gum, sea bands, chewable dramamine and bonnine
Other: *eye drops (Quito is hard on the eyes), *antifungal cream ( a broad spectrum one will cover a variety of possible locations), *sun lotion and *bug stuff
Bandaids
blister bandaids

There is a good chance of finding any of these things in a local pharmacy in Quito or in one of the towns, but its nice to have it in your room in the middle of the night. The doctors on our trip carried more than this, ;-) but as a layperson, this is a far as I am going to self treat before getting professional assistance! Bring children's formulations if you kids are too young for adult. I left this kit ( which fits in a gusseted quart bag) in my hotel room and just pack a "go bag" with smaller quantities in back pack for excursions to handle a little emergency on the road. Remember to take the liquids and gels * out and put them in your little gel bag for international airport security. My go bag is a snack size zip lock bag.

First Aid Go Bag
*antibiotic spray
bandaids and blister bandaids
chewable dramamine, bonnine pills and some ginger gum
tums
advil
immodium
1 or 2 bug wipes (I use natrapel picardin bug wipes...in case we forget the repellent in our day bag)
lip balm with SPF
And I always carry one tube of sunscreen in my back pack for reapplications


Documents
passports- check these when you book...will they expire less than 6 mos after your trip? If so arrange to get new ones now!
copies of each pass port to carry around with you when pp are locked up.
medical cards for family
credit cards- pick one with out an international transaction fee,( capitol one) and notify your bank before leaving
copies of credit cards and insurance info to leave in the safe in case cards are stolen/lost
guide books- pick just a couple, one of the Galapagos and one with maps of Ecuador; helpful when making notes after excursions
Disney docs and itineraries
airline e docs
vouchers for tours or travel
insurance info and emergency contacts
cash parceled out in envelopes for market (smaller bills) and guides ( large bills, less bulky for them and you!)
folder or large manila envelop to store collected paper work and receipts and scrapbook items

Things Not Needed
Water bottle, you are provided either bottled water or a GE II bottle for water during the trip.
Jewelry, other than earrings and a simple wedding band; better to leave this in your safe deposit box at home
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Old 09-05-2012, 02:11 PM   #23
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Phenomenal trip report with many interesting stories. Thank you so much. This trip is on my bucket list so I drank in every detail. I love to hear the good, the bad and the ugly of a trip. This way I know what to expect to better deal with situations as they arise, especially since my family also travels a lot with my elderly father and his wife.

I LOL'd at your mother's hat. I swear to you that I have a picture of my father sporting the exact same hat. I cringed every time he wore it when we took him to visit Arizona and the Grand Canyon. There is something extra "special" about it when worn it tied under the chin!

Also, the pictures, especially the wildlife ones were absolutely of professional quality.

Wonderful report.
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Old 09-05-2012, 02:46 PM   #24
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Great trip report thanks for sharing! My dream trip is the Galapagos but I'm waiting till my girls are older (youngest is only 3) before I start looking at trips. But this helped a lot so thank you for being so informative!
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Old 09-05-2012, 04:26 PM   #25
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Phenomenal trip report with many interesting stories. Thank you so much. This trip is on my bucket list so I drank in every detail. I love to hear the good, the bad and the ugly of a trip. This way I know what to expect to better deal with situations as they arise, especially since my family also travels a lot with my elderly father and his wife.

I LOL'd at your mother's hat. I swear to you that I have a picture of my father sporting the exact same hat. I cringed every time he wore it when we took him to visit Arizona and the Grand Canyon. There is something extra "special" about it when worn it tied under the chin!

Also, the pictures, especially the wildlife ones were absolutely of professional quality.

Wonderful report.
Thanks L! I feel the same way...give me the whole scoop and I'll decide! I must say on the whole the trip was amazing! It was only the one guide who was good, but not great, and one long day where a few things didn't work out perfectly...that's pretty good!
I can't blame mom for the hat. It was a freebie and when she said all she had were visors when we packed I offered it up. Like a crack dealer- I knew I was setting her upN

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Great trip report thanks for sharing! My dream trip is the Galapagos but I'm waiting till my girls are older (youngest is only 3) before I start looking at trips. But this helped a lot so thank you for being so informative!
I often read reviews for " future " trips too, you neve r know when you'll be inspired! I agree that 5 or 6 is a little young. The youngest on our trip was 8 and 7 or 8 would be perfect for a youngest ( they are used to keeping up with the bigs , aren't they!) This trip is a perfect first "wildlife" trip. Everything is out in the open, and completely untaxed by shrieks or giggles. Costa Rica was tougher to see the animals, but had so much even with insects etc that I recommend 8 and up. For Africa, the animals are fairly visible, but potentially scary, they will run off if you are too noisy and looking for them takes some time. So I'd do more like 10 as a min on that one, but honestly for my own kids 13 wasn't too late either...it was a long flight, and overwhelmingly ( in a nice way for adults ) unfamiliar. But it's fun to dream! We started ours at WDW every two years at 2 and before long they'd be in AK begging us to take the to see " real " animals in the wild!
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Old 09-05-2012, 07:41 PM   #26
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WOW!!! Thank you sooooo much FamilygoBoston for such an awesome and extensive report! So extensive, in fact, I haven't had time to read through the whole thing yet. I think I may even print some for reference as I get into focus for my trip.

I'm sure I'll have questions or comments, but for now heading back to read more....thankyouthankyouthankyou!
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Old 09-05-2012, 08:27 PM   #27
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WOW!!! Thank you sooooo much FamilygoBoston for such an awesome and extensive report! So extensive, in fact, I haven't had time to read through the whole thing yet. I think I may even print some for reference as I get into focus for my trip.

I'm sure I'll have questions or comments, but for now heading back to read more....thankyouthankyouthankyou!
Thanks Kristilew! That is the problem with such comprehensive review...you do need a vacation day to read it
It actually took me quite a while to write it! I started with notes each night on my iPad, then fleshed it out in word in my computer with notes about what photos i wanted in each section and then embedded my DH 's photos into the text from his website. He made it easy by uploading them in chronological order.
Football starts tonight, so he won't work on his camera tips till after the first game of the season
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Old 09-06-2012, 01:31 AM   #28
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Fantastic trip report!! I love all of the details, photos and stories. This wasn't a trip that I was considering until reading this! Thank you.
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Old 09-06-2012, 06:36 AM   #29
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Fantastic trip report!! I love all of the details, photos and stories. This wasn't a trip that I was considering until reading this! Thank you.
Maybe I should get a commission?? Seriously, Thank you! I had first thought maybe it was too negative for this board, because I do mention the things that go wrong. But things do often go wrong during travel; I guess that what makes a trip successful is how those challenges get managed. I felt our guides did an excellent job. And there is no getting past that the amazing people and wildlife of Ecuador never fail to delight!
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Old 09-06-2012, 07:05 AM   #30
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Perhaps you should! You would make a great travel writer.

I didn't see it as negative at all, but more honest about your experiences and expectations. Those are the kind of things that are very helpful for those of us that travel with extended family and have come to expect certain things from a brand.
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