Trip Report: Ecuador-Andean Highlands and Galapagos Islands August 2012

Discussion in 'Adventures By Disney' started by familygoboston, Sep 5, 2012.

  1. familygoboston

    familygoboston Mouseketeer

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    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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  3. familygoboston

    familygoboston Mouseketeer

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    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
     
  4. LSmith

    LSmith DIS Veteran

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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.
     
  5. ansmom

    ansmom Earning My Ears

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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!
     
  6. familygoboston

    familygoboston Mouseketeer

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    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 up:rotfl:N

    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!
     
  7. kristilew

    kristilew DIS Veteran

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    WOW!!! :love: 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!
     
  8. familygoboston

    familygoboston Mouseketeer

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    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:laughing:
     
  9. MooksterL1

    MooksterL1 Mouseketeer

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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.
     
  10. familygoboston

    familygoboston Mouseketeer

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    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!
     
  11. MooksterL1

    MooksterL1 Mouseketeer

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    Perhaps you should! :lmao: 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.
     
  12. familygoboston

    familygoboston Mouseketeer

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    You are too kind!! Let us know if you decide to go...i'd love to hear about your trip too!
     
  13. MooksterL1

    MooksterL1 Mouseketeer

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    Oh I will! It will probably be a couple of years. My youngest is 6 and I think he would get more from the experience when he is a little older.

    My plan is to do the ABD Cities of Knights and Lights, England/Pari next summer. I am excited already and I haven't booked yet!!
     
  14. familygoboston

    familygoboston Mouseketeer

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    From DH- and I'll pass along any questions, but I have no earthly idea what any of this means:confused3:lmao:

    For lenses I used the 24-120 f/4 VR on the D4 and the 70-200 VR with the 1.4TC on the D800 (in DX mode). The former camera/lens combination was my “go to” rig. The latter camera/lens was only used on the islands in the Galapagos to get me some needed reach without a lot of weight. I also brought the 16-35 that I used for the interiors as well as the rainbow. I thought I’d use the 16-35 more, but found the 24mm end of the 24-120 plenty wide enough most of the time and the 24-120/70-200 & TC combination effectively gave me 24-420 f/4 between the two cameras. I carried them on a dual BlackRapid strap (highly recommended). For the Quito shots I used the 10-30 and 30-110 Nikon 1 lenses on my V1.
     
  15. tufbuf

    tufbuf Disney Addict!

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    First of all, thanks to your DH for taking time off in his football game to share this info. ;) Man oh man! That is some serious gear and glass! Well, it's all worth it since your photos came out ah-mazing!! I use Canon and I would love to go on trips with two bodies. Your DH can get away with it since he is 6'6". I'm about a foot and a half shorter and using a Double strap with two cameras and humongous lenses will make me look dorky. I'll look into it since the vests will make me look like I'm wearing a bulletproof vest and I'm not big enough for the belt holsters to fit right. I looked into the mirrorless digicams (his Nikon V1) as an alternative to a giant dslr but the crop factor is dissuading me. Thanks again!
     
  16. familygoboston

    familygoboston Mouseketeer

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    LOL! But he does look like a dork:lmao: Just kidding...no doubt between his size and the ability to carry the weight, he can get away with carrying two bodies and large lenses.
    Honestly, its entirely too much equipement for anyone not seriously interested in photography as a hobby as part of the reason to take the trip or a pro. He does it because it's how he enjoys the trip, under no circumstances would most people want or even need that much stuff to get great shots! It's kind of like...you can wear capris and fit in perfectly at dinner, but some people want to bring a sundress and some jewelry because they enjoy it! It's in no way necessary to carry that much stuff, but it's his hobby and he's willing to bring the stuff to get the shots he wants:thumbsup2
    I tease him mercilessly about it, but in the end, I am always so pleased about the results!

    Now our next trip is to French Polynesia and since there is far less wildlife (above the water) to see, he will carry a very pared down kit (probably one body and two lenses) and our water camera!
     
  17. tufbuf

    tufbuf Disney Addict!

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    Ouch!!! That would be me too! I almost always bring 2 bodies and 2 or 3 lenses. Actually, with your DH, I found my match! My DH is kind enough to carry the backpack for me. On our last trip, I brought my 70-200 mm lens as well (equivalent to your DH's 70-200 BUT it's about half the weight) and boy, he kept complaining how heavy the backpack was. So now, I'm considering a camera roller bag. It's also my hobby and since I use only L lenses (Canon's counterpart of Nikon's VR lenses), they are extra heavy. I thought your DH is some Nikon exec. ;) And that's me too. I do wear sundresses and jewelry for dinner on trips, so that's an extra load as well. ;)

    PS - sorry, I meant I found my match in camera gear-carrying, he's way beyond in terms of photo quality.
     
  18. familygoboston

    familygoboston Mouseketeer

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    No Apologies...your photos are great!! You are lucky to have a guy willing to lug the gear, I try to be a helpmate by carrying all the other "stuff" raincoats, water etc, in my back pack.
    DH says all you photographers joke about how many different camera bags you own too, is this you too?;) We are otherwise really light travelers so that's why the cameras take up such a big percentage of our bag weight! We are seriously thinking we can go to FP for 10 days with just carry ons, and just do a little laundry. We will see once we start packing.
     
  19. tufbuf

    tufbuf Disney Addict!

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    DH is a light traveler, I'm not! I have one trusty camera backpack but will be looking at a rollerbag to fit my gear. DH carries the backpack when we go around and I just have the camera with me, anything else, I don't think I'll be able to walk!! LOL I even tried coaxing DH to carry the second body and I got an outright no. :( Hey, I'll look into that Black Rapid dual strap. I found a review and a petite woman (a wee bit tinier than me!) said it worked for her!! Thanks again for all the info. I can only ogle in awe!!
     
  20. megveg

    megveg Drink up me hearties, yo ho!

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    First of all; :wave2: Howdy neighbor! I'm from justt outside Boston :)

    Second: The Galapagos is my dream trip and when I found out there was a Galapagos trip for ABD I nearly fainted :rotfl2: When I found your report, I let out an audible excited sound :lmao: Your report was AMAZING and all the pictures took my breath away! Thank you so much for sharing this adventure its already helped me so so much! :banana::worship:
     
  21. glassslipper2004

    glassslipper2004 DIS Veteran

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    Thank you so much for writing this amazing trip report - I loved reading it. Maybe someday we will go on this trip - it looks awesome!
     

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