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Off to the Equator Without a Kayak - a Winter Trip to the Amazon Basin and Galapagos Islands -- January 2015


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Off to the Equator: A Winter Trip to the Amazon Basin and Galapagos Islands

January 18 February 2, 2015

In this Winter of Our Discontent - If Not Complete and Abject Misery - 2015, I would like to offer our gentle readers a trip report that, alas, does not feature kayaking - although I lusted to be doing just that on many an occasion - but in being almost entirely water-based, may satisfy at least some of our longings to be free of swimming pool sessions and out on the deep blue sea in our skinny little boats. My January trip to the Amazon basin and Galapagos Islands of Ecuador featured boats of many kinds and close access to animals and birds. And of course much of the wildlife was nothing that we could see up here - even at a distance - either. If you don't care to join me for a day-by-day description, feel free to click through the photos. Doing so might help with the winter blues!

It all started last autumn, on a Monday morning at 7:30, when I received an email from long-time friends asking me to join them on an equatorially based trip in January. The joy of being retired: two hours later, I was booked! The Galapagos have long been on my wish list, and I was willing to try and suck up my fear of all things creepy and crawly and venture into the necessary Amazon jungle portion of the trip.

Different people prepare for trips of different kinds in different ways. A paddling trip clearly requires accumulating as much knowledge as possible in advance of where we will be going to ensure a safe and pleasurable voyage. What my paddling buddy, Warren, disparagingly refers to as Led and Fed trips do not. While I share a preference for planning and choosing a route, such an approach is neither practical, nor in the case of the Galapagos possible, and tour groups are the only way you can go. (Much of the Galapagos Islands are part of the Parque Nacional, and there are strict rules about access - much stricter than MITA! You couldn't just hop in a kayak, even if you had access to one, and go and paddle and land anywhere. There are some trips that offer kayaking, but those generally put you in clunky double boats.) In any event, beyond rather endless obsessing about what clothing to bring for sun, heat, rain, bug and feet protection; and getting required shots and medications, I did little planning and almost no advance reading for this trip. Voyage of the Beagle and On the Origin of Species would have to wait for my return home. I wanted to be surprised by everything. The wildlife, the water, the land. And I certainly was!

And so it was that, well and efficiently packed, but ignorant of what lay ahead, my friends Amy and Ted and I boarded the first of two flights that would land us in Quito, Ecuador, many hours later but very happily in the same time zone as that in which we had started. This is one of the excellent features of heading straight south rather than east or west. There is no jet lag to affect the first days of a trip, and other than dealing with being at an elevation of 9000 feet on landing, one is ready to get up and go from the get-go! We joined a group that would total fourteen for the rest of the trip.

At over 9000 feet, Quito, Ecuador is the highest national capital city in the world. We arrived at night so were unable to see much, but the next morning, in brief peeks through the clouds, we could see the Andes Mountains, in which the city is nestled, although the ring of volcanoes that encircle it stayed hidden in the several days we were there. After a day of seeing parts of the city, dodging periodic rain showers, and gasping our way up steep streets, we boarded a small bus the next morning for what would be a nine hour drive over the Andes to the Amazon basin. I am sure that from the high pass of 13,000 feet the view would be spectacular, but not on this particular day. The weather is apparently so frequently wet that the road at the top of the pass is under almost continuous construction:


We took took a break at an area very attractive to hummingbirds, made more so by the many sugar water feeders hanging everywhere.


We stopped for lunch on the downside of the mountains in a small town called Baeza. It was here that I came closest to paddling, although of course I wasn't close to paddling at all. A mecca for white-water paddlers, we were greeted by a row of scruffy gringos on the porch of the restaurant.


White-water paddlers all, spending months in South America chasing rivers and apparently partying til all hours (this group looked rather spent and acknowledged that their nights tended to be late).

I enjoyed looking at familiar gear hanging in familiar ways,


but the difference between whitewater paddlers and NSPN members was as obvious as the vast gap between their age and mine. Ah, youth. I watched as they called for a cab - actually a small truck - on which to load their boats and gear. An hour later, as we continued on our way, I saw them unloading their boats and preparing to lug their gear across a bumpy and down-sloping meadow to a fast-moving river that lay at the bottom of the ravine.


We stopped at a waterfall. Apparently it is also popular with kayakers, although I don't understand the lure of dropping down a watery precipice in a small boat


OK, I didn't really see a boat going over the falls


The Amazon Basin

Finally, the mountains were behind us, and for the first time, spread out below us in a flattening infinity, was the Amazon basin.


We arrived in a town called Coca (yes, named after that substance) on the Rio Napo, where we were fitted for the stylish rubber boots that would be our footwear for all of our time in the jungle - you know, mud and biting ants, and...snakes - and then boarded a long motorized canoe for the hour and a half ride to our jungle digs. The Napo River is the thirteenth largest tributary that feeds into the mighty Amazon River - which runs through Peru and Brazil, but not Ecuador. The Napo is a wide, shallow, muddy and fast moving river, fed by rainwater coming off the Andes.

Our splendid guide, Delphin (dolphin en espanol, a promising sign!), who grew up deep in the jungle, told me that the river was about a mile and a half wide and moving at around six or seven miles an hour. From the many shiver (cold and fear) inducing hours I spent last year at Cobscook Bay with John Carmody, I was immediately aware that the fast moving river was a cauldron of boils, whirlpools, and wide and unstable eddies. The boat driver steered from side to side of the massive river, seeking channels. Clouds hung low as nighttime approached.


Then, without warning, we turned abruptly to the right, where the dense shore foliage miraculously parted and a still and narrow blackwater river, the Manduro, led into the jungle from its juncture with the Napo. We slowed to a glide, the motor silencing from roar to putt putt, and for the first time the jungle sounds took over.


The Yarina Ecolodge on the Manduro River would be our home for the next few days.


I will hurry us through the Amazon experience because I didn't take many pictures and I was anxious - then and now! - to get to the Galapagos. That said, a portion of the trip that I was rather dreading (snakes! mosquitoes! parasites! creepy brown water you can't see into! branches you don't want brushing against you as you float down the river etc etc etc), turned out to be pretty magical. I didn't get one bug bite. I saw only one snake (curled up in a tree overhanging the river, confirming my focus on keeping all body parts tucked within the width of the boat, and the necessity of ducking below any overhanging vegetation). While another guest found a tarantula in her cabin, I saw only one rather large spider in mine that I was able to escort out on my own.

The lodge featured a large open grass-roofed main building where we ate meals family style at three long tables. An honor bar - wine, beer, and what I became convinced by the end of the trip was the National Cookie of Ecuador, packages of Oreos - was available for purchase. We each had our own grass-roofed cabin.


I was surprised to see a wool blanket on the bed, but as it turned out, it did get chilly at night - even in the jungle - and I was glad to have it. Mosquito netting hung from the ceiling and tucked neatly around the bed. A private bathroom with mostly cold water shower. And four hours of electricity a day (6-10 pm) for firing up camera batteries and having light to read by. The nights were noisy: frogs that sounded like ducks quacking. Some of our group claimed to have been kept up all night by the jungle racket.

Over the next few days, we ventured out in our stylish wear (my buddy Amy and I modeling here)


on several different trips: to a local school, where the resources were predictably close to nonexistent


to a family's home, where a splendid meal was prepared for and by us. I have a video that proves these guys were quite alive and wriggling.


Only Delphin ate them in this state, but I did volunteer to prepare them for cooking - which entailed crushing their wriggly fat bodies at their black heads (crack!) until they were quite dead and then threading them onto wooden skewers. When cooked, they tasted rather like bacon.

We went up and down our still river.

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My buddies, Ted and Amy, and I took out a canoe for a ride. Ted paddled, having conquered the Allagash Wilderness last summer and honed his skills.


We went on a night paddle in the small canoes. I was terribly impressed that the local men who were solo paddling in the stern were able to do so without making any sound at all.


We saw a capybara, the worlds largest rodent, a not terribly intelligent looking creature that sat silently in the dark and blinked at us as we started back at him. We saw the eyes of caimans reflected back at our lights. The next day, we went back to where we had been in the dark, and enjoyed seeing it by day, including from the top of very rickety viewing platform that we weren't convinced had had any serious engineering inspection in many years.




Kapok trees.

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Butterflies masking as owls.


Weird looking birds.


Rain and flooded dock. It's the jungle, after all.


Any small boat is beautiful


And then it was time to head back to Coca on the boily and whirlpooly Napo River.


where at this not terribly reassuring airport we would fly back to Quito.


We were pleased to see such a cheerful looking group of armed men to keep us safe


even if we had worries about how safe the planes were... As it turned out, we survived the flight.

The Galapagos/Los Galapagos/Islas Galapagos

First Day: And then, it was off to the Galapagos, for the portion of the trip that was, for me, pure and unadulterated magic. At the airport, we were required to buy a $100 entry card to the Parque Nacional Galapagos. Worth every penny and couldn't go to a better travel cause.


I don't know what they did with all of our luggage in the hold, but as we approached the islands, an efficient team of two flight attendants opened all the overhead bins, then walked down the aisle spraying each bin and then shutting it. No unwelcome visitors to this very special environment!


And then we landed at the main airport on Isla Baltra. From there, a small ferry, a medium-sized bus, our feet, and then two ponga (what they call the zodiac type pontoon boat) carried our merry band of 14 to our home for the next week, a three decked catamaran with a crew of 10, then moored off of Puerto Ayora, the main town on Isla Santa Cruz. Our group was to be the only one on the ship. But from the minute we arrived on the Galapagos, I almost had to be restrained from leaping into the water. Let me jump through the window of our first ferry into the aqua blue water!


First Galapagos surprise: that so much of the water was Caribbean blue. For whatever reason, I had imagined a landscape of flat dry islands surrounded by cold dark blue sea. Wrong! Totally wrong.

A quick trip to the Darwin Research Center to look at giant tortoises


then back to the dock, guarded by this lovely fella,


and a moment to admire this mellow fellow,


then back to the ship, for an overnight sailing west and north from Isla Santa Cruz to Isla Isabela, a seahorse shaped island that is the largest of the archipelago. A word on sleeping on a large catamaran: aside from the (considerable) roar of the motor, the ship had a very pronounced side to side rocking motion as it edged from one of its pontoons to the other and back againon through the night. I ultimately came to enjoy this, but feared at first that it might test my iron stomach. It did not!

Second Day: post-101481-0-16129000-1425029569_thumb.

The first morning, perhaps channeling my inner Warren, I set my alarm for 5:30 and was rewarded by a private showing of the sunrise topped by black cloud trailing behind the ship.


This plan was so successful, I continued it for the rest of the trip, arising before the sun and other passengers and soaking up the morning by myself. A different kind of magic than sitting on a rock facing east on a Maine island, but magic nonetheless.


I was captivated for sure.


And then in the distance, a triangular shaped island


that revealed itself as El Eden, a small but great rock of an island - our first destination for the day.


We got closer (note, those are trees up there)


and loaded into two pongas for our first circumnav of an island. Swarming with water iguanas...


and then, breathlessly! our first exposure to the iconic blue footed booby!


I was so thrilled by his feet I was prepared to fall out of the ponga to get a closer view of them.


One never forgets one's first blue footed booby, and as many as we would end up seeing over the ensuing days, we never stopped being thrilled by this one. Such a wonderfully silly looking bird!


Clockwise we went, the rocks and water


a pelican and booby,


great blue heron (with none of that Maine shyness we are all so familiar with up north as we near these graceful creatures) incongruously posed next to some cactus,


and a sea lion snoozing, kept company by the very cheerful Sally Lightfoot crabs.


More rocks and water and more incongruity of the tropical blue below and the dusty green cactus above.


And then we snorkeled for the first time below the cliffs. I was surprised by the tropical fish below. I didn't take pictures underwater; I just enjoyed it. I didn't want to get out of the water, and as would be the case every opportunity we were given to be in the water rather than just on it, I was the last one to get out and then only very reluctantly.

We continued on, heading to the afternoon's destination, Cerro Dragon, (the hill you can see in the foreground below), where some people hoped to see land iguanas. (I for one was much preferring mammals, fish and birds to reptiles, thank you very much.)


Before we once again boarded the pongas to head to this hill on Isla Isabela, we had what would become a daily staple - a siesta, which tended to last from noonish to threeish. At first we protested, wanting to do and see more more more. But this is the equatorial part of the world, right? It gets hot in the middle of the day, and the object was to avoid being out in it. We found out that this made a lot of sense.

In the afternoon, we loaded onto the little boats, but before landing by a white sand beach, took a detour into a wonderfully flat calm area with warm water, cactus and lava islands,


and several underwater creatures - rays and sharks that I didn't get pictures of. We did get an overflight of a magnificent frigatebird (and magnificent isnt a descriptor - although really it is; it's the bird's name: magnificent frigatebird) - right above us.


We eventually landed


and walked by a shallow body of water where a black necked stilt searched for his supper.


Iguana tracks.


We did see a few of the land iguanas but I didn't take pictures. The walk around Cerro Dragon took an hour or so; it was hot and still and the landscape was dry and mysterious.


Then we were picked up by our ponga driver


for another night of back and forth boat rocking and rumbling of engine as we headed to our next mooring by the town of Puerto Villamil on Isla Isabela.

Third Day: post-101481-0-69886700-1425030546_thumb.

Sunrise again.


A ponga ride by a yellow buoy where sea lions lounged, one rather motley

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and then herons: a lava heron and anither great blue.

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And then landing on Islet Tintoreras, a nursery for iguanas and location of a small canal through which white tipped sharks often travel, but alas, not today.


We had to settle for a marine iguana, swimming on by.


And this splendid fellow, who chattered his head the way male iguanas do when they want to impress the ladies or scare off rivals. It had little effect on me.


A beautiful beach to which entry was forbidden by the Parque Nacional, where an alpha male sea lion patrolled the beach, looking after several ladies and juveniles, prepared when necessary to fight off interloping males.


But we were able to swim close by, and watched a juvenile sea lion playing tag with a ray. He paid us a bit of attention, but soon found the ray more amusing and let us be. When we returned to the ship, I had as usual not gotten enough of the water, and got permission to swim laps around the boat - after it was determined that all the engines were off and the captain would not turn them on again until I was done!

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That afternoon, we went into the town of Porta Villamil, where we saw our first Galapagos penguin by the docks.

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And a pink flamingo in a nearby lagoon.


And the highly poisonous manzanilla tree whose appealing apple-ish fruit has apparently killed more than one tourist. We toured a church with stained glass windows of turtles and boobies, and over the alter, Jesus floating above a Galapagos landscape.


A fitting end to a splendid day.

We continued our clockwise voyage around Isla Isabela that night.

Fourth Day: post-101481-0-17862100-1425031279_thumb.

Sunrise the next morning had us off of Punto Moreno.


The land was black lava, and the way to it was protected by reefs of lava. It was a rough ponga ride that I enjoyed very much, appreciating the skill of our pilot once again. I'm certainly not good in waves in my kayak, but I have learned something about watching and reading them, and found this helped me to read what our pilot was doing as he wove through breaking waves.


Flightless cormorants drying their sorry and useless little wings.


Iguanas, always iguanas.


A difficult walk on a broken up and seemingly endless field of lava, and finally a view of a white tipped shark swimming


in one of the pools of azure water connected by underwater tunnels to the sea beyond.


A few of us swam again, after cautions from our guide about the cold and unwelcoming water temperature, caused by the Cromwell current running along the western side of Isla Isabela. Everyone else was in a shorty wetsuit as they were for every swim, but I found that my usual swimming gear - bathing suit and a long-sleeved shirt to protect me from the sun - was just fine. The water was cool - Maine-lake-in-high-summer-cool, which is to say, just fine! But the water was rough and sand suspended in it limited visibility. Still, I swam with three sea turtles, who casually went their way, indifferent it seemed to a human floating a few feet above them. On the way back to the boat, we saw a sea lion leaping repeatedly out of the water, as graceful as a dolphin.

We pulled anchor and continued north through the hot siesta hours to Bahia Urbina, under cloud-topped Alcedo Volcano. Our afternoon walk was the one miserable experience of the trip. It was hot. Hot. Hot. Still. Yes, the turtles were nice


and the landscape was interesting


but we were tormented by what seemed like millions of yellow jackets, an introduced species that inflicted painful bites on Ted and me.

Some of us finished with a swim off the lava sand beach, while others just stood in the water while a carnival of dive-bombing pelicans and boobies provided entertainment by crashing into the water right next to them as penguins darted by.

And then we left behind the volcano, which I named Double Nipple Mountain...


Fifth Day: post-101481-0-89278800-1425031609_thumb. (new red route line)

Sunrise again as we headed to Isla Fernandina.


A pod of dolphins leaping by the boat.


I felt incredibly happy and relaxed. Why not? Happily clueless that as my friends and I enjoyed the barefoot and shortsleeve morning, Boston was digging out 36 inches of snow from the first of the winter's endless series of storms


Another skillfully piloted ponga ride through breaking waves and reefs to Fernandina Island. Black and blue.


We came upon a lone penguin on a rock. Waiting for a bus?


This way?


That way?


No, this way?


Darn, where is it?


And still waiting for that bus when we finally left him to wait some more on his own.


The largest colony of water iguanas on the Galapagos are on Isla Fernandina. I believe it...

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But more, much more.

Sea lions, mother and suckling baby.

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Playful sibs.


Sally Lightfoot crabs - how beautiful they are!

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Spectacular beaches and vistas.

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A very hot walk across a lava field.


Pilot whale skeleton with sea lion skull attached by someone with an osteological sense of humor.


A driftwood dragon.


More swimming.

Then a short tide back to Isla Isabela to the east, this time featuring a forbidding, rocky cave pocked shoreline,


where we were unable to swim, but did take an incredible and bumpy ponga ride. It would have been great in a kayak!

Sea lion up above


and rocks like a dripping mouth,



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Our most skilled driver backed into a crack into the rock, which proved to be a mini thunder hole, the swell booming against the back of the cave.


The view from inside.


The other boat didn't make it in, and boy were they jealous! Back to the ship we went.


And then onward, north toward the equator, running across the spectacular and forbidding coastline heading to the north end of Isla Isabela.

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We crossed the equator and marked the occasion with drinks on the bridge. GPS marks the spot:


This marked the start of our longest sail, 12 hours through the afternoon and night toward our our last full day's destinations: Puerto Egas on Santiago Island in the morning, Isla Rabida in the afternoon.

Day Six: post-101481-0-69503200-1425032708_thumb. (new blue route marker)



on what would turn out to be the most varied and beautiful day of the trip.

The beach at Puerto Egas on Santiago Island had a greeting party of sea lions on a beach framed by wind-and water-carved rocks.

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Puerto Egas was the site of a salt mine that closed in the 1970s. We walked under an overcast sky through landscape that felt almost moorish, and maybe 12 or 17 raindrops fell.

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One of Mr. Darwin's finches, on one of the islands where he actually landed.


We were heading toward the only colony of fur seals that we would see. Turning toward the coast, the moor abruptly gave way to the lava rock coastline, where water rushed in and out of the rocks


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and fur seals lounged and played and surfed

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We would have been happy to stay there for hours to watch them, but couldn't We walked back along the beach.


Another fantastic shoreline of white sand, blue water and carved black rocks and cobbles of lava.

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Oh! how much did I want to pocket this beauty and take it home?


But the rules in the Parque Nacional are very strict: no stone, no father, no bone, no leaf, no grain of sand can leave in the pocket or backpack of a tourist or anyone else.

So I just took more pictures.


American oystercatcher.


Sea lions.

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And left all those wonderful cobbles behind.


Only two of us chose to swim off this beach, and I was rewarded by being utterly surprised by - and surprising - a baby sea lion that popped up right next to me. As always, I did not want to leave.

But it was worth it to move on. I slept through the siesta hours, and was astonished to wake up to a vision of red and aqua blue: Isla Rabida.


Colors unlike anything else we'd seen.

Baby seal on the red beach.

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Alpha male protectively patrolling just offshore.


We walked up a red path


to a red headland overlooking the cove where our ship was moored.


Red and blue.


On the way back, we came across a sea lion lying some distance from the shore, in the shade of a bush. On closer inspection, we saw that his flipper was bloody, and there were marks both above and below on his torso. Likely a shark bite. He looked sad


and we certainly felt that way as well, but there was nothing to do but leave him be.

Back on the beach, a juvenile.

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When we swam again in the cove by the boat, I was glad when my friend Ted suggested we buddy up, both because the water had turned rough, but also because that shark bitten sea lion had gotten my attention.

Ted and I swam again with sea turtles, one of whom had a great chunk bitten out of the side of his shell. Shark?

That night was our last on the boat, and I don't think I've ever felt sadder at the prospect of getting off the water - and this includes every camping trip I've taken in Maine.

And on the seventh day, we had to leave:

The next morning, sunrise, of course,


and then our first opportunity for an early morning trip to the north shore on Isla Santa Cruz, the island where we'd started.

A white sand beach beckoned.


This was a turtle nesting beach, and we saw the tracks they left on their way to the sea.



A yellow warbler feasted on turtle eggs for breakfast. Do these cute little birds really eat turtle eggs? Sure looked like it...


More herons!

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A flock of boobies dive-bombing for breakfast.


A final swim. Only two of us went in. How could that be?

When it was time to get back into the ponga, I determined that I would be the last one in, and held back so as to be the last to leave the beach on the last boat. Our guide sent off the first boat.


The next ponga arrived and I was indeed the last one on. The beach receded into the distance and blurred into the landscape beyond


And then our time on the water was over, and it is with only a slight bit of embarrassment that I say that I had a tear or two in my eyes when we waved goodbye to the ship and crew.


There was another overnight - in the highlands of Santa Cruz - with a visit to a protected tortoise area. Yes, they're very cool.


But I missed the ocean, the sea lions, the Galapagos penguins, the blue-footed boobies, the flightless cormorants, the plovers, and the many different varieties of Mr. Darwin's finches that we saw on every island.

This pretty much summed up the wish I had as we headed to the airport to fly back to the mainland.


There was one more opportunity to actually straddle the equator, this time on land.


And then it was time to head to the Quito Airport for the last time for the red-eye home, ultimately into the teeth of the second of the endless series of winter 2015 blizzards. Landing at Logan after a five hour diversion to Philadelphia, where we sat in a sports bar - a bit stunned by the weather and the news of the Patriots Super Bowl win the night before, not to mention fatigue - we marveled that we had landed at all given the conditions outside. Yikes!


But even as we landed back home, I carried with me a final image from the Galapagos, a farewell from a finch - this most modest rock star of evolutionary science. As had been the case whenever I saw one, I was almost unaccountably moved by the awareness that something so small and seemingly ordinary was part of a family that had become, through the writing of Charles Darwin, the most famous in the history of science and in our understanding of the mystery of life.



For those whose who are interested in these things, here is a list of all the birds, mammals and reptiles we saw on the trip.

Amazon basin:

Bugs and reptiles and animals: Amazon termites, black agouti, bufo marinus toad, black caiman, capybara rodent, chonta (whiptail) snake, common long nosed bat, common squirrel monkey, chonta curo (weevil larva that we had for lunch!), dusky titi monkey, fire fly glow larvae, greater fishing bat, morpho butterflies, owl butterfly, smoky jungle frog, yellow spotted Amazon turtle
Birds: Amazon kingfisher, black crowned night heron, black vulture, blue gray tanager, boat billed flycatcher, channel billed toucan, chestnut fronted maca, greater ani, greater yellow headed vulture, great kiskadee, hoatzin, lettered aracari, long billed woodcreeper, many banded aracari, masked tityra, masked crimson tanager, red capped cardinal, roadside hawk, russet backed oropendula, slender billed kite, social flycatcher, speckled chachalaca, swallow tailed kite, tropical kingbird, violaceus jay, wattled jacana and yellow tufted woodpecker.

Galapagos Islands:

Birds: Galapagos penguin, Elliots storm petrel, magnificient frigatebird, blue footed booby, nazca booby, flightless cormorant, brown pelican, white-cheeked pintail, greater flamingo, greater blue heron, lava heron, yellow-crowned night heron, Galapagos hawk, common gallinule (moorhen), whimbrel, semipalmated sandpiper, Galapagos dove, Galapagos mockingbird, American oystercatcher, black-necked stilt, lava gull, common noddy, yellow warbler, smooth-billed ani, and of course many many many different varities of Mr. Darwins finches!
Reptiles: giant tortoise (many species - don't know how many we saw), Pacific green sea turtle, marine iguana, Galapagos land iguana, lava lizard
Marine Mammals: Galapagos sea lion, Galapagos fur seal, and dolphins - but don't exactly what kind.
Sharks and Rays: white-tipped reef shark, spotted eagle ray, mustard ray



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Incredible Pru! The trip of a lifetime that some of us can only dream about. Your dream came true. I never realized how rugged the environment was.

Funny, this morning I was wondering when you were going , then there it was, your wonderful trip report.


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Yes, Paul, they do. The wet season starts in January, usually, but was a bit delayed this year, which was great for us. We saw a few places where the greening was beginning.

I appreciate everyone's kind words about the report. It was a most magical trip, and I'd go back in a heartbeat - to see all the islands we missed this time!


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Wonderful. Trip report, Pru.

You might try your hand at writing a story like this for a kayak/ outdoor/ nature/ travel magazine. I'd buy a copy for sure.

The hummingbird is hard to ID probably a white throated hummingbird, Leucochloris alibicolis. The "weird looking bird" is a hoatzin , not uncommon but unusual in that it's the only bird of its kind: (only species - Opistocomus hoatzin -of the family Opisthocomidae)

It,s unlikely we'll see many trip reports this winter. Maybe you can keep your writing skills fresh with pool session trip reports. That would please all of us who comprise your literary fan base.

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