Termas de Papallacta: Gateway to Bliss

Nestled between the snow-capped Antisana and Cayambe volcanoes lies Termas de Papallacta, a luxurious spa and resort, and a must-visit on your tour through Ecuador! Just 40 miles from Quito, the scenic drive to Papallacta, which sits at 10,824 feet above sea level, eventually culminates in the Amazon. Wind through …

Riding the Liberty Train

Ecuador is revitalizing its once-decrepit train system, and the results are astounding! Once, the train went all the way from near the Colombian border in the north to Guayaquil, but with the advent of roads, large sections of track fell into disuse. In recent years, however, Ecuador has been slowly …

Photo of the week – Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

Early this morning… Ready to jump in the water to snorkel with sea lions! Exploring the Galapagos Islands on board luxury catamarans. Getting to remote places in the enchanted islands. Enjoying every single day of the cruise! Cormorant Luxury Catamaran

Ecuador & Peru Luxury Tour Packages

www.EcuadorLuxuryTours.com Be part of an amazing journey and explore the Avenue of the Volcanoes in Ecuador. Volcanoes, snowcapped, fabulous landscapes and luxury boutique haciendas hotels will be take you into the Andes Mountains.

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My Galapagos Adventure – Day Six

Take A Picture

Sometimes, because of passengers’ coming and going, the morning excursion is early. Thursday is one of those days.  To be more accurate, on this trip Thursday was one of those days.  It depends on the length of the trip the guests have signed up for.  The Galapagos National Park Service allows for 4, 6, 8 and 15 day cruises. On my boat, the Ocean Spray, the possible change over days were Thursday, Saturday and Tuesday.  You can’t anticipate in advance when passengers will be coming and going.  This is the first time for me that the 15 other passengers all left mid-week, meaning on Thursday.

Approaching South Plaza at Sunrise from Panga

Approaching South Plaza at Sunrise from Panga

Because the cruise company wants to assure that the last morning is as memorable as the first afternoon, a fabulous excursion is planned early enough in the day to assure that every one leaves with this as their last recollection, but with enough time to allow for a final breakfast, last minute packing and getting to the airport.  Thus, we disembark very early for a one-hour visit to South Plaza Island. In my mind, I’m thinking that a one-hour visit can’t offer much.  Maybe, I think, this is just a way to keep us busy before some of the guests leave. Was I ever wrong. South Plaza is a panoply of colors, bird life and sea lions. The profusion is breathtaking; the landscape is stunning.

… Continue Reading

My Galapagos Adventure – Day Five

No More Gilligan’s Island

IMG_0055Today we wake up not to silence and isolation.  No more do we feel happily lost at sea on a deserted island, free from the internet and telephone. Quite the opposite. We are at Academy Bay, the harbor at Puerto Ayora, the busiest city in Galapagos with a population of about 9000 people, out of a total of about 33,000 living in all of Galapagos.  Let me put that in perspective for a moment: the stadium at the University of Michigan holds 109,901 excited screaming fans – almost four times the population in the entire quiet Galapagos archipelago. In 2014, 30,000 people finished and 33,000 people started the Pittsburgh marathon. … Continue Reading

My Galapagos Adventure – Day Four

“A Golden Sunrise; A Morning of Colors”

Sunrise North Seymour IMG_2037If you’re one of those people who thinks having a luxury vacation means sleeping late and having coffee served in bed, you might have to adjust your expectations in Galapagos. Some days the wake up call is as early as 5:30 a.m.  Fight the urge to crawl back under the covers so that you can feel the gentle surf rock you back to sleep. Instead, wake up, pull open your curtains a take a look around. It could be a glorious morning, like the start of our day at Elizabeth Bay. … Continue Reading

My Galapagos Adventure – Day Three

Join me for day three of my 15-day journey through the Galapagos Islands.  When I left you, it was night time and we were leaving Espinosa Point on Fernandina Island.  Over night the boat moved a short distance back to Isabela Island where we are to be treated to many more wonders. (Click the links on the right to read about the beginning of my journey.)

A Taste of History

Pirate Graffiti at Tagus Cove

Pirate Graffiti at Tagus Cove

When you first open your door and walk onto your balcony to greet the day at Tagus Cove, you’re surprised by grafitti all over the cliff walls. With this park so protected, how could anyone make it out here and destroy it so callously? It’s because the people who did this were callous and rude. They had no regard for the land, nature or evolution. Preservation and conservation were simply not in their lexicon. In fact, the graffiti artists were here 300 years or more before Charles Darwin.  Tagus Cove is where the history of these pirates and that of Darwin can visually be seen to intersect. … Continue Reading

A visit to the Magical secrets of the Amazon Jungle of Ecuador

Getting to La Selva EcolodgeMake no mistake: La Selva Lodge is remote. To get there, you have to take a flight from Quito to the sweaty oil town of Coca, where you board a river canoe. You cruise two hours downriver, long past the last houses and shacks on the jungle shore. You reach a dock, seemingly in the middle of nowhere, where you get off and march through the humid shadows of the rainforest floor. Then, it’s back onto another, smaller canoe, which is paddled across a glassy lagoon to the lodge. Don’t let the journey put you off: It’s worth every minute, and it’s the very remoteness of La Selva that makes it such an unforgettable trip! … Continue Reading

My Galapagos Adventure – Day Two

A Mysterious Journey

Ocean Spray Catamaran

Ocean Spray Catamaran

  This is day two of the tales of my adventures in Galapagos.  Scroll down to see how this amazing trip began.  There are many itinerary options for the Ocean Spray catamaran and I’ve chosen the 15-day tour of both the Eastern and Western sides of Galapagos (you can go for as few as 4 days).  With me are 15 fellow travelers who have come for just six days. I’ll share a few thoughts with you before telling you about this wonderful day. … Continue Reading

People of the Train: Darwin Grijalva, Engineer

Darwin Grijalva and the train

Darwin Grijalva and the Train


Darwin Grijalva is one of several engineers who work for Tren Ecuador.

When I met him, Darwin was driving the train that runs the Quito-Machachi-El Boliche route. Darwin is a young, thoughtful man who has trained extensively for his job and obviously loves doing what he does.

In Ecuador, there is no specific “driver’s license” needed in order to drive a train, probably because there are so few individuals trained to do so.

I had the chance to catch up with Darwin and ask him a few questions while the train was stopped at one of the stations. He cheerfully answered my questions and it was clear that he enjoyed the rare chance to interact with one of the passengers, something he does not get to do every day. … Continue Reading

My Galapagos Adventure – Day One

Arriving in Paradise

If you’re anything like me you made your Galapagos plans months ago and waited seemingly forever to get here. I found the anticipation to be energizing, but wondered whether reality could possibly meet my expectations.  I needn’t have been concerned.  From the first moment, the experience was even better than I imagined.  (If you read my introduction, you’ll know that this is my third Galapagos trip: my second and this on the Ocean Spray Catamaran and the first on the equally fabulous Cormorant Catamaran.  Each trip was better than the one before.)

Galapagos Islands from Plane

Landing in Galapagos

Wending your way through airport customs, you may feel a little anxious, but the moment you walk out the door and are greeted by your guide, all worries disappear. The staff whisks away your luggage and from that moment on you are treated like royalty. I realized that the guests on the cruise are the center of attention more every day and will point out a few of the signs of individualized treatment along the way. For now, I’ll simply say that the next time you see your luggage, youll be ensconced in your large private cabin on the boat. Speaking of which, if you pick a luxury high-end trip, as I have, think of the boat not as a large impersonal five-star resort, but as a five-star boutique hotel that immerses you in personal lavish service.

It’s at the airport that you get the first glimpse of your fellow passengers. You are likely to have a combination of couples, singles, families and every permutation in between.  I’ve been with passengers ages 8 to about 80. The main thing I have to tell you here is that everyone is excited and filled with anticipation to get the adventure going. The other really important fact is that everyone is happy to be here. Positive energy is in the air. … Continue Reading

My Galapagos Luxury Cruise Adventure – 15 Days That Changed My Life

Galapagos IMG_1232 (3)Who knew that my decision to celebrate my “big” birthday via a trip to the Galapagos Islands would change my life? Certainly that possibility didn’t even occur to me.  This was one more location on my long list of destinations I wanted to visit. After all, I’ve traveled all over the world, loving every moment (to be fair, almost every moment.) I’ve traveled alone, with my husband, my entire family, my friends, on boats, custom tours with private guides and even by bus. I’ve stayed in luxurious hotels and eco-lodges. But, nothing touched my heart or opened my eyes.  No where made me yearn to return.  That is – until the Galapagos Islands.  My first trip was in 2012, for one week – not long enough for me.  Less than a year later, in January 2013, I returned for two weeks.  Still wanting more, my third trip was in April 2014, again for two weeks. … Continue Reading

A Visit to the El Tulipe Archaeological Site

Yndio Yumbo

Yndio Yimbo – Antonio Salas Aviles

Hundreds of years ago, the Yumbo culture dominated the steamy midlands of present-day Ecuador. The cloud forests of the western slope of the Andes were their home, and they were masters of trade and their environment.

The Yumbo people were great traders, whose trench-like trails called culuncos connected the frosty highlands with the coast. Among their clients was the mighty Inca Empire, which had been masters of the city of Quito since the fifteenth century.

The Yumbo were a spiritual people, and their largest ceremonial center, El Tulipe, can still be seen today. … Continue Reading