Ecuador Ecuador

Galapagos Islands – Diving

Early in the morning Eva got picked up. The first dive site was north Seymour with a smooth current and a good visibility. We only ( 😉 saw a few hammerhead sharks, black tip reef shark, white tip reef shark, galapagos sharks, turtles, schools of barracudas, eagle rays and a variety of other fish!!! What an amazing first dive! The second dive site was Mosquera. While going down I realized the very strong current already. We had to hold on to rocks and crawl on the ground to get forward. Behind a rock we discovered two sleeping white tip reef sharks which we were observing for a while. The moment we let go all of us were washed away by the current. It felt like in waterslide!

The next day a dream came true when I (Eva) dived at Gordons Rock. The first hammerhead shark appeared on our way down, followed by a huge dark shadow at the surface. After a few more minutes a huge shadow showed up directly in front of me: a 5 meter manta ray! I always wanted to see one but I haven’t expected it to be so enormous. It was amazing. But as if that's not enough – a school of approx. 30 hammerhead sharks came straight at us just to turn left and right directly in-front of us. We were surrounded by a huge school of hammerheads! The dive went on like that and we saw everything a divers heart can dream of: more hammerheads, manta rays, galapagos sharks, white tip reef shark, turtles, reef fishes, sting rays, eagle rays, barracudas, etc.

Diving Gordons Rock

Diving Mosquera and Seymore

Some impressions in pictures
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Galapagos Islands - Sea Lions

Sea lions are everybody’s darling – and we found out why! Especially while playing in the water but also while relaxing on sandy beaches and benches they are just super cute. On the Galapagos Islands there are about 50.000 of them. We were lucky because they seemed to have some special interest in us – several times they were playing with us in the water while we snorkeled. On San Cristobal we swam for about 15 minutes with one who started playing “catch the coral” with us (exactly like a dog would do it). He took the coral in his mouth and swam around us, dropped it and caught it again. After a while Niels picked it up, showed it to him and dropped it. The sea lion dived down and got it again. That game went on for quite a while – just amazing. An absolute highlight


Sun bathing 02


Playing shark04 05 06  012 013

Galapagos - San Cristobal

Spending 5 days on San Cristobal is not enough the see everything but you get a good idea why the locals call the island the capital of paradise. It is a perfect place to relax and most of the sites are accessible by walking. We did a snorkeling trip to Kickers Rock and visited the Interpretation Center (where the history and significance of Galapagos is explained, etc. bla bla). To be honest, we only went to the Interpretation Center to met Pepe el Misionero - a giant tortoise who was partly brought up by our host Nelly. She runs the hostel of the same name (Casa de Nelly) and is owner to one of the nicest accommodation we had on our trip so far.

Our cute little villaIMG_1881 IMG_1887 IMG_1891

Niels riding a wooden version of PepeIMG_1970

Snorkling trip to Kickers RockIMG_1945IMG_1920 IMG_1952

View while hiking   IMG_20140817_134622 IMG_20140817_134823 IMG_20140817_152337

Charles Darwin monumentIMG_20140817_152426IMG_20140817_170631

Goodbye Galapagos ...IMG_20140814_190347

Galapagos - Floreana

Visiting Floreana (also known as Isla Santa Maria) for a day trip. It's a small island with less than 100 inhabitants and only one hostel. Therefore, a day trip was perfect to see the giant tortoises, the highlands and some snorkeling.


Impressions of the highlandsIMG_2896IMG_2890IMG_2889IMG_2893IMG_2899

Galapagos Islands - Isabella

What a wonderful invention: seasickness pills!!! After taking one we had no trouble at all and slept trough the 3 hours boat ride from Santa Cruz to Isabella. The welcome committee was awaiting us: some lazy sea lions lying around everywhere. Isabella is a lovely island with sandy roads, small houses and beautiful white-sanded beaches. On the way to the hotel we drove by a lagoon with flamingos and marine iguanas. The island has 7 volcanoes and 5 out of them are still active. Therefore, it was a must to hike at least one 🙂 We choose the Sierra Negra – a large active volcano. The landscape was one of its kind. The surreal surrounding was created by the last eruption in 2005. Later this day we had our first unforgettable swim with some sea lions in the bay of Puerto Villamil. Its amazing, they are wild but like to swim and play with humans (we´re not sure who kept whom entertained). The rest of our stay on Isabella we explored different sights of the island: the wall of tears, the breeding station for the giant tortoise, snorkeling at Las Tintoreras, and also did some wildlife observations. The evenings we enjoyed the sun set at diffrent bars and restaurants located directly on the beach.

Some impressions of Isabellas beach and the town IMG_2748IMG_2664panorama2IMG_2734

Marine iguana - relaxing in the sunIMG_2643

The volcano - Sierra NegraIMG_20140810_133552IMG_2573 IMG_2587 IMG_2638STC_2627 Panorama8

Find the galapagos land iguana in the pictureIMG_2623

Hugh weired caterpillar IMG_2624

The famous blue-footed booby´s (do not confuse with boobies)IMG_2678

Las Tintoreras, a nearby island cluster with ...IMG_2699

... marine iguanas all over the placeIMG_2696

Two pinguines in love, you dont want to know what happend before 😉IMG_2718

Flamingos hidden in the langoonIMG_2783

Wall of tears: Isabela was once used as an exile for prisoners, who built the devastating Wall of Tears as part of their punishment IMG_2801

Galapagos Islands - Giant tortoise

E.T. is back! See yourself. We found him on the Galapagos Islands. He hides himself in a shell which he always carries around. His species can live up to 170 years (at least) and weight more than 400 kg. We found him and his friends on Santa Cruz, Isabella, Floreana and San Cristobal. He is native to seven of the Galapagos Islands.

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Some weired creatures...03 04 05 06 07 08 09 092 093

Galapagos Islands - Santa Cruz

Santa Cruz has one of the best diving sites on the Galapagos Islands. Therefore, we spent 6 days on Santa Cruz in total so Eva could tickle off some items of her bucked list. Instead of being green and packed with animals the area around Baltra airport (where we arrived) is very dry and reminds of the moonscape (with cactuses though). At our arrival we were shocked. But after taking a bus, a small boat and a bus again the landscape changed. With every meter the bus drove further to the south of Isla Santa Cruz the vegetation became more green. The first two days we slept in long, explored the area around Puerto Ayora and learned about the magic of the islands: sidewalks are used by marine iguanas for sun bathing, sea lions are lying on the docks (and benches), pelicans are flying around and get fed by local fisherman. Animals are extraordinary fearless; The whole atmosphere on the island made it a perfect stay. While Eva was diving, Niels further explored the island (including the highlands, the Darwin Station and a beach in the north).

Marine iguanas at the beach01 02021

One of our new friends - We never though we'd love sea lions03031

Pelicans are everywhere on the islands - especially where the fisherman are 😉04041

This animal gave Charles Darwin the idea for his theory of evolution: Darwin's Finches 05

A Galapagos tortoise (the next post will just be about them!)06

Sally Lightfoot Crab - bright red crabs which are way bigger than they seem on the pic07

A wonderful coloured lizard which only moved away when Niels nearly touched it08

Some harbour and Port Ayora impressions09 091 092

During day time this is a normal street. At night time it's a lively, cheap place to have dinner093 094

Sometimes the Galapagos Islands reminded us of Cuba: hardly anything to buy besides long life goods.095

Las Grietas - it's said that there are white tip sharks, we didn't see any though.096

Galapagos Islands

Everyone knows them - The Galapagos Islands - and everyone who has visited them is fascinated. But really, what’s so special about them? For us the answer is easy: it is the mixture of animals who are not afraid of humans, the extraordinary nature and the relaxed atmosphere.

Thanks to Eva’s passion for diving we stayed two whole weeks on the Islands so she could experience the best out of both worlds: water and land based activities. We thought about going on a cruise but luckily decided us against it due to us getting seasick. We ended up with a so called “island hopping tour”. A tour based on day trips including short cruises (up to three hours) but overnight stays in hotels. This way we had the chance to experience the wonderful islands in their full beauty.


Mitad del Mundo y Basílica del Voto Nacional

We started the day of by visiting the Basílica del Voto Nacional. A monumental building constucted in 1988. The Basilica is 140 m (460 ft) long and 35 m (115 ft) wide. It is 30 m (98 ft) high in the sanctuary and 115 m (377 ft) high in the two frontal towers. Both towers can be climbed as well as the transept. The view from up there is magnificent but the climb is special - not sure if the used "ladder constuction" would be allowed in many european countries 😉

There is not much to say about the Mitdal del Mundo besides there are unlimited points on the equator but this "center of the earth" did not even make it to the right place. However, loads of tourist go there every year - so did we 🙂 As soon as you arrive you do know: this is a touristy place! The whole monument is surrounded by shops with junk. Nevertheless, we enjoyed a nice afternoon with some favorouble coffee!

The Basílica del Voto NacionalIMG_2330

The way to the topIMG_2355 IMG_2368

The rooftop and...IMG_2362

...the inside view of the roof including the gangway to the topIMG_2345 Inside view of the cathedral IMG_2339IMG_2341IMG_2378

The center of the worldIMG_2466noooooooo......IMG_2461ahhhhh well ok!IMG_2462 IMG_2460

Group picture with Maik and Tino8

View from the top of the center of the world
Mittelpunkt - Maike


Leaving Buenos Aires was not easy. Especially because of the taxi service we had: Cynthia gave us a lift to the airport. On the airport we were chatting and drinking coffee nearly forgetting about the boarding time.

It was 10 pm when we finally arrived at the hostel. The welcome committee of the hostel can be described as the best-of a gangster movie. The fact that no one else was in the hostel and no English speaking person was around did not make us feel more comfortable. On top we needed to buy drinking water. Thankfully one of the hostel staff went out with Niels to buy some. On the way he constantly turned around checking the empty streets always one hand on the 20-25 cm knife in his pocket – a nice neighborhood we arrived in J Without any success they returned. The water (in a used bottle) which was offered to us was the first time we gave the water purification tablets a try. As you can see we survived the night – even though it was freaking cold!

The next days we went for some serious sightseeing with Maik and Tino. First on the list was the huge Basílica del Voto Nacional (see the pictures in the following post), the Plaza Grande and the Old Town. Another day we went for El Panecillo, the small hill to the south of the Old Town which is topped by a statue of La Virgen de Quito. To be honest, it’s nothing special but the view of the city and the surrounding volcanoes are definitely worse the trip. In the afternoon the same day we went for a place called Café Mosaico. It has an open terrace with a magnificent view of the city especially while the sun sets.

As much as the days were pleasant the nights were not. After 5 very cold nights in our spooky hostel we decided to move to La Mariscal because Niels got sick – getting worse every night. La Mariscal is a nice area. Most tourist stay there as well as party people from Quito. The new hostel was wonderful, they even offered us a heater for the room without charging money. It didn’t take long and Niels was feeling better (maybe it was because of Eva taking very good care, including cooking magical chicken soup).

View from the rooftop terrace of our first hostelIMG_1547...and during nightIMG_1530

Our neighbourhood looks quite nice during day time...IMG_1539

Bullfight arena in the neighbourhoodIMG_1536

Café MosaicoIMG_1552 ...and the view in the eveningIMG_1558

View of Quito to the SouthPanorama1

View of Quito to the NorthPanorama2 Panorama3

Iglesia San Francisco Panorama4

Grande PlazaIMG_2379

Statue of La Virgen de QuitoIMG_2438View from the top of statue of La VirgenPanorama7

The Church of the Society of Jesus, which is fully decorated with gold insideIMG_2396 IMG_2401 IMG_2405