Otavalo Artisan Market and Guayaquil

Written by Nadine Zangerle on . Posted in Ecuador

Since there was no direct bus from Mindo to Otavalo but we could change buses in Cayambe. Just 4 hours later we walked around the streets of Otavalo in search of our hostel. After checking in the Hostal Chasqui we immediately submerged into the Artesan Market at the Plaza de Ponchos. Fridays was really quiet and we got probably better prices than the next day. 

The Saturday Market of Otavalo is legendary in South America and streets over streets are closed for the artisan stalls. You could buy and buy but how do you get it back home. Well, Michael really wanted to have two hanging chairs to our additional three check-in luggage so we walked around with this big plastic bag, paying only $ 20 each. Let’s see how comfortable they are. 

How to arrange everything to get it in the plane will be another task for Guayaquil. We are allowed to take 2 check-in luggage each and a total of 23 kg. Fingers crossed. 

After adding some additional kilos to our luggage we left Otavalo at 8:30 am in the hope to arrive in Guayaquil around 7pm. But in Quito were so many people that we had to wait 4 hours for the next bus. We finally arrived at the Guayaquil Bus Terminal at 11:30pm and jumped in a taxi to our hostel.  

Luckily we had a reservation and I called them from Quito to inform the clerk about our delay. Tiered and exhausted we happily touched the pillow but we were probably too nervous about our flight back home and the end of our trip to fall asleep immediately. 

Let’s see what the new year will bring us!  

Accommodation – Otavalo: Hostal ChasquiPiedrahita 141 

Price: US $ 12 p.p., double room, own bathroom, wifi, kitchen  

Comment: In a quiet area with a beautiful view from the rooftop terrace. 

Accommodation – GuayaquilDreamkapture Inn, Juan Sixto Bernal, Etapa 12, mz 2 villa 21  

Price: US $ 28,50  p. double roomown bathroom, wifi, incl. breakfast, kitchen  

Comment: close to the Bus Terminal and Airport, clean and nice rooms. What was unusual for  
                    us after one year traveling in Central- and South America that you pay $ 3 p.p. if you  
                   want to stay and wait for your travels later than 5 pm. There was not one hostel we  
                  had this and a lot of backpackers had late busses, sometimes at midnight.  


Quito & Mindo

Written by Nadine Zangerle on . Posted in Ecuador

After changing planes in Guayaquil we arrived safe and sound in Quito. Unfortunately the last bus to Mindo left already at 3pm so we took the offer of our two Finnish friends from the Humboldt Team and jumped on their transport into town. They had a beautiful Home Stay with Ana Maria and Francesco, so we booked ourselves into a room and enjoyed the Christmas setting in their home.

The next morning we went for some sightseeing with Leena and Kimo. Since they had been already in Quito they knew their way around and it was nice once in a while just to follow. In the Old Town we wandered around the different Plazas and explored some beautiful churches. It was ideal for a half day trip and after checking out we took the Metropolitana Bus up to the North Terminal.

Here we jumped into a bus via Mindo. Since the direct bus would have left an hour later we decided to do it the local way and jumped of at the intersection to Mindo. That is where we waited for a car to bring us into town.

Checking out different options of accommodation we finally found our perfect spot to celebrate a quiet Christmas. The Cabañas Armonía y Jardín de Orquídeas where beautifully arranged in a lush garden full with orchids and hummingbirds. The breakfast was fantastic and the Owners were just lovely.

After getting up at 6am every morning on the Galapagos Cruises we found ourselves restless after 6:15am. So we started early but took it slowly. The hammock at the porch was a magical draw and we ended up relaxing and reading. Just as we wanted.

Sure we explored a bit the area of Mindo with all its birds and jungle and we bumped into Lance and Allison, our Canadian couple from the Humboldt Exploreer, at the Butterfly Garden. Here we looked in wonder about those beautiful, colorful creatures, fluttering around us. We spent hours and hundreds of pictures later we continued with our friend, which we named the Tramp, due to his resemblance.

He had waited next to the Butterfly Garden and was happy to see us again. This poor little dog needed not only love but we didn’t have anything with us. The Tramp seemed to be still happy to follow us since we gave him a lot of hugs and cuddles. He was smart enough not to follow us all the way into town since the dogs here wouldn’t have welcomed him.

Back in the Cabañas we relaxed some more before we headed out for great food at a local store. Mindo was just as relaxing and beautiful as we assumed it would be. To see more birds than only hummingbirds you would have to do a birdwatching tour but we were not up to get up at 5am after our Galapagos trip and all the diving. We just wanted to take it easy and that’s what we did.

Accommodation – Quito: Home Stay Ana Maria Ziritt, Juan Rodriguez 118 y 6 de Diciembre, La 
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. (via Airbnb)

Price: US $ 35 p. double room, own bathroom, wifi, kitchen, incl. breakfast

Comment: This feels like home and we loved the Christmas decoration and the super friendly

Accommodation – Mindo: Cabañas Armonía y Jardín de Orquídeas, Sixto Duran Vallen y
                                                 Lluvia de Oro, Casa 2, Manzana 49

Price: US $ 34 p. Cabaña, own bathroom, wifi, incl. breakfast, free water refill

Comment: Beautifully arranged Cabañas in the lush garden of orchids and hummingbirds 


Galapagos underwater with Humboldt Explorer

Written by Nadine Zangerle on . Posted in Ecuador

How did it happen that we ended up on the Humboldt Explorer, a liveaboard (diving cruise) up to the best dive spot of the world, the two islands Darwin and Wolf? Let me tell you!

Conducting two fabulous dives seeing hammerhead sharks, eagle rays and at least 50 white tip sharks circling around us we were standing next to our dive guide Xavier in the shop, watching some pictures as a woman strode in.

We had seen here before, she is a PADI Course Director and working for Humboldt Explorer. Just on the day of the trip out around Galapagos, two customers cancelled their trip on the boat, which is very unusual. The diving cruise up to the 350km distant islands is booked out till November 2017 and is known as the number one dive spot in the world.

The next morning the Humboldt Explorer was heading towards its destination and was two people short. She was looking for two advanced divers which were so spontaneous and willing to jump on the boat in ten hours.

After one ice cream and some serious talk we decided to take this one chance. We were already in Galapagos, paid the flight and entrance fee, so it would have been stupid not to take the opportunity.

We were facing the same problems paying the trip as we had before but we somehow managed with all the help of her. On the Humboldt we found a diverse group of divers, from different countries.

16 divers on a 32 meter luxury boat headed toward the far out islands of Darwin and Wolf and were excited about the days to come. In 6 days we would conduct 17 dives and explore the wonders of Galapagos. Thanks to Konstantine from and Philipp we are able to show some pictures here. Our own videos will follow...

Michael and I joined the group “Orcas” which consisted of four German, two Finish and two Russian divers. The group “Sharks” were a group of New Yorkers and two Canadians. Diving at Darwin and Wolf is limited to 18 divers a day and the current is strong. That makes it pristine and full of life.

In between the dives we could jump in the Jacuzzi and were eyed by a massive number of juvenile red-footed boobies. The islands were full of birds and our curious feathered friends had taken an interest in our boat. On one of our land excursions we saw the frigate birds nesting and enjoyed the scenery.

The dives were really spectacular and ,we saw big schools of hammerhead sharks (twice up to 150 of this amazing creatures), eagle rays, Galapagos sharks, white tip sharks, silk sharks, manta rays, playing sea lions (one tried to get my fins), dolphins a big school of yellow fin tunas and mackerels. Good that we had agreed to the dive shop to do some shark counting and we ended up with about 800 sharks in total, in just 17 dives.

But the best were the two whale sharks. In one of the dives I stayed a bit behind when we did the negative entry and when I turned around to check on the boat on the surface I was looking at a big object. I was wondering why the boat had one flap on each side until I realized what I was looking at.

This big whale shark was coming right at me and I screamed through my regulator part of excitement part of getting attention of my group. Only two of the Orcas heard me scream and the three of us – one was Michael – were totally enchanted with this majestic animal.

During the dive we couldn’t stop thinking of this beautiful encounter and when we went into the blue we didn’t expect much more of the dive. Suddenly another massive shape materialized in front of us, this one even bigger than the other before. A massive female whale shark, pregnant and with big shark suckers on its tail.

Totally stunned everyone was running quickly short on air. Just Michael, I and one of the guides had enough to stay for another 10 minutes to observe the playing dolphins. There were no words for this fantastic dives and all were happy to be on this cruise.

After 6 days, 17 dives, plenty of marine life, 16 happy divers returned to Baltra Island. It was a once in a lifetime trip and never to be forgotten!


Price: see website – 8 days, 7 nights, 17 dives, dive gear not included (we hopped on for 6 days, 5

Comment: An unforgettable adventure with over 800 sharks, 2 Whale Sharks, a fantastic crew
                    and people and the food was just superb.  Thanks Jennifer Cumming for all your help
                    to make this trip happen!

Dive Center: Maccaron's Scuba Diver Agency S.A., Ave Charles Darwin

Price: 2 dives per day, gear and snack included

Comment: very professional dive center with great know-how and good gear. Thanks Xavier
                       for convincing us to join the dive trip to Darwin and Wolf.