|Ok so this was it the start of a year and a half travelling and it began in Ecuador. I was a little paranoid and weary of taking photo's at first around Quito (not the safest feeling city), so there was no really interesting shots off it. Didn't dare take it out at night either so no pictures of the nightlife.
I got out off Quito ASAP (I think I would have enjoyed a city more if I hadn't come straight from London), and hit the Central Highlands, full off volcano's and the huge mountains of the Andie's. (Photo 1) is Laguna Quilotoa a Volcanic Crater lake and incredible scenery. That weekend was also spent mountain biking down Cotopaxi, falling off on numerous occasions!, and around the rural highlands through many Indigenous villages (photo 3)
I returned to Quito for a week of Spanish lessons before doing another week of lessons in the jungle. Getting there was an adventure itself, with the bus getting stuck in the jungle road at 3am, total chaos in pitch darkness wading across swamped roads. If only I had some photos off all that but not surprisingly that was the last thing on my mind! Once at Coca, the furthest town out into the Amazon, the only mode of transport was boats (photo 5). The days were split between Spanish lessons (photo 6), and jungle treks. The best treks were at night but it was so so dark no photos came out even with flash! Also no photo could capture the sound which is just deafening and amazing.
Tried a bit of fishing - for Piranha's! Our guide was the expert though and caught enough to go around and supplement dinner (photo 7). The great thing was that you felt part of the jungle, the lodges offered little shelter. In fact more animals and insects used it as home than me. The buzz off seeing a tarantula crawling around was special (photo 8), although I would have preferred it not to happen just as all power and lights went off! I followed it around (with just my pen sized flash light)until I felt it was far enough from my bed for comfort. Its not the clearest picture because of the dark, but believe me its was huge, easily 10-12 inches across, and it moved so quickly! That picture was taken as it crawled across the celling, directly above my head - no fear. (Photo 9) just shows me wining the blowpipe contest. Not easy trying to aim a 6 foot long pipe shoved in your face. (photo 10)just shows one of many crazy forms of transport in Ecuador.
Spent a few days in the cloud forest near Tena, (photo 11) shows waterfall climbing which was quite hairy at times. The next day was canyoning which was even more dangerous, some deep drops, and(photo 12)although not clear shows a cave full of bats darting about. There was no other way threw so we had no choice but to put your hoods up and go for it - madness. As part of a trek we went through an Indigenous village, and became centre of attention to the local kids (photo 13). Our lodge was perked on the edge of a cliff with stunning views of the forest, (photo 14) shows a monsoon, incredible sound and power of the rain thundering down.
After Tena I hit Banos, located in a valley at the foot of an active volcano. (photo 15) is the first time I saw Tungurahua blow, but it was a daily occurrence. There was loads to do in Banos, (photo 16) is bridge swing jumping, (photo 17) rafting. Notice the escape bridge in (photo 18) on the right, built recently since Tungurahua's become active again. (photos 19-21) mountain biking around Banos, crazy pitch black tunnels, great scenery, and loads of nutty dogs. Trying to outrun them isn't fun believe me.
I returned to Cotopaxi this time in hope of climbing it, but it was slightly harder than first thought! (Photo 23)shows the first day climb, the refuge is just where the glazier starts and at 4800m its was too much too soon. That night I suffered serious altitude sickness. I learnt to take high altitude very seriously from now on, and should have taken an extra day to acclimatise.
Over the next week I was travelling with a couple of English lads and via a couple of dreary towns, and a mad chase after our bags from a bus, we arrived in Cuenca. Had a good weekend which included the Palace getting promoted back home (typical Palace, 6 years of nationwide football as a season ticket holder, then just as I go, glory and the Premier). (Photo 24)shows how it was for me, internet radio! I have a confused look of relief, happiness, but also kind of lost, being so far from it all, I just didn't know what to do. Ended up spending a fortune on phonecalls back to friends and family back home. The red and blue Palace shirt was wore around Cuenca to many confused looks the rest of the day.
Last stop before Peru was Vilcabamba, recommended by all, it was total chill out. No cars, no hustle, nobody, no nothing! (Photo 25) is seriously as busy as it gets. The town is in a valley, the locals call it the valley of longevity, it's full of Spas and so tranquil, which was what I needed after the last 5 chaotic weeks. Hores riding was one of the best days in Ecuador in the valleys (photo 26). After a couple of days relaxing it was off to Peru, (photo 27) shows the last stop and I just realised the only shot of a bus despite all the dramas I had with them. Still I'm getting less and less camera shy now so hopefully future updates will have some even more interesting shots.