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7-12th March 2015 Tena, Quito, Cotopaxi - Ecuador

  • How to put a huge smile on my face AND keep it there for 3 hours? Take me KAYAKING! and by the time I get home, the kayaking season starts there. :)
    Tena, Ecuador's white-water-rafting capital and a popular starting point for jungle tours. The city is surrounded by many rivers (can be run all year-round) that attracts paddlers from everywhere. Like me; I was so happy to try -finally- kayaking in SA, paddling in WARM water and seeing the rainforest along the river. It was huge fun, enjoyed it so much that I even felt that I am good. And I was even lucky to see again (1st spotted this most beautiful butterfly in the jungle in January) the Blue Morpho!
    The city itself had nothing special to offer, except restaurants, shops and a viewing point to see hills and the river surrounded with lush forest. The Parque Amazónico, La Isla, the famous botanical garden and zoo was closed due to reconstruction.
  • Quito. So far the most exciting city in SA, for me! Not only it is full with beautiful, very well preserved buildings and squares, but hilly streets and always changing cityscape.
    The public transport is very well operated, trolley and bus lines have their own bus lanes, and operate every few minutes. On Mother's Day travelling was even free for women. The pedestrian's traffic lights make some kind of sound also in Quito, although this one sounded more like a broken toy of a child. There are public toilets and tap of drinking water on every 2nd corner, and as everywhere else in SA, selective waste collection. 
  • There are lots of policemen on the streets, however, they stood around in groups and couldn't realize what was going on 30 meters away on the main square, where 2 homeless people had almost gotten into a serious fight. One took his knife and the other one broke the neck of his alcohol bottle, and were yelling at each other...luckily nothing serious happened, at least until I stayed.
    I took the Teleferico lift up to the side of Pichincha Volcano to a height of about 4,100 meters offering a great view of the city and the surrounding mountains. The capital of Ecuador is at 2,800 meters above sea level and about 25 km of the Equator line.
  • In Ecuador there are 98 volcanos, 51 of them are active! The Cotopaxi volcano with its symmetrical cone-shaped peak is one of the highest active volcanoes in the world at 5,897 meters height. It is not only Ecuador's second highest volcano, but is also 2 meters higher than the highest mountain of Africa, the Kilimanjaro! So, I did a day trip to the Cotopaxi National Park where we drove up to 4,500 m, then climbed up the volcano until we reached the snowline at 5,000m. I think the highest point I have ever been, but the weather was so foggy that we could hardly see anything. On the way back we were downhill biking a few km reaching a nice lagoon at the foot of the volcano, where wild horses gather to drink and are free to wander around. 
    Thanks to the volcanoes’ fertile soil, the pure waters from the melting glaciers, the constant cool climate and lots of sunshine year-round, Ecuador has become the world's 2nd largest (1st Netherlands) rose growing country. I have never heard of it until now.