Ecuador (2/14/2006-2/28/2006)

Gowri and I had never visited South America. We were interested in either going to the Ecuador to see the Galapagos Islands or to Peru to visit Machu Pichu. My mother also hadn't been to South America and had always wanted to go since she had been to all of the other 6 continents she had read about as a girl in India (Antractica wasn't considered a continent in the textbooks of the 1940s). Gowri looked at both of our potential destinations and found out Ecuador would allow my mother to come along as well since the hiking would be easy. I was surprised to find out that a cruise to the Galapagos was actually pretty reasonably priced and we chose GAP adventures to travel with. We also had frequent flier miles which we were able to use to fly from the US to Quito, Ecuador. Due to the limited availability of the frequent flier tickets, we ended up with five extras days in Quito. We decided this was fine and we would be able to look around the mainland before setting out on the Galapagos cruise. The five extra days turned out a be a very lucky break since we found out that two hours from Quito is a birding paradise, Mindo, that ranks as one of the best birding/rain forest destinations in the world. Gowri, my mother and I all are interested in bird watching and nature so this was an amazing experience. The time we spent in Mindo and its surrounding areas was as impressive as the Galapagos and got us very interested in visiting the cloud and rainforests of the tropics for future trips. We left in the middle of winter with my father staying back in Los Alamos. He very kindly agreed to look after our cats Star and Tar while we went on vacation.

Day 1: Arrival in Quito

We arrived late at night to our hotel in Quito. The next morning we were to start on our 4 day birding trip to Mindo. We were relieved that our flight arrived on time and that we got in to get a good nights sleep before meeting our guide Vinicio Perez at 6 am the next morning.

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