Overseas Adventure Travel
Machu Picchu and Galapagos
May 11 through May 28, 2022


Due to the length of the review, it is in five parts to help with the download time. The links to the other pages are at the top and bottom of each page.

Page 1:  Lima through Sacred Valley day 1
Page 2:  Sacred Valley day 2 through Machu Picchu day 2
Page 3:  Machu Picchu to Cusco for 2 days, Quito for 2 days
Page 4:  Quito day 3 through Galapagos day 2
Page 5:  Galapagos day 3 through Quito return to home


Day 12 - Quito day 3

After a great night’s sleep Cathy decided that she would try to do the tour for the day.  I was thrilled that she would be able to share in our day’s adventure.  After a light breakfast, we met the group at 8:30 in the lobby.  We were taking the bus to a very popular local market.  Israel told us that locals go there for the freshest products and best prices around.

As we entered, we could see that was a very large market with beautiful produce and other products.


Israel took us to one of the vendors who made different fruit drinks.  They offered us samples of a very delicious smoothie type drink.

We walked over to a different vendor who had a whole cooked pig in the front of the shop.   People were ordering pork to take home as well as plate lunches that they made up.  They gave us samples of their yummy juicy pork.  If it hadn’t been so soon after breakfast, it would have been nice to have lunch there.


There were many meat and seafood vendors also.


We stopped at one, where the owner showed us some of his larger fish.


We then walked over to a large fruit stand where we tried several different types of fruits that I had never had.  The best one was called apple custard fruit.  It is similar in taste to sour sop, but is much smaller.  It is also quite expensive.  The one Israel cut up was $5.  I will say it was a great tasting fruit.  Unfortunately, I will probably never taste one again.

After leaving the inside section of the market, Israel took us to some shops on the outside that sold wine and liquor.  He told us that the prices were much better there than at other stores in the area.  He was right.  Many of us wanted to purchase wine and/or liquor to take to the Galapagos.  The boat we would be on only sold full bottles at very high prices.  Alcoholic beverages are very expensive in the Galapagos.  Since we could take them on the plane in our carry-on bags, it made a lot of sense to bring some with us.

Our next destination was to visit the Equator.  It was only about a 40-minute drive to get there.  As we approached it, we were surprised to see an Egyptian statue.  I’m not sure why it is there, but I couldn’t find out anything about it.

We also saw the original Equator monument that was supposed to mark the exact spot.  Modern GPS equipment determined that the real Equator was located 790 ft away, which was where we were going.

We took a narrow dirt road to what looked like a popular tourist attraction, the Intiñan Solar Museum.

The place was landscaped quite nicely, and we enjoyed the walk to the main attraction.  There were lots of photo opp stations.





We stopped at several different demonstration sites.  The first was a sundial.  The attraction guide told us that because we were on the Equator, the shadow line would disappear on the June and December solstice.

The next item was a different type of sundial.  The shadow line would switch to the other side that we couldn’t see at each solstice.  It had the same markings but there was no shadow line there after June 21.

It was then time to take photos while on the Equator.  Everyone took their turns.  After our first photo, Cathy and I wanted one with us kissing on the Equator.  Rather special!


The next demonstration related to spinning the globe on different sides of the Equator.  It seemed kind of silly since it would behave the same way wherever you did it.

I was impressed with the next demonstration.  They filled up a tub with water with leaves floating on top.  When they pulled the drain on the tub, the water poured out with the water and leaves going straight down.

They then did the same thing moving the bucket to different sides of the Equator.  On the north side the equator, it drained clockwise and on the south side counterclockwise.

They next showed that an egg could be balanced on a nail head on the Equator.  Well, the guide could do it but no one else could.

After leaving the Equator, our last destination before lunch was the Khoura Chocolate Company.  Having had a less than satisfactory experience in Cusco, we weren’t holding out much hope for a better experience.  We were wrong.  This one was much better.

They had similar equipment, but the explanations were better, and the chocolate sampling was significantly better and tastier.  We had several different flavors of chocolate, all of which were quite good.



They sold a lot of chocolate to our group.  Their prices were better, and the chocolate was really good.  Once again, we only bought a couple small bars.  The difference was that we ate these rather than throwing them away in the nearest trash can as we had done in Cusco.

It was after noon when we left the chocolate factory to head to our lunch destination.   When we arrived at the Mindalae ethno-historic museum of Ecuadorian handicrafts, we were wondering why we were going to a museum rather than a restaurant.  It turned out that it was both.

After walking in and being introduced to the woman in charge of the museum, we went up the elevator to the top floor to see the exhibits.  This was a beautiful facility with so many interesting things to look at.

She explained many of them to us as we walked around.  We were impressed.




When we got down to the ground level floor, we saw that another OAT group was set up for lunch in one of the rooms.  Kind of cool to eat in a museum.

Our room was also felt like being in a museum.  There were ceramic images of different kinds of women on one of the walls.  Interesting!


The meal was very good, and we enjoyed another unique dining experience.

When we got back to the hotel, we had to start thinking about our trip to the Galapagos the next day.  Once again, we would be leaving our large suitcases in Quito to pick up before we flew home.  Everything we needed for four days had to fit in our small duffel bag.  We were able to do it, but they sure were heavy.  The reason for using the duffels was because there wasn’t supposed to be much room for our luggage in our cabins.  Knowing what we know now, we could have taken at least one of the large bags, since they would have fit under the bed.  That might not be the case on all the boats OAT uses. 

We went to bed early since we were having a 4:45 AM wakeup call so we could leave for the airport at 5:40 AM to catch our 8:00 AM flight.  It would be a long day.



Day 13 - Fly to Galapagos

For our second visit to the Quito airport, everything went smoothly.  We had additional documents to fill out for the Galapagos; but everything else was like an in-country flight.  Rather than flying Latam Peru, we were on an Avianca flight.  They were using the same A320 aircrafts.  I hoped that they had more legroom.  Nope, same cramped seats.

There are no direct flights from Quito to the Galapagos.  We would have to have a layover in the town of Guayaquil on the Pacific coast.  Fortunately, we didn’t have to change planes, just wait about 45 minutes to let off some passengers and pick up others.  While we were in the air, I realized that I had a big problem.  My wallet wasn’t in my front pocket where it always is.  I tried to maintain my composure and look through my backpack, since that would be the logical place for it to be.  I unzipped all the pockets and looked in it thoroughly.  I tried to retrace what I had done with my wallet.  I normally just leave my wallet in my pocket since it doesn’t set off any alarms.  Since it did set off an alarm on my way to Quito, I did take it out and put it in the big gray tray with my watch, iPad and belt.  I couldn’t have left it in the tray with picking up all the other stuff, but it was nowhere to be found.  Good grief, what had I done?  The only explanation could be that I did leave it in the tray.  Being in a foreign country without a wallet isn’t a great idea.  I fortunately had my passport in my backpack.  Since we were still in the air, there was nothing I could do.

As soon as we landed in Guayaquil, I texted Daniel a few seats ahead of me to let him know of my quandary.  He immediately called another OAT guide that was still at the Quito airport to see if someone had turned it in or security found it.  No luck.

Since we had some time on the ground, I was able to try to contact my credit card companies to turn off the cards.  Fortunately, Cathy had her wallet, and I was able to get the CitiBank CC phone number to call.  It took forever to get through.  I was able to put a hold on one of the cards.  I would have to call back to put a hold on another one plus my ATM card as well as a different bank card.  Then I realized I don’t have to call them; I can probably do it on the bank apps.  Sure enough, I pulled up the apps and put holds on all my cards in just minutes with no hassle of phone calls. 

One of the reasons I am relating my tale of woe is to recommend that you get your banks CC apps in case you suffer a similar misfortune.  I was able to relax a lot more after turning off all the cards.  Then I started to think of all the other things I would have to replace like my driver’s license.  That could all wait, especially since I have photos of everything on my phone.

During the flight my mind wandered as to what I will need to get replaced when I get home from my lost wallet, but I was also watching episodes of a Prime show I have been trying to catch up on.  My stress level from the misfortune had leveled out.  Near the end of our hour and 40-minute flight to Baltra, Galapagos, I needed to put my headphones into my backpack.  The backpack had been laying on its side, so when I put it on my lap, I saw my wallet in the net compartment on the other side, where I normally have my water bottle.  Eureka!  I hadn’t lost my wallet at all.  I just misplaced like the silly old fool I am.  I was quite embarrassed, but so grateful to find it.  As we approached Baltra, I could see a volcanic island out the window.  I was ready to start the Galapagos adventure with nothing to worry about.

When we were taxiing to the airport, I was able to take all of my cards off hold and everything was like it always was.  I love my iPhone apps!  Daniel was happy to hear the news also. 

As we walked off the plane there were cute signs on the way to the terminal.

We took a short bus ride to the dock where our boat, the Tip Top IV, was waiting for us.  They picked up our luggage first, then we piled on to their zodiac type boats for the first of many trips to it. 

We met in the main lobby/congregation area to obtain our cabin assignments and be given the rules of the boat.  This is when Daniel told us that unlike in Ecuador, we would have to put our used toilet paper into the small trash can next to the commode.  By now, it wasn’t a big deal; but it would have been nice that we didn’t need to do that in Ecuador.


When we were able to go to our cabins, I was pleasantly surprised at how large they were compared to those I had experienced on last year’s Turkish gullet cruise.  Our cabin was on the 1st deck and only had port holes.  There were 6 cabins on the 1st deck.  Only 4 were used.  A couple months before the cruise, OAT called and said that they would have to move us to a lower deck and would give us several hundred dollars credit for compensation.  It was a good deal for us, since we only slept in the cabin.  It was a very comfortable cabin, plus, they had air conditioning that ran all night!  We would realize later that the AC kept the room cooler, but didn’t take out much moisture from the air, so our clothes that we hung up never really completely dried until we got home.  



After checking out the cabins, we went to the dining room for lunch.  It was most enjoyable, and we were glad to see that we had a good chef on the boat.

After lunch, I wanted to take some photos of the public areas while everyone was in their cabins.  This is the dining room where we ate three meals a day.  Very good meals.  It was on the 2nd deck. 


On the back of the second deck was the area used to access the zodiacs for land drops and snorkel trips.  We left our wet suits and snorkel gear there to dry.  There was a path to the front of the boat on either side of deck 2


At the very front of the 2nd deck was a large area that was useable for taking photos from the front of the ship, but not much else.


On the 3rd deck, there were four cabins and a very nice lounge area at the back of the ship where happy hour was conducted each night.


In the forward part of the 4th deck there was a large lounging area that was great during the day when we were cruising.


We took a short boat ride to Santa Cruz Island where we would do our first dry landing.  Santa Cruz is the most populated of the Galapagos islands.  On the way, we saw the first of many sea lions that we would see in the Galapagos.  They were chilling on a buoy. 


As we approached the island, the terrain was quite different from where we had been for the last two weeks.  We got our first view of the colorful Sally Lightfoot crabs that we would see everywhere.  I was looking forward to being able to get some closeups of their colorful markings when I could.


When we got off on the dock, a sea lion was partially blocking our path.  Obviously, he was showing his dominance over us, or perhaps he was just taking a nap.

There was a small bus waiting for us to take us further into the island.  During the ride, Daniel described why parts of the island were very dry while other parts got lots of rain.  The island has six separate vegetation zones.  The vegetation changed significantly every few minutes while we were driving.  We stopped and walked along a path with Daniel telling us about the different species of plants and birds we were seeing.  He was a wealth of knowledge.  Our first stop was at a large volcanic crater that had been mostly filled in with vegetation.


We got back on the bus and headed for our main destination, the El Chato Ranch Tortoise Reserve.  This is where we would see the large Galapagos tortoise.  As we were driving through the woods to get there, Daniel said to look for the large rocks.  They were most likely tortoises.  It turned into a game to see who saw them first.  We arrived at the ranch and were told the rules about not getting too close to or touch the tortoises. 


The first thing we did was go to the boot pavilion to try on rubber boots for our walk.    Daniel told us that the conditions weren’t that wet that day, but we could still get the boots in case.  Most people did.

It wasn’t long before we saw our first giant tortoise.  Everyone was thrilled to see this guy.  He wasn’t that excited to see us and was just heading to his favorite small watering hole to spend the night.


We began our walk through the preserve by heading to see two lava tubes.  I have enjoyed going through lava tubes in the past in Hawaii and the Canary Islands, so was looking forward to doing it again.  The opening was protected by ferns, so we couldn’t look into it until we started our descent.  The first one was short and didn’t take long to pop on out of it.


The second one was much longer, so much so that it required lighting to go through it.  We couldn’t see light from the exit.  This was a nice lava tube.  The iPhone captures great low light images, but the tunnels were much darker than they appear in the photos. 



It wasn’t long after we left the lava tube that we began seeing more tortoises.  They were heading to a pond where it appeared a tortoise convention was taking place.  This was a tortoise hot spot.  They were coming to settle in for the night. 



It was humorous to see them crawling over the others to get into the pond.

Daniel had told us that tortoises have terrible eyesight.  When they are trying to see something, they might lift their heads up high to see better.  He told us that if we put our arms out that the tortoise would probably think that we were birds.  Cathy couldn’t resist.  Mr. Tortoise was checking her out.

We saw so many tortoises at the ranch.  It was a great way to start our Galapagos adventure.   When we got back to the dock, the sea lion was still guarding his territory.

When we arrived back at the boat, there was juice and warm yucca balls waiting for us in the lobby/meeting area.  We had never had yucca balls before, but they quickly became a favorite. 

Before our first dinner on the boat, we gathered in the lobby to be formally introduced to the eight-person crew.  The captain gave a short welcome speech.  We also introduced ourselves to them.  Everyone on the crew was first class.  They couldn’t have been friendlier or more helpful.  OAT had put us on a nice boat with a great crew.


The welcome dinner was outstanding, just like every other meal we would be served on the boat.  This night was also special since the other Kathy (but with a K) in our group was celebrating a birthday.  The chef had made her a delicious birthday cake. 

After dinner, I was looking forward to looking up at the evening stars.  The Galapagos is supposed to be a great place to view them, since there are no big cities or many lights around.  Unfortunately, that night there weren’t many stars around either due to cloudy conditions.  Oh well, there we still had three more nights. 

We went to bed early and actually did every night on the boat since we were so active during the days and had early island landings.



Day 14 - Galapagos day 2

For the next 3 days the schedule would have two island landings and one or two snorkel trips.  Below was our first day’s itinerary.  We kept pretty active.  With dry landings, we could wear any footwear we wanted.  I always took my hiking boots, and it was good choice.  With a wet landing, it was best to take shoes off before jumping in the water and putting them back on at a dry spot on the beach.  Most people used water shoes or sandals for them.

6:30 AM  Breakfast
7:30 AM  Dry landing on Chinaman’s Hat
9:15 AM  Distribute wet suits and snorkel gear
9:45 AM  Snorkel Chinaman’s Hat
12:00 PM  Lunch
2:00 PM  Kayaking
2:30 PM Snorkel Rabida Island
4:00 PM Wet landing on Rabida Island
7:00 PM Dinner


I woke up early and went up to an upper deck to see where we were, since we had moved early in the morning.  I always love seeing a sunrise on an ocean.

Chinaman’s Hat Island did look like its name.

Breakfast was a hardy one each morning and so good.  This is what our first one looked like.  They were always delicious.


The zodiacs we used for the landings were very easy to enter and leave, since the edges were very firm and stable.  It was still helpful to have an arm to hold onto since the sea tended to move the zodiac whenever it wanted to.  Everyone put on the life jackets before entering and took them before exiting for a landing.  We got very good at this exercise.  With our group of 12, we normally took two zodiacs for each landing/snorkel.

We cruised around the rugged lava edge of the island heading to our landing spot.  We would pull into little coves looking for wildlife.


As the sun came out, the colors of the water and vegetation became glorious.

The zodiac drivers were so good at spotting wildlife and worked so hard to make sure that all of us had time to see and take photos of everything.  Most of the time our driver was Edgar.  He was such a great guy.  He really made our many our many zodiac rides such a pleasure

While exploring the coastline, we spotted a single penguin.  Everyone was snapping away at this cute bird.  The Galapagos penguin is endemic to the islands and is the only species found north of the Equator.  They are also the second smallest penguin, which makes them even cuter.


We continued around the island admiring the unusual landscape.  We saw a young seal nursing. 



We disembarked and began our walk.  I was glad that I had my hiking boots and walking stick for walking on the rough lava rock.    I loved the contrast of the black lava rock, aqua ocean and colorful Sally Lightfoot crabs.  It was just a beautiful place.


Daniel would stop regularly to point out interesting things and tell us all about them.


We saw a small group of penguins swimming and playing near the shoreline.

The lava was teeming with crabs and small lizards. 


I couldn’t stop taking photos of the beautiful views.


We came to a beach where we saw sea lions playing in the waves.  Further along they were relaxing on the beach.  We were all watching and taking photos.


Not far away we saw our first marine iguana.  I have seen these amazing creatures on numerous Discovery Channel, National Geographic Channel and other documentary shows for as long as I can remember and was thrilled to finally see one in person.   They are unique in that they dive into the ocean to feed on the underwater vegetation.  Over the next few days, we would see so many of them, that I didn’t bother taking photos of them. 


Sure enough, within ten minutes we came to a gang of young marine iguanas hanging out on the rocks.

We came to an area with a large concentration of the beautiful ground cover we had been seeing around the island.  Daniel told us the colorful ground cover was redder in dry conditions and green during the rainy season.

There were several different types of ground cover that I hadn’t noticed until I got close up.

Continuing our walk, we came to an even larger group of marine iguanas.  I kept moving around to get the best angles and close ups of the ancient looking creatures.



We continued our walk taking in the beautiful scenery.  I was understanding why people rave about their trip to the Galapagos.  Daniel took a group photo for us.


After getting back on the zodiacs to return to the boat they spotted a large group of penguins.  Talk about a photo feeding frenzy!  Everyone was excited to be able to see and take photos of these cuties.


On the way back to the Tip Top IV, I had to take a last photo of the beautiful island we had just explored.  Such a treat to have been able to visit there.

Our first landing had been awesome!  We were loving the Galapagos.  After getting back on the boat and resting a bit, we met up to try on our wetsuits and snorkel gear.  Everyone was getting their wetsuits but me.  For some reason, mine wasn’t there.  Now what was I going to do?  Swim in the mid-60-degree water without one?  No way!  Daniel discussed it with the captain and found one of the crew’s wetsuits that was large enough for me.  It must have been the captains, since everyone else was much smaller than him.  A benefit of having the captain’s wetsuit was that it was full length, rather than the shorties everyone else had been given.

Although apprehensive about the cold water, we were anxious to see the Galapagos’ underwater world.  We stopped at the drop-off spot and jumped in one at a time.  OMG the water was so cold!  But within 15 seconds it felt great, and we went about our looking at the underwater paradise.  The water was very clear and there was so many fish swimming all around.  There were schools of small fish and many larger fish just going about their business of grazing on the vegetation on the rocks.  The main attraction was the penguins that would speed by occasionally.  My buddy, Jim, had loaned me his GoPro to take underwater photos with, but I left it at home.  I remembered that when I had previously taken underwater pics, I spent my time trying to take good pics rather than just enjoying the beautiful environment.  Underwater photography is very challenging.  It also requires lots of additional lighting to get really good pics.  So, the ones I spent so much time trying to get never looked that good anyway.  No underwater pics for the review but great memories of some awesome snorkel adventures.

This first snorkel trip was a bit frustrating in that it was the first time I had snorkeled with a mustache.  I only started to grow a beard when Covid started in March 2020.  I had nothing better to do, so why not.  I have kept it since Cathy likes me with it.  A mustache makes it difficult to have a good mask seal, so water can leak in.  The salt water was getting into my mouth and nose requiring me to surface regularly to clear.  Even after clearing my eyes and throat were still burning from the salt water.  I would get a better sealing mask for the next snorkel trip in the afternoon.  I was told those regular divers/snorkelers with mustaches usually put Vaseline on the mustache to help the mask to seal.  No one in the group brought Vaseline with them.  I also had to change out my snorkel, since one of the side pieces you bite down on was almost bitten off, making it harder to hold onto.  I should have checked when I received it on the boat.

After returning to the boat, we began a ride to our next destination for the afternoon, Rabida or Red Island.  Most of us went up to the top deck lounging area to relax after the busy morning.  While laying around, the frigate birds decided that they wanted to ride with us.  They stayed right above us the whole way there and most of the trips we would take.  They would play with each other swooping up and down at each other.  It was fun to watch.


After about an hour’s cruise, we saw that we were aiming for an island on the horizon.

As we got closer, we knew it had to be Rabida with the red cliff.  This looked like a cool island to explore.

After lunch the five people that wanted to kayak began their excursion.


When they got back, we all immediately put on our wetsuits, got into the zodiacs, and headed for our next snorkel adventure.  The new mask was a much better fit and I tightened it more.  The new snorkel was also much better.  As a result, I had a much better snorkel experience.  It was another underwater wonderland.  When we got back on the boat, Howard took one of my favorite photos of the whole trip.  Thanks Howard!

When it was time for our wet landing, I decided that it was time for me to take my telephoto lens with me.  It is a pretty heavy lens and adds a lot of weight to my backpack if I carry it and my primary lens.  With the iPhone doing so well with most of the shots I needed, I thought maybe there was something that I would like to take a closeup shot of.  I’m glad I did.

The wet landing was a pretty easy process.  We just sat on the side of the zodiac, slid into the shallow water and walked up to the dry beach sand.  The sand was very red.  We walked a little way down the beach.  Daniel pointed out the holes in the sand and told us to watch for the ghost crabs to pop up.  Sure enough, they did.  He told us that they are very fast and very skittish.  We wouldn’t be able to get close to them or they would dive into their holes.  He was right about that.  Any movement toward them encouraged a mass beach evacuation.  I was glad I had a long lens to get photos of them, because there was no way I was going to get close enough to use my iPhone.  These were the only creatures we saw on the Galapagos that paid any attention to us.


We continued down the beach to where there was a saltwater lake.  Daniel was excited to see that there were some flamingos there.  He hadn’t seen them there for a while.  Once again, I was so glad I had my long lens on my camera.  They are beautiful creatures.



I had to take a lot of shots to get this guy showing his black under feathers.

It looked the like some of the flamingos were sitting on nests.  Sure enough, one stood up and we could see that she had been sitting on a egg.

As we were walking along the edge of the pond, Daniel spotted a couple of oyster catcher birds.    They were staying pretty far away from us, and we couldn’t cross over the stone markers to get closer.  They were easy birds to recognize with the red rings around their eyes



 As we continued our walk, one of them started walking right toward us.  Daniel thought that it was unusual.  The bird must have thought there was something buried near where we were. 

The sand was very pretty with shiny particles throughout it.  The photos don’t capture the brilliance of it, but I am putting photos that might at least give you an idea of what I am talking about.

There were so many different kinds of lizards on the beach.  I couldn’t take photos of all of them, but I am putting in a few here and there.


As with most of the beaches we were on, this one also had its share of sea lions.  The young ones were just so cute.  They were also moving around and playing more than the adults.  Kind of like humans.


I was able to take a nice photo of the Tip Top IV on our way back from the island.

It had been another most enjoyable island adventure.  After we got back to the ship and cleaned up, we joined the others for a happy hour.  We had such a great group of new friends to share this trip with.  Every time we would get together, we would laugh so much and have such a great time.  It really made the trip so enjoyable.  We were having such a great time on this part of the trip.  Some tours do the Galapagos cruise before the Peru portion.  I am so glad we did it with the cruise last.  It provided so much more social time after you already were friendly with everyone.  The sunset added to the evening's enjoyment.


The sky didn’t look that clear, but I went up to see if the viewing might be good.  The light on the top of the boat was on which messed up any good viewing.  I asked a crew member if we could get the light turned off for the next night.



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