View From The Grandpa: Galapagos/Amazon Review
Here is an account from Charlie Walters, one of Rainforest Cruises' customers, of his Ecuadorian adventure staying in an Amazon lodge and cruising the Galapagos islands, all with his grandchildren, brave soul!
"You senior travelers searching for luxury accommodations and constant relaxation under the sun should not follow in the foot-steps of my four grandsons and me. If, however, you’d like to ensure that some of your descendants inherit your love for botanical beauty and for all God’s creatures, consider taking them to Ecuador’s Amazon and Galapagos Islands.
Our initial destination in the rainforest was not reached with minimal effort. Flights to urban Quito and then to the remote port town of Coca were followed by a bus ride to the bank of the Rio Napo where we boarded a long, narrow powerboat for a 45 mile ride downriver. After we disembarked the boat, we began our mile or two hike through the jungle.
Our exceptional guide, Luis, made frequent stops disguised as “educational” for my boys but really to allow me a chance to catch up. This hike was a fantastic and informative introductory stroll through the Amazon rainforest for the boys. For me, it was more like the Bataan Death March in World War II that American soldiers, captured by Japanese troops, were forced to endure in the Philippines.
My Death March ended at one side of Pilchicocha Lake. We then boarded dugout canoes where we were paddled across the lake to Sacha Lodge. For me, our sighting of Sacha Lodge was like finding an oasis after crawling deliriously through the Sahara Desert for several days. Whoever initially had the stamina to arrive at this spot and the vision to build the lodge must have caused great bewilderment with the natives.
The Sacha Lodge, in the middle of nowhere, has all the comforts of home, with the advantage of no television. All the cabins, the dining area, boardwalk connections, etc. are built on stilts over the swamp without interfering with the wildlife. The caiman, monkeys, and birds pass freely under the lodge. We frequently watched them from our dining tables which were adorned with a variety of fruits, salads, vegetables, and meats … all of which arrived daily using the same path all visitors take.
There’s no way to adequately describe our excursions by foot through the jungle; by canoe through the swamps; or by our climb up and across their unbelievable Canopy Walk. Building this metal structure above some of the tallest trees in the world was impossible … but somebody built it anyway. I can’t adequately describe it; but I still feel it; and I won’t forget it. More importantly, my boys won’t either.
When our Amazon adventure was over we visited and “partially” climbed the awe-inspiring Cotopaxi Volcano in the Andean Mountain Range (I'd recommend Cotopaxi to anyone) and then flew the 600 miles from Ecuador’s Pacific coastline to the Galapagos archipelago.
There we boarded a 16 passenger plus crew catamaran named, “Archipell I” where we slept, ate, rested between islands, and where we were treated like royalty. Mario, our young and athletic Galapagos guide made sure my boys and their grandfather were always safe on our entire island and ocean explorations but this adventure was totally unlike the Amazon.
We were privileged to snorkel with playful sea lions and graceful sea turtles all around us; to walk among sea lions, iguanas, and rare birds which had no idea about how dangerous humans can be; and to view the spectacular rocky cliffs and unspoiled vegetation that could never survive the devastation of too many humans.
The Galapagos Islands are the last refuge for many astonishing creatures which can be found nowhere else on our planet. If you are lucky enough to go, please be respectful and do no harm this fragile paradise, and take along at least one grandchild…you won’t regret it and they won't forget it!
My sincere thanks to Jeremy Clubb at Rainforest Cruises and to all those who assisted him.
Charlie Walters, Ft. Myers, FL"