El Cajas National Park

A final breakfast at the El Dorado Hotel before we gather our luggage and set off towards El Cajas National Park. After driving for approximately 45 minutes we make a comfort stop at a lodge, located shortly before the park entrance. The lodge has been built alongside a mountain, and some of the rooms actually feature some of the mountain rocks. The architecture is dramatic, with huge timbers and high ceilings. Outside there are numerous trout pools, and a stables for your horse! On arrival it is quite cool and cloudy. When we leave the sun is shining and the clouds have lifted.

The clear skies make for an excellent drive through El Cajas National Park. The park features hundreds of clear, cold lakes, streams and rivers. Llamas and alpacas have been introduced for a breeding programme, although we only see one, and that’s with binoculars! The park road reaches over 14,000 feet at one point, and we make a quick stop for the view, before starting our journey downhill to the coast.

The drive is stunning, and while still above the clouds, we stop at a friendly café to consume our picnic lunches. A few thousand feet lower in elevation we reach the banana and cocoa plantations of the coastal region. We visit a family owned farm to learn about cocoa production. Other local crops include sugar cane and rice. Once we step outside our air conditioned coach we can feel the temperature is higher now we’re close to the coast.

Late afternoon we arrive at the Wyndham Hotel Guayaquil for our two-night stay. After settling-in, a few guests head for the rooftop swimming pool for a dip, only to discover the pool was about to be unexpectedly closed for a private pool party. Time for Richard and Dawn to jump into action. Negotiations complete, everyone enjoys complimentary wine at dinner as a gesture of goodwill. Guests agree it is worth waiting until tomorrow to swim!

We welcome our guests who have arrived for the Galapagos part of the tour.