A Travellerspoint blog

The Galapagos Islands

A Self Guided Tour of Darwins´Islands

sunny 26 °C

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After arriving at Baltra airport on San Cristobal island on our direct flight from Quito (Which took about 3 hours) we were immediately seperated from our $100 entrance fee EACH! This is for the initial park entry fee... and combined with the minimum $350 flight ticket tab meant everyone... well unless you´re ecuadorian.... shells out $450 before you even set foot out of the airport!

It was then a free for all as we all crammed onto a free bus to the ferry.

The ferry journey was short but it took longer as everyone piled their bags, boxes, cases, new TV´s etc. precariously on top of the boat before we left the dock!

The water did look gorgeous and so clear though.

We then all shoved ourselves onto a bus to Puerto Ayora, the main town on the island.

Squashed at the back with 4 kiwis the bus took about 1 hour down to the other end of the island, where we were to start our Galapagos adventure proper!

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In Puerto Ayora we headed straight to Hotel Espana where we managed to bargain the senora down to $25 for a room..... apparently the extra cost was because it had aqua caliente ("Hot Water...... ???")

After dumping our bags we headed straight out and bumped into the kiwis from the bus, Katie, Hamish, Paul and Bryce.

Puerto Ayora is a different world to Quito.

It was so slow paced and within a few hours af arriving we had already seen sea lions, iguanas, pelicans and brightly coloured sally lightfoot crabs!

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A little research was made as to what to do in the next couple of days before meeting up with the guys for a few cervezas and some food at one of the cool little kiosks on Charles Binford.

The kiosks seemed full of locals and we chose a busy one called 'Williams' (But of course!!! ,)

The atmosphere was lovely and the food was delicious.... although I did feel a little silly asking for the menu to find out that there were only 3 dishes ON the menu.

Chicken and rice, prawns and rice or fish and rice!!

Alan, myself and Bryce chose the prawns, which were delicious!!

The next day we decided to head for Isabella island for a few days and found a 3 day, 2 night deal that worked out cheaper than doing everything ourselves!

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So early that afternoon we caught the bouncy little ferry to Puerto Villami, Isabella. It took 2.5 hours.

Apparently en route a manta ray jumped out of the water but I woke to everybodies 'oohs' and 'ahhs' and missed everything!

We had to take another smaller boat to the jetty at Puerto Villami as the water was too shallow for the ferry, myself and the 4 kiwis left Alan to catch the second small boat with 6 backpacks to carry ha ha!

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On the jetty we found Dario, our guide on Isabella, who dropped us off at our hotel.

The Hotel Brisas Del Mar must have been very surprised with the uncontained excitement, of six bacpackers, at the sight of private rooms with private hot showers AND a TV, even though there were only 2 channels and all in spanish!!!!

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10 minutes later we were picked up and taken to the tortoise breeding centre where we saw tortoises ranging from tiny babies up to the senoir citizens of the islands being all of 90 year olds., Although they can live up to 150 years old!

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Then it was a quick trip to the flamingo lagoon (to see 5 flamingoes in the distance... very exciting) before walking through the laid back town centre to Lobos, Darios' restuarant, on the end of a pier surrounded by a gorgeous beach!

The Bar was every Surfers dream we reckon... a bar at the end of a pier surrounded by pristine waters, Gorgeous beaches and of course stunning Surf!

We had very nice chicken with..... um..... rice (of course) and washed it down with a few beers.

It was during our meal that Dario informed us that from June to September was American tourist season,
November to January was European tourist season while at the moment we were in 'little people' season!

Well its comforting to know what we are!!!

After dinner we felt like another beer so stumbled into a wee bar on the way back to the hotel.

The guy made us lots of free popcorn as we listened to Bob Marley.

This is the life!!!!

The next day we were woken at about 5 am to the chants of the "Galapagos army" as they jogged around the sandy town..... hmmmm!

After our boiled eggs, ham and cheese toasties for breakfast we were all raring to go and heading to the base of Volcan Negro, that had errupted as recently as 2002.

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While waiting for the horses we all visited the most bizarre (and very clean) flushing toilet..... out in the middle of a field literally half way up a mountain all on it´s own! Very Cool!

Alans horse was a little feisty young stallion called 'Pony', he ran off to the front and more or less stayed there all of the time up the volcano and coming back.

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As Alans hat fell off he stopped Pony to dismount, Pony didn't like stopping and reared up a few times before running off into the bushes!

Very funny for everyone apart from Alan.

Pony and Alan soon resumed their pole position.

My horse was quite happy amongst the horses AND amongst the dust!!!

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The crater was huge and is apparently the second largest in the world. At the top we dismounted the horses and went for a wee walk onto the volcano and the 5 year old lava flows.... cool (well they were by now anyway :) )

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The ride back down was a little faster and I even got to gallop at the dege of the crater.... cool. Much of the rest of the time we were trotting, getting very very dusty.

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Alan and Pony were a good ten minutes in front... of course!

At the end I looked like I had been down the mines but still laughing!!

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We jumped back into the minibus for the trip back down the Volcano and on the way down Bryce suddenly spotted a Hawk perched on the side of the road. The van reversed a little bit and surprisingly... it didn´t move!

We all got out of the van... and it still didn´t move!

We all started taking pictures and .... it turned around as if to question what all the fuss was about!

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This place is great and the animals make it tall the better!

After a much needed shower back at the hotel we all geared up for a snorkel in a shallow bay.

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The water was cold but the snorkelling was great as we were surrounded by at least 8 white tip reef sharks, a stingray and numerous colourfull fish. Just before getting out we had two sea lions playing around us!

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On the way back we saw marine iguanas and blue footed boobies, that crashed into the rocks as they tried to fly off... clumsy buggers!

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That night at Lobos it was fish, mmmm.

Of course we had to go for another cerveza, popcorn and more Bob Marley at our favourite local!

It was an early start again the next day, ready for the ferry at 5.30am.

We arrived back in Puerto Ayora nice and early, dumped our bags at Hotel Espana and went for breakfast.

A little later we walked to Bahia Tortuga (turltle bay).

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The 30 minute trail led out onto a gorgeous white sandy beach with turquoise sea and huge marine iguanas splashing around!

There were a large group of turtles bobbing around close to shore, waiting for nightfall to climb up the beach to nest (but unfortunately the beach closed at 6 pm and there were no tours to view the spectacle).

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As we walked along the beach we reached a sheltered bay where a blue footed boobie posed nicely for a photo. We met the other guys, knee deep in the calm water surrounded by white tip reef sharks and the odd low flying pelican!

Later on we all met up for a cheeky cerveza and a chicken.... and rice..... on Charles Binford.

It was another earlish start as we were at the dive centre at 7.30am only to learn that (as it had been a full moon last night) the tides had been bigger than expected and the boat was beached!?

9.30am we left on the now un-beached boat. It was about a two hour boat ride to the dive site of Seymor Norte.

We donned our 7mm wetsuits and after a little weight test rolled in.

I mis-judged my weights and struggled to sink (I must have the floatiest bum) but eventually did!

The dive was very challenging with strong currents but so rewarding. As soon as we descended a sea lion was playing around with Alan who equally kept the sea lion entertained I think!

We saw hammerhead sharks, white tip reef sharks, sting rays, eels, puffer fish and numerous schools of colourful fish!

After the first dive we were all tired but went in again for another dive. I put another 2 kgs on my weight belt but was still a bit light!

The aqautic life was even better, this time we saw a green turtle, eagle rays and even a big galapagos shark (I think the guide was even more excited at seeing this than us). It was a bit of a struggle though due to strong currents and I went floating calmly off at one stage, Alan managed to grab me and we made it back to the other two divers!

We had to grab the rocks to pull ourselves along (something that fellow divers know you shouldn't make a habit of.... especially when there are stone fish around)! Alan cut his finger on one of the rocks...... the white tip reef sharks were quite friendly then!!!!!

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All in all it was the most challenging but most rewarding dive I have done yet!

That evening we had a few farewell cervezas (as the kiwis were leaving on a tour boat tomorrow) and a fish and RICE supper at Williams!!!

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Alan and myself did a little asking around, the following morning, for deals on boat trips and day trips! We decided the boat trips that were offered were a little expensive and we had seen so much already, what else could $1000 give us? We were interested in some other day trips but they were full at the momento so we could try again tomorrow!!???

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We gave up for now and headed for the Charles Darwin centre, a short walk from town. After a little interprative centre we walked to the tortoise enclosure, similar to the breeding centre on isabella, but this time we could walk amongst the giant tortoise.... cool!

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This is also the home of Lonesome George, the last tortoise of his species. He did have two chicas fighting for his attention but alas he doesn't fancy any of them..... he is probably 100 years old!

The centre also had land iguanas.

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The following day we found a tourist office that had trips for the following 2 days so we proceeded to change our flights for a few days later at the Tame office in Puerto Ayora. This was very quick and free.

We changed the flights back 5 minutes later when the senorita at the tourist office informed us that the trips may not go...... like I have already said we had seen a lot already so didn't need to waste any time and spend any more money!!

After this palava we decided to rent bikes (with dodgy seats and pedals) and grabbed a taxi to Santa Rosa where we cycled down a dirt track in search of El Chato tortoise reserve, where we could spot tortoise in the wild!

Along the track we spotted a wild tortoise and about hundred metres we spotted a lonesome bull in the middle of the path, yeah he wasn't too keen on us so eventually he won..... we turned back.

After the initial slog on the dirt track it was all down hill to Bellavista, where the lava tunnels were. The lady let us have a few minutes rest, and some free bananas, before handing us a torch and letting us wander off into the lava tunnel ourselves.

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The tunnels were about 700m long and incredibly dark as the small lights only came on halfway into the tunnel. I decided I was keeping the torch..... didn't trust Mr Williams with the torch as last time we were in a similar situation he turned the torch off and left me!!!!

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It was then another downhill ride back to Puerto Ayora. Many locals said hello while we were cycling.... not many gringos hire bikes..... we are the tight arses!!!!

Just 2 kms out of town we spotted a tortoise plodding along the side of the road, with all the traffic whizzing past ha ha.

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Just 2 kms....... we had cycled about 20kms to spot a bloody wild tortoise!!!!!!

Back in Puerto Ayora we dropped the bikes back to the hire shop which doubled up as the towns lavanderia! We then had yummy icecream and chocolate cake!!!

Later that evening we treated ourselves to a really nice meal (the restuarant was full of gringos but the food was good)!

Our final day in the Galapagos was spent crammed onto buses, ferries and running for the departure desk at the airport. It was a complete shambles but good fun..... we realised that ecuadorians will push, pull and knock you out the way for the chance of a better seat..... I think we gave them as good as they got...ish!!!

So it was Adios Los Galapagos........ what a magical place!!!!!

Posted by stephyd 12:27 Archived in Ecuador Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

Quito City

Spanish Lessons ???!!!!!!!!

all seasons in one day 22 °C
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Hostel Revolution is right inbetween Quito Old Town and Quito New Town.

It´s handy as the Bus runs right outside into both towns (so to speak) and the owner is an Aussie and all the people in the hostel tend towards the independent traveller (which is great for gleaning information about what and where to go next!)

Having spent a few days acclimatising to the altitude and getting Spanish lessons organised we decided to stay here for about three weeks (which co-incided with the Rugby World Cup)

We´ve decided to try and spend one month in each country as this should give us long enough to get a rough overview of the country itself, while also allowing us to visit quite a few in our six months down here.

We walked into New Town and went to a few Spanish schools to check out what the score was with regards to cost and what was available in terms of lessons.

Viva Verde had been recommended to us by Matt (The Hostel Owner) so we checked it out and then we also checked out Apu Inty Spanish School, which had been recommended to us by a british couple we´d met in the pub over the weekend.

We went to both and decided on Apu Inty as the Classes looked that much more professional and a bit more organised (With Hiensight... I (although Steph differs on this one) wish we´d selected Vida Verde)

Anyway, we started lessons and since the place was fully booked in the mornings had to opt for afternoon lessons... for the first week anyway.

We started lessons and we both suddenly realised how rubbish our Spanish actually was (me more so as I´d picked up a few bad habits etc. and also thought I was quite good anyway... WRONG !)

We started at 1pm and finished four hours later at 5. We were brain dead, although our lecturers were both nice and we both had high hopes for our Spanish Linguistics by the end of our two weeks.

Over the next 8 days we changed lecturers once, changed times to the mornings, learnt how to speak Spanish out of a book (literally in my case) and unfortunately the lessons really didn´t live up to what we were expecting.

We´ve spoken to others about their experiences and they range from good to average.

Problem being that I prefer to talk (No Shit Sherlock) however we reckon Steph got a lot out of the lessons as they gave her a lot more confidence in speaking and I have to be honest.... I did learn about 10 new words over the 2 weeks !!!!!!

The Lessons weren´t cheap either !

OK... you get a one to one with a lecturer.... however... my lecturers seemed to be intent on teaching me based on a pre defined schedule out of a book... to which I was damned if I was going to stick to it ! I´m paying for this after all... I´ll be fecked if you´re going to dictate to me how quickly I´m supposed to be learning!

i.e. Day 5 - Irregular Verbs
Day 13 - 3 rd person Conjunctive Plural Imperfect Subjugations...... What the...... F·ck !!!!!!!!! ARRGGGGHHHHHH

I don´t even know what those words mean in English.... nor Welsh for that matter !!!!

And why the hell is knowing all the endings for a single verb (i.e. to Run) going to help me over the next 6 months i.e. I run, you run, They run, We Run... Fucking hell... I can´t even rememebr the word "Run" Never mind the associated 52 endings !!!!!

Learning from a book..... not my way to go !

However, Steph seemed much better than me and managed to keep to the school Schedule... I on the other hand decided to have arguments with my lecturers about the meaningfulness of all this shite and that I purely wanted to know how to speak something useful... not something like "God lives in an Ice Tower...." Honestly... that was one of the examples.... to which I replied in Spanish.... "What is God ?"....

My Lecturer and I didn´t get on pretty much after that point ,)

The lessons were $6 per hour... so for 8 days at 4 hours a day for the two of us we spent $384

Feck me... see what I mean not Cheap !!!

But this was pretty much the going rate so what the heck.

In between the "lessons" we also toured around Quito itself.

The Museo Central was fantastic and had more pottery than I think I´ve ever seen in any museum anywhere else before. All Originals and well worth the $3 entry fee. There was also a gold room with some displays of ornamental jewellery from days gone by)

We also visited the Reptile Park where we saw about 70 different species of snake (all but one of which are indigenous to Ecuador!)

Quito is a nice enough City, however, there is crime here.. and you really needed to be on your toes in csome areas and at some times of teh day / night.

It´s not to say it´s totally unsafe, however, walking about with my SLR isn´t really a good idea, hence the lack of Photos of Quito City itself, walking around with a bag even gives a perspective thief something to grab... so whenever we wonder around... no bags (if possible!)

The People are nice enough, but it´s hard to switch off the hard exterior coating when people approach you, for whatever reason... which is unfortunate and hopefully something we´ll manage to shrug off as we progress around South America.

It is a big city after all !

Posted by Taffski 09:51 Archived in Ecuador Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

Ecuador

Quito - Second Highest Capital in the World !

sunny
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So we left Seattle on Avianca Airlines (Columbian National Airways)

The Flight cost us $400 each which combined with our $100 flight from Seattle to LAX turned out to cost us $500 each to get down here, which wasn´t too bad!

The flights were pretty uneventful, however, we did have to change flights in Bogota which meant going through columbian customs which was a bit scary.... custom officials down here tend to be more Soldiers with semi automatics than a guy in a black jumper.

It was no problems though and we arrived in Quito at 10:30 am (on time!)

We breezed through customs and got a prepaid taxi to our hostel.

The Hostel is really nice and having been travelling all the previous day.. Steph and I had a quick walk around Quito and then went to bed.

Quito itself itsn´t too bad.

Hostel Revolution is inbetween the Old Town and the New Town which is particularly handy as we get to go to both parts of town on foot, however, we also use the Trolley Bus which whizzes into Town for 25cents each way!

So we´re here... having Spanish lessons and just relaxing whilst watching the Rugby world cup.

We´ve not taken any photos yet as Quito isn´t that safe (although I will endevour to get out and take some photos of the Old Town etc. during the course of this coming week)

Somos Aprender Espanol Y este va bien

:)

Posted by Taffski 09:34 Archived in Ecuador Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

Sailing South

From Canada to the US

sunny 20 °C
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We arrived in Victoria and walked up to the hostel.

We were in the Ocean Island Backpackers in Victoria... which unlike our original impression, turned out to be one of the large Inner City Hostels! ARRGGGHHH !

We hate these places!!!!

Big, Impersonal.... inefficient.... busy.... Trying that little bit too hard to be the Ultimate Backpacker Hostel and yet... forgetting all those things that matter....

A Genuine Hi.... as opposed to the McDonald's "Have a nice day" Commentary!

Drives me nuts up here!

Anyway, the Room was in a Mini Double (which as cheaper)

Ok..... so It's a mini room....... Mini.......... This room was feckin Tiny !!!

And I'm a European and we're used to small rooms (compared to our North American Compadres)

Would love to see an American from Texas or the likes being put in one of these rooms :)

Anyway.... Imagine a Box.... with a door on the near wall (roughly half the length of the wall)...
a shelf..... on the near wall also.... the bed was a fold out bed... which when folded out was the Width of the room and meant that when it was out... we couldn't open the door completely!

Now to make things worse.... on the near wall (behind the door) was a fridge !!! a Feckin Fridge !!!

What the feck was the point of a Feckin fridge in this bloody room !!!!

The walls were made of Polythene... or so it seemed... and they shook like a cheap Film studio Set when you shut the door !!!

This room was Fun !!!!

Oh, and there was a Bin.... right next to my pillow on the floor next to the bed....

great use of space !!!

So.... as I'd always thought..... get the rooms in to make the Money.... No..no..... of course not.... we care for our guests and this City hostel is not all about "Show me the Money"

I hate these type of hostels !!!!

An another thing.....So where did our bags go........ when the bed was down... there was no floor space..... a couple of hooks (no way could I hang my rucksack up on the wall!!!)

They were shoved at the ends of the bed!

So as you can guess....... We already liked this hostel.

Then came the Kitchen.........

Then the Downstairs Bar........

No Drinking your own booze in the hostel............ which is the ONLY feckin hostel in the whole of Canada that we've seen this (apparently a BC rule) However......... I would be very skeptical about this and think this might have been more to do with Profit... PROFIT....feckin PROFIT !!!

OK one final thing......

No frying in the kitchen....... WHAT ??????

Yep absolutely...... No Frying !

So No Fried egg for brekkie.....

Why I have no idea !!! Apparently (once again) this was a Victoria City regulation.....

Strange or what !!!

Anyway, every cloud has a silver lining and we went out for tea and found a Brilliant Mexican round the corner where we had tea....

including Feckin "FRIED" Beans :)

:)

The Next Day we met Claudia for Brunch (only a quick visit which was a pity) and then we went down to the dock to meet Joe and Myrna.

They'd already arrived in the Dock and were docked right in front of the Empress Hotel.

Their Boat was a Lovely sailing Yacht and it was brilliant to be back on the water.

We went out for tea that evening having walked around Victoria for a while and through the Empress hotel (which is where Joe and Myrna had spent their Honeymoon some 25 (or so) years earlier) :)

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We left early the next day and set sail for the US !!!

It was a Beautiful Day as we motored out of Victoria harbor.....

Bye Bye Canada !!

It's been "Swell" (If a bit expensive!)

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We spent the rest of the day sailing and motoring along the Islands between the US and Canada and porpoise spotting along the way.

We reached Friday Harbour later in the day and Joe took our passports to the Immigration office.

This was quite cool as there wasn't anyone there, but rather a scanner where Joe scanned in our passports and that was that !

Cool !

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So we were now in the US !!!

I never thought I'd say I was glad to be in the USA.... however I was !!!

It's much cheaper than Canada !!! :)

A pack of Ciggies was down to $4...... half that of Canada (up at $9)

We popped to the local pub for a few bevvies and then played cards for the remainder of the evening :)

Joe woke us up with the Ringing of the Bell at 8am (a lie on whilst on Board we were assured!)

We set sail, however, it was a foggy day and it was raining as we left port.

We decided to head through Deception Pass (against the tide... albeit a slight tide) and then we headed up canal to Anacortes harbour which is where Joe and Myrna's Home Dock.

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We tried to catch some crab that night (which was unsuccessful) however, had some lovely tea on board and then played Dominoes until bed time (Mexican Train... a new game which we'd play quite a few more times with Joe and Myrna ;) )

We left the Boat the following morning and drove through the Cascade National Park to Ellensburg (where Joe and Myrna live on a farm)

The Farm grows "Timothy" Grass which is sold to Japan and other places as some of the best hay available....

There was plenty of it about in the Farm anyway and the next Day Joe showed us his stock piled grass in the Barn.

The Next Few Days were to be spent recuperating and preparing for South America.

We've booked our tickets and got our flight and hostel in Quito Organised... so it was time for Steph to wash etc. and me to Update the Blog.... there was a lot of catching up to do....

I also managed to burn our photos onto DVD and we managed to send them home before we head Down South!

It was really nice and Joe and Myrnas as we had our own little room in the building next to the Farmhouse and we did a few walks with Joe up in the surrounding Hills around Ellensburg.

They made us feel totally at home and more than welcome which was much appreciated by the two of us.....

So we said goodbye a few days later and headed to Seattle.

They gave us a lift to the City (right to the hostel doors) as their daughter lived in the city and they'd use the day to visit her also!

We said Goodbye and Thanks and went into the hostel.

Once again... the Green Tortoise Backpackers was a large City Backpackers... However.... this time it was the only backpackers in Seattle.. so beggars can't be choosers so to speak :)

Today Stephs off Shopping and I'm updating this damn Blog site so we're going to head underground in Seattle to do a tour of the Underneath of the city later today and then tomorrow we're off to Ecuador.... Yee Haaaaa !!!!

I can't wait !!!

Roll on South America.... here we come !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1

Posted by Taffski 10:36 Archived in USA Tagged backpacking Comments (1)

Driving around the Rockies!

Back inland to hike, camp and see the mountains

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Steph had arranged to meet a friend from Ireland in Vancouver.

Ramona and Brian had both moved to Vancouver to live and they picked us up from the bus depot.

We stayed with them for a night and Brian took us around Vancouver the following day as Ramona was working.

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The next day we headed out for Squamish which is in between Vancouver and Whistler. Steph and I had hired a car for a week so we drove ours whilst Ramona and Brian drove theirs.

We arrived in Squamish which was a nice little camp site (very rustic) and set up our tents for the night.

We then popped over to a pub in Squamish town itself and after a few beer wobbled back to the camp site.

Brian and Ramona were climbers so they were at Squamish to climb one of the big rocks that was there.

Steph and I aren't climbers, so the following day we said our goodbyes and they headed off for a climb, while Steph and I headed off for Kamloops.

The weather was nice and the views amazing as we whizzed through Whistler. We stopped off to see what it was like and having seen nothing but new apartment-esque buildings and German and British accents, we headed off from this tourist trap of a place!

The drive to Kamloops was nice with some nice lookouts on the way.

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We popped into the Tourist Info place in Kamloops and luckily they informed us that the Hostel (that's referenced in the Lonely Planet) closed down about a year earlier (really starting to get annoyed with Lonely Planet!) and that luckily there was another one on the way up to Jasper.

They phoned and booked us in a dorm for the night, and having stopped for supplies we headed off North.

The Hostel was called the Sun Peaks Resort Hostel and the resort itself was a Ski resort (the second largest in Canada)

It was a lovely hostel (obviously kitted up for the Winter) however, lovely and friendly.

We made a chicken curry and having chatted with the manager and a few fellow hostel stayers, we hit our sacks (our dorm was empty apart from us) would highly recommend this place though!

We set off at 10am which was probably a little late for the distance we had to cover that day.

We headed towards Valemont and into the Mountains.

We stopped at some Waterfalls (think they were called Chute Falls) en route which were nice and supposedly the highest point of the salmon migration and where only the biggest Salmon could be seen jumping up the river..... we were late in the season though so no salmon... nice water falls though!

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After a few more miles, Mount Robson started to appear in the distance. It was a beautiful clear day and the snow capped peak towered above us as we neared the Tourist information office in the Mount Robson National Park.

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Talk about fantastic view from the office!

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We checked out the walks available and since it was getting late in the day, we decided we'd best head off for Jasper.

We passed the Park Entry point and unbeknown to us... we had to pay $20 Park Entry fee.

Now this was a reoccurring theme as we progressed through the Rocky National Parks and became really annoying when you found out that not only did you have to pay to Camp and have a fire, but you also had to pay for the privilege of being there!

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This was really strange as when we arrived in Jasper National park by train.... we didn't need a pass.

Seems it's a car thing, so if you're going to Jasper.... arrive by train or say at the gate you're just passing through (i.e. Not staying overnight!)

However, they do check at the Camp sites so if you're camping... make sure you've got one!

Anyway, we arrived in Jasper and drove up to the "Wilderness Lodge" up by Maligne Canyon.

The place was a couple of wood huts on the hillside... very nice, however, $20 each for a bed... no showers... no electricity... and most importantly.... no beer!

No Beer!!! What planet was this place on!

All the HI Wilderness Hostels seem to have this rule (which is stupid in my books!)

Obviously it's to stop the younger backpackers getting wrecked in the hostels overnight... however... the guy reckoned it was because it was catering to the walkers.... my erse !!!

After a long walk there's nothing better than having a cold Beer! In fact, that's what you look forwards to the most!

Anyway... the place was totally catered to Tourists and booked up by German and Brit Tourists... so we left!

We arrived and the Camp Site a bit late and the Queue was large.... about 20 Winnebago’s (big camper Vans) deep.... so we decided to come back later.

We drove up to Maligne Lake and decided to do the Walk along side the lake.

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It was a beautiful evening and the Lake looks gorgeous!

On the way back into town we passed a load of cars parked along side the road.

Everyone was watching a herd of Elk and come cariboo that had wandered close to the road. It was really funny as the Large Male was protecting his Harem from a younger male roaming along the edges... however... it got funnier!

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Since the large Male was in protective mode... a few tourists decided to get a bit closer for that perfect picture.... the male didn't like this and piled into the tourists and sent them scattering!!! Very funny indeed!

Rule in Canada.... they might look nice.... but they can still hurt ya! And this counts for about everything up here :) Including some tourists :)

Feckin Idiots!!!

Anyway, we arrived at the camp site a bit late... the queue was still massive.... and it was getting dark!

Steph decided to rush to the front and play the hapless Girl card... which worked and we got our site number and even got away without having to pay for a fire for the night (which was duly lit within five minutes of arriving at the camp site!)

It was a quiet night and after tea and a Horlicks we decided to hit the sack.

It was a bad nights sleep as Steph and I were still getting used to sleeping in the tent. Booked a camp ground for the tonight in Lake Louise and we headed South.

We stopped at the Athabasca Falls en route and these were quite impressive, if a little busy. There’s loads of Oldies camping in Canada in September as this is the Shoulder season and they get cheaper stuff…. So there’s lots of them about.

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We popped to the Athabasca Glacier and walked up to the Toe. It was grey and fairly small which was more the pity when we saw the signs all along the valley indicating where the glacier had reached up to in previous years.

And it’s accelerating.

We watched the Glacier Buses (large buggies similar to those we were on in Churchill) parade up and down the glacier so that some oldies could walk on the thing… however… what I noticed more was that the entrance for the tours was getting closer to the edge of the glacier…. So watch this space… in a few years… they’ll have to relocate further up the hill I’m sure!

The photo says it all anyway!

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Next stop was Peyto lake…. Now the colours of this lake were amazing (glacial melt or what!) It was busy as heck though (once again) as we stopped and walked up to the view point, however, a tour bus with loads of Oldies had scooted up to the top car park (for bus tours and handicapped) and so by the time we arrived… the place was mobbed!

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We headed to the Camp site in Lake Louise.

First Question : Do you have a park pass….
Answer : No
Second Question : Do you want to camp tonight….
Answer : Yes
Third Question : Do you want a fire tonight…
Answer : ummm…. Well….. Yes!

That’ll be $57 please !

WHAT ???? $57 feck me !!!

To camp in a wood!

That’s 28 pounds sterling!

So after some bitching about having to pay $7 for a fire “Permit”….. how stupids that… we set up camp!

$57 bucks for a night…. I was fuming !

However… so was the fire soon enough as I was determined to use all the facilities and make the most of my “fire” permit while we were there :)

We popped to the supermarket and chilled by the fire for the rest of the night.

During the night a thunderstorm approached and about 2am it started to poor with rain!

We were in the middle of the trees which sort of helped, however, with lightening shooting down all around us… we decided to get up and move to the car (just in case) This worked out quite well and we slept until about 8am the following morning.

It was fairly muggy in the morning, but Steph and I had already decided to go for a hike up Lake Louise, so we set off to the lake.

We started walking on a fairly steep ascent up to towards Mount Fairview.

After a wee while, we decided to turn back as the peak towered above us (well the clouds did anyway) and it was steep going…. Very steep and in was Snowy on the peak (we could just make out!) Combined with this was the fact that the area of the hike was renowned for Grizzlies :)

We headed for another less stressful walk… up to St Agnes Tea Shop.

This was still quite a walk up hill, however, at the top of the walk we were rewarded with a tea shop which was reasonably priced too :)

We were harassed by a local Ground Squirrel though which kept trying to jump into my coffee mug…. Honest :)

The guy was very entertaining and as he jumped from the table towards my mug, I’d move it away and he’d fall on the floor. Then he’d wander back up and try again :)

We had most of the tables watching this and laughing for a while… the guy must have been a coffee hound or something :)

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We decided to walk up to the small beehive lookout and got some great views of Lake Louise and the large Fairmount (or Sheraton… whichever) Hotel at it’s base. The colours of the lake were lovely though… however… as we returned then place was full (and I mean full!) of tourists all trying to get their picture with the lake in the background! Very Amusing!

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We headed for Canmore… passing some Mountain Goats on the side of the road as we drove along… and passing by Banff (we catch it on the way back)

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The Views of the surrounding Mountains were spectacular and we pulled over a few times to take piccies!

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Canmore was just outside the National Park (whoopee…. So no $20 fee per night!)

We stayed at the Canadian Alpine Club Hostel (affiliated with HI) which was brilliant! Lovely place with perhaps one of the best mountain views I’ve seen (especially since the view was of some peaks called the Three sisters…. Very lovely!)

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The Sunset was a bit of a damp squib though and having chatted to a couple from Manchester for a while, we hit the sack.

Today we head for Calgary (or rather Okotoks) which is where Stuart and Sheena Live.

We drove along a dirt road which took us through the mountain and to say we had some spectacular mountain views I think is an understatement.

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Steph spotted this road on the map and decided we'd take the detour.

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I didn't want to bother... however... it turned out to be a great call on Steph's behalf and definitely worth the detour.

These guys are pals of mine from Edinburgh and Stuart used to play the drums in the Band I was in for a few years!

We passed the “Erratic Okotok Rocks” as we entered the town (just south of Calgary) which were….hmmm…. a couple of rocks (broken at that) in the middle of a field.

We wound Stu and Sheena up about this fact :)

Truly Amazing and well worth the detour :)

Anyway, after some instructions on how to get to their house… we arrived and it was great to spend the evening with Friends who I’d not seen for years (They’d been in Canada for about 4 years now)

It was great to be in a proper bed and eat proper food for a change…. Much appreciated!

We headed off the following day back to Banff…. Stopping for a few postcards and then (much because it’s exactly like Whister) we got out of the Tourist trap!

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We had a long drive ahead and we’d thought we’d be able to go hiking in Yoho National Park to the Hoodoo’s.

Unfortunately, it was closed…. Damn!

We weren’t sure why (maybe a bear in the area or something) however… we decided to head for Squalix (half way between Vancouver and Calgary) for the night. It was a long day of driving!

This was a cool Hostel to say the least!

Not too sure when we arrived as the reception was an old supply shop… bit dusty and smelly… however…. The land lady (Blair) convinced us to stay in the dorm (which were old Caboose’s)

Now a Caboose is like the carriage at the back of the train… with a sticky out bit at the top. They were really, really cool and all the original fittings were still inside them… including the chair at the top of the lookout bit on top… You could survey all and sundry from here :)

We walked down to the beaver dam to see the local beavers… who slapped their tails in disapproval when the dog decided to bounce in the water and try to chase them… whilst some of the other guests kayaked in the free kayak.

On their way back they did spot a black bear crossing the river over to the same side of the river as the hostel… which was amusing, however, as blair commented… that was the point of having the dog at the hostel (who was a big friendly mutt called Samson… quite appropriate!)

He was a great guy and having finished out Spaghetti Bolognese for tea (and having loads left) we decided to spice up his doggie biscuits with a bit of sauce….. which he definitely appreciated (apart from the odd chile in there!)

He was drinking out of the water bucket as we sat by the fire in the evening chatting :)

A great little hostel and highly recommended.

The Next day we headed for Vancouver…. Popped into the HI Hostel (having dropped the hire car off)… walked around Vancouver a bit and then hit the sack ready for the bus trip and Ferry ride the following day back over to Vancouver Island and Vistoria where we were to meet up with firstly Claudia (as she was working there) and then Joe and Myrna (our cabin mates from the Europa who’d arranged to pick us up there and sail us over to the US!)

Cool :)

Posted by Taffski 08:02 Archived in Canada Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

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