Sunday, October 1, 2017



Spent a couple of fall days grooving around Tofino. Rain rolled in and out but it didn't damper the adventure.
We stayed at an Air B and B right down town. Excellent choices for food everywhere...really like Sobo. Great coffee at Rhino too. I could spend the day at the beach just watching waves.

Foggy on Long Beach

When it is raining in Tofino...go for a hike in the Rain Forrest

Chesterman Beach

Took the water taxi to Mearse Island for a wonderful afternoon hike.

Smiling guy at the Botanical Gardens.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Massassauga and Achray camping

Massassauga and Achray camping

A couple of weekend trips here.

The first to Little Blackstone Lake in Massassauga Provincial Park. Just a weekend with one portage over a little falls and a paddle up the Blackstone River. There is a 900 m portage to this lake but the river travel is much easier.

With all the rain this year we were able to paddle over the beaver dams.

This fellow hung around the site all weekend. I guess people have been feeding him...not us.

We stayed at the same site all weekend. There is a hiking trail that connects at the portage so we hiked on Saturday for a couple of hours and just hung out at the site...beautiful day.

And then Linda and I went to Achray for a few days. Achray is in Algonquin Park and close to Penbroke so it is a bit of a drive. There are only 45 sites so it is small and quiet and difficult to get in.

The park office at the site.

The restored Ranger cabin. Tom Tompson was the Ranger her in 1916.

It rained all the way there...never a downpour...just steady.

Woke up to beautiful sunshine the next day and through the canoe in and paddled to the Chutes.

The Chutes

High Falls

Picnic down Grand Lake

The Barron Canyon

Monday, January 2, 2017

Ecuador Andes Adventure...Vilcabamba and Octavalo


Located in the south of Ecuador and close to the Peru boarder, is the smallish town of Vilcabamba. This town and surrounding area, also has a fairly high expat population.We stayed about 4 km out of town at the Hostel Izhcayluma. This mini resort is run by a couple of German brothers and features various types of accommodation, breakfast included, a good restaurant and yoga studio. The pool and bar were lovely almost felt like a vacation from our vacation.

There are numerous hikes right from the hostel. It is about a 4 km walk into town. There is a lovely shaded square in town and a number of very good places to eat. The coconut iced coffee at Midas Touch is to die for....we would walk into town for lunch everyday and catch a $2.00 cab ride back to the hostel.

We spent a day mountain bike touring with a local company. Visited a sugar cane plant...similar process to making maple sugar.

Boiling of sugar cane juice

Sugar cane cubes

It sure was relaxing in Vilcabamba but we were getting near to the end of our trip and wanted to hit the market town of Otavalo before we fly back to Canada.
It would have been about a 14 hour bus ride back to Quito from Vilcabamba so we decided to fly out of the town of Loja back to Quito...about an hour in the air. We stayed with our friends in Quito for a night and caught a 2 hour bus ride north to Otavalo.


Otavalo is famous for it's markets...mostly textiles. We arrived late in the afternoon and booked into the Hostel Dona Esther. We had an excellent room on the third floor. There is a good restaurant on the main level as well.

It was market day...although it seems like everyday is market we headed to Poncho Plaza to do some shopping.

We took a cab up to the village of Peguche to see some weavers and hiked at the Cascades De Peguche...a beautiful park just outside of town.

We move out of town to the great hostel up the valley called Hosteria La Luna. It is located about 5 km (a $3.00 cab ride) south of town.

Breakfast at La Luna

 We hiked to the above waterfall upon arrival and hiked into town a couple of times too.
We were sorry to leave but the holiday was coming to an end and we had to head back to Quito.

All in all 

What a wonderful country to tour around. Once you figure out how the buses operate, it is fairly easy to get around too. My Spanish is limited but we managed to get by without too much difficulty. I would certainly go back...Otavalo and Cuenca are towns I could easily spend more time in. Quilotoa and Cotipaxi were amazing. Banos was a bit crazy but only because we arrived in the middle of a holiday. Unless I was travelling to Peru, I would likely skip Vilcabamba....not that it wasn't nice but it was more of a resort than an exploration. 

The butter and ice cream are to die for...must be the happy cows. We ate a whole lot of chicken and rice and some wonderful potato soup. Lots of fresh fruit...some I still have no idea was I was eating.

Hiking in the Andes can also mean various changes in weather. Warm clothes are needed at night time for sure. We were very lucky to have only 2 days of rain the whole time we were away.

Ecuador has lots more to offer in the Andes...Riobamba, the Mindo cloud forest, the train at Alausi or the Inca ruins at Ingapirca are places I would like to see but ran out of time....and then there is the Amazon and the time.

Ecuador Andes Adventure...Cuenca


After a long bus ride, we arrived in the colonial city of Cuenca. Instead of doing the hostel thing, we rented an apartment for a few days close to downtown. This worked out great as Cuenca is a wonderful city to walk. First on the agenda was a Double Decker bus tour of the city. There are some beautiful old churches and buildings throughout. A lovely river runs through the downtown area and both sides offer bike an walking trails. There is also a large population of expats...Americans who have chosen to retire here because of the favourable climate, relatively cheap accommodation and excellent chooses of fresh food.

Parque Calderon

San Blas church

There are wonderful markets in Cuenca...including a beautiful flower market, Many of the Indigenous women wear their traditional clothes...long skirts, fedoras and blouses.

Lime seller

The church in Chordeleg

 We took a day trip to Chordeleg to visit the silver artist. We also took a taxi to Cuenca du Banos and spent some time soaking in the hot springs. Our big day trip was to the Cajas National Park. It is about a 2 hour bus ride towards the coast and over the Continental Divide. The parks entrance is at 13,000 feet. We registered there, picked a route and hike for a few hours well above the tree line. Not to be missed if you end up in Cuenca.

 Back in town for more walking. Lot of excellent food options as well. We even dropped into a Panama hat factory...of course, we had to buy one.

This is one place I definitely could good back to and spend more time....even rent an apartment for a month or so....but we had to carry on and headed further south to the town of Vilcabamba and the hostel Izhcayluma. The hostel runs a van from Cuenca so it was an easy travel south.

Off to Vilcabamba and then a quick flight back to Quito and finally Octavalo.