Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands – 31st October – 14th November
What stood out for me in Ecuador was the abundance of flowers. Not only does the country grow roses, protea and carnations in polyhouses for export, but the town squares and hundreds of gardens are filled with bright red geraniums, purple and gold bougainvillea, delicate blue plumbago, day lilies and arum lilies.
The interior of the hotels are decorated with striped fasces and flames of heliconia.
However, what really amazed was the variety of wild flowers we encountered on our walks.. In the Northern highlands around Lake Cuicocha we saw many yellow cane orchids, epidendrum, small blue tulips, bola de venado (a delicate flower item of trumpet shaped flowers) and the national flower – the passion fruit.
Around the alpine lakes of Cotopaxi volcano at 12,700 feet were patches of mosses, tussocks, reeds and small pink gentians which looked like Crocuses, the rosa de los andes in yellow and red.
Parque Nacional Cajas is well known for its polylepis trees with papery bark which grows at the highest altitudes of any tree in the world. There were also bromeliads with pinky tones and everywhere in the mountains are cyathea.
The Galapagos Islands have a sub-tropical climate as opposed to an alpine climate and so specialise in Cacti.