Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Galapagos, yacht reservation

So....yes! We finally go to Ecuador. At least we've just made a Galapagos cruise reservation. With help of polish lady in this remote location, we managed to get two seats on Amigo yacht for 5 days.
This is one of the cheapest yacht. 5-day trip will cost about 1500 USD altogether with Galapagos National Park entry fee (110 USD) and flight from Quito to Galapagos (417 USD). Of course it doesn't have any piece of luxury, but we get used to such conditions and more important is to see something nice than to spend 5 days in 5-star hotel with snobs.

In case you're interested in what you can see during 5-days Galapagos trip, here's the Amigo schedule:

Day 1: Flight from Quito to Baltra Island. Visit Black Turtle Cove. See many cacti, palo santo tree, mangroves, ferry through Itabaka channel to Santa Cruz Island. Bus to Puerto Ayora. Yacht boarding. Visiting Charles Darwin research center, watching galapagos turtle.

Day 2: Watching iguanas, sea lions, endemic crabs, birds (endemic gulls, endemic swallows, Darwin's chaffinches, puffins). Looking for sesuvium plants making red carpet in the east part of island and many cacti. Afternoon we'll sightsee Santa Fe island watching giant prickly pears and iguanas, sea lions and birds colony. During night ship goes to Española island.

Day 3: On this day we'll visit cape Suarez, watching motley iguanas, sea lions, endemic crabs and one of the most diverse bird colony (albatrosses, boobies, endemic seagulls, oystercatchers, cucubes, endemic pigeons, Darwin's chaffinches, etc.) . Here we'll also see nice natural phenomenon with water fountain spouting up of the rocks. Afternoon we'll visit Gardner bay on Española Island with nice beach. It's opportunity to snorkel a little and take some underwater photography.

Day 4: On this day yacht goes to Kicker Rock - lonely rock standing in the ocean that symbolize Galapagos islands. On this rock many sea birds live. We'll meet frigates, tropical birds, boobies, etc. Then we plan to see San Cristobal island altogether with Baquerizo Moreno that is capitol of the while archipelago. There we'd like to visit Centro de Interpretación and Cerro de las Tijeretas.

Day 5: The last day of the cruise will begin with sea lions colony on Seymour Norte island. We'll also have a chance to see iguanas, sea birds like frigates and blue-footed boobies. Then we'll go to Baltra island and fly to Quito.

Above map comes from nice website Guide2Galapagos. I recommend it!

Hint: if you want go to Galapagos, make your cruise reservation half year ahead. Number of seats is limited every year!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Phototrip 2010 destination selected

So it seems that we have decided where to go for Phototrip 2010. After long discussion in Rodeo Drive Warsaw last Tuesday we finally would like to go to Ecuador and Galapagos and stay for one week in Miami, FL. Now it's time to analyze destination deeply and prepare the final plan. It might be too late to find proper 5-days cruise to Galapagos islands, because this area is relatively crowded (UNESCO is considering decrease in number of visitors in the near future, so it's getting harder to book nice cruise). Besides we are thinking about visiting other parts of Ecuador, so if you have any good hints, please let us know.
I will try to present draft of our trip as we arrange something. Maybe it will be some help for preparing your trip?
And to make you smiling I'd like to present nice announcement I've found recently in the street :) Unfortunately I didn't use my camera built-in translator, so I've to show it in original language version :)

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Norway - summary of the trip

So I'm back home from beautiful Norway. Now it's time to make some summary and plans for the future. First a little bit of statistics...
- I made 7250 km from Warsaw to Warsaw around Baltic Sea
- I spent about 2000 PLN for 400l of fuel
- I've taken 2000 pictures and used 30GB of CF cards and two batteries to take them
- I was traveling for 15 days (it means 14 days and 14 hours what gives us exactly 350 hours and it's 21.000 minutes, so only 1.260.000 seconds)
- I was taking pictures during 13 days of my stay (on the worst, very rainy day I've taken 2 pictures)
- During my entire stay 5 days were rainy and 10 were sunny, so it was not so bad :)
- I've visited 8 countries (not counting Poland) and must say that Norway, Latvia and Denmark are the most beautiful

And for sure I'll go to Norway many times in the future. It's so big and so beautiful I can't resist going there. I feel it's like USA but a little closer and cheaper (or rather more expensive, it depends how you count). Just to say goodbye to Norway for this time, I'd like to show one more picture...

Hint: Don't follow this guy. Never jump of Preikestolen - it's 604m over the sea level! You'll get killed by touching water.

Thursday, July 16, 2009


On my way from Bergen to Preikestolen I decided to visit some famous waterfalls in Norway. They're near Odda city and people calls them Latefossen. The main waterfall itself isn't so interesting and is really hard to photograph, because of a souvenir kiosk and road in direct proximity. Besides it splashes so much water, that your camera is completely wet after just 2 or 3 pictures taken. But I've successfully taken pictures of other, even more beautiful waterfalls. Weather wasn't perfect, so pictures are rather drafts for future works, but you can just see how they look.

From the waterfalls spot I went to Preikestolen camping passing past nice city Tau when I was lucky to admire sunset in Norway for the second time during my entire stay. Finally after passing over 30 tunnels and many waterfalls I arrived and set up my tent. Night wasn't long, but I slept well and woke up ready to climb to the 604 m above sea level peak. Next to the trailhead there's a parking where they want 80 Kr for leaving your car. Unfortunately you don't have many other options, so you're forced to pay and cry.

I started climbing in heavy rain at about 10:00. It should take about 2 hours to the top and 2 from the top. But this is theory. Trails is so heavily crowded, even in such rain, that sometimes you don't have even single stone to step. Actually there's 4 km line to the peak and you still have someone in front of you and someone behind. It's like zillions of people. Like it would be the only such place in Norway. Or even in the entire world. I was wondering why they want to see the pulpit rock so much? And after 2 hours I saw it altogether with another zillion people sitting on it. Clouds were heavy and view a little bit vague, but I am patient. And waited few minutes to get a godsend. Suddenly sun came and make me view this wonderful rock in quite different light. I was even lucky to take few pictures in proper light. Just after that sun went as fast as it came. And I had to cover the trail back in the rain again. But it wasn't the worst. The worst was crowd. I do not recommend going up so late. It's better idea to climb very early in the morning or very late in the evening. But of course it depends on weather. I must say again that Preikestolen is nice, but probably the most overcrowded place in the whole, big, beautiful Norway. Fortunately you can imagine how it looks without having thoughts about killing all this people with a rifle. Just enjoy the pictures below.

One interesting picture I've taken downhill when came back from Preikestolen. It's typical norwegian hat with grass on the roof:

Hint: Never go to Preikestolen in the middle of day. You'll fight with people and trail is not easy while crowded. Take at least a bottle of water and some food. While 1 km from the rock, use alternative trail. It is a bit harder, but less crowded.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009


From Runde it was easy to get to Sognefjord - the biggest one in Norway. This creation of nature seems to be really amazing, but weather didn't allow me to admire it in a full light. Of course I managed to take some pictures, but they're not what I expected... honestly most of them are from the road to Sognefjord.

Just ahead of Balestrand there's really nice road... very meandering, but I recommend this - probably only in summer time.
And from Songefjord itself I've only such pics (Balestrand area):

Next on my way was Bergen. Famous city and the one you'll have rain for sure as people say. But not this time. Bergen welcomed me with very interesting Autopass solution and nice, beautiful, hot (23C) SUN!
First thing that surprised me was Autopass system. When you enter Bergen and don't use Autopass sensor in your car, your car is being photographed and picture is mailed to you althogether with invoice. Even if you're foreigner. Or you've an option to pay at selected gas station, but only when you know where picture was taken, what time, etc. Not so easy. So now I'm waiting for my invoice. I'm curious how much time it can take to process.
The other thing was sunny day. People say that it always rains in Bergen, but it's not true. City is beautiful especially while sun is shining. There's a lot of gadget shops, nice restaurants and views. Of course it smells a little bit like every port city, but you can survive it. Bergen isn't even very crowded. And that's what I don't like. Because it was the first city visited on my trip I'd like to mention some prices, just for your knowledge:
- parking car on the street for 1 hour costs 20 NOK (10 PLN)
- parking car on cheap parking for 24 hours costs 125 NOK (62.5 PLN)
- veeeery good dinner with a beer in nice restaurant was 300 NOK (150 PLN)
- beer itself in the restaurant is 71 NOK (35.5 PLN), in the store it's 25 NOK (12.5 PLN)
- coffee in 7-11 costs you 29 NOK (14.5 PLN)
- to enter the city you've to pay 15 NOK (7.5 PLN)
- nice magnet in souvenir shop is 45 NOK (22.5 PLN)
- t-shirt in souvenir shop is 150-200 NOK (75 - 100 PLN)
- 1.5 L of aqua in a regular store is the cheapest 10 NOK (5 PLN)
- diesel is at average price 11 NOK/1L (5.5 PLN)
And I'd like to write something more about the restaurant I had my first real dinner since crossed the Norwegian border. It's called Harbour Cafe and they serve really nice food. Style is american, but quality is norwegian. It tastes perfect and I'd like to eat there one more time in the near future, because I still remember taste of food they serve.
And finally some pictures from this nice sunny city:

In Bergen they have really nice souvenir shops and very trendy underwear. Wouldn't it be nice to have such panties?

Hint: go to Bergen only in sunny day! It doesn't pay to go on rainy one :)

Monday, July 13, 2009

Puffins finally tamed

I eventually arrived to Runde at about 7 pm and it was too late to get the tourist information open. Fortunately they were nice people at the campground and told me that time is perfect and where should I go to have a chance to take some pictures of puffins.
It turned out that way to puffins isn't paved with roses. It's very sharp climb at the beginning, then few hundred meters of almost flat terrain. Guy at the camping told me that it will take about 1 hour - I made in 30 minutes sometimes running, because I wanted to catch these beasts in good light. While you have 400mm/5.6L lens on your body it requires short times, so light is important. Finally I got to the cliff and.... saw my first beast sitting on the rock:

Then I saw millions of others... and started to shoot pictures like crazy. Shortly my CF card was full and I had to change it to another one. Beasts were coming and coming and doing different things. I started to get closer to them. Once I was so close that had to change lens to 70-200/4L (a bit lighter) and later I was even so close that I could touch puffin - guy next to me was shooting it with wide lens like 17-35 or something! And he had full frame filled with puffin. Amazing. I spent a lot of time shooting them, but eventually it started to rain and getting dark, so I went back to camping and promised to myself to go up there early morning. Unfortunately rain was heavy and it was so dark that I had to change my mind. So I've only these few pictures of puffins. Please enjoy!

Hint: Photograph puffins in the evening if you want to catch them on the rocks and during the day if you want to catch them flying and catching fish. From my experience I can say that it's much easier photograph them while seated :)

Saturday, July 11, 2009


Geiranger fjord as I heard is the most beautiful in Norway. So I had to check it myself. And I must admit it rocks! Great work of people hands... or maybe rather it is so nice, because people decided to leave it wild. Almost. Number of ferries and ships cruising across is really big. Every few minutes you can see some vessel in the waters of fjord. But for the photographer it's not so bad. You can be so lucky to catch single rays of light and vessel in one moment. I hadn't too much luck and my pictures are rather poor, but this place itself is really great and I plan to spend here at least a week next time.
From Geiranger I headed to Runde. People told me that I've a chance to meet my friends puffins there. There's not a long way while you count kilometers, but when we are talking about time it takes hours... On norwegian roads you can calculate to drive 100 km in 2 hours or even more. If you have GPS for example, you should apply Chris' factor - multiply time by 1.5 and check road on the paper map. Sometimes GPS shows you 800 km to drive while you need only 100 km! It's because of water and ferries. As you can see driving in Norway is not easy. And you still have nice views and need to stop to take pictures. Below you'll find my pictures from Geiranger area and from my road to Runde.
Besides consider sleeping in a nice camping with a fjord view. It's worth every ore to sleep there.