hey everyone... I will be taking a trip to Ecuador this summer and I would love to know your recommendations on places that i cannot miss!!
i am planning on going to (hopefully) every region in ecuador... the coast, the Andes, and the Oriente....
so if anybody knows of small little surfing/hiking villages, or other incredible towns along the way, feel free to give me your input... i would love the help!!!
(i will be there for 2 months, so i figure ill have enough time to try and cover as much ground as possible!!)
thank you in advance for your help!! everything you say is appreciated...!
Here's a fun one to respond to, of the six countries South American countries I visited over a 12-month period, Ecuador is tops on my favorites list.
There are a few places I enjoyed so much I'd recommend. I do believe everyone's experience is different, maybe the reason I liked these places was thanks to my ability to speak Spanish and that I'm fascinated by little more than sitting and talking with locals. That said, I'd recommend:
Puerto Lopez: a sleepy costal village 4 hours by bus from Guyaquil. Nothing to do but enjoy sitting on the beach with a book, watch the fishermen bring in your supper. Well, there are a few other things to do; boat trip to watch whales and a few nearby national parks that you can easily bike to.
Banos: this is a super-cheesy, super-touristy town. Why do I love it? It's full of Ecuadorians on vacation! The hot springs are fun just for the people watching, the town's setting is spectacular. Try renting a bike for a day and ride down into the jungle. When you get tired, flag a bus and for $1 you can get a ride back to town. I loved my bike ride, and it was raining! Hike up to see the billowing volcanic cone, it's a nice walk.
Quito: there's much to do in this big town, don't skip it just because it's urban. The tourist art market is amazing or spend a Sunday with locals at the Mitad del Mundo (equator park). Other than that, Quito is a great place to regenerate if familiar food, drinks and late-night partying are your way of regenerating.
There are many more places to love in Ecuador, I look forward to reading what others have to write. I'll add a few more later if no one else submits their ideas. Have fun in Ecuador, I love it.
thanks josh!!! your reply helped a lot in that i can get a sense of what other people think, and not just what the guide book says is good...
we are hoping to stay in Quito for a couple weeks because a friend of ours (from Canada) has an apartment there that she is renting to us... so that can be our base, and we can take off from there!
but Quito is a definate YES!!! we're hoping to then travel west and tour the coastal regions, including puerto lopez and montanita... (any other small coastal villages you would recommend?), then head up along the Andes and travel to Puyo... (most likely Banos too... were not quite sure yet!)
but things are flexible and we have about 2 months to do all of this, so plans can change, and we still want to keep everything temporary...!
thanks again for your help!!
I'm sure by now you've got the Galapagos on your list of places to visit. It's a pricey trip, don't let anyone fool you. Fixed costs are $100 entrance fee (regardless of how long you stay) and the $300 flight from Guayaquil. From there, you can take a 4 or 8-day or longer cruise. Mine was bottom-of-the-barrel that I wouldn't recommend for $800/8 days. I'd stay well away from the boat, Gabi.
I wasn't taken by Cuenca. I think it was my mood at the time, but all I saw was college town with some old architecture. It wasn't on the way to anywhere for me. In my humble opinion, it's passable unless hiking the park outside Cuenca has allure for you - people say it's lovely, I can't speak from experience.
Finally, since no one else has added their thoughts, I think Guayaquil is worth at least a day/night stay. Most people will tell you it's yucky, I loved the riverside park, and hiking up the hill (your guidebook will explain) was so much fun becaue like Banos, it was full of Ecuadorians. Ok, so the rest of Guayaquil is sooty and urban sprawl, but they've done a nice job in this little section of the river. Guayaquil is also the cheapest airport to take off to the Galapagos, so if you're going to the islands, enjoy the riverwalk.
I spent a month in Quito over the past summer and loved it! I was there for four weeks, mon-thu I would do volunteer work at an elementary school teaching english, and on the weekends, fri-sun we would travel to different parts of the country. On the first weekend we went to atacames which is about 6 hours by bus from quito, it's best to take a late bus, 23.00 or later. I deffinitely recommend going to atacames, it is a lovely beach town, and what makes it much nicer than montinita or manta is that it is where all the locals go on their holiday, not very many gringos, and great nightlife, nice and relaxing. The second weekend we went to banos, it was about three weeks before they had to evacuate the town due to the volcano, it wasn't very crowded and it was georgous! We did a 5 hour bike ride and saw alot of waterfalls, we also went to the thermal springs. We stayed at a really nice hostal, called Maria Cruz (I think that was what it was called, it is very colorful and it was in our lonely planet book) The third weekend we went to the amazon, the cuyabeno reserve, if you decide to take any tours go to La Mariscal or sometimes refered to Gringolandia. there are tons of tour agencies, we visited a few and then chose the one we liked best. The trip to the jungle is long and hard but well worth it, I hate spiders and am not very outdoorsy but I was sad to leave, It was just amazing. On the last weekend I went to Otavalo, the indian market about two hours away from quito. I recommend going on a fri afternoon, staying overnight and then visiting the market early sat. morning, prices are better the earlier you go. We also went to Mitad del mundo which was really nice, go on a sunday because its when the locals go and they usually have a live band playing all day long, the environment is really good on sundays. The last day I was in Ecuador Me and my friend went to Mindo, where the cloud forest is, It was really nice, we swam in the waterfalls. The hike was much more rigorous than we were told so it is good to be in good shape, I am not that athletics so it is doable, just hard.
Best of luck,