San Luis de Pambil is an agricultural village on the western side of the Andes in the lower, warmer part of Bolivar Province in Ecuador. This little-visited area between the mountains and the sea has no famous tourist attractions but is worth a visit to get off the beaten track and see genuine rural life.
Note that there are no banking facilities, so bring enough cash for your stay.
Nothing famous, just little farming communities in beautiful countryside in the foothills of the Andes, growing oranges, maize, avocados, papayas, sugarcane, coffee, cacao (chocolate), etc. Streams and waterfalls, virgin forest higher up the valley.
Wildlife to see includes hummingbirds, toucans and howler monkeys.
Visits to sustainable rural development projects such as an organic sugarcane farming cooperative, CADO.
Guides and/or tour and activity information available through charity project Eco-Friendly Farmstays
Around 6 hours from Quito on a direct bus (Macuchi or Flota Bolivar from the Terminal Terrestre, both leave early morning, one a day). Or take a bus along the main Santo Domingo - Guayaquil road to Zapotal (between Quevedo and Babahoyo), then wait on the corner for local buses to San Luis de Pambil (a further hour, US$1, last bus around 6:00pm).
Plain local foods (chicken, rice, avocado, corn, cheese, etc) from a couple of very basic restaurants in the village, or eat with local families by arrangement (through Eco-Friendly Farmstays).
Aguardiente is the local 'firewater', made from sugar cane. See how it's made and try it for yourself, but be warned it is around 60% alcohol, so drink with caution!
A local reforestation charity, CRACYP, works with local families to offer farmstay accommodation, see Eco-Friendly Farmstays.
The one hotel in town is cheap (~US$4) but the buses depart from just outside it and they hoot the horn as they leave - at 2:00am, 3:00am, 4:00am, etc. It does not have mosquito nets.
Internet cafes can be found nearly everywhere in the major cities and in many of the smaller ones. Cost is from $1 to $2 per hour in the large cities, and the better places have high-speed access. In some cafes, restaurants, and hotels you can find free wifi access, most of them protected by passwords; in most cases, you just have to ask for the password.
See also International Telephone Calls
The international telephone code for Ecuador is 593. The general emergency number is 911, but there are special ones of police (101) and fire (102).
The centre of most towns, cities and villages have telephone 'shops', advertised in the street as 'cabinas'. Go in, ask for a free phone booth and call. There is usually a digital display giving the cost (per second) of your call, whether local, national or international. You can call the United States for about $0.10 per minute and Europe for a bit more. Avoid making a phone call through an operator; the cost for an international call can be $3 or more per minute. For calls within Ecuador, it is possible to use a telephone cabin.
Some mobile phone SIM cards of various networks have problems working in Ecuador - you can purchase a local network SIM (for an unlocked phone) for a few dollars in local mobile phone shops. The costs of calling are higher though at around $0.45 an hour.
Correos del Ecuador is the national postal service of Ecuador. It's fairly reliable to send postcards and letters to other countries, though count on at least 5 days up to weeks for it to arrive. In general, postal services to North America are much faster than to other western countries. Prices start at around $1 (up to 20 grams), but rise steeply after that. You can get stamps at post offices or small shops/kiosks. Post offices generally are open from 8:00am to 6:00pm Monday to Friday and 8:00am to noon on Saturdays, although there are slight variations throughout the country. If you are going to send heavier post or post which has more value, it might be better to contact private courier companies like DHL, TNT, UPS or FedEx, which are generally about the same price and much faster!
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