Ecuador

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Quito – 3 nights

Getting there:

We came over on a very long bus ride from Medellin. We stopped over in Cali, Colombia then crossed the border into Quito, Ecuador. It took about a day and a half (with an overnighter) to cross over. The border was really simple, just answered a few questions and obtained the visa upon arrival. Quito is Ecuador’s capital and is situated near the Andean foothills.

Accommodation:

We stayed at BoutiQuito hostel which I highly recommend; see link: http://www.hostelworld.com/hosteldetails.php/BoutiQuito-Design-Hostel/Quito/83075?dateFrom=2017-08-19&dateTo=2017-08-22&number_of_guests=2 I remember the hostel beds having the best duvet covers.

Things to do:

– Visit La Mitad Del Mundo  which stands for middle of the world and straddle the equator (southern and northern hemisphere)

-Visit the historic centre (UNESCO Heritage site)

-Visit the museums and go to the churches

-Take the Teleferico which is a cable car going through the town

-Hike up Guagua Pichincha Volcano

-Do a day trip and visit the Otavalo Markets

What I wish I knew/did:

We travelled by public bus which is incredibly cheap (less than $2). The currency used in Ecuador is also the USD.

Banos – 3  nights

Getting there:

We took the public bus from Quito to Banos (the activity city) and it was about 2.5 hours long.

Accommodation:

We stayed at great backpackers hostel (they serve free dinners Monday – Wednesday!): http://www.hostelworld.com/hosteldetails.php/Great-Hostels-Backpackers-Los-Pinos-Banos/Banos/48408?s_kwcid=AL!591!3!98903287220!b!!g!!_cat:ecuador&source=adwordsdynamic&network=g&creative=98903287220&adposition=1t1&uniqueclickID=10799994122217893598&sub_keyword=_cat:ecuador&sub_ad=b&sub_publisher=ADW&ef_id=V2CvhAAABMR8DaMF:20170302010254:s

Things to do:

– Bungee jumping

– Canyoning

– White water rafting

– Rent bicycles and go to La Casa Del Albor (visit the tree house and swing on the infamous swing)

– Pailon del Diablo (Devil’s Cauldron) was one of the largest waterfalls I’ve ever seen

– Go to the outdoor thermal baths in town

What I wish I knew/did:

This city is tons of fun and lots to do. It’s also known for its taffy – try some!

Galapagos Islands – 7 nights

Getting there:

From Banos we took the bus down to Guayaquil (around 8 hours) and flew to Baltra (main airport) of the Galapagos Archipelago and ferried over to Santa Cruz (main island). The flight was around $450 USD. After arriving at the airport, we took a vehicle to drive to the other side of the island.

Accommodation:

We stayed in a private room for $15/ night on Santa Cruz for total of 4 nights, and 3 nights on Island Isabella. The only islands that allow people to stay on them are Santa Cruz, San Cristobal, and Island Isabella. With accommodation, we walked around to places and checked them out before choosing; unfortunately I can’t remember the name of the place we stayed.

Things to do off Island of Santa Cruz:

– Visit tortugua bay

 Lots of snorkelling at different spots

– Go see the blue footed boobies (rare bird species)

– Diving at Gordon’s Rock (saw hammerhead sharks, turtles, fish, galapagos sharks, black/white tip sharks, manta rays, crabs etc.)

– Visit the tortoise reserve

– Visit Darwin Research Facility

– Just walk along the docks to see the sea lions and iguanas

Things to do off Island of Island Isabella:

– Hike up sierra negro (volcano)

– Snorkel through Los tunnels (lava tunnels)

– Snorkel near the ferry docks where the penguins swim

– Go to the beach (weather was nicer for us on Island Isabella).

What I wish I knew/did:

The other option with doing the Galapagos is to book a boat tour in advance. For us, we based our trip around  seeing all the different animals through snorkelling and diving; so we opted to booking everything upon arrival. It is also cheaper to do it this way then do a live aboard, however we didn’t get to see the other islands of the archipelago.

Overall Recommendations:

Go go go to the Galapagos! It costed us around $1100 all in for 7 nights which is not bad at all! If you do a boat live aboard it is a little bit more expensive but we got to see tons of animals just through diving and snorkelling tours. We also ate amazing lobster dinner for $15. I wish we had time to stop in Montanita (small coastal surf town in southern Ecuador) but chose to spend more time in Mancorra (Peru).

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