All posts filed under: Ecuador

The Takeaway: Ecuador

We will always cherish the 16 days spent in our first country, Ecuador. Kicked off with 14 hours of travel and 30 hours without sleep and ending with the same. Honestly, Ecuador was a bonus country, chosen for its ease of entry and proximity to Peru and Chile. We figured, why not start our trip at the Equator? What we found was so much more. It’s rolling hills, breathtaking treks, ever-changing weather, and kind people surprised us and changed us in many ways. We also grew quite a bit as travelers. Navigating several bus terminals, when to just sit and let time pass without stress and a little improvement in the repacking area. Bekah still has a tendency of walking into moving traffic but she is learning..a bit. Cultural Highlights Siestas. Very friendly people. Always willing to give directions and recommendations. Tons of free hiking. Best Meal: Homemade cena at La Posada de Tigua. Pollo con mucho Comino, my favorite! Worst Meal: “Pizza” with cherry pie glaze for sauce, pineapple and cheese Best Beer: IPAs …

Biking “La Ruta de las Cascadas”

The Ruta de las Cascadas was our favorite adventure in Baños. We rented bikes for $5 each in the city and rode along the treacherous roadside. The path is downhill a significant portion of the ride. Although this provides a much needed break from hiking be sure that you test your brakes before accepting the first rental offered. I did and we rejected several before accepting two. Though cars, buses and 18-wheelers shared the road, they definitely made their presence known. They never failed to provide a “courtesy beep” as though we could not hear their engine cranking to get up and down the mountainside. The best part of or ride was through a one lane tunnel with no shoulder. The most peaceful part of our ride were the ciclovias free from vehicles. At one point we got to ride under the trickle of a waterfall. I would have parked my bike under the cold stream, but I had the canon in my pack, so I settled for a quick ride through. Agoyan Manto de …

Baños on a Budget

Baños is the adventure capital of Ecuador. There are so many excursions to choose from that highlight this city wedged between the beginning of the Andes and Amazon – rafting, canyoning, bungee jumping and 4-wheel adventures are common. However, we were in the early stages of a very long trip so we chose the inexpensive but very rewarding experiences.

Quilotoa Loop Pt 4: Lago Quilotoa

The bus from Posada de Tigua to Zumbahua picked us up on the side of the mountain road (remember to flag down) and was only $1. We would have had to wait for a connecting bus to Quilotoa, but our newly developed devil-may-care attitude had us seeking another private driver. Our new driver was very humble, so much so that he turned down our offer of letting one of his 3 family members sit with us. Instead they sat crammed in the front row of seats in his truck. We pulled up to the gate, paid our four dollars to go to the caldera and our driver drove us right to the entrance. He charged us $6 for his services, then off he went. The trek to Laguna Quilotoa is very windy and there is so much dirt and loose particles, that you will get something in your eye if you are no wearing glasses. We were fully prepared for this as Tena suffered through the previous night with an eye ailment. I was equipped …

Quilotoa Loop Pt 3: Chugchilan to Tigua

The final leg of our route is pure ascent to Laguna Quilotoa. Bekah and I felt pretty accomplished and decided to skip this leg and take a bus to Tigua instead. El vaquero claimed the bus left the town square at 2, a townsman claimed it was more like 3:30 and a girl in a shop said there was no bus. Not wanting to be in the middle of town with our gear, we decided to take a private driver who charged us $5 each to ride in his black Mazda truck with a plastic tarp over the bed of his truck to protect any additional travelers he scoped up along the way. Alas, we were off. Unbeknownst to myself, I gave Bekah the only seat with a working seatbelt. I was glad I did because we both feared for our lives and had she not had a seatbelt, she would have demanded to be let off that death-ride. We constantly switched between lanes of a mountain highway, probably spending 40% of our travel on …

Quilotoa Loop Pt 2: Inisinlivi to Chugchilan

Our Hostal volunteers started with us on our journey from Isinlivi to Chugchilan. We went separate ways after 30 minutes or so of hiking. They were great company and inspired us to one day take a month off and work Llullu Llama. Starting our on Hostal would be our happily ever after. So now about the hike. Just like day one, the first leg of the hike is downhill. There are so many breathtaking sights on this trail, we recommend you do not skip it. We constantly stood in amazement at the beauty nature produced. Aphrodite herself would have been in awe. The hike takes between 4-6 hours and the details Llullu Llama provide are perfect because they let you know exactly when you are about to ascend. Bekah and I took refuge before our great climb at a log bridge with one handrail. We waded in the water, ate a snack and watched local kids, from ages 2 to 8 walk across the bridge. Now it was our turn. I filmed our walk and …

Quilotoa Loop Pt 1.5: Hostal Llullu Llama

Llullu Llama was phenomenal and exactly what we needed after our miscalculated hike. We took a quick tour of the grounds, then crashed on a couch in the common area, only to be greeted by two Frenchmen, a Dutchman, and a game of cards that they did not now the name of. They Frenchmen stated it was to be called “slip”. The premise is to have the lowest value of cards. You start off with 7 cards, you can only draw one, you may only discard one card, unless you have a pair, triplet, quadruplet, or straight suite of cards. Before your next withdrawal, you call ‘slip’ and if you have the lowest value, you acquire no points. We drank, had discussions about bread and cheese (with the French there is no winning) then went to dinner, where we had copious amounts of food and the discussions continued. It was great talking about football, especially with the French who have so many rising talents. Dinner was sublime, the best food we had while in Ecuador. …

Quilotoa Loop Pt 1: Latacunga to Sigchos to Insinlivi

1 of 5 posts from our 4 day trip around the Quilotoa Loop. Only have video of Day 1 so watch for updates when we figure out how to embed them! We departed the comfort of our first airbnb early. Caught a very kind taxi who took us to an ATM on the way to the Terminal Quitumbe.  There are no ATMs on the loop and all hostels are cash only. The ATMs were fairly easy to use but on busy streets so use some caution.  We would say the same for taxis. It was explained to us on our first day that most taxis are safe but there are varying levels of official.  For the most legitimate look for taxis with green stickers with their ID number and a red “seguro” sticker. Then before you get in,  confirm they will use their meter,  check for the safety cameras in the back as well as a comforting yet concerning red panic button.  If anything feels uncomfortable, you can always wave them off. We did not …

Whilst in Quito

Mitad del Mundo: An hour bus ride from Quito, Mitad del Mundo is a must see. It isn’t every day you can reach across a hemisphere, having your body split by the dichotomy of north and south, winter and summer. Everybody seems to flock to the eastern coordinate, drunken with excitement to snap a pose they stole from some social media sight. This leaves the west wide open! From here, Bekah and I captured the monument free from tourists ruining our shot as they longed to “hold” the world in their hands. We went with the regular ticket (3.50 each), which gives you entrance into the village and allows you to go into the monument. Other packages included a planetarium and other bells and whistles, but the regular ticket should suffice. The village is full of vendors, but beware that they will charge you several more times for goods that street vendors will in Quito. If you are not on a budget or will not visit any markets, then shop away. Food prices are reasonable, …

So it begins

We arrived at Quito’s new airport around 6:45am on the the 4th of July, departing from San Antonio, Texas at 7pm July 3rd. It takes about 45 minutes to traverse across the beautiful mountainous region and enter Quito by cab. The cost is around $30 and no need to convert since Ecuador’s currency is the U.S. Dollar. We felt it was in our best interest to use a private driver that our AirBnB host provided for the same amount as a cab. You can also take a bus from the new airport to the old airport, then find a connecting bus, however, as our first destination, we decided not to start off on a bad foot by trying to figure out the bus system. After 14 hours of being in and out of airports, waiting in multiple customs lines and flying to another continent can you blame us? One draw back, I left my phone in the car, never to be seen again (I killed it once I found out using the iPad). After getting …