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Ah! Get Me Out of Ecuador

Quito, Pichincha, Ecuador
12 Kudos
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You'll love Ecuador, he said. It's a great country, he said. I fell in love with it when I was there 10 years ago, he said.

Well, he was a student being given a fully guided tour of eco-villages. They bussed him from place to place. Independent adventures are different.

Ecuador is poor. It is dirty and it is underdeveloped. The road systems are bad, the driving erratic, and you need to carry about four medications for 'just in case' traveler sicknesses. Still want to go?

Take a guided tour. They will weed out all the hotels and seedy cities for you. DO NOT DRIVE. You'll be tempted, but roads are poorly marked and the road systems are hard to navigate. (Think bridge with a hole in the middle that you have to zoom over or risk missing your flight.)

If you plan to venture outside the big city, brush up on your Spanish. Most of the folks in smaller towns don't speak English. However, Ecuadorians are very helpful and their Spanish is excellent. Ok, except for the toothless, walking old man my companion made me ask for road directions. I couldn't understand a thing he mumbled or lisped.

Also, you need to be more aware of your safety at night, but the people are honest. They will give you the correct change and don't falsely inflate prices. It is a bargaining culture, so ask for the deal you want.

Finally, not all towns have a water purification plant. The locals don't even drink the water. Make absolutely sure the place you're about to eat uses hygienic standards for their food. Fresh veggies washed in bad water can still get you sick.

FYI - not in Google: Casa del Suizo is an amazing Amazon hotel on it's own private oasis. We loved relaxing there with reasonably priced beers and a small town to walk to outside the walls. They offer a jungle walk with a native who points out organic tobacco, rubber trees and plants used to weave skirts.

Also, Los Banos was a quaint little town with lots of Spanish influence. The hostel there serves incredible food and blew me away with its courtyard.

Do not miss Agua Blanco if you're on the coast. While it's an awesome archeological dig site complete with a sweet museum, you also get to see the natives living exactly as they would have hundreds of years ago. Goats wander around recklessly (they are sold for income to buy what they can't grow or barter for) and the thatch huts blew my mind. Add in ladders made of sticks and woman washing their clothes in the river and you've got a recipe for a remarkable experience.
Story Details

Hotels

Sheraton Quito
Sheraton Quito
PERFECT for the shy traveler; American style, safe water and food.
Termas de Papallacta
Hot tubs right outside your door and a nice restaurant right on site.
Puerto Lopez
At just $65 per night, this was a decent resort. It's right on the beach, just a few miles from town. The hotel is gated with a private pool, restaurant and quiet rooms. It's very kid friendly.

Points of interest

Mitad del Mundo
Isla La Plata
The poor man's Galapagos. Tourism boards regulate pricing to $40pp. You get lunch, snorkeling, guided tours and whale watching. GREAT DEAL. Nauseating ship, fyi.

Restaurants

Hostería La Ciénega
Hostería La Ciénega
Pricey but great haunted history; older crowd, too

On The Map

1 Comment

by dreamshark

01-25-2014

Excellent, excellent travel report! Covers both the ups and the downs with a lot of really useful advice. Thanks!