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13 day itinerary in Ecuador - too ambitious?

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Hi all, a friend and I are going to Ecuador for 13 days in country in January. It's our first time in South America, and we are still ironing out an itinerary. We really want to see as much as we can, so we've come up with a fairly ambitious itinerary. I have no idea if this is an unreasonable itinerary, as we're still in the early research stages, and we're also still looking for fast and safe methods of transportation.

Would anyone be willing to critique this (very rough) itinerary?

Day 1 - Arrive in Quito
2 - explore Quito
3 - Fly to Cuenca, explore Cuenca
4 - Cuenca
5-7 - some kind of a 3 day/2 night national park tour, maybe Yasuni?
8 - Puerto Lopez
9 - Isla de la Plata then back to Puerto Lopez
10 - Banos
11 - Laguna Quilotoa
12 - climb Cotopaxi
13 - Otovalo (this is a saturday)
14 - Quito
15 - Depart Quito

The main concern is travel times - I feel like days 10-14 are fairly doable because of their relatively close distance to Quito, but the park trip, Cuenca, and Isla de la Plata really throw a wrench in everything.

I'd love suggestions on any of the following
1) a better way to order everything - I have a feeling my order is pretty unrealistic
2) some good travel options to help us cut down on travel time
3) what would you suggest cutting out?

Thanks a bunch!

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    I think Banos deserves more than a day. It is a fantastic town where a minimum 2-3 days should be spent. I would at least take a day from Quito at the end of your trip to balance things out a bit.

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    Hey there Albuhhh,

    I want to agree with Gary. Banos is a cool town with tons to do. You may want to consider a longer stay there.

    With regarding to your climb of Cotopaxi. Are you planing to summit Cotopaxi? If so you are going to need to do some acclimatization. People who summit Cotopaxi often do about a week and a half of other smaller summits in order to be ready for the Cotopaxi hike. Also the push for the summit of cotopaxi typically begins at a refuge where the snow line begins, and you start earirly 2AM or 3AM so that you hit the summit at 6AM.

    For order and travel times....
    First, I'm not a big fan of Otavalo. The Market is neat and it's for sure a well known tourist destination but unless you LOVE shopping or you really feel your going to miss out on the tourist experience, I'd suggetst skipping it. You can get the same goods for a dollar or two more in Quito's Mercado Artisinal in the Mariscal Section of Quito at the intersection of Reinia Victoria and Jorge Washington (note:Here it is on Google maps http://goo.gl/maps/qPYXC they have the street labled Juan Washington, that's wrong it's Jorge). Also on Sunday's in Quito at Parque El Ejido many of the Otavalenos bring there goods to be sold as kind of a follow up to the Otavalo market. So unless you feel you must see Otavalo. I'd say do your shoping in Quito and spend the extra day or two somewhere else.

    Also, Puerto Lopez is way out of the way. Isla de la Plata is for sure cool. But I think to just hit Puerto Lopez is not worth it. Especially B/C Pueto Lopez itself is not a great destination nor is it's beach.

    I think you'd be best deciding to cut out either Cuenca or Puerto doing something like this....

    With the Beach
    Day 1-2 Quito
    Day 3-4 Cotopaxi National Park (not the summit) and Quilotoa
    Day 5-7 Banos/travel (It's about 4 hours by bus to Banos from Quito)
    Day 8 Fly from Quito to Guayaquil then catch a bus from Guayaquil to the Salinas (busses leave hourly) or Montanita (I think there are 2 or 3 busses a day)
    Day 9-10 Montanita, chill at the beach, it's a cool very mellow town
    Day 11-12 Goto Puerto Lopez and do Isla de la plata.
    Day 13-14 Return to quito


    Without the Beach
    Day 1-2 Quito
    Day 3-4 Cotopaxi National Park (not the summit) and Quilotoa
    Day 5-7 Banos/travel (It's about 4 hours by bus to Banos from Quito)
    Day 8-11 Travel to Cuenca and hang out there
    Day 12 Fly back to Quito and then goto Mindo, Otavalo or Papallacta (Papallacta hotsprings are NICE)
    Day 14 Retrun.

    Also for doing Quilotoa and Cotopaxi there are several tour groups that will take you for about 40 per person. Ecuador Treasure & Guliver Travel are both located in Quito's mariscal district and both have lodges out that way (about $20/night) so you can do Quilotoa and not have to return all the way back to Quito to do Cotopaxi.

    Hope this helps and feel free to give me a shout if you need to know more.
    Best
    Greg

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    Thanks for the responses! Sorry about the delayed response, I have been crazy busy at work!

    Greg, would you say that there's some leeway to squeeze something into your "without a beach" itinerary? I was really hoping to do something like that, but still squeeze in a beach somewhere (I don't have much of a desire to go to Guyaquil). Maybe a day off of Cuenca and Banos each (which would still leave me with two days in each place?)

    I am an infrequent traveler, and I really want to get in the most I can into this trip!

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    Sorry it took me so long to get back to you. Like you I've been crazy busy.

    You can shave a few days off, but I think your going to feel pretty rushed. But that being what you want to do....

    I think you should fly from Cuenca to Guayaquil (~$70) and then take a bus from Guayaquil to Salinas (2hrs) or Montanita (3.5hrs). Montanita is a cooler beach but takes more time to get to. Buses leave for Salinas about every 40 minutes or so. There are only 2 or 3 direct busses to Montanita per day. But you can also take a bus to salinas and transfer in Santa Elena if the diret bus is full or inconvienent. If you want to do Montanita let me know and I'll give you better instructions to make the transfer.

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