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Exciting Ecuador - Our December 2013 trip (No Galapagos)

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We had a great trip to Ecuador and since there isn't a whole lot of non-Galapagos info here in the forum, I hope this adds to the collective knowledge. I try to put down the most notable parts of my trips so they are fairly easy to read.

Here was our itinerary (accommodations used in parentheses):
Dec 13: Depart USA
Dec 14 midnight: Arrive Quito; overnight Quito (Posada del Maple)
Dec 15-19 5 day trek/bike then explore surrounding area: Combo hike and bike.
15 - Cotopaxi hike to the refuge and bike down.
(Chuquiragua lodge)
16 - Biking from Chaupi throgout Ilinisas villages- Lasso.
(Quinta Colorada)
17 - Hiking and Binking from Lasso to Quilotoa.
night in Quilotoa (Alpaka Hostel)
18 - Hiking from Quilotoa to Chugchilan
night in Chugchilan (Hostal Mama Hilda)
19 - Biking from Chugchilan to Sigchos- return to Quito.
Dec 20-21 Quito (Las Amazonas Inn)
Dec. 21-24: Napo Wildlife Lodge
Dec 24: Bus to Otavalo (La Posada del Quinde)
Dec 24-27: Otavalo and surrounds
Dec 28: Return to USA

Basic Tips

1. Their currency is the USD--bring lots and lots and lots of ones (they most frequently use Sacajawea) in order to avoid the "who has small change" problem.
2. The equatorial sun is STRONG. We were biking on a cool, cloudy day and I burned the tiny exposed area on my wrist where my shirt sleeve ended and my bike glove began.
3. In Quito our friends who live there pointed out that the safest cabs have numbers on the windshield of the driver's side. There are lots of yellow taxis but these with numbers have some official regulation.
4. Look like a local: Learn the hail-a-taxi-hand-flap--arm straight out and hand fluttering up and down. Everyone does this to hail cabs.
5. Have some Spanish at your disposal; even in tourist areas people spoke very little English.

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