A month in Ecuador - What would you do?

Old Jul 23rd, 2007, 12:50 PM
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A month in Ecuador - What would you do?

Hello Ecuador Experts!

What would your itinerary be if you had a month in Ecuador and you

a) liked wildlife better than tourists
b) have never been on a tour and are unsure you'd like it

Thanks in advance for any advice!
peregrini is offline  
Old Jul 24th, 2007, 10:08 AM
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I visited Ecuador last year to study Spanish at an immersion school for three weeks. On one weekend, I went to Cotopaxi volcano for horseback riding. The scenery was like something from a movie.

I also went to a cloud forest, which is basically a jungle at a high altitude. I saw a lot of waterfalls and interesting plants and butterflies while hiking.

I would highly recommend a visit to Otavalo, where every weekend they have the biggest indigenous market in South America. There, you'll find lots of nice, hand-crafted souvenirs for little money. Don't miss it.

One place I tried to go to but was unable to because of a volcano eruption was Banos, which I hear is also very beautiful and has a lot of fun outdoor options if you're the active type. Of course, you can also just go to relax in the hot spring pools there.

There's also a place I went to do zip lines, which was great fun, but I don't remember the location. It was maybe an hour from Quito.

Quito has a lot of interesting things to do, too. You can check out the presidential palace in the old section of the city, where the buildings are all colonial. The old area of Quito is especially nice at night, when everything is lit up. I'd recommend a horse and carriage ride, even though it's a little pricey. In Quito, you can take a tram up to the top of a mountain for some spectacular views. Just make sure you're used to the altitude first!

Another "must see" is Mitad del Mundo (middle of the world). That's where you can actually walk on the equator. It's really touristy, but when you first see the large monument rising into the clouds with the statues leading up to it and you hear the eerie new-age music playing, you'll feel like you're on another planet. You can also try different experiments having to do with the equator, like balancing an egg on a nail and demonstrations to show how your strength is affected by the gravitational pull. Just be aware that the line near the big monument is not the actual equator. After the monument was constructed, scientists located the true equator a short distance from there, so be sure you visit both "equators."

When I go back, I'd like to visit the Amazon rain forest and the Galapagos Islands, though cruises are very expensive. If you plan on going to the Galapagos, it's better to make your arrangements after you arrive in Ecuador for better prices.

I hope this helps. Ecuador is an amazing country with a lot packed into a tiny area. Enjoy!
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Old Jul 25th, 2007, 10:41 AM
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Thank you so much Prowriter!
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Old Jul 26th, 2007, 08:46 AM
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Hi

If your definition of wildlife includes birdlife and you enjoy birdwatching, I would recommend a trip to Bellavista, in the cloud forest outside Mindo.

http://www.bellavistacloudforest.com/

They can help arrange transportation out of Quito, or if you speak sufficient Spanish and are so inclined you can take a bus to Nanegalita and take a camionetta up to Bellavista.

I stayed there last year for five days as part of my language school program. They serve 3 meals a day and the food is good. They have naturalists who lead hikes - bird watching before breakfast and a scenic hike / birdwatching after breakfast. Horseback riding is also an option.

I really liked staying in the dome, the walls are thin and you can hear everything that is going on, but it quiets down early in the evening. I never had a problem sleeping.

And there are hummingbird feeders (and 10 or so varieties of hummingbirds) all over the property.

As mentioned in a previous response, if at all possible go over to the Galapagos - it is a phenomenal experience. On one of the small boats (16 to 20 people), your shipmates are likely to be similar to you (liking wildlife better than tourists) and the small group logistics should be simple enough, so as to not drive a traveller, used to solo travel, crazy.

Also going into the Ecuadorian Amazon basin would be a great experience, but I am not sure how much pre-planning for things like malaria needs to be done. I haven't been to the Ecuadorian basin but last February went to the Peruvian Amazon basin - it was phenomenal - but time consuming traveling to and from - which I believe is also the case in Ecuador. But if you have a month, it should be doable.

Again in the Amazon you would probably wind up in a group, but it would be a small group.

About 40 miles south of Quito is Cotopaxi National Park - where Cotopaxi, the world's tallest (19,347 ft)active volcano (but not to worry too much, it's last eruption was 200 years ago). It is snow covered and beautifully scenic. This is an area called the avenue of the volcanos, since there are five or so active or extinct volacanos in the area. the countryside is beautiful. The are haciendas where you can stay in the area.

It is possible to be driven up to the highest parking lot (around 14,500) and then hike up to the snow line, but you really need to be acclimated to the elevation - this would be something to do your last week in Ecuador, not your first. There are also mountain bike rides down the volcano, horseback riding in the generalarea and even a zip line tour.

http://volcanoland.com/Ingles/fvolcano_ing.htm

You didn't say when you were planning on going, but I will be going back to Quito for 2 1/2 weeks of language school and 1 week at Bellavista and then overland from Quito to Cuenca via avenue of the volcanoes and Riobamba. I'll try to do a trip report when I return.

Let me know if you want any further details

Pamela









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Old Jul 27th, 2007, 06:33 AM
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Thank you, Pamela!

We are going over Christmas and New Year's. I like the Bellavista suggestion (wild about birds). Otavalo Market absolutely! Yes also to Galapagos and the small boat. Yes to the Quilotoa (sp?) Loop area and vulcanos. Is Chugchilan (sp) a good place to stay? Hoping to find a horseback riding trip into Sangay Park from Banos. Checking on possibilities of renting a car/truck in Banos and driving via Puyo to Tena (hire guide?) then onto the Loreto Road for some bird watching and back via Papallacta (sp) Pass. Car rentals are insanely expensive. Maybe cheaper to hire a driver?
What have you heard about maleria precautions? All the places I've looked into said not to worry outside of Esmaraldas (sp?) Should one then also worry about "Yellow Fever"/Hep A?
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Old Jul 27th, 2007, 01:11 PM
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When I was in Ecuador last July, I saw maybe one or two insects in Quito during the entire three weeks. Even in Mindo cloud forest I hardly saw any bugs (except for the dozens of butterflies and that one big tarantula!). Although, if you are planning to stay in the jungle or cloud forest for an extended period, you might want to be more cautious. One woman who was staying in Mindo did have some mosquito bits on her ankles.

I got all the recommended vaccines and medications before I went on the trip, but I spent most of my time in Quito, so it was probably overkill. Although, it was nice to have the peace of mind knowing that I was prepared for anything so that I wouldn't have freaked out had I been bitten. And if you plan to go to the Amazon, I personally think it would be a good idea to have the malaria medication on hand.

Make sure you bring plenty of hand sanitizer and wash your hands often. Standards of cleanliness in Ecuador are definitely not what we are used to in the U.S.! The Hep A vaccine is a good idea.
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