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mmb23 Aug 10th, 2008 06:08 PM

Critique my Ecuador itinerary
 
Hello,
I'm planning my first trip to Ecuador (and first to South America!) for nine days in late November/early December. I'd love feedback on the logistics, and whether or not I'm trying to fit too much into a short trip. FYI, we're two 30-something women with advanced beginner/low intermediate Spanish skills. Here goes!

FRI arrive Quito at night

SAT Otavalo market
-will this take all day? Is it OK to take public buses or do we need to hire a driver/van? Is there anything to see outside the market in the span of the day?

SUN Old town Quito & fly to Cuenca in late afternoon

MON-SAT Spanish school/homestay in Cuenca
-any recommendations? I'm considering a few schools and am open to ideas.
-we'd like to see Cajas Park, the Inca ruins, nearby villages in the afternoons/on Saturday.
-We'd do an overnight trip on Fri/Sat if there's something worthwhile.

SUN fly home via Quito

I appreciate any thoughts/suggestions/things I shouldn't miss.
Thank you!

Jeff_Costa_Rica Aug 11th, 2008 08:52 AM

I think that looks like a good way to balance your time.

The public buses takes about two hours to get from Quito to Otavalo. They make a lot of stops. You could hire a driver and it would be much quicker, or you could go with a group, probably for less than the cost of a driver. Grayline and Metropolitan Touring are the two biggest tour operators in Quito, and both do trips to Otavalo.

Cuenca is a great choice to spend a week beefing up your Spanish. It's a lovely city with a lot of colonial architecture, and is much more relaxed than Quito.

On your final day, make sure you allow enough time to transfer flights in Quito. You'll need to check in for your international flight three hours in advance. It can be kind of a slow-moving airport.

mmb23 Aug 11th, 2008 11:04 AM

Jeff, thanks for the feedback! Your comment about connecting to an international flight brought memories of a madcap busride across Honduras at 5 am (that begin with missing the bus we wanted) & barely making our flight in San Pedro Sula. I think our best bet this time would be to fly back Saturday and spend our last night in Quito.

The tip on the Otavalo bus vs. driver is a good one; I'm often looking for adventure and value, but when you have a short trip it can valuable to pay a bit more money to see more or make it easier.

Do you have any insights on hiking in Ecuador? I loved the idea of hiking around the lake (Cuichocha, sp?) near Otavalo, but am wondering how that compares to hiking in Cajas outside Cuenca.

Thanks again for your help!

beanlaura Aug 25th, 2008 07:13 PM

Hello! about Otavalo, yes it will just take a day, even less. Otavalo is just 2 hours away from Quito, depending on you budget... if you have enought to pay 80$ for a cap driver that will take you to Otavalo is worth it, because there is so many other thing to see going there, that can only be done by car, for example Cotacahi (a pretty small town where you can find the best quality leather goods for dirth cheap) Cuicocha ( a lagoon inside an active vulcano), and another town I donīt remember right now itīs name where they make sculptures put of wood... Idid this trip, all in a day and was so worth it! But the bus of course is so much cheaper... just 5$ ... but is crowded, hot and... I got stolen in a bus going to Baños... so I donīt like them...

And I donīt knpw if you have a place to stay in Quito, but just in case I will recommend you a good one, because I also had some bad experieces with hotels in Quito while traveling. I ended up in the Hotel Cayman and it was really good, they helped me organize my time in Ecuador, when I was robed they helped me with all the the legal stuff. Besides that the hotel is nice,small and cozy, it felt like home. And! is safe! thanks go they have a free safebox for guest were my passport and ticket were! well.. thatīs all! good luck and good time in Ecuador!

mmb23 Aug 26th, 2008 04:40 PM

Thanks for the info on the hotel, and on Otavalo. I definitely would like to visit Cuicocha while we're there, and springing for a driver might help us make the most out of our time.

I appreciate the feedback!


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