28-Day Ecuador Itinerary

Old Jun 10th, 2015, 04:36 PM
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28-Day Ecuador Itinerary

Any thoughts on the following Ecuador itinerary? YesTravel and I have decided to concentrate on the Sierra and its colonial towns, volcanoes and parks. Thus, we're forgoing visits to the Amazon, the Coast and the Galapagos. We'll be flying into Quito from Bogota, and are thinking about flying to the southern Sierra and making our way back north by bus rather than deadhead to the south by land. We fly home from Quito.

Quito - five nights
Fly to Loja; Loja/Vilcabamba - four nights
Cuenca - five nights
Riobamba - four nights
Baños - three nights
Latacunga - three nights
Otavalo - three nights [Friday, Saturday, Sunday]
Quito - one night

Thanks for your assistance! GotT
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Old Jun 10th, 2015, 05:31 PM
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What will you do in Riobamba for that amount of time? I went thru today on the bus, not especially attractive.

I assume some of these are bases for other activities? E.g, Latacunga?

Baños, Cuenca are nicer places. Cajas is not far from Cuenca. Gualaceo has a very cool market (also near Cuenca).

Otavalo was interesting and Runa Tupari runs some good cultural tours.

Today was in Alausí which is about 2 hours from Riobamba, report to soon follow. LOVED Rincon de Isabel if you want to detour there for a night (two better).
The Devils Nose was okay but the little town is great peop!e watching. Http://www.rincondeisabel.com.ec to book direct. If you don't mind a suicide shower the older rooms are larger and have a balcony but I opted for a new room and no risk of electrocution.

Some good Airbnb options in Cuenca if you decide to spend more time.
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Old Jun 10th, 2015, 05:35 PM
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Hmm not sure why that link is broken but it works with just rincondeisabel.com.ec
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Old Jun 10th, 2015, 06:19 PM
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Looks like a decent plan. We too decided concentrate on the Sierra apart from a brief foray to the coast ( wish we hadn't of bothered!). I agree with mlgb re Riobamba, 4 days is too much. The main reason we went there was for the bike ride down Chimborazo - not to be missed but that only takes a day The town is pleasant enough but there is really only the volcano and Nariz del Diablo?

Latacunga is good as a starting point for Quilatoa and Saquisquilli market ( on Wednesdays I think. I suppose you could also get the train from there back to Quito?

The weekend is a great time for Otavalo as the animal market is on. Hiking the mojando lakes was another highlight.

We also enjoyed our time in Vilcabamba but it is a long way. The valley is beautiful and if ever you wondered where all the hippies from Woodstock ended up, it is here!

Finally, in the context of the time you have available, 5 nights seems a lot for Quito. Losing a day or two in Riobamba and maybe one in Quito you could fit in another destination. Cotopaxi perhaps? Mindo? Didn't go to either but other seem to have enjoyed them.
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Old Jun 11th, 2015, 04:56 AM
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I agree with possibly dropping a day in Quito.

Near Otavalo the Cuicocha lake hike is not easy but probably more so than crellston's adventure. Althiugh I think we both felt like crying.

Sachatamia near Mindo is a nice resort. Or Bellavista. Or save some $$ and stay at Biohostal and hire a bird guide for a day.
I can recommend two.
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Old Jun 11th, 2015, 05:15 AM
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Thanks! I think I'll move a day from Riobamba to somewhere else so that we're there only two and a half days instead of three and a half.

We're planning on using Latacunga as a base for Cotopaxi as well as Quilotoa and the Saquisquilli market.

We're going to be using Vilcabamba as a base for seeing Podocarpus - my understanding is that the park entrance is roughly halfway between Vilcabamba and Loja, and that Vilcabamba is the more pleasant of the two and a destination in its own right.

Does anybody know if buses run directly from Vilcabamba to Cuenca - or will we have to transfer in Loja?
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Old Jun 11th, 2015, 06:52 AM
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We spent yesterday at Cotopxi as a day trip from Quito--was a great trip though the mountain was swirling with clouds. That was cool! Today would hAve been even better since the sky is virtually cloud free. Ate lunch at hikers' lodge (Tambopaxi) on the high plains at the base of the mountain--would have loved to stay there. Several groups were hiking to the top early the next morning--they got great weather! Today we head to Otavalo for 2 nights at Alishungu Mountain Lodge. So, there are plenty of great things to do in central Ecuador!

But if you haven't been to the Galapagos I highly recommend including that. We just spent 5 days on Coral II (20 people max) and had a blast. Unforgettable.
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Old Jun 11th, 2015, 07:08 AM
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Hi gottravel,

I think 5 days in Quito is OK if you are planning on doing day tours... There are great free walking tours in Quito. Also it is a departure point for many places. there are many day trips (Otavalo, Quilotoa, Cotopaxi...) I hiked the Cotopaxi it was a marvelous day! you can also go to the Mitad del Mundo for the day... Also you can go to Papallacta from Quito for a relaxing day. So there are many things to do from Quito for a day!
Banos is a really nice place full of fun and adventure. Also I do recommend Mindo, it's a lovely little town with a lot of things to do. (although Mindo is best for 2 days min I'd say...)
I haven't been to the coast but I was told that Ecuador doesn't have the nicest beaches. Also right now there is a lot of Chikungunya, so...!

Have a great time in Ecuador!

Ches
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Old Jun 11th, 2015, 07:33 AM
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You do have to change buses in Loja for Cuenca but it is pretty straightforward (at least it was in the opposite direction!).

Podocarpus is easily reached from Vilcabamba and you are correct that it is a much nicer place to stay than Loja. Lots of very pleasant hikes around the area. http://www.izhcayluma.com/ Is a great place to stay.

Do go prepared for Podacarpus ( we didn't!) It can be cold wet and muddy but it's worth it!
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Old Jun 11th, 2015, 03:27 PM
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Skip Mitad del Mundo, trust me.

I just saw Cotopaxi uncovered, on the way to a hotel near the airport. Tomorrow Galapagos.

I am at Posada Miralindo. Nice but will report in dog noise tomorrow!

Aprillilacs did you need to be at the airport 2 or 3 hours before flight to Baltra?
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Old Jun 12th, 2015, 04:50 AM
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I got there 2 hours before and had plenty of time.before to Baltra via Guayaquil--but we stayed on the plane during that stop.

I agree about Mitad del Mundo. Much ado about nothing.
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Old Jun 12th, 2015, 04:55 AM
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Ali Shungu Mountain Lodge above Otavalo is fabulous--one of the best places I have ever stayed. Gorgeous views, beautifully decorated cottages, good food, helpful owner. Highly recommended!!
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Old Jun 12th, 2015, 12:51 PM
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Thanks for all the info! We plan to stay at Ali Shungu Mountain Lodge. I thought Mindu was primarily for bird watchers? What types of things are there to do?
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Old Jun 12th, 2015, 03:12 PM
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Crellston, Izhcayluma looks great! Thanks for the recommendation.
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Old Jun 12th, 2015, 11:53 PM
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Posada Miralindo near the airport was amazingly quiet for a rural hotel,well behaved dogs! More noise from other guests arriving on late flights. Nicely done conversion of a family home.

It took an hour to do all the the checkin stuff for Galapagos. So 2 hours was fine. LAN was the worst part. Essentially 1 agent for most of the 30 minutes wait in that line. Flight left late but arrived in time, and sunny and humid at Baltra! And there was a protest along the airport road. A variety of trucks and private vehicles were transporting tourists, although in the am some walking was required to get past the barrier and switch to another car.

Not everyone who goes to Mindo is a hard core bird nerd but activities are nature-oriented. Hikes, frogs, pkants (orchids and bromeliads), butterflies, tubing, cascades. Dry season runs approx June to October. Although I suspect it isn't completely dry,
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