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Advice on 2 weeks around Quito and possibly beyond.

Advice on 2 weeks around Quito and possibly beyond.

Old Apr 12th, 2024, 08:05 AM
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Advice on 2 weeks around Quito and possibly beyond.

Greetings and Salutations,

I am hoping to get some advice on planning a family trip. My wife and I are taking our two kids (17 & 14) to Ecuador in early June for around two weeks from the US. We are flying in and out of Quito. We land in the evening and our plan so far is to spend the first day getting accustomed to the altitude and taking it easy In Quito. The loose itinerary so far is to spend around five nights in Quito, which should give us a solid four days to explore the city. On the sixth day, we can take the bus to Banos and spend a few days (maybe four nights) there.

We are open to any other ideas as we haven’t booked anything but the flight so far. We will have an additional four or five days or so to fill if we stick to what I described above. I considered trying to visit the ocean, but it seems like quite a hike on land, and I am undecided about adding flights to the trip. I have not researched trains yet, but that may be an option. The Amazon rainforest is interesting as we have never been there and figure it may be a unique experience. Our budget is not huge, so nothing extravagant. We are active and in good shape but nothing too extreme, we love hiking/exploring, food, music, and having a good time.
I am thinking of an Airbnb in Quito for accommodation and maybe in Banos as well.

In Quito, I have the following ideas based on web research:
Explore the historic district and whatever else the city has to offer for one day at least.
Day trip to Mindo. Cloud forest, waterfall, hummingbirds, chocolate tour, etc.
Take the cable car ride.
Visit markets, parks, etc.
Day trip to Papallacta Hot Springs
Maybe visit the Equatorial Divide

We appreciate any input on these ideas and are curious about what we should add/replace. A food tour sounds fun, or pretty much any tour would probably be great. None of us speak Spanish. I have been learning a bit and plan to increase my time on it between now and the trip.

As far as Banos goes, I don’t have anything set in stone either. We will probably take the bus from Quito to Banos. I assume we should visit Cotopaxi on the way but have not looked into the logistics.
In Banos, we will probably do the same thing, eat, explore the city, and take a few day trips. Any input is welcome.
For the rest of the trip, this is where I need the most help. Should we try and do some type of Amazon Rainforest visit? Head to the ocean? Or something completely different?

I am aware of the unfortunate heightened level of badness in the country at the moment. We are bringing no jewelry/valuables, no standing/walking around with our phones out, and plan on staying in safe areas.

Thanks for any input, it is much appreciated.

Last edited by mikebethman9391; Apr 12th, 2024 at 08:50 AM.
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Old Apr 18th, 2024, 10:36 AM
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It’s been over 13 years since I was in Quito, and so perhaps I shouldn’t be responding; but since no one else has for several days, I’ll recommend checking out a certain street along the southern edge of Quito’s old quarter. Officially it is “Juan de Dios Morales” Street, but no one will recognize that name; it’s known to everyone as La Ronda. Bearing in mind that a lot might have changed since I was there, what I found was quaint, pedestrianized colonial street by day, which became a sort of night-life venue later. But it was not a club district; rather, it was a bohemian, music-cafe scene, where the idea was to walk down the street, listen to the music coming out of the various cafes, and then upon hearing something you like, just slip inside. Though the street was quite busy on Thurs., Fri., and Sat. nights (much quieter at other times), it all seemed very congenial and laid-back, with none of the edginess often found in night-life venues. (As most of the cafes serve alcohol, I don't know whether an age-limit is enforced.)

I was also very impressed by the MINDALAE Ethno-Historic museum, in the new part of the city. Hopefully someone will respond soon with updates on these recommendations.

Last edited by Faedus; Apr 18th, 2024 at 10:40 AM.
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Old Apr 20th, 2024, 11:30 AM
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We have spent several months in Ecuador one over the years including a month in Quito taking Spanish lessons. It is ok for a couple of days but I have to say it is not my favourite South American capital by a long way. A couple of days there would be enough for me. A day exploring the Old City, a cable car ride up Pinchincha and maybe a day trip out to Cotapaxi, tho IME the chances of actually seeing it are 50/50 at best. it took us three attempts before sea actually saw the peak.

Banos gets very busy and is a bit too touristy for my tastes but is great for adventure sports.

Other places worth considering would be Otavalo . Worth a couple of days for the amazing scenery , the Saturday markets, hiking and waterfalls. Cuenca is a beautiful colonial city, safer and more walkable than Quito. The nearby Cajas national park is incredible and easily visited by bus as a day trip.

If you are into hiking then one of the best is the" Quilatoa Loop" which you could easily combine with Cotapaxi. I would have posted about that in our blog which I have linked below if it were not for the fact that someone stole our camera shortly after doing the loop.

For a little excitement I would suggest a biking trip down Chimborazo, a dormant volcano and Ecuadors highest peak. We got a jeep up to 5500 m and biked back down - a truly incredible experience.

We did spend some time on the coast at Puerto Lopez and Salinas but was not that impressed, I dont think of Ecuador as a beach destination though we did have a great time on a trip to Isla del Plata (aka the poor mans Galapagos ) and saw loads of whales, blue footed boobies etc.

There are some post on our blog about our time in the country -@ https://accidentalnomads.com/category/ecuador/ if nothing else there are lots of photos which will provide an idea of what to expect if nothing else.

You are right to be concerned re safety in the country. Things have been very bad for a while and whilst they are improving, there are still curfews in place and you need to take care. I we experienced several attempts at pickpocketing , one was successful but thankfully no violence was involved. An American friend not so lucky and was mugged at knifepoint in Quito on his way to get a bus in broad daylight. Here in London I was chatting with our friends' Ecuadorian housekeeper who is in touch with her family in Otavalo who tell her that things are much better now in most of the country but to be ultra careful in Quito and Guayacil

I cant comment on the Amazon in Ecuador as we have only visited in Bolivia (and it was amazing). The Galapagos is the obvious exclusion from your list. Even though we were there for a long time, we did look into isa but decided that for us, it just wasn't worth the expense. On either replace which we did really enjoy is Vilcabamba. Beautiful scenery, wonderful hiking and for some bizarre reason , there seems to be a big expat presence which mostly seemed to be ageing hippies /refugees from Woodstock!

Getting around the country is fairly straightforward, We relied on the bus services which are extensive and cheap, if not the most comfortable. The biggest challenge is that many intercity buses don't actually stop in the cities but on the main highways which is a pain as you ten have to negotiate with the waiting taxis for a ride and bing a tourist you invariable get ripped off. As there are four of you, it may be cost effective and save a lot of time to rent a car and driver. Dont attempt to drive yourself as that is fraught with problems, not least they appealing driving standards , where to park your car safely and rental car rip offs.

Essentially, I feel that using Quito as a base and doing trips from there would not be the best way of seeing Ecuador. It is a small country but it does take time. How to split your time depends on your interests but I think I would look at spending a few days in a number of locations; perhaps Quito, Otavalo and Cuenca and perhaps one other.

Sorry if this is a bit of brain dump, but hopefully it is of some use. Happy to answer any specific questions if I can.

Last edited by crellston; Apr 20th, 2024 at 11:34 AM.
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Old Apr 21st, 2024, 12:24 PM
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It's also been a while since I went to Ecuador. I would reiterate the cautions about Quito.

One alternative would be to transfer from the airport to MIndo and spend a few nights there instead. Mid week probably better as it is busy on weekends with locals doing things like rafting.

The airport is located near Puembo. I stayed at a historic building there once, goes by several names including Casa de Hacienda Su Merced. They have family rooms. I think they can help arrange any transfers etc..

From there you could go up to Otavalo or Mindo.

You would want to investigate private transfers direct from the airport area since there are four of you and the bus stations in Quito are a PITA (as Quito is a long narrow city, often you have to go to the far north end to catch the buses north). Going straight from the airport you can go around Quito.

I also did enjoy Cuenca where I stayed in an AirBnb, as well as the Galapagos. The latter is an expense (even just the flights add up). and really needs at least 6- 8 days and to take a cruise. On most ships you'lll need two cabins, also.

Last edited by mlgb; Apr 21st, 2024 at 12:48 PM.
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