Post-Galapagos Excursions

Old Apr 20th, 2009, 09:34 PM
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Post-Galapagos Excursions

We (a family with two teen boys) have just two nights to see Quito and surroundings after our mid-June Galapagos cruise. Arriving 4 PM on a Wednesday and leaving 9 PM Frlday. Would appreciate suggestions.

Thinking of one night at Patio Andaluz and the second night at a hacienda near Otavalo -Cusin or Pinsaqui (although it won't be market day). Any other ideas for the second night? Hot springs? Hiking? Or...should we stay in Quito for two nights and do day trips? We want to get the feel of the Andes - llamas, flute players, markets, etc. I have been to several other South American counties, but it's the first time for the rest of the family.

Would also love referrals for a driver/guide. English is not necessary - we speak Spanish.
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Old Apr 30th, 2009, 12:59 PM
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In the historic (Colonial) section of Quito the Patio Andaluz is the best option (unless you can really splurge and stay in the Plaza Grande (USD $618 to $2440 the night!).

The Otavalo market operates everyday of the week, but the Saturday market is the busiest (and the only day there is a small animal market on the outskirts of the town). A very good alternative market, a working Andean market is the Saquisili market (Thursday only market) located near the Cotopaxi National Park. If you want a commercial market (i.e., to shop for ponchos, wall hangings, wood carvings, ceramics, ornaments) then Otavalo is the best choice. If you want a more authentic market experience, the Saquisili market is the better option. It all depends on your interests.

If you want a feel of the Andes, you might want to consider staying in a hacienda (working farm), like Hacienda Leito, Angamarca, Chorlavi, Cusin, Guachala, La Alegria, San Agustin de Callo, Yanahurco to name a few.
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Old Apr 30th, 2009, 05:54 PM
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Thanks, robin. It turns out nobody in our family cares about visiting a market except me. So which of the haciendas do you recommend?
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Old May 7th, 2009, 08:55 AM
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If you're willing to pay top dollar, San Agustin de Callo (inside the Cotopaxi National Park) LINK: www.incahacienda.com.
Still on the high side is Cusin (near Otavalo) which is highly recommended. LINK:www.haciendacusin.com.

For a well rounded experience, I personally like Hato Verde, La Alegria & El Leito. If you like horses, I would say Yanahurco!
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Old May 9th, 2009, 01:30 PM
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Thanks - We're going to Cusin...And it's very reasonable.
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Old May 11th, 2009, 08:54 AM
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Good choice! You will you enjoy your time there.
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Old May 13th, 2009, 04:06 PM
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I was reading your response to heyjude2919 regarding length of cruises and I am just starting to plan a trip to Quito and the Galapagos Islands. The island cruises are $2,100/person for a 4 days cruise, which is a little step for our family of 4. I was wondering where did you find your good deals for the Galapagos.
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Old May 13th, 2009, 10:37 PM
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Hi zigg - Try googling "galapagos discounts", "galapagos specials" and "galapagos promotions". You'll find all sorts of incredible offers, especially if you book at the last minute - 1-2 months before your trip.

Depending where you're going, you should be able to find 8- day cruises for $2100-$4500 pp, and 4 days ones for much less. Several of the ships are throwing in free airfare and hotels in Quito. Most boats refer you to travel agents in the U.S., even if you contact them directly. At that point, you can bargain even more.

Once you go through the lists of dates and specials, you have to decide which size and class boat you want. Surprisingly for the first time, I didn't get much help on Fodors, but used the tripadvisor forum plus the advice of several friends.

I originally wanted a smaller 16 passenger yacht (more intimate), but ended up checking out larger ships because we thought we were going to travel with a group of older family members who needed a doctor on board (those relatives have since dropped out - that's another story.)

Finally got a rate of $2400 pp for the 8 day cruise on the Explorer II (all exterior suites). Their published rate is about that for a FOUR day tour, so I think we got a good deal. Booked through [email protected].

I would have preferred the Eclipse or the Lindblad, which seem more like exploration vessels (the Explorer seems "cruisy"), but those were too pricey for us, even with some discounted offers. But there will be other teens on the Explorer when we go and island excursions are in groups of 16 on most boats.

We're going in early June - Will let you know how it is. Happy to answer other questions.
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