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Where to stop between Guayaquil and Quito to acclimate to altitude

Where to stop between Guayaquil and Quito to acclimate to altitude

Oct 27th, 2019, 07:32 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 667
Where to stop between Guayaquil and Quito to acclimate to altitude

Hello all,
I lived in Quito, Ecuador when I was in high school and I want to return to visit. My husband is concerned about the altitude, especially as he has had some heart issues. I would like to fly into Guayaquil, and then find somewhere that is at 5,000-6,000 feet where we can hang out for a couple of days before going all the way up to Quito. Does anyone have any suggestions? Thank you.
cferrb is offline  
Oct 27th, 2019, 11:09 PM
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 7,649
Most of the towns along the the way to quito are going to be at a similar altitude. There are few places along the way that I would want to stay . The only place I can think of is Banos which quite pleasant and is at 6000ft but is a little out of the way. You would have to go there via Ambato. Probably 6-7 hours by bus

Ascending gradually is a great idea but difficult in Ecuador. Most people will experience only mild symptoms in Quito and get through by just taking it easy or by seeing their GP re taking Diamox. As your husband has cardio issues he would be well advised to check it out with his specialist. Personally, I think I would be more comfortable flying into Quito and being close to reasonable medical care if anything were to happen.
crellston is offline  
Oct 28th, 2019, 11:12 AM
Join Date: Jan 2005
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Some of the suburbs near the airport are about 1000 feet or more lower than Quito (eg Cumbaya, Tumbaco, Tababela or Puembo). You'd have to see if you find a lodging that works for you in one of those, maybe for a night or two. You could still commute into Quito. The Quito airport is at about 7800 feet (one of the reasons it was relocated from Quito central was the lower elevation). Sometimes that 1000-1500 feet makes all the difference you need. So another option is to test out that elevation for the first few nights. That is also an altitude that would help acclimitization.

If it turns out he still can't handle that 1000-foot lower difference, then it would be easy for him to fly out to a lower city such as Guayaquil. Or you could transfer to Mindo which about 2 hours by vehicle. Mindo is nearly 1000 meters or more lower than Quito. (4000 feet vs 9000 feet, depending on the exact location). A nice lodge outside of town that I've stayed at is Sachatamia, but there are other options, some very inexpensive, in the town of Mindo itself. I think you'd find enough to do to fill a few days, taxi into town from Sachatamia is inexpensive. It really isn't high enough to help acclimate, but it would be an option if he needed to "escape" .

If I recall it's about 1.5-2 hours transfer from the airport and maybe $100 for a taxi.

I agree that husband should check with doctor. He may suggest an altitude limit for him. I was sharing a tour with a lady who had issues with altitude and we were driving from Cuenca to one of the nearby villages. She was okay in Cuenca but as we started to go up a pass, she didn't feel well and we had to turn back. Cuenca is at about 8400 feet.

I am not severely affected by altitudes below 9000 feet so have never taken Diamox. All I need is something for headache and a few days of taking it easy. eg not walking uphill (or walking slowly), and staying hydrated. That includes not eating heavy meals in the evening and not drinking alcohol which dehydrates.

Last edited by mlgb; Oct 28th, 2019 at 11:37 AM.
mlgb is offline  
Oct 28th, 2019, 09:25 PM
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 7,649
Great advice from Mlgb and more reasons for flying into Quito rather than Guayaquil.

Whilst everyone will be affected differently by altitude, I found I was ok flying into Quito from sea level. Just a bit breathless climbing stairs or walking uphill for a few days, a mild headache. As mlgb points out, nothing that can’t be resolved with a few painkillers.

I contrast that with my first visit to Cusco which at 3400m asl is some 600m ( 2000ft) higher than Quito. There I had severe headaches, nausea but only at night. Luckily the hotel had oxygen which helped. Since then I have used Diamox when going directly to 3800m near Huaraz. And I felt fine - it really helped get me through those first few days during which we hiked up to altitude of 5000m (16000ft).

Also, Quito is the same altitude as Ollantaytmbo in Peru’s Sacred Valley where many people choose to visit first to acclimatise before heading up to Cusco.
crellston is offline  
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