I'm planning a trip to South America starting in Ecuador making our way down to Peru. I'm wondering whether it's do able in 2-3 weeks and whether to go the coastal way or straight down. We then have 4 weeks in Peru before the Inca trail. Any tips would be very much appreciated!
We spent a similar period in Ecuador (plus visited Galapagos) and 3 weeks is definitaly worth the visit. Highlights I would recomend:
Weekend market in Otovalo (north of Quito)
The Quilotoa loop (my favorite place) - great circuit in rural area visiting Isinlivi, Chugchilan and the Quilotoa crater - can iether be done as a treck, with horses or (at least partially) with public transportation)- please follow up with me if you want exact details on villages and guest houses), Banos is nice, but not a must, Cuenca in south Ecuador is very nice (and the nearby Cajas park). And finally Vilcabamba - a small layed back town in the far south of the country (from there you can catch a bus into Peru).
I wouldactually skip moost of the coasts and specifically skip Guayaquil (big city with nothing to do there)
And of course, of you have time/budget - worth visiting Galapgos (there are iether 8 or 5 days trips)
Feel free to follow up with any questions. over 10 years ago
Thanks for your response it's been helpful! Unfortunatley there's no way we can afford the Galapogos.
I've read about Otovalo maket and it sounds great but really we wanted to head south, although we could go there on a day trip from Quito? Is that possible? Do you know long would it take?
I'm trying to make a decision about the Quilota loop. The reason we were thinking of heading to the coast is because we'll probably be doing a lot of trecking in Peru. But the Quilota loop is highly recommended so I'm not sure. Anymore info on this would be much appreciated. Did you have a guide? I quite like the idea of horse back actually. How long did it take you? I read somewhere that you can do it in a long day by public transport but I'm guessing this wouldn't be the same experience.
There's a nice eco lodge I've seen in Banos so we might stop there for a couple of days.
I'm glad you mentioned Vilcabamba cos I've read a few good reviews about this place. I was thinking it might be silly to go that far down but if you say we could get a bus into Peru from there then maybe it would be worth a visit. Roughly how long does it take to get to Peru from there?
Lots of questions!!
Thanks very much for your time, there's just so much to research!
Martine over 10 years ago
I've been to Guayaquil twice and while it is not necessarily a highlight in the guide books, I really liked it's grittiness and sense of 'real' Ecuador. The downtown central plaza has iguanas walking around, a vibrant early evening paseo on the embarcadero and a large food and crafts market.
I spent a few days on the southern coats in Playas, a very sleepy coastal town with nary another foreigner there. Tonnes of seafood places on the waterfront, but otherwise just a pace to relax and hang out on the beach. 15 years ago Montanitas was a speck of beach town and not yet on the surfer map. HUGE waves and endless stretches of beach. Bliss. I suspect by now it is well established, so dot dot dot on what that means for how the town may be and decide if it is for you.
Cuenca was my favorite town. Good, scary, bus ride to through mountains. College/young town with lots of bars and eating paces and range of lodging. We camped in Cajas National Park, nearby. No park maps existed back then, so we followed a trail our hostel owner drew on a napkin. Gorgeous hiking and viws and we had the large expansive park to ourselves it seemed (the odd local villager hoofed it up the trails for hours to fish in the lakes). South of Cuenca are some sweet villages to explore and use as stepping off points for hiking and camping up in the mountains. over 10 years ago
Hi Martine ... Ecuador is marvellous and inexpensive. If I had to sum up this wonderful country in a few words "it is so easy to travel independently and the people are so friendly and interesting". It is one of those places where you just "watch" the local people. I just did it from top to bottom in 3 weeks in April and was travelling alone.
To give you some idea of how beaut it is - i am in late my 50s and have been a travel agent for 35years. I have seen heaps of the world - Ecuador was the 53rd country i have visited and i reckon it (Ecuador) should have been the first not the 53rd. It blew me away. Enough of my raving on. I assume you must be flying in to Quito and I would recommend you to follow the Andes route as you head south rather than the coast. I walked across the border from Colombia and did the complete Andes/Volcano trail southbound (Ibarra/Cotacachi/Otovalo/Quito/Ambato/Banos/Puyo/Rio Bamba/the train/Guayaquil) and then based on locals recommendations I did the coast (Salinas/Montanito/Puerto Lopez). The coast was disappointing yet I still enjoyed it. Salinas = Miami or the Gold Coast where I am now , Montanito = a small version of Bali , Puerto Montt = sleepy sleepy hollow. Initially I cancelled the idea of visiting Cuena as I was OD on historical towns but ended up spending my last weekend there and am glad I did.
Its a unique country as the people and feeling in each city or region is so different.
Like Christina, I love the "urban grit" of Guayaquil. Similar to Cali in Colombia it is a city not recommended to tourists - but i thrived on both of these busy,bustling cities yet I can understand why others would hate them.
Otovalo as a day trip from Quito - yes its possible but no! way too much travelling. Quito is HUGE in a LONG kind of way. And now that the new bus stations are in operation it can take an hour in a cab ($8-9) just to get to the north bus station before you head off.
When are you going to Ecuado ? I have heaps of info on costs etc etc so if you want
any more advice let me know.
PS ... the food is marvellous - so wholesome and such good value. The 'menu del dia' for lunch is usually $2 or $3 and so tasty. over 10 years ago
Jayne Hope: Hi Martine...I definately would not skip the Coast of Ecuador. I spent a month in Ecuador which also included an 8 day voyage through Galapagos on the New Flamingo Yacht. Montanita, Las Tunas and Puerto Lopez are great places to hang out. Ecuador is a compact country with a lot to offer a traveler. Prices are affordable. The people of Ecuador are friendly and helpful. Enoy your travels over 10 years ago