Places to go, see, and things to do in Ecuador!
Check out our facebook page “Going places with smiling faces” if you are eager to see more pictures from our trip!
Our first destination in our Ecuador travels was Quito Ecudor. We had the intention of only staying in this city for two to three days tops because we are not huge city people. But as we explored Quito more and more we grew to love it and ended up staying an entire week. We now consider it a place we could call home. The people we met in Quito made our experience so much more amazing we now have a second family there and truly miss them dearly, It really is true what they say when you meet the right peple any experience can be a joy.
Quito is a city full of history and culture. You can explore Quito for two to three days or a week like we did, there is something for everyone. We recomend getting a Lonely Planet Ecuador travel guide, it made our time in Quito so much better because it not only told you about the top attractions in the city but had a few self guided walking tours you could do in the book.
Our Top Attractions in Quito:
.Old town Quito
-La Ronda (Best at night)
-Plaza Grande (Mondays at 11am there is a changing of the guards)
-Monastario de San Francisco
-And many other beautiful churches
. TeleferiQo (Hike to the top of Pichincha)
. La Mitad del mundo (Equator, day trip outside of Quito)
We didnt spend much time in Latacunga, its more of a stop to get to other more interesting places. The only reason we stopped here for a few hours was to find a ride to Laguna quilotoa lake which is absolutely spectacular!! Deffinitly make a trip out to it, you will not regret it!
Laguna Quilotoa is a crater lake meaning it used to be a volcano, that decided one day to implode creating this incredible lake. Once at the lake you can hike down to it and rent boats to go on the water or just enjoy the view. You can also hike around the top which I believe is a pretty decent hike.
Baños is a very cute town, situated right in the mountains. Its a town designed to literally accomodate backpackers. You can pretty much walk everywhere, there are loads of tour companys to help you do every outdoors activity you can think of, plenty of hotsprings and loads of hostels. We had a blast in Baños going on hikes, renting bikes and riding on the road to Puyo which has views of waterfalls all throughout it. We throughly enjoyed the hot springs and the time we spent just relaxing.
Things to do:
-White water rafting
-A version of bungee jumping
-Soak in some hotsprings
-Book jungle tours
-And much more!
Misahualli is a very tiny town, more like a village. It is located right outside of Tena in the Oriente, meaning: right by the Amazon!!!! We were recommended by a tour guide in Baños to come here for a jungle/amazon tour because you are literally right on the amazon river! While in Misahualli we rafted down the amazon and swam in it, dont worry this part of the amazon doesnt have parahnas aparently the water is to quick moving for them.
The highlight of our time in Misahualli was deffinitly our jungle tour. We were fortunate enough to find a decent priced tour that was to our liking, meaning non touristy. Our tour started off with a long hike through the jungle were our guide taught us all about medicinal plants that grew in the jungle and there uses. He then braught us to were we were staying that night, which was as simple as it could get, but it had a certain homey rugged feel, because you were litteraly in the jungle. That evening after dinner our guide took us on a night hike which is when everything comes to life. We saw many strange bugs and heard the monkeys swinging above dropping things as they went. The next day we went on another hike and learned more about medicinal plants and what it takes to become a shahman, which is basically a holistic doctor that supposedly has special healing powers. Later on after lunch we ended the tour with a canoe ride on the amazon river in a wooden canoe. Our jungle tour has thus far been the highlight of our Ecuador travels and we highly recomend going on one. Below is a funny story from our time in Misahualli.
Things to do:
-Tube down the amazon river in an entertube
-Take a jungle tour
-Ride on a river boat
-Relax and swim in the amazon
One of the features of this town was that it was infested with capuchin monkeys! And if you have seen “Night at the Museum” then you know how mischievous they can be. They can be seen scurrying around, and swinging through the trees of the small square park, located at the center of the town. One day, Amanda and I (Caleb) had decided to have a snack in the park, consisting of chips and avocado. Suddenly out of nowhere three monkeys appear around me, acting as cute as can be, all furry and frolicking. A single monkey crawled foreword and hopped into my lap and curled up like it was planning on taking a nap. I thought to myself it was the cutest thing. “Ouch!” I yelped, for a monkey had come up behind me and bit my back, leaving a light scratch. I quickly spun around with my chips in one hand, and the other being a clenched fist, I swiftly PUNCHED him in the face! With a stunned look on his face he retreated leaving his other cohorts alone with me. A relieved thought crossed my mind… But it was to early, the monkey in my lap was prepared and now leapt for the chips, snatched them and ran off a fair distance to smash the bag and see his loot… We have now learned our lesson to beware of these cheeky monkeys.
Canoa is a cute sleepy little beach town that is difficult to leave. Its a place to go if you want to relax, learn to surf, or just chill out. If you have always wanted to learn to surf Canoa is the perfect place to learn. There are plenty of places to rent boards and teach yourself or if you want to take a lesson there are places that offer that too. Canoa has very nice waves for surfing beginers, they are not to big, but just the perfect size to catch your first wave. On the weekends you can also rent horses on the beach and go for a ride along the beautiful shore line. On the weekends you can find the bars along the beach and in town pretty hoppin with locals and forigners.
Canoa also offers some volunteer opportunities at the local school teaching english and at various farms in the area, specifically our friends farm Finca Caracol.
-Volunteer at a farm or the local school
-Surf or learn to surf
-Chill out and relax
-Book tours to nearby islands and organic farms
-Go out (Eat, drink, maybe dance)
Were completely not city people, but Cuenca is a city that we could see ourselves living in for a while. It upbeat like any other city, but is filled with culture and gorgious architecture. It also has a huge cafe culture which is something that we really like about it. Cuenca is pretty centrally located, it is very close to a national park if you ever need a break from the rush of city life as well as some small towns on the outskirts of the city that make for excelent day trips. Another cool thing about Cuenca is that is is a very modern city but you still see natives walking around in traditional were and craft markets throughout the city. Cuenca has an active nightlife which makes for a fun night out on the town. Nor do you need to worry to much about transportation when in town because you can walk most anywhere. Cuenca is a city we would love to come back to and live in or study in for awhile.
Things to do:
-Stroll the city and admire the beautiful architecture and churches
-Enjoy the nice park, running track, and outdoor gym (no kidding!)
-Watch a movie in english with spanish subtitles at the movie theatre
-Check out the book store “Carolina Books” with many titles in english and other languages
-Have a shopping day at the local crafts markets
-Visit the nearby Cajas national park
Our time in Vilcabamba was very rememberable! We had such a fun time going hiking on one of the near by trails, and horseback riding near the podocarpus national park to a beautiful cascading waterfall. Vilcabamba is definitley a “gringo” city, we saw more people there that spoke english than any other part of Ecuador that we have been to. But altogether it is a beautiful little town, with its own personality. Many people retire here or stop in for a visit on their way to Peru.
Things to do:
-Horseback ride (very cheap $25 for four hours)
-Hike (many trails even lead into podocarpus park, hostels usually will have maps)
-Eat and relax