"Ecuador, en un Rincón del Alma" Ecuador by calcaf38
Ecuador Travel Guide: 5,429 reviews and 21,330 photos
Ecuador - in case you were wondering - does not feel like "Perú 2, the Sequel." It has a flavor all its own. I took 8 days to travel from Quito to Cuenca, North to South. I traveled independently: I did some research beforehand, but I did not book rooms in advance, except for the first night (and what a fiasco that was, see my Quito accommodation tip). Between Quito and Cuenca, I stopped in Machachi near the Cotopaxi volcano, and Pujili for the market. I stayed at a hacienda in Patate, which is close to the spa town of Baños. After one night in Riobamba, I was briefly marooned in Alausi, on my way to the ruins at Ingapirca.
I was able to enjoy different environments: the windy and grand Páramo, the chilly cloud forest, and colonial towns, with Inca ruins thrown in for good measure.
My itinerary was ambitious for the time allotted, but what took some of the wind out of my sails was the trouble I had sleeping, probably because of the altitude. I was very happy to visit Ecuador, but I was in a trance some of the time.
Ecuadorians are gorgeous people. Many of the young men and women have beautiful faces with Polynesian features. Imagine, having such beautiful black hair and not a sign of dandruff. Women are reserved and will not engage in a conversation with a foreigner, but men are very talkative and welcoming.
I spent some nights in Haciendas (in Machachi and Patate). Both places were very authentic and interesting, one more comfortable than the other. If you are thinking of hopping from Hacienda to Hacienda, you should remember that they can be very isolated. Both of the ones I stayed at were at the end of terrible dirt roads. Haciendas can arrange for transportation, but they do not provide routine transportation: it is possible to feel like a luxury hostage in a Hacienda. Also, with the exception of the staff, you will mostly encounter foreigners in a Hacienda - which might or might not be to your taste.
I must note that I was the victim of crime, twice within hours, in Cuenca (my last stop). Nothing major but still, it was upsetting - and doubly so because I liked Ecuador so much. This was my first experience with thieves in all my travels. You may read my Warnings or Dangers in Cuenca for specifics, but I believe now that it is better to be very vigilant in all urban situations in Ecuador.
Transportation is easily available in Ecuador. In cities, all the cabs are yellow. Cabbies seldom use their meters, but you can set the price in advance. In the country, cabs are white pickup trucks, and you will find them near bus stations. There again, decide the fare in advance. Amusingly, "your" pickup will stop to pick up and drop other people - in the back of the truck - who will pay the driver a few cents. Domestic air transport is quick and affordable. Buses are everywhere, and very cheap, but the rides can be somewhat grueling, as buses groan while inching uphill.
Internet is available in every town and village, with good connections most of the time. The average rate is 75¢ an hour.
The official currency of Ecuador is the US Dollar. Bills are American bills. Coins are a mix of American and Ecuadorian coins. If you pay a hotel bill with a credit card, there will be no exchange fee on your statement. However, there is a large set fee of $10 for withdrawing money from an ATM. If you must use ATMs (as I did, for the $26 in cash needed to exit the country at Guayaquil), you will want to withdraw a big sum, once.
- Pros:Beautiful People, Nature, Incredible Sights, Architecture, Great Food, Inexpensive
- Cons:Clammy Weather, Sleeplessness (Altitude), Thieves
- In a nutshell:A Very Intense Travel Destination - Fulfilling but not Restful
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