The first 10 days in Ecuador - Quito and Baños
Today is Day 42 in Ecuador. Wow. For a small country, there certainly has been plenty to see and do to keep us busy!
We spent the first 10 days sightseeing with Ruben's son and girlfriend. We met them in Quito and since there were 4 of us, we decided to rent an Air BnB for 5 nights. It was a nice change of pace from the hostels of Peru: a closet and drawers to unpack, a washing machine and kitchen. We were staying near Plaza Foch, a gringo-centric area full of bars and restaurants, so dinner each night was an easy stroll. We ate empanadas, freshly fried on the street corner, drank amazing fresh juices and found a cool little experimental restaurant (La Laboratorio). Five days in Quito gave us time to:
Tour the Unesco World Heritage old town (free except a $2/per person entrance fee to visit the towers of La Basílica del Voto Nacional) and ride the TelefériQo for great views of the city ($8.50/RT per person):
Plus take day trips from Quito to:
Wander the streets of the famous Saturday market in Otavalo. There are organized day trips to the market, but to visit, it really is as simple as catching a bus from Quito's northern bus station straight to Otavalo ($4.25 RT per person) and then meandering through the streets of the town, admiring the combination of local artisan-made textiles and mass produced junk. In addition to the crafts market that consumes the town, there is an animal market across the main street, where we watched our first, and hopefully last, cock fight.
Visit Mitad Del Mundo, the almost, kind of, but it always moves, center of the world ($7.50 per person for full access):
Take a day trip to Cotapaxi ($55 per person, including guide, breakfast, lunch, transport and bikes), the second highest peak in Ecuador (5897M) and an active volcano. The summit is currently closed due to recent activity, but we were able to hike to the refuge at 4800M, buffeted by cold, ferocious winds and then mountain bike back down. Full disclosure, the "boys" rode the bikes down hairpin turns and loose gravel, while the smarter 2 of us jumped back in the truck until we reached more stable ground and then enjoyed an easy down hill cruise on the trail:
After our adventures in Quito, we hopped the bus to Baños from Quito's southern bus station ($4.50 per person) for another 5 days as a foursome. Baños is a hip town a few hours south of Quito and the self proclaimed adventure capital of Ecuador. We zip-lined, swung on a giant swing at the edge of the hillside, cycled past amazing waterfalls, went canyoning (aka rappelling down waterfalls), rode horses through the countryside, soaked in the healing hot springs, and went to not one, but 2 zoos. We ate cheap & yummy lunches in the central market, had free dinners (yes, seriously: free pasta) at our hostel (Great Hostel Backpackers), and filling, delicious Venezuelan arepas at Alto Caribe.
Baños photo gallery:
After 10 days, our travel companions were en route back to Boston and we headed north to Latacunga for the classic Quilotoa Loop hike.