Quito, Baños & Guayaquil

Quito

29th – 31st of July 2013

Quito was my first stop in Ecuador and a place I was especially looking forward to since I was going to meet my friend Adrian and his lovely wife Catherine. They had planned on showing me a bit of Ecuador so on the 30th we decided to drive to Otavalo to visit the Indian market and the Laguna Coicocha. Unfortunately we started a little too late in Quito and by the time we got there, the market was over and the road to the Laguna Coicocha was closed. So we basically put poor little Jack (a puppy they had just recently bought) through a seven hour car ride for nothing.

The following day Adrian took me for a sightseeing tour around the city. First we took the TelefériQo (from teleférico und Quito; 6,44€ / US$ 8,50) to the Cruz Loma, a 4.100m high mountain right next to Quito which offers a great view over the city (and even from there you can’t see either end because it is too long) and the volcanoes Cotopaxi, Cayambe and Antisana – if the weather is good that is – and it unfortunately wasn’t!

The second stop was El Panecillo with the Virgen de Quito on top. But even more impressive than the statue itself were a couple of people who were flying kites on top of a hill right next to the statue. “Flying a kite, big whoop!” you might think. The incredible (or should I say INSANE) thing was, that they were doing it right next to big power lines. Every kid with half a brain knows, that that is a sh*t idea! But the dads and their offspring didn’t seem to care at all. I guess it just adds a little tingle (or in the worst case: an electrocution) to this otherwise peaceful activity.

3rd – 4th of August 2013

On the night of the 3rd, Adrian, Catherine and I were invited to a celebration in Tanicuchi. I didn’t fully understand why the town was having the party but at the end of the day, any reason was a good enough reason for me. What we didn’t know was that it was going to be a bullfight – and I am not talking about the nice kind where the bull gets to live at the end (although two bulls managed to fight the matadors off and got to live, good job!). Of course I would have preferred if it was just going to be a show fight where the bulls weren’t actually going to be killed but apart from that, it was a fantastic evening and one of those cultural events (the festival itself, not the bullfight) you normally don’t get to see as tourist.

On the 4th we went to the equator (obligatory if you are in Quito, Ecuador) and I did some last minute shopping for my upcoming Galapagos trip.

Baños

1st – 2nd of August 2013

On the first day in Baños, Adrian and I went for a hike. After briefly visiting the tourist information and acquiring some information (“Yes, the hike is really easy. You can visit the sites by car, but walking is much nicer so I definitely recommend you to walk!” – Guy at the tourist office) it seemed like this was going to be an easy walk. I don’t know what was wrong with that dude, but he must have been trained by the Marines or something. We did eventually manage to reach the end of the “trail” along the Río Negro, but the hike felt more like a boot camp with deep mud and jungle like plant growth than an “easy walk”. On a couple of occasions I swore to myself that I was going to return to the tourist information to get that guy’s head straight as soon as we were back in town. Thankfully in the end we were rewarded with an amazing cable car ride over the Río Negro and the Cascada Manto de la Novia. In the evening Adrian and I enjoyed a nice hot bath in one of the hot springs of Baños.

For the second day in Baños we had planned to go into the jungle. We did the one day trip with a local tour operator that charged 30,30 € / US$ 40 for the entire day including lunch. The first stop was a monkey sanctuary which was home to several different kinds of primates. Especially the less aggressive ones were quite curious to what we had in our pockets. After the sanctuary we briefly stopped at a native village where we learned about the villagers’ way of life as well as their traditions before we headed down a nearby river in dug out canoes (log-boats).

Just before lunch we headed up a small hill which had a lookout on top with a stunning view over the Amazon basin. Even more incredible than the view was the Liana of Death, a long rope which had been hung from a nearby tree allowing you to swing out quite far – just my kind of activity, me gusto! Especially since this was easily the biggest swing I had ever seen with the turning point being at least 30-40m above the ground.

Our last stop was a beautiful waterfall with crystal clear water and a pond in which we were able to swim, a worthy end to our trip into the Amazon. Normally I am not a huge fan of one day tours but this one was well worth the money. Thanks Adrian for taking me to these amazing places.

Guayaquil

16th – 18th of August 2013

After what I had heard from other travelers and read in guidebooks, my expectations for Guayaquil weren’t very high. The main reason for me to go there had been to visit my friend Julio anyway. But after my stay I can say that Guayaquil is definitely worth a visit, especially if you are on your way to Montañita or the Galapagos since all flights to the islands leave from Guayaquil or at least stop there. We started our little sightseeing tour at the Parque Bolívar (also: Parque Iguanas because of the many Iguanas which live here) and then continued on to the Malecón 2000, the waterfront promenade along the Río Guayas which offers a beautiful walk to Las Peñas and the Cerro Santa Ana. Las Peñas are two little neighborhoods on hills at the north end of the Malecón 2000 with plenty of colorful houses that reminded me a lot of Valparaíso (LINK EINFÜGEN). These neighborhoods with their colorful houses, cobblestone alleys as well as bars and restaurants are quite touristy. But if you climb the 444 steps to the top of the hill, you’ll reach Fortín del Cerro which offers an absolutely stunning view over Guayaquil.

The next day Julio and I went to the football game Barcelona vs. Manta (2:1). No, of course not the Barcelona which was defeated by Bayern in the 2013 Champion’s league semi-final 7:0 (Aaaaaw yeah!). Although the stadium wasn’t even half full and there were a mere six fans cheering for Manta, this was an awesome experience and I can finally cross “going to a football game in South America” of my list of things to do.

In the evening I went to the bus station to make my way to Bogotá, Colombia. Little did I know that I was going to be stuck in Ipiales for days due to the protests, strikes and road blocks that started throughout Colombia the day I reached the boarder (19th of August 2013). That is what I call timing.

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7 Comments

  1. Paul Gümpel

     /  30. August 2013

    Hi Basti, Du machst ja tolle Sachen, da wär ich gerne mit dabei! Liebe Grüße aus der Heimat sendet Paul

    Reply
  2. Trisandhi

     /  5. June 2015

    Looks like you had a great time in Ecuador. I’m hoping to do the same trip (Quito to Baños to Guayaquil to the Galapagos) in August. It’s my first big trip as a solo traveller so I’m excited ( and nervous) hah. Do you have any tips on getting from Quito to Guayaquil?

    Trisandhi

    Reply
    • Hi, sorry for the late reply. I flew so I can’t really say what the easiest way is. But busses in general were fairly easy and straight forward.
      Hope you had a good time.

      Regards,
      Sebastian

      Reply
  3. Jodi Ro

     /  27. October 2015

    Heading to Banos in a couple weeks and love the idea of the amazon tour. Do you happen to remember the name / phone number of the operator Adrian who took you on your 1 day amazon tour? Thanks!

    Reply
    • Hi,

      Sorry for the late reply.
      We just randomly walked into any tour office that was there, so can’t really give you a name or operator. My impression though was, that all the operator more or less offered the same tours.
      Enjoy your trip.

      Best regards,
      Sebastian

      Reply
  4. Fariha

     /  12. January 2017

    Hi there, I came across your blog as I was planning my trip to Ecuador in April. Really looking forward to Banõs and was wondering if you remembered the tour company that offered the day tour for the swing and waterfall and amazon and how I can get contact with them or similar tour. Thanks in advance! Great blog 🙂

    Reply
    • Hi,

      we just randomly walked into any tour office that was there, so can’t really give you a name or operator. Sorry for that. My impression though was, that all the operator more or less offered the same tours.
      Enjoy your trip.

      Best regards,
      Sebastian

      Reply

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