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Help - Itinerary for 10 days in Ecuador

Takoma Park, MD
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Help - Itinerary for 10 days in Ecuador

Going Dec 20-30--- husband, me and two twenty-something sons. First time in South America, but lots of travel in Latin America - one son fluent Spanish. Not enough time for Galapagos. What is reasonable itinerary to see a bit of variety and not spend whole time just travelling to get there. Enjoy mix of city/architecture/history with some outdoorsy activity/nature/beauty. Always good food, not shoppers. Any help appreciated.

Montrose, Colorado
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1. Re: Help - Itinerary for 10 days in Ecuador

That's a pretty open request! Ecuador is a fairly small country, just smaller than Colorado, but things can seem quite spread out. While in-country flights can be quite affordable, a 10 day trip generally won't require one. For starters, Quito is a great city, with lots of history and culture. From there, a lot of people head north to Otovalo and on to Ibarra. You could easily get to the coast at Esmereldas, or take 3 or 4 days and head to the Amazon at a place like Napo Wildlife Center, which generally means a flight to Coca. Another easy flight option would be from Quito to Cuenca for a few days.

I'd get a good guide book and start reading. The more specific you can be with questions, the much better responses you'll get! Good luck.

Tucson, Arizona
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2. Re: Help - Itinerary for 10 days in Ecuador

Welcome to the Ecuador forum, and thanks for providing some hints of what you enjoy doing. Quito of course tops the list as its historic center is a UNESCO World Heritage Site (the first in the world to be so designated). There are so many lovely churches, museums, and architecture there it's easy to spend a day or two wandering around.

Do you enjoy museums? The Banco Central museum, north of el centro, has a fantastic collection of precolumbian (and pre-Incan) ceramics and gold, all arranged by culture in chronological order. This, for me, is a great lesson in Ecuadorian history and I have spent many happy hours there. Upstairs is colonial religious art and a contemporary art gallery that changes. Another museum is the Guayasamín museum and Capilla del Hombre; he was Ecuador's most famous artist and you see knockoffs of his work all over the place. His personal collection is housed in one former house, and the chapel is a short walk in a building he designed.

Outside of Quito there are opportunities to hike or go birdwatching at places like Pululahua, Cotopaxi, Yanacocha, Mindo, Pasachoa, and even Otavalo. It'd be a shame to miss the famous Saturday market there even if you're not shoppers.

Cuenca is a short flight south and offers a lot of variety in the area as well--beautiful architecture, wonderful museums, weaving villages, orchid farms, traditional markets, a national park dotted with small lakes.

Baños offers a lot of outdoorsy activities and the weaving village of Salasaca offers its own style of weaving. It is a four-hour bus ride from Quito.

These three spots sound like plenty for ten days.

Quito, Ecuador
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3. Re: Help - Itinerary for 10 days in Ecuador

The information posted above is excellent and thorough! I'm sure you already have tons to think about and I'm also sure you'll have a great time no matter what you decide. Below is a quick, specific recommendation I've made to several folks in similar situations to yours. It varies a bit from the one suggested above to give you some alternatives but I'm certain you'll enjoy yourselves no matter which combination of attractions you choose!

The biodiversity Ecuador offers is certainly one of the highlights of visiting this country. The good news is that you can enjoy a ton of this diversity without leaving the Andes/Avenue of Volcanoes/Sierra which saves time and travel distance. This itinerary carries you through the history and culture of the capital, to the moist fresh air of a tropical cloud forest, up to the windswept plains with the world's highest active volcano towering in your backyard and through spectacular landscapes surrounding a remote community:

Quito: Day 1/arrival-Day 3

*Historic El Centro/Old Town area (and some of the excellent museums recommended by azbuceadora),

*Teleferiqo (relax as cable car carries you up breathtaking views along the slopes of Volcano Pichincha towering above the city),

*Artesenal (experience culture at this traditional market within the area of La Mariscal; especially a good stop if you will not be visiting Otavalo...if this market/cultural experience is something you're drawn to, take a day trip to Otavalo to see the "real" thing instead)

*Mitad del Mundo (town on the equator where you can visit the monument and museums; make sure not to miss the Intiñan museum just up the road from the large monument where you can participate in wacky/educational equatorial demonstrations and learn a bit about the culture and history of Ecuador)

Mindo Day 4-6:

*Tropical cloud forest about 2 hours north of Quito

*Excellent opportunities for bird-watching, zip-lining, canopy tours, hiking to waterfalls, chocolate tastings and a glimpse at small town life in the Andes

*overall an adrenaline pumping adventure or a chance to get up close and personal with some of the astounding natural gems of Ecuador

Cotopaxi Day 6-8:

*I recommend staying at a hacienda near the park. El Porvenir is one of my favorites overall or Santa Ana if you'd like a little more luxury

*Horseback riding across windswept plains like the traditional chagras (cowboys)

*Hike to the climber's refuge on Cotopaxi Volcano

*Relax beside a crackling fire with views of several volcanoes just outside your window

Chugchilan Day 8-10

*Special Note: You may want to arrange transport for these days as the public system takes a bit more effort and time.

*Visit Quilotoa Lake, a volcanic crater lake with aquamarine waters that change color as clouds pass overhead...hike down into the crater to its shores then return by horseback to the rim

*I recommend staying in Chugchilan (Black Sheep Inn, Mama Hilda's, Hostal Cloud Forest are the three main lodging options there arranged from eco-lodge luxury down to budget)

*Horseback ride down into the spectacular canyon carved from Quilotoa's last eruption; visit a local cheese factory; relish the peace as you hike through friendly rural communities

Day 10 Return to Quito to prepare for December 30 departure on day 11 and HAPPY NEW YEAR! It sounds like your family is well-traveled and adventurous and I hope you have a wonderful time!

Best,

Nicole

Amazon Andes Sky

Takoma Park, MD
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4. Re: Help - Itinerary for 10 days in Ecuador

Thanks for all this info. Two questions - what will the weather be like around Otavalo in late December? It it quite chilly? And where would it be best to be over the Christmas holiday -- so that everything is not closed down?

Tucson, Arizona
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5. Re: Help - Itinerary for 10 days in Ecuador

Temperatures in the sierra vary little year-round: roughly 45F at night, 65 during the day, give or take 5 degrees (although in unusual circumstances it can be much warmer or colder). Only Christmas Day will see closures, but certainly hotels will be serving food.

Quito, Ecuador
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6. Re: Help - Itinerary for 10 days in Ecuador

Following the itinerary above, you would be in Cotopaxi at Christmas and eating your meals at the Hacienda next to a roaring fire. I can't imagine they'll be closed to guests for the holiday! I also bet the same would be true at the lodges in Chugchilan and Mindo as they provide or offer all of your meals as well. If you are in Quito, no problem finding SOMETHING, your hotel should have an idea of where to look but areas like La Mariscal and the historic Old Town are such heavy tourist areas with a high concentration of restaurants so I can't imagine you'll have to look far to find a great variety of options. Once you decide on an itinerary and know where you will be on Christmas, let us all know and I'm sure folks will have more specific suggestions.

7. Re: Help - Itinerary for 10 days in Ecuador

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Philadelphia...
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8. Re: Help - Itinerary for 10 days in Ecuador

It's a bit nippy in the mountains, because you are incredibly high up.

We rented a car for part of our excursion (http://guanguiltagua.com/html/rent-a-car.html - not bad for splitting it with 4 people) and went everywhere in 10 days. The suggestions above are all good and thorough.

I think you all would LOVE Baños 3 hours south of Quito - It is a small, expat-heavy town nestled in mountains (360 degree view) and there are activities for everyone - renting 4 wheelers, canyoning (rappelling down waterfalls), bridge bungee jumping, great restaurants, hot springs, relaxing vibe, biking or taking an odd party bus sort of thing around to all the waterfalls, etc. etc. Definitely go.

Otovalo/Cotocachi area is a nice place that features gorgeous views, good coffee and food, cheap quality leather products, a highly-tangible ethnic indian culture, and the famous Otovalo market. there are also waterfalls and things to do here.

Mindo, I've heard, is a fun day or 1.5 day excursion from Quito.

If your sons are up for it, they may want to climb Cotopaxi. The guide (must have a guide) costs 120 dollars, and a night in the refuge costs 27 or so. This was an epic part of my trip - incredibly miserable, but oh so worth it - most gorgeous, incredible view of my life. 5,900 meters!

If you are just passing through, you may just stop at the refuge and see cotopaxi for free. The refuge lies at 4,200 meters.

If you wanted, you could also head to the beach - Montañita will be crazy during the holidays, Puerto Lopez more relaxe.

Huntington Beach...
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9. Re: Help - Itinerary for 10 days in Ecuador

Hi,

Your reply is very informative. My husband and I are also traveling to Ecuador this summer (June-July). We have 15 days and were thinking we would spend about 5 of the days in Galapagos. We are starting in Qutio, and ending in Quito. We thought we would drive/bus from Quito to Cuenca the over to Guayaquil, and on to Galapagos. As I am doing my research, I was looking at the coast as well, but don't know if I can fit that in. Any recommendations are appreciated.

Thanks a bunch!

Davine

Bamberg, Germany
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10. Re: Help - Itinerary for 10 days in Ecuador

Hi,

I just noticed your post and wondered how your trip turned out. My husband and I are planning a similar trip next year, visiting the same places. Hope you had a great time. If you feel like responding here, that would be great.