A Family RTW Travel Adventure (2008-2009)
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In A Nutshell

Ecuador proved to be a great place to begin our round the world adventure.  It’s a small, diverse country, with many things to do within a four-to-five hour drive of Quito.  The people are friendly, the tourist services are good and (excluding the Galapagos) it is quite affordable.

Most tourists come to Ecuador for the Galapagos, but there is much, much more to do – including visits to the Amazon, bird-watching in the Cloud Forest, rafting, kayaking, canyoning, trekking and mountain-biking.

When we traveled we usually hired driver/guides.  We could have saved a lot of money if we had used the intercity bus system or looked for package tours.  We decided to ease into our world adventure and didn’t rough it too much in Ecuador.

For anyone who is comfortable traveling in Mexico or less developed parts of the Caribbean, you will likely enjoy Ecuador.

What We Did

  • Explored Old Town Quito
  • Visited the Galapagos
  • Took a road trip to Cotopaxi, Laguna Quilotoa, and Banos
  • Went birdwatching in Mindo and the Cloud Forest

Where We Stayed

In Quito:

We highly recommend the Hotel San Francisco de Quito in Old Town.  We stayed there four different times; it was our home away from home.

We also stayed at the Rio Amazonas in New Town (a.k.a. the Mariscal).  It is a fine option, but we much preferred Old Town to the more touristy New Town.

In Laguna Quilotoa:

We spend the night at the rustic Cabana Quilotoa. “Rustic” is a kind description of the accommodations.  Definitely not for the faint of heart.  For those who need heat and hot water, consider visiting Quilotoa as a day trip or stay in Chugchilan at The Black Sheep Inn or Mama Hilda’s.

In Banos:

We strongly recommend staying at the lovely Posada del Arte or its sister property Casa del Abuelo.  Run by two expat Americans, they are very comfortable, affordable properties that showcase local Ecuadoran artists.

In the Galapagos:

We stayed aboard the GAP Adventurer II (a.k.a. Cruz del Sur).  Our GAP Adventures family tour was terrific, and we strongly recommend booking a Galapagos trip with GAP.  For those in search of more luxury, check out Linblad Expeditions.

Activities We Recommend

  • Enjoying dinner and drinks at Cafe Mosaico, watching the sun set over Quito
  • Wandering around Old Town Quito and people-watching in Plaza Grande
  • Riding the Teleferico, visiting the botanical gardens in Quito
  • Swimming with the sea lions, sharks and penguins in the Galapagos
  • Tubing, birdwatching and the ropes and canopy course in Mindo
  • Visiting Cotopaxi National Park and Laguna Quilotoa
  • Enjoying the hot baths in Banos

Places We Loved to Eat

  • In Old Town Quito – La Guaragua, Cafeto, Fruteria Monserrate, Heladeria San Agustin (for ice cream) Cafeteria Fabiolita, and Pizza S.A.
  • In New Town Quito – Casa China and Chacha
  • In Mindo – Nomada and the juice bar across the street
  • In Banos – Posada del Arte’s restaurant

Some Things We’ll Remember

  • No toilet paper in the toilets
  • People selling anything and everything in the streets – from Q-tips to TV antennas
  • The ridiculously tame animals of the Galapagos
  • Swimming with three white-tipped sharks, sea lions and penguins
  • “Friendly” the dog
  • The tour guides who learned English from watching American TV shows and movies
  • An entire town that sold nothing but jeans; another that sold only one type of ice cream
  • The great coffee and bread at Cafeto

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