So far in Ecuador.....
I say so far... because I am still in Ecuador but now on the coast exploring, so check back for my share on the next few places I visit.
So let's kick it off with first impressions of people, places, things to do.. or things I did.
It is my first time in South America and I am super happy I came.
I arrived from Panama City, Panama with a pass thru Stop in Bogota, Colombia.
***Note you need a 'flight out (exit)' ticket to enter Ecuador along with Covid requirements.
I didn't know I needed the exit ticket and had to buy one at the counter before they would issue my boarding passes. I will share a Youtube short travel tips video to share options you can use to circumvent overpaying for a ticket or getting caught in this situation. Follow me on Youtube www.youtube.com/c/wheresali
Couple things to Know about Ecuador:
#1 Their official Language is Spanish. English is not as widely spoken as one would think so make sure to download that translator app and download the languages you wish to use so you can use offline if you do not get a sim card or have wifi. I use Google Translator.
#2 Their Currency is USD for bills and some coins. They also have Ecuadorian coins so you will get a mix of coins back including $1 and 50c pieces. Side note they seem to have. Slight issue with counterfeit bills 20 and up so FYI you could be asked to switch bills etc.. so check what you get out of the ATM. It happened to me twice and my money came from an ATM in Ecuador. Cash is accepted and Credit Card.
#3 They have Uber and InDriver available in Quito. But Taxis are pretty reasonable also. Uber is NOT available all over Ecuador.. just a side note. InDriver is awesome because you set your rate.
#4 They have driving block out hours where cars with specific plate numbers can not drive between 4-6:30/7:30pm within Quito city proper (ie. before the tunnel). Ex. Monday cars with license plates ending in 1 &2 have to be off the road within the city, Tues it's plates 3 & 4 and so on. This is important to note when trying to move around. Traffic is still a bear so try to plan around it or learn other routes.
#5 Temp stays between 60-75 F (15-21° C) in Quito city during the day and can drop to 40s F at night. In the mountains it's colder. Like 2-4° C and warmer on the coast. So that means shorts can be worn during the day but pants, socks and a jacket after 6pm. And most places have no heaters and the buildings are NOT insulated so you'll need a blanket.
#6 If you are coming from USA you do not need to apply for a separate visa for stays under 90 days. You get the first 90 days automatically and I understand you can request another 90 day extension.
#7 Sim cards are easy to obtain. Either in the airport, malls or street stores. I prefer grabbing one before exiting the airport so I have continuous connection. I am using Tuenti which offers 30 day plans at decent prices. There are many places to reload and you can reload using the app. I have yet to give that a try, but I shall.
#8 Altitude in parts of Ecuador could affect you. Quito is 9350 ft above sea level. So if you feel lightheaded that may be why. Grab a seat, get some water and regroup.
#9 No Mosquitos.. in Winter.. or I have yet to encounter any. There are other flying bugs and flies. But I am simply amazed to not have encountered and mosquitos!!
Ok now to the good stuff..
I started in Quito where I spent 5 full days.
Upon arrival at my accommodations for my stay, I was gifted a HUGE WELCOME, couch, pillow, nice blanket AND AMAZING HOSPITALITY from a good long time friend. I am so grateful for her.🤗🤗💜💜. She let me couch surf with her for the days I was in Quito which was super cool.
What is couchsurfing, you ask? Yes ,there is a whole organization for this. I'll add a Youtube travel tips video, sharing options for this also. www.couchsurfing.com
What did I do for 5 days???
Since I arrived at 9am (took a 4am flight from Panama). I Got a starter tour around town to see some cathedrals and town squares. FYI - They have lots of churches. I Ate huge figs with queso in the plaza with Virgin Mary in the distance.. If you don't know, I love Figs!!
My friend and I danced with locals while drinking the Ecuadorian household Canelazo bebida (similar to our hot toddy). It was oh so yummy and strong... 🤣🤣
I got a bag of Pacari chocolate, well known in Ecuador.. Aceituna, rose, Manzanillo flavors were my choices...
Next stop was a visit to Virgin Mary, otherwise known as Winged Virgin of Quito, Virginia of Apocalypse, Dancing Madonna... on the hill in El Panecillo.. From a distance the statue reminds you of the infamous Brazil statue.
That evening I realized how chilly it can get in Quito, which is 9350 ft above sea level. The 2nd highest capital city in the world...they say.
I went to Parque De Carolina the next day.. Super cool park and it's huge. Tons of stuff to do, walk, run, bike, skate, hang with family and friends, horse back ride, paddle boat, play soccer or pick up ball games or just chill..
I walked around town just to get a feel for things. Walking cities is a fave of mine because you get to know things in real time. Neighborhood shops and people get used to seeing you and often can mean they look out for you. (Tips for solo women travelers)
My friend and I grabbed dinner at LA Pradera (food court place) which was in close walking distance.
I had a sweet tooth so we stopped for pastries and beer on the way back to the apartment.
Note- I heard a city walking tour is nice to do. Though .....I did not take one this time.
Chill day to catch up on stuff.
I joined my friend for a fantastic evening dining experience at Pims (Ecuadorian restaurant). Initially, I was a little leery because often finding good plant based options is tough, but I was willing to go even if it was only to have some good wine and hang out with my friend for her last night.
I will say I was pleasantly surprised.
TIP# get there at a decent time or set a reservation and request a window seat to get a view of the city. Try an evening dining time, you may even catch a glimpse of the sun setting.
I started with Copa de Vino caliente which is hot wine and it was perfect because it was a cold night.
For the appetizer my friend got this awesome mixed platter in which I tried their Mote & platacones and was impressed. They offered a Champagne salsa with bread and that was to die for!! I was getting hooked just from eating the salsa!! I will learn to make that!!
I ordered the Potato, avocado cheese soup and for my main course I ordered Stuffed Eggplant and it was amazing. For dessert I had the Berry merengue. I was definitely pleased with the meal. The dishes were prepared extremely well and with high quality ingredients. I Definitely recommend Pims as a dining experience.
I Took a tour to Mount Papallacta to check out the hot springs and spa.
It's about an hour 15mins away. The views are beautiful and sometimes you can't see anything along the road due to the fog.
Once there, you can check out the more 'locals' pool area or go directly to the spa area.
BOTH have pools and restaurants. One side is a bit more upscale than the other. I did both!!
The Local area will run adults $9 and towels are $1.
The Spa area is $23 to use the pools and then the services are extra. I tried the Wine wrap which started with a body scrub and OMG Wiliker Sam!!! my skin felt so good. From my soles to my forehead!! All the dead skin was removed.
*I suggest you bring a towel or 2 and extra shoes and a warm change of clothes (pants, jacket shirt etc...) It gets cold and wet.
*How to get there:
1. Hire a Driver..
I got a driver and paid $100 for the entire day which included the drive to and from the Spa, stay all day, drive for lunch, tour around a few areas like upscale Cumbaya.
My drivers name is Alvi. His Whatsapp info is+593-99-276-5714. He was very personable and great tour guide.
2. Can you go on your own? Absolutely, its a pretty easy shot there so if you have your own vehicle feel free to drive. When its rainy or really foggy drive slow. it can snow as well so be extra careful going around those turns.
3. Car Service: If you Opt to take an Uber it will cost around $30-40 each way. I did not go with this option because I wasn't sure if an uber would wait and also how difficult it would be to get an uber coming back down.
4. The last option is to go with a tour company. This can range from $100+. Check to see what is included. I did NOT opt for this option because I do not like big tours or being rushed or on other peoples time and the cost was only $20 more for me to go solo.
in Quito, I opted to go to none other than The Middle of the World!! I say ...this is a must go to, if nothing more, so you can say you have been to the middle of the world. It is where the Lat/Long Coordinates are 0°00. There is a yellow line dividing the 2 hemispheres of which I jumped back and forth!! I hear the founder of the equator line, in Ecuador, was off by a few 100meters, as it pertains to the monument and yellow line, but its close enough.... The equator is the one place around the world where the sun sets and rises the fastest regardless of season. So theoretically days are 12/12 sunlight and darkness. There is a whole city to check out with museums, restaurants. shops etc... I would love to tell you it feels completely different on each side... but well.. you will have to go see for your self.
*How to get there:
1. Hire a Driver..
I got a driver and paid $40 for about 4 hours. Same driver Alvi.
2. Can you go on your own? Absolutely, its a pretty easy shot there so if you have your own vehicle feel free to drive. Parking is $3 and entry is $5 for adults.
3. Car Service : if you Opt to take an Uber it will cost around $15 each way.
4. The last option is to go with a tour company. This can range from $25+. Check to see what is included.
What did I think of Quito Overall:
It is a beautiful city, the people are kind and helpful with us bad SPANGLISH speakers. I will admit I was surprised I got stared at as much as I did. Nothing to fear, just an observation. The weather is pleasant, but for me, it was cold cold at night, with the mountains being colder. Ecuador temp remains the same most of the year so that can be appealing. I liked the city feel and the European design in some areas. I love that you have many things within 45mins-4 hours distance from the city.
You can fly rather inexpensively to the coast or other cities. Often under $60 one -way with only a personal item or $100 with checked bag & carry on.
Flights to Galapagos mainly route from Quito and can be quite a bit more costly $500-600 RT.
Couple things I would do if I return to Quito for another 4-5 day stay.
1. Check out the volcanos & Lagoons - Cotopaxi & Quilotoa
2. Day Hike
3. Octavalo Indigenious Market
4. Teleferico Cable Car
Hope you enjoyed this read. Click links and check out my youtube for some of the travel tips videos. and check back for the rest of Ecuador tour as well as well as a look at my travel stops over the past 2 years.
Toodles and Noodles...
Peace and Hair Grease!