After a very full on couple of weeks in Cusco we were excited to get to Ecuador to do some more exploring and also relaxing.
The first thing I noticed about Ecuador before even setting foot off the plane was that it seemed a lot more tropical than Peru ( but part of the amazon is in Peru so it obviously does have some tropical parts ). What I mean by this is that the cities were full of greenery that seemed different to what we saw in Peru; and of course the weather was much warmer than Cusco.
Ecuador seems to have a very heavy American influence that makes the country seem more westernised compared to some of the big cities in Bolivia and Peru for instance.
Our first stop in Ecuador was Guayaquil which is the second largest city in Ecuador! We were fortunate enough to have a friend, Xavier who lived in Guayaquil and showed us around. It was very interesting to be shown around by a friend that lived in the city as you see it from a completely different perspective. For the first time in a couple of months I felt ‘normal’ ( by normal I mean, not a backpacker ). For those two days we did live a normal life, we went out for dinner, drove around seeing sights and stayed at a friends house. I couldn’t thank Xavier and his family enough for welcoming us both into his home and most importantly made us feel so comfortable in their home country. It meant everything to us.
We also spent two nights of our stay in Guayaquil in a hostel called Casa Serena, the reason I’m mentioning this is because its is the nicest hostel that I have ever stayed at… Why?
This place didn’t feel like a hostel, it felt like a home. Well it was a home, the owner of the hostel and her grandson lived there. It was just a large, very secure house where they let the bedrooms out.
Serena the owner was amazing! She was a ‘typical’ grandmother, hugging us, picking us up from the airport, looking after us and taking us for food. She went above and beyond for us and made us feel like her home was ours.
After Guayaquil we went to Salinas which was 2 hours from Guayaquil on the coast.
There wasn’t many tourists in Salinas as it’s more of a place that locals go for the weekend or on holiday when they want a beach break. The beach was lovely, you could get anything you wanted, like most beaches in South America! And so we spent the day on the beach, drinking beers, eating mango and me and Soki go our hair braided – in true holiday style lol.
We headed further north up the coast to the surf/party town of Montañita where we spent our couple of our last days with Xavier.
Montañita reminded me of Thailand, like a mini Koh San road; they had pop up cocktail bars where you could enjoy a cocktail on the street and people watch (can it get any better). There was an abundance of street food and a gorgeous beach, what more did we want. We spent the first night having “a few drinks” – famous last words . The embarrassing part is that I literally only had a few drinks and still managed to get stupidly drunk. In true Lloydy style, something obviously had to happen. Yes it did indeed; while I was projectile vomiting my strawberry mojitos 🍓all over our bathroom I managed to break the sink. When I say break I don’t mean like the knob of the tap came off or something (I wish). I lent on the sink, the sink fell off the wall and smashed all over the bathroom floor.
💦G O O D O N E💦
Me still being drunk tried to fix it or try make it look slightly better by hooking the sink ( or what was left of it ) back on the wall and at the same time cutting my fingers.
So as you can imagine the next day was a hangover day spent at the beach where we enjoyed lots of food, the sun and sea – THE perfect cure.
Baños is known for its hiking, water falls, thermal baths, activities and extreme sport. We decided to take a day trip out to all of the main sights; in the morning we visited the beautiful waterfalls and some of the extreme sports. The beauty about the extreme sports here is that they are dirt cheap ! If you go to New Zealand or somewhere you’ll pay at least $100 to do zip lining whereas in Baños it’s only $20 – win win. The afternoon was spent going to the famous “swing at the end of the world”, taking the typical pictures and soaking up the amazing views.
That night we went to the thermal baths, something that I was really excited about, relaxing. To my disappointment these thermal baths were unlike any of been on before and far from relaxing. Let me explain, there were two baths and people were acting strange getting in and out of them and I wondered what the big fuss was. Soki went in first and looked quite shocked and said that it was hot, ” it can’t be that bad” I thought … This thermal bath felt like one big saucepan of boiling water, it was probably about 50degrees. The idea of these baths were that you alternated between the extremely hot one and the freezing cold one, spending a couple of minutes in each bath. Eventually I got the hang of it and it didn’t hurt and shock me as much each time I got in either bath and it did actually turn out to be relaxing … eventually.
After Baños we headed to the cooler city of Quito.
The main reason we went to Quito was so that we could do an Amazon tour from there or at least organise one while we were there.
We managed to find an amazing travel agent who really went out of their way to help us get the dates and lodge we wanted.
We only had one proper full day in Quito before we left for our tour, so we decided to do the free walking tour (as we do everywhere) and it didn’t disappoint! It was great to learn about the history of the city and also the culture. After the walking tour we hit the local food market and had a local feed.
That night at 11pm we left Quito and head towards the jungle to begin our 4 day amazon tour.
Overall I loved Ecuador, I much preferred the warmer cities and towns but saying that Quito had so much history and character it was a very pleasant city to be in.
The thing that stood out for me the most in Ecuador was the absolutely AMAZING people. Everyone was so so friendly and happy to help yet we’d heard such bad things about Ecuador how it’s dangerous etc – it just didn’t make sense.