After 2.5 months exploring Central America, it was time to leave the sun and 30°C temperatures behind to fly to the rain and altitude of Ecuador in South America! This was a big adjustment, just as I was finally building up a tan! In my previous post on Panama, (https://cloverseasclaire.com/2018/01/28/panama/) I mentioned that we skipped Colombia during our travels. I wouldn’t recommend this, and am always telling people to add Colombia on to their trips, it’s definitely one of the countries on my list of future travels!
Quito is split into the Old Town and New Town. We stayed in the pretty, colonial streets of the Old Town at Colonial House Hostel. Quito is filled with beautiful old churches and museums for exploring, but none are more impressive than the Basilica! You can even climb to the very top for an incredible view of the City.
Quito is also a great place to use as a base to explore nearby areas. We would leave our main backpacks at the hostel, take a smaller day pack, and spend a few days staying in other nearby towns.
Mitad del Mundo
Mitad del Mundo, or the Equator museum is definitely worth a visit, and is only a short 2 hour bus journey from Quito so can be visited as a day trip. On first arrival, you’ll see a huge, impressive monument where you can take photos and explore (we even saw a proposal whilst here!), but the actual equator line is a few metres up the road at the Equator museum.
The museum is filled with fun experiments based around the magnetism of the Equator. You can have a go at balancing an egg on a nail, or watching water flow in the opposite direction. Mad Science!
Otavalo Market is a huge market were locals and tourists go to haggle and sell everything from fruit and vegetables, to colourful scarves and jumpers made of llama or alpaca wool (trust me you’ll need these in the cold temperatures of Ecuador!).
Mindo is a tiny town about 2 hours South West of Quito by bus. For such a tiny town, there’s so much to do in Mindo! I loved it here and would definitely recommend a visit! Mindo is surrounded by cloud forest, and was a welcome break from the busy Quito City. Make sure to pack a rain jacket if visiting Mindo though, as due to the cloud forest it rains here, a lot! We stayed at Casa del Cecilia whilst here.
Tarabita- The Tarabita or Cable car provides an amazing view over the cloud forest, and from here you can go on a 3 hour round trip hike to 7 different waterfalls.
Butterfly farm- The Butterfly farm is a short walk out of Mindo, where you can spend the day learning about the different types of butterflies native to Ecuador, and how huge they can grow to! There are also lots of beautiful, colourful hummingbirds to see here too!
Canopy Adventure Centre- Zip-lining is a popular activity to try all throughout South America, but we had been warned that it is more expensive the further South you go. Ecuador is one of the cheapest places to try zip-lining, and, in my opinion, one of the most beautiful places to try it, flying over the canopy of the cloud forest!
Chocolate Factory- The chocolate factory in Mindo has probably some of the best chocolate I’ve ever tasted, and as a huge chocolate fan, that’s a big claim! Here you can learn about how the cacao beans are grown and the whole process of making the chocolate. Make sure to try the brownies in the cafe afterwards, and the chicken with chocolate sauce! (Sounds weird but tastes incredible!).
From here, we headed back to Quito as we were flying from Ecuador to Lima in Peru. This meant we missed out on visiting the South of Ecuador, and North of Peru. But, I was on my way to visit my sister who was in Lima for a conference with the United Nations, and as I hadn’t seen her since she moved to Malawi 11 months earlier,this seemed more important! Besides, you can always go back and visit places you’ve missed out on at a later date!
And with that, our time in Ecuador was over, next stop Peru! If you have any questions about this post, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.