Ecuador: 4 Day Trip Done Right

I traveled to Quito, Ecuador last month and managed to squeeze a little bit of everything into a short 4 days thanks to a good friend who’s local.  Here’s how we spent each day:

Day 1: Quito

Oswaldo Guayasamín‘s Art Gallery

We decided to explore the city of Quito on our first day. After grabbing a sandwich at a cafe, we went to Oswaldo Guayasamín’s House and Art Gallery. The gallery features enormous paintings of abstract faces. The emotion portrayed in each painting was breathtaking, especially given the size of them all. It’s hard to imagine without actually being there. I recommend giving this museum a visit and taking the time to walk through with a guide. Your guide will give you the history of each painting which makes them all the more amazing.

Centre of Quito

We explored the center of Quito by car. The city reminded me a lot of Cusco with a lot of similar architecture and a mountainous landscape. Except for one thing; all of the riot police and tanker trucks that lined the streets waiting for a protest to breakout. Ecuador’s presidential elections are ongoing and with that comes a lot of corruption.
We stopped at the Gothic Cathedral right before sunset which illuminated the entire church with a pinky-purple hue. We didn’t get to go inside as there was a Semana Santa service going on. However, we did explore the outside while munching on some warm empanadas (a typical Argentinian food) as the night breeze crept in.
We finished our first day in Quito by visiting the Mosaico Cafe for an Ecuadorian dinner with a view.  The food was pretty interesting. Everything seemed to consist of banana and cheese cooked different ways. Just like how I’m used to seeing potato cooked.

Day 2: The Drive to the Jungle

We spent all of day 2 making our journey to the jungle. I shouldn’t really say jungle. It is more the ceja de selva (which means “eyebrow of the jungle”), not the deep jungle. But nonetheless, I was amazed.

We drove all the way to this little town called Tena, which was actually much bigger than I anticipated. We stayed overnight at Orchard’s Paradise aka Monkey’s Paradise. The eco-lodge was close to a river and featured a nice restaurant serving typical jungle food. There were also monkeys running around and trees galore. We decided to spend some time in Tena where we had a couple beers and booked our excursion for the next day.

Travel Tip: Don’t settle for the first tour company you see. Every group does similar things and prices ARE negotiable. You can bargain your way to a good deal. 

Spending the night in the jungle was quite an experience. I had never seen so many large flying bugs and the jungle sounds were so loud, but they didn’t keep me up. In fact, I kinda of liked all the nature sounds. I can’t even imagine what staying in the deep jungle would be like.

Day 3: Jungle Adventures

Excursion

We woke up early in the morning, ate our complimentary breakfast and hit the road to meet our excursion group in Tena.
We went:
  • rafting,
  • hiking,
  • crossed rivers with ropes,
  • jumped of huge boulders into the river,
  • saw enormous blue butterflies
  • and ate lunch with the locals.
Only photos can give the experience a fraction of the justice it deserves. It’s too bad I didn’t have a GoPro or something to record how terrifyingly fun rafting was. I’m surprised none of us fell in with the rapids we were in (class 3, I believe. I’m a baby, I know).

Jumandi Caves

On the drive back from the jungle, we stopped at the Jumandi caves to do a quick tour. This was probably the most touristy of all the attractions, but you understand why once you enter the cave.

You pretty much have to go in with a guide. There is no natural light in the cave and it’s HUGE with many paths to take. The only light you have are these little headlamps they give you before you start the tour. It also has a river that flows through it, making walking through a bit of a challenge. I had to lean on the cave walls, sliding sideways through small pathways. Every time, I imagined accidentally touching one of the many scorpion spiders or other creepy insects. ~shudder~ There were quite a few creatures in there, actually.

Travel Tip: Bring a pair of athletic shorts that dry quickly for you to walk around in. You will get wet!

Hot Springs

Our last stop on the drive back to Quito were the Termas de Papallacta, a small hot spring resort where we soaked the day away. One of the pools was so hot I couldn’t even get in! Definitely worth checking out, plus they have hotel rooms and a spa….

Day 4: Middle of the Earth

Our last day in Ecuador was spent visiting the Country Club, the Middle of the Earth and enjoying a quick home BBQ before catching our flight back to Lima.

Travel Tip: Bring a hat and water to the middle of the earth… It’s incredibly hot and I felt like passing out. But it’s pretty cool with loads of physics experiments. Who doesn’t wanna play with some polar forces? 

 

4 days in Ecuador is not nearly enough time to see everything, although we did manage to cram a lot in there. I feel like I have to go back again, and this time to visit the coastline and the Galapagos Islands.

Next stop? Brazil! 

 

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