Exploring Ecuador

After spending 6 weeks exploring beautiful Colombia, we crossed over to Ecuador by bus. Once we hit the border, we took another bus to the nation’s capital of Quito (the second highest capital city in the world after La Paz, Bolivia). For the first and only time in South America, the currency is in US Dollars because of an Economic Crisis. It definitely felt weird to be spending USD while in South America paying for stuff in the small stores, restaurants, hotels, buses, and taxis.

Here’s all the things we saw and did during our 3 week stay in Ecuador:

1) QUITO
Visiting Ecuador with Kids
Quito was a beautiful city and we stayed in the historic area right on La Rambla. La Rambla Hostel was very welcoming – it was hard to say goodbye to the amazing staff. They had a delicious yet pricey restaurant on-site and the hostel was in the perfect location walkable from all the major tourist attractions! We also did a Walking Tour of the Old City and took a taxi up to the Virgin Mary Statue (called “The Winged Virgin of Quito”) at sunset for an amazing view of Quito!

Here’s a video tour of our hostel in La Rambla:

2) THE EQUATOR
Equator in Ecuador
The Ciudad Mitad del Mundo is about 30 mins from Quito. Most hostels have a Half Day Tour for only $10 USD which includes transport back and forth. You have to pay the entrance fee separately. I quite enjoyed seeing the attraction as they have several very interesting “Scientific Experiments” showing the unique Coriolis Effect at the Equatorial Line. You can see a famous Shrunken Head and learn about traditional Ecuadorian Culture while visiting.

3) OTAVALO 

Did we really need to see another market? The more you travel, the more you get tired of seeing churches, temples, plazas, mountains, and markets. However, Otavalo is on a whole different level. It’s the largest outdoor market in all of South America and all the vendors wear traditional Ecuadorian clothing which adds to the magical ambience. Instead of doing a day trip, I recommend coming up on Friday night and sleeping overnight and then maximizing your Saturday at the market. There is also an Animal Market just outside of the main town.

Here’s a video tour of our room at Otavalo overlooking the world-famous outdoor market:

4) BANOS 

Banos meaning “to wash yourself” in Spanish and the town is named after the Thermal Hot Springs in the area. There are 3 hot springs in and around Banos. We visited the famous ones right under the Waterfall which made it even more atmospheric with the sound of the Waterfall cascading down right above us. We also visited the famous “Swing at the End of the World” – here’s a video of Ryan and I on the swing:

Here’s a video from our “Live with a Local” Interview Series with Sterling Purdy who is in the process of setting up a Christian-based hostel in the beautiful town of Banos:

5) CUENCA 
Playground with a View
Cuenca is one of the major retiree cities in South America. It is a UNESCO World Heritage City and the most European City in Ecuador. We ended up walking around and exploring the old city as well as did the Hop On Hop Off Bus Tour to get a beautiful view of Cuenca and the surrounding areas and even watched a couple of movies during the evenings. Next stop: Peru!!

Here’s an interview I did with Damon and Todd, founders of Nomadic Adventurers, while I was in Cuenca:

Have you been to Ecuador before? Where did you visit? Let us know by commenting below!