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Ecuador – March 2019
Our trip to Ecuador is one for the record books, and not in a good way. What started as a fun spring trip for a group of friends in DC ended up with one person cancelling due to the federal government shutdown, and the rest of us pushing through altitude sickness, a bad ankle, a visit to a local health clinic, a lost iPhone, a canoe stuck in rapids that we had to get out and push, Bluetooth headphones being left behind, bruises from a sketchy jungle swing, and close calls with flight connections in Atlanta on both ends of the trip. By the time we made it home, only one of the crew wasn’t among the walking wounded, but his was the lost iPhone. But, despite all of that, it was still a fun week experiencing a beautiful part of the world.
Ecuador is named for its position straddling the equator, which runs just north of Quito, the capital city. Quito was our base for the first few nights of the trip, and where we returned at the end of the trip before flying home. The city was one of the first UNESCO World Heritage Sites, thanks to its well-preserved historic center. The historic area is great for exploring on foot, while a short taxi ride will connect you to the city's more modern neighborhoods, and to the TelefériQo, a gondola that climbs one of the volcanoes for incredible views of the city below.
We also journeyed to Baños de Agua Santa, in the central part of Ecuador. Baños is known for its mineral hot springs, lush jungle landscape, and more than 60 waterfalls. Day trips took us to a variety of waterfalls, ziplining, cable car rides, giant fish that eat raw chicken, and the infamous canoe trip and jungle swing. We also visited a chocolate farm, and learned to make chocolate from scratch, starting with cacao beans.
We barely scratched the surface of Ecuador – our week there was not long enough to tackle bucket list items like the Galapagos Islands. So, at some point, we will return – and hopefully with fewer “incidents.”
– Casa la Basilica, Airbnb, Quito – a fabulous, multi-level apartment building, perfect for a group of friends traveling together. Each couple had their own apartment! Quiet, located in a little alley adjacent to the basilica, and a short walk from all of the historic quarter.
– Luna Volcán, Baños – eco-spa on a scenic mountainside overlooking Baños, with very comfortable beds, spacious rooms (some suites have in-room hot tubs), multiple pools, a spa, and all-inclusive meal plan.
– Hilton Colon, Quito – pretty standard Hilton in the newer part of the city, a good choice for a more traditional, modern hotel stay.