How to Make the Most of a Trip to Ecuador

Ecuador is such a wonderful country in South America with so many different places to see and explore. It is a country made up of three distinct ecosystems from the coast, the peaks of the Andes Mountains, and the dense Amazon Rainforest. Quito, the capital of Ecuador, is centrally located, making it the perfect location to start any adventure. Ideally, any visit to Ecuador would last for at least two weeks, but if you don’t have that much time, you’re going to have make some difficult decisions. During our trip, we made sure to make the most of our time there, but we had to decide whether we wanted to go to the Galapagos Islands or spend time in the Amazon Rainforest as we didn’t have time to do both. For an ideal trip to Ecuador, here are the top places to see during your time there.

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Front of the Basilica in Quito, Ecuador
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Inside San Francisco Church and Monastery
  1. Quito – The city of Quito has a wonderful, old-world feel that will almost make you feel as if you are in Europe. There is the Basilica del Voto Nacional, San Francisco Church and Monastery, and an old town area that is very walkable. Even if you are heading the coast or the rainforest to see the wildlife, you should certainly allocate several days to spend in Quito.
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    Scarlet Macaws in the Jungle

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    View from the Top of the Lodge Deck in Ecuador
  2.  Napo Wildlife Center – For an experience in the Amazon Rainforest that you will never forget, staying at the eco-lodges of the Napo Wildlife Center cannot be beat. From giant river otters, hundreds of birds, monkeys, sloths, caiman, and more, there is so much to see during time in the jungle. Also, visiting an indigenous village as well as seeing hundreds of parrots at the parrot clay licks is extremely impressive. You will need to spend at least four to five days in order to really make the most of your time in the Amazon.
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    Middle of the World Monument

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    No Experiment, Just Us at the Equator 🙂
  3.  The Equator – Going to the middle of the earth is a fascinating experience and the Intiñan Museum at the true equator has a variety of interesting science experiments. It is fun for adults and children alike. There is also a very interesting museum, La Mitad del Mundo, that is at the location previously thought to be the equator and it can be seen during the same trip to the real equator.
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    The Bottom of the Trail

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    View of the Quilotoa Caldera and Lagoon in Ecuador
  4.  Laguna Quilotoa – Visiting this lake in the crater of a dormant volcano is one of the most spectacular sights within Ecuador. It is certainly worth taking the time to hike down to the lake itself or you can ride a donkey down and back up if you want as it is quite steep. You can also kayak out onto the sulfur lake, but you can’t go swimming.
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    View of Quito

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    Amazing Peaks as We Hiked Above the Teleferico
  5.  The Teleferico – Located on the outskirts of Quito, the Teleferico is a cable car that will take you up the side of the Pichincha Volcano with amazing views of the city. There also several hiking trails after the cable car drops you off at the viewing station. It is at a very high elevation, so it is wise to pace yourself if you do decide to go hiking. It is certainly worth the effort as the views are absolutely amazing.
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    Driving Towards Cotopaxi Volcano

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    Walking the Nature Trails Below the Volcano
  6. Cotopaxi Volcano – Hiking on an active volcano may not be on everyone’s bucket list, but is certainly a very interesting experience. At this time, you can only climb to the mid-station on the side of the volcano due to the fact that it is an active volcano and the risk for an eruption remains high. There is also a park with nature trails located at the base of the volcano that is certainly worth taking the time to hike as well.
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    Sea Lion – Provided by Happy Gringo Tours

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    Hammerhead Sharks – Provided by Happy Gringo Tours
  7.  The Galapagos Islands – Unfortunately we had to choose between spending time in the Amazon or going to the Galapagos Islands, so we’ll have to return at a later time to see the amazing wildlife that is there. The tour company that we used provided us an interesting article on the animals of the Galapagos that certainly has us wanting to return.

When we first decided to go to Ecuador, we were surprised at how little we actually had seen or read about this fascinating country. There is certainly an abundance of things to see in Ecuador and we used Quito as our home base for our time there. From an abundance of wildlife and dramatic scenery to the historic city of Quito, Ecuador definitely has something for everyone and is a gem of South America.

Taking Random Photos

Just like everyone else, when we travel we take photos of all of the major sites to see as well as a selfie here and there. We love taking photos of the various architecture, cityscapes, landscapes, and major landmarks. With that said, we often take random photos that don’t necessarily represent the place that we are visiting. If we happen upon some beautiful flowers, perhaps a courtyard with a fountain, or perhaps just an interesting scene or group of people. Although the photos don’t necessarily represent the place that we are visiting, we find the pictures interesting never the less. This week’s Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge are photos that contain the words that contain a U and an O, so we have decided to share some random photos that we took while we were in Quito. Do you ever take photos of random things while you are traveling?

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Flowers in a Park
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Shoeshine Boys Relaxing in the Town Square
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Flowered Trees in a Courtyard
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Art on the Side of a Building
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Cuddling Parrots
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Colorful Flower
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Guarding a Protest
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Bright Orange Flowers

 

Science at the Center of the World

One of the things that we really enjoyed during our visit to Quito, Ecuador, was going to the true equator and participating in several experiments. The first experiment was to close your eyes and walk along the equator line. Oddly enough, everyone found it hard to keep their balance and walk a straight line. We were told that it was because of the conflicting pulls from the northern and southern hemispheres causing you to want to lean one direction or the other. Next we watched as water was poured into a sink in each of the hemispheres and, although there are ways to make it swirl the way that you want, when nature is left to its own design it swirls in different directions. The same is true of hurricanes and typhoons where in the northern hemisphere things spin counterclockwise while in the southern hemisphere they spin clockwise. Water going down a drain does the same thing, counterclockwise north of the equator and clockwise south of the equator. Next was an experiment that we’re not completely sure if it works or why it works, but our guide had us push up on his hands while we weren’t on the equator and we were able to force his hands upward. Then we moved to the equator line and he used a single finger and was able to keep us from pushing his hand upward. The final experiment was to balance a raw egg on a nail on the equator line, which isn’t easy, but a few people were able to succeed. Definitely not something that you can do at home, unless you happen to live on the equator. All of them were very interesting, so for this week’s Daily Post Photo Challenge of Experimental, here are some pictures of the experiments at the equator.

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Balancing Egg
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Going Down the Drain
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No Experiment, Just Us at the Equator 🙂
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Setting Up the Egg