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Ecuador: The Best and Worst

Since I’m now suddenly in Argentina, it’s time to round up my time in Ecuador, a country I liked quite a lot!

Total Days in Ecuador: 40

Total Days in Didn’t Rain: 28 (major improvement!)

Amount Spent: $1360

Average Cost Per Day: $33.75 (our three weeks in Montanita really jacked this up, I think Ecuador could be done on $25 a day)

Places Visited: Quito, Banos, Montanita

Biggest Misconception: Probably that Ecuador is hot. Yes it is on the Equator and the sun can be quite strong, but we spent much of our time up in the mountains where you needed a sweater or maybe more for the chilly nights.

Most Memorable Moments: Reaching the glaciers on Cotopaxi without passing out was pretty rewarding. I’d also add celebrating the Quito festival and New Years on the beach.

Coolest Adventure: I jumped off a freaking bridge in Banos! For $20. I still can’t believe I did that. Actually everything we did in Banos from bike riding to white water rafting was a lot of fun.

Most Annoying Thing: The altitude really kicked my ass the first few weeks in Ecuador. Quito is the second highest capital city in the world (after La Paz) and I was constantly out of breath. It was a releif to come down to sea level and breath normally again.

Best Food: All of the shrimp on the coast. I’m not a huge seafood fan so the ceviche didn’t do much for me but I adored all the different shrimp dishes I got to try. Overall Ecuador had better food, with more diversity than Colombia.

Worst Food: Almost everything we ate in Ecuador was at least halfway decent. The worst food was probably the stuff I attempted to cook myself in our dingy kitchen in Montanita.

Favorite Place: I really fell in love with Banos. It’s such a relaxing little town in beautiful surroundings. I’m actually still kind of sad we didn’t get to spend more time there.

Least Favorite: This isn’t really fair since we spent barely any time they, but I was extremely unimpressed with Guayaquil which is a huge, dirty and purportedly quite dangerous city.

Best Sunset: Definitely the best sunset of the trip so far was the last one of 2011 over the ocean in Montanita:

 Biggest Regret: Not getting to see more. There were several places, Otavalo, Cuenca, that I really would have liked to see if I’d had more time. Not getting to go to the Galapagos! I was totally keen to see some blue-footed boobies, but at 1k a person (starting price), it just wasn’t feasible.

Best Advice: Don’t let the safety concerns in Quito scare you from seeing the city- it’s really historic and beautiful. Despite the scary stories we managed to get out of Ecuador totally unscathed.

Would I Come Back? Definitely. I think that Ecuador is a really cool country with a lot to do in a relatively small area. It would be great for a shorter vacation too, even just a couple of weeks.

Have You Been To Ecuador? What Were Your Impressions?

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20 Responses to Ecuador: The Best and Worst

  1. cheap traveler Tim January 17, 2012 at 12:13 PM #

    Ecuador is one of the best values on the planet—if you don’t go to the Galapagos. (That’s worth it, but a serious splurge.) I think if their government wasn’t so bad at promotion, it would be twice as popular with tourists as it is now. But lucky for us I guess because this has kept prices way down.

  2. Caroline @ traveling 9 to 5 January 17, 2012 at 2:15 PM #

    We will be in Ecuador at the end of this year and have enjoyed reading about your travels. We will be going to most of the towns you visited in addition to the Galapagos (big splurge!). You might have me convinced to jump off the bridge .. we will see!

  3. Madelaine January 17, 2012 at 4:46 PM #

    It would be great, that you visit another beatiful places in the coast region of Ecuador…

  4. DTravelsRound January 17, 2012 at 5:16 PM #

    You look SO happy in that photo! South America has never really held a huge pull for me, but lately, with so many people I know there, it really is beginning to tug at me … Ecuador sounds really cool!

  5. Sky January 17, 2012 at 8:56 PM #

    I really want to visit Ecuador sometime! I was planning on going in 2013 but I have to end my trip a few months early, so I’m not sure if I’ll be able to or not. I’ve heard so many good things about it, from various travel bloggers and from friends that have done trips there that I may have to head down, even if it’s only for a week or two…

  6. Rease January 17, 2012 at 10:04 PM #

    I definitely would assume Ecuador would be hot most of the time. I also would really love to go to the Galapagos islands but I really think that is just a trip on its own due to its high price tag. I can at least understand the high prices, hopefully it goes towards keeping tourism from destroying valuable wildlife.

  7. Maggie January 19, 2012 at 7:19 AM #

    That sunset picture is breathtaking! Great shot!!

    I visited Ecuador for a whirlwind trip lasting only 9 days but still managed to visit Quito, Cuenca, and Tena. I had such a great time and loved the vistas from the tops of the mountains. I was surprised by how short everyone is there. I was a giant at 5’7″!

  8. Robin May 3, 2012 at 8:41 AM #

    I am planning a trip to Ecuador in August. It will be my first big solo travel and I’m so excited I can’t put it into words.

  9. Zara @ Backpack ME May 23, 2012 at 4:48 PM #

    After spending 2 months in Ecuador (a bit all over the country) I’ve gotta say that it’s one of the most underrated countries I have ever traveled to. A lot of stuff to see and do (Andes, Amazon, colonial towns, Galpagos…) and amazing value for money. It’s true that Galapagos is way more expensive than the rest, but you can do Galapagos on a decent budget (you can eat for USD3/meal, do day trips instead of cruise ships, etc) and it’s so worth it! Sometimes, you come from so far, you migh as well go all the way! 🙂

  10. Eva October 2, 2012 at 12:12 PM #

    I spent 5 months in Ecuador and this country really got to me.
    Almost all of my trips were planned by a tour operator from Quito (Gulliver Expeditions) and they were really worth their money. I have the feeling that i saw every amazing and did every crazy thing there is.

    • Martin November 7, 2012 at 4:51 AM #

      @ Eva,

      I am going to work in Ecuador for the next two years and it would be awesome if you could give me your email. I have some questions and it would be awesome if I can contact you!

      regards
      Martin

    • Dallas Peloquin September 14, 2015 at 4:45 PM #

      Hi Eva, If you are still reading these posts? I too will be spending five months travelling Ecuador, starting this November. I would love to connect with you, if you’re available, (but I wouldn’t know how to)
      Thanks,
      Dallas

  11. Reima @ Love A Traveler September 5, 2013 at 1:52 PM #

    I loved Ecuador! I felt completely safe there, even in Guayaquil. I enjoyed the food! I thought Ecuador was supposed to be ‘spring-like’ year round? That’s what I was told by locals. I enjoyed the weather but yes definitely cold at night! Strange I never felt the altitude while there, besides climbing Cotopaxi, which I’m glad you did.:) But I darn well felt it bad in Bolivia!! I missed out on Banos sadly but you make me want to go there now.

    I highly recommend you go to Coca, Ecuador and see the Amazon! You can find a good program there for around $300-400 and you have to go back to Ecuador and GO TO THE GALAPAGOS!! It’s amazing there. You can find a good tour guide for half what you’d normally spend. I’ll have to find his name. Great post and please keep living it up there!

  12. Adam @ GettingStamped September 13, 2013 at 1:14 AM #

    Nice round up, we are in Ecuador next month and don’t have much planned, debating if the Galapagos is worth it too!

  13. Haluzman February 3, 2014 at 6:45 PM #

    I just returned from Ecuador 4 days ago where I spent 26 days and it was 9th Latin American country I visited so far. I really regret I couldn’t see Galapagos and dive there, but to be honest, I was a bit disappointed with Ecuador when comparing to other countries in Latin America I visited before and what I heard about the country before I was heading there. Yes, it’s quite cheap to travel there, but in many ways incredible pain. I would never ever travel Ecuador on the bus even for free – the worst transportation I ever experienced! The buses were moving on average 30-40km/h even when there was not really reason for that. Hard to tell what is express bus (are there any?) and what used to be chicken bus (they got rid of them, but the new ones move still at the same lame speed). There were few things I really liked and enjoyed in the country, but a lot I seen better somewhere else. Without any exaggeration every 3th activity I wanted to do was either cancelled because of not enough people or turned out to be something else as advertised. Amazon trip was a joke compared what I’d seen in real Amazon in Leticia region, Colombia. If you really want to see primary jungle with some animals you have to go deep to the border with Peru and Colombia.

    Food and restaurant service was at most mediocre to my taste, but I occasionally picked a good place to eat. As a bonus on top of everything they denied my return home because some idiot at the border didn’t stamp my passport. I was literally deported from the airport and had to get back to the border across entire country to get the entry stamp. Amazing, I wasted 3-4 days dealing with Ecuadorian bureaucracy and lost 4 days of my vacation! As if this wasn’t enough some a$$hole stole my camera with 1,300 pictures on it last day just 2h before I got to the airport.

    Thank you Ecuador, but I don’t think I will ever spend single cent in that hole.

  14. Haluzman February 3, 2014 at 6:53 PM #

    BTW, you don’t have to go to Galapagos to see blue-footed boobies. They are present and I seen them in Machalilla NP when diving. I know they have full day snorkeling & sea kayaking trips from Montanita where you were staying.

  15. Megan! March 3, 2014 at 11:19 PM #

    I went to Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands for a class last year and loved both! I loved Ecuador a lot more then I expected to for sure. We were on the Islands for four days, but didn’t see any blue footed boobies unfortunately, but it was still a fantastic experience!

  16. Brian October 9, 2014 at 2:55 PM #

    This experience looks amazing! Hoping you get to go back and experience more.

  17. antony June 26, 2015 at 7:54 AM #

    Looks i am from Europa and I live in Ecuador 8 years everyone writing galápagos galápagos always the same or like that is beautiful etc galápagos is only a island nothing more if you thing generall for Ecuador like the big city guayaquil forget it. Of course EVERONE goes like vacation and in the vacation nobody can see the real face of Ecuador. I have so much experience in business life. First you cannot trust anyone in Ecuador because everyone is lieying everyone care for 1 cent excample if you have 5 usd in your pocket the people always thing in his mind how they can take u money from your pocket alsp trust in Ecuador not exist i am speak because of my experience i visiting in my life 33 countries but a country like Ecuador doesn’t exist because the people don’t care about anything. Excample you cannot go alone out of the street excample you cannot walk in the hand your cellphone like in italia or all Europa immediately from one part immediately put you the gun and take it the think is that the stupid people don’t know how to use a gun in a wrong attend hey can kill you for 2 years ago a tourist men with his wife and kids from China was in Ecuador from of my eyes the taxi driver kill the men and the kids and the wife they bring to the hospital is was also in from of Sheraton hotel also in a place that 500 people walking and the people don’t care or to think to help.the food I love international food but really the food of Ecuador for my experience forget it you can eat good fish and shrimps that’s all but the food that they eat or prepare forget it. The think is also is so much corruption all people like in government or police you can pay him and you can have whatever Ver you want excample the last time I drive to montanita very fast and the police stop because i drive fast he ask me that I give him 5 usd after I give him he let me go. I mean the country is full corruption and the people work so slowly excample in sweet and coffe you wait 10 min for the coffe you need remember always the people don’t care and they forget. Nobody care about the law EVERONE speak about Ecuador law. It if this person is a problem they always say that’s the law but in the end they don’t care. If you have a legal proces in the Cort and if you have money you can pay them and you win so easy you always need money of course in all country you need money but in Ecuador is different because is not respect in that country I don’t wsnt speak bad about Ecuador but I telling my 6 years history of course if you go vacation for 1-2 weeks to a island with a group is something different but if you live in Ecuador forget it. The think is in am only sad that I loose 8 years of my life in that of county. If you want visit Latin America they are so beautiful amazing place like brasil Cuba Colombia is a amazing country they have more discipline and more serious. If you think about the woman or a men in Ecuador forget it please. If they see you are another country please you can have all woman so easy is really one of the country that you can have so easy woman but be careful don’t believe in love because love is the wallet in your pocket and be careful also they are so sick the woman’s not that you have a sick of that. But this is also in all over the world when you have money you can have not all but mostly woman’s but the different you don’t need so much money is enough when you have less money you can can get all woman’s and also woman’s they are married too, you need be tourist and you should have little money that’s enough. About men’s forget it they are never trust full for his wife if you ask a kids is possible that they say he don’t know who is the father I mean is possible the woman is separate with his husband but please one Ecuador 95% are or was separate and all woman’s have a kids but men is not available for that be careful. The funny things is they are so many woman’s they present his self a model if you ask them what you doing they say they are models 🙂 the think is model means they should have a special size and body they are instructions to be a model but the woman mostly is between 1.50-1.65 the size and big ass that really look nasty and ugly for me but some mend like it and also 100% fake i mean when the size is more then 1.70-1.80 the body looks little better or different but with the small size everything small is not really mines but the present his self they are model. Dear friends in the world are arround 197 country proximate if you want ant visit a country you have more choose, if you want visit Ecuador galápagos with a travel tour is possible with a serious travel tour is OK you can to the island you enjoy the beach and the hotel and shopping and then you return back to your country but if you want stay iin guayaquil or in quito be only careful and if you want to do business in Ecuador forget it too because is so difficult to believe and trust people. I mean to be a country you should fell you secure and you should love it but in Ecuador you don’t have it if you have a emergency in a hospital first you need pay doesn’t matter if you have blood in your face etc you shoot first then they check and I care so much of hygiene in Ecuador doesn’t exist hygiene for that care about your health. I mean you can not any taxi on the street yiu should to take a taxi from company excample the worst is when you are in the car and it is hot they never open when they drive the window is impossible excample last time I was in London and it as driving in downtown with my car and open the window and enjoy the air and speak by my cellphone but in Ecuador you cannot open the window because someone can take you phone when you stop with the car that’s is so hours and when in a country is in that way i don’t think that i need to leave or stay in the country. Thanks for the time for reading

  18. Ray Wiltfong April 23, 2016 at 9:43 PM #

    I spent two months in Ecuador traveling alone. Ecuador is a very poor country and you have to constantly argue/negociate the real price verses the gringo price. Plan on being ripped off constantly by the locals. Two americans i met there were robbed and one seriously injured in the process with a broken arm in Canoa.

    If you dont speak spanish, and i don’t, it can be a very lonely and frustrating experience.

    Everything is pretty gritty and ecuadorian food is hands down the worst i have eaten.

    I got dengue (I think…) at Montanita and went to the hospital. They did no exam and wrote me a prescription for Tylonol. I nearly died in a hotel room over the next few days while the hotel I paid extra to look after me, completely ignored me.

    You need to be pretty tough and gritty to travel there. As an over the road truck driver from the US, I am pretty good at travel but Ecuador kicked my ass good and hard.

    From there i went to Costa Rica and had a much better experiene but at a higher price equal to the US.

    Conclusion – There is no love in Ecuador. Just people trying to survive. They don’t create much and instead try to get ahead by exploiting each other. Under the definition of secondary psychopath it should just read “See Ecuador”.

    There is no love in this latin american country in survival mode.

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