Travels in Ecuador

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edgeclinger
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Travels in Ecuador

Postby edgeclinger » Mon Apr 29, 2013 9:34 am

We're thinking about going to Ecuador - probably for 2 weeks or so. Tentatively we're thinking we'll go to Guayaquil and to Cuenca. Would love to hear any recommendations from people who have traveled there.
Thanks!
Lauris


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Re: Travels in Ecuador

Postby Sergio Bernales » Mon Apr 29, 2013 1:26 pm

edgeclinger wrote:We're thinking about going to Ecuador - probably for 2 weeks or so. Tentatively we're thinking we'll go to Guayaquil and to Cuenca. Would love to hear any recommendations from people who have traveled there.
Thanks!
Lauris


Cuenca's a nice city. There's a large expat community of students and American retirees, so there are a lot of restaurants and cafes catering to foreigners - depending on what you want from a holiday, this can either be a plus or a minus. It's a nice a city just to wander round, but also simple things like the city bus tour are worth doing, although you have to be keep ducking the telephone cables, or you'll be decapitated. Outside the city is Ingapirca, which is about two or three hours drive from Cuenca and is like a mini Machu Picchu and definitely worth a visit. Although if you go by bus, be careful you don't miss the last bus. There are no hotels nearby.

I could tell you what hotels I stayed in, but as I wasn't particularly impressed with any of them, you're probably better looking on Tripadvisor, or even Hostalworld. Although Hostalworld tends to only cover the budget side of the market, the advantage is that people can only write reviews who have booked a room through the website. So it's not full of reviews which look as if they've been written by the owners of the hotels.

I didn't think much of Guayaquil - unless it's changed a lot in the three years since I visited, and I have heard there have been some improvements, I'd probably recommend going to the coast instead. Salinas is a bog standard beach resort and like Lima, it's often covered in cloud over the winter months. Just at the north of end of the town - I think it's called Ballenita -there was one nice hotel called El Faro, designed like a ship, where you can spot whales - I can't say I saw any, but the locals swear that at certain times of the year, there are dozens of 'em. If you head further north up the coast, on the Ruta del Sol, there are some nice places. Montanita, famous for surfing, is probably the prettiest, but the least friendly. However, there are plenty of smaller towns along the coast, each with something to offer. There was one place with the most depressing acquarium I've ever seen in my life, with unhappy sea lions, in tiny paddling pools and depressed penguins staring at the walls. Strongly recommend avoiding all places like these. Although there was a town called Puerto Lopez, where you could take day trips out on boats to some of the islands where there's a lot of undisturbed wildlife. I can check what other towns I visited if you're interested and let you know.

To be honest, although it had its good points, I found Ecuador not only the least friendly country I've visited in South America, but the worst for getting ripped off. Double check everything from restaurant/hotel bills to taxi fares and prices in shops. Unless you've already been there, I'd strongly recommend a trip to Bolivia.
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Re: Travels in Ecuador

Postby tomasb » Mon Apr 29, 2013 5:43 pm

Hi K,

I just returned from Cuenca, Guayaquil, Guarando, Riobamba and both Banos's. I also went to Galapagos.

If you need some suggestions on hotels and restaurants, I have plenty. I really liked Cuenca and was pleasantly surprised. I visited the city several years ago and found it to be deadly boring. But now that has changed as there are many more restaurants, clubs, coffee houses etc. Except on Sunday when it is very difficult to buy alcohol except for restaurants who have special permits to sell booze on Sundays. Apparently, there is an Ecuador law prohibiting the sale of alcohol on Sunday -- reminded me of the old blue laws in New England.' However, that did not seem to inhibit some of the local populace as I saw several drunk guys bouncing down the street on Sunday evening.

Guayaquil also has improved significantly. The Malecon is nice and also found it safe and lively during the day. I know a great boutique hostal across from the Malecon too.
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Re: Travels in Ecuador

Postby tomasb » Mon Apr 29, 2013 5:58 pm

Hi,

I just read Sergio's post and actually have to disagree. I found the people friendlier and happier than Peru and also never got ripped off. Maybe they only rip off Peruvians lol...

For an American, it was easy to estimate what you are spending since everything is priced in dollars. When you go to an ATM, the machine spits out nice crisp twenties, tens, and sometimes five's. For one dollar bills, they use the Lewis and Clark expedition coin with the image of Sacagawea. If you wonder why you never see these in the US, then this is probably the reason.

One other thing, I was amazed at the condition of most of the roads. Much better and safer than the mountain roads in Peru and I traveled quite extensively throughout the country.
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Re: Travels in Ecuador

Postby Sergio Bernales » Wed May 08, 2013 11:13 pm

tomasb wrote:Hi,

I just read Sergio's post and actually have to disagree. I found the people friendlier and happier than Peru and also never got ripped off. Maybe they only rip off Peruvians lol...

For an American, it was easy to estimate what you are spending since everything is priced in dollars. When you go to an ATM, the machine spits out nice crisp twenties, tens, and sometimes five's. For one dollar bills, they use the Lewis and Clark expedition coin with the image of Sacagawea. If you wonder why you never see these in the US, then this is probably the reason.

One other thing, I was amazed at the condition of most of the roads. Much better and safer than the mountain roads in Peru and I traveled quite extensively throughout the country.


I lived there for six months, so my experence was more of a resident than a tourist and I met some lovely people and saw some lovely places. However, on the whole my experience was the opposite of Tomas's - the longer I stayed, the more unwelcome I felt, the more I saw the way things were run, the more I felt despair. However, I did enjoy my first few weeks there behaving like at a tourist, and at first the novelty of the place was enough to take away negative experiences. But don't take my advice, if you live in South America it's worth going to each place and making up your own mind.

By the way, Lonely Planet has recommended Isla de La Plata which is near Puerto Lopez, an hour or two by boat, as the poor man's Galapagos, so might be worth considering if you don't have the time or don't want to spend the money going to the Galapagos. The truth is it's a nice island, but I don't really think it's in the same league as the Galapagos, but it's a hell of a lot cheaper.

However, two warnings, always make sure you've got plenty of change for taxi drivers. They always claim not to have change and try and rip you off. There were many times I had to pay $10 or even $20 for a $2 fare and if it was night there were usually no shops open to get change. The same goes in most restaurants as well. And watch out for the queues in the supermarkets, you might get attacked by the ambassador.
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Re: Travels in Ecuador

Postby Philipc4u59 » Thu May 09, 2013 9:35 am

Yes, when my wife & I made a border hop/visa renewal to Ecuador; I found the taxis to be very expensive.
Where here in Peru, rates are in one (1) sole incriments; there it is one (1) DOLLAR - quite a difference.
Plus I was AMAZED how often taxi drivers would take the L-O-N-G way to a destination!

Food prices were up to 30% higher on select items & restaurants were also more expensive.
In Guayaquil, we were staying in the center of the city & couldn't find a Chinese restaurant.

I had hoped the weather in "G" would be better than Lima in Feb.; it was the only time my Peruvian wife has ever sweated! The streets were clean & in good repair; the people friendly toward tourists.

Would we go back, not to "G"; but Quito & Cuenca are options...

Philip :roll:
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Re: Travels in Ecuador

Postby Gary » Thu May 09, 2013 11:12 am

I travel to Ecuador several times a year and am heading back up next week. My personal preference is to avoid Guayaquil, Quito is great and if you have the time a trip to to Otavalo on market day is a not miss. Cuenca is my favorite city in South America for reasons already mentioned, in Cuenca I always stay at the Hostal Haro, Jimmy and his family are great innkeepers, it is very clean, safe and inexpensive http://www.tripadvisor.com/Hotel_Review ... vince.html
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Re: Travels in Ecuador

Postby tomasb » Thu May 09, 2013 12:46 pm

I am considering relocating later this year from Cusco to Cuenca. I found the altitude and climate more agreeable and it appeared to be more of a sophisticated and elegant city in many ways. However, I have only visited as a tourist and as Sergio points out, it is a lot different living in a place long term as a resident than when you are only visiting. Point taken. One thing it does not have is the perpetual buzz and energy in Cusco, which can be good and bad.

There are quite a few ex-pats living there. Some estimates are as high as 5k out of a population of 400k but on my short visit there recently, I was not able to talk to many people to get a sense of what it is like to live in Cuenca long term. Many of the expats are said to be retired but I noticed quite a few young ex-pats there some of whom have even opened businesses.

As far as GYE is concerned, it is quite hot in January and February though locals tell me it cools off in the winter months. From the air, it almost reminds me of Houston with plenty of leafy suburbs filled with tile roofed homes, pools, and tennis courts,though the center has a more standard SA urban appearance. The Malecon is quite nice and it was interesting to watch some of the young navy?? sailors changing the sails on the tall ships sitting on the dock in front of the Malecon. This appears to be done around sunset every night. It is still a far cry from Paul Theroux's description of the city from his novel The Patagonia Express.
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Re: Travels in Ecuador

Postby Philipc4u59 » Thu May 09, 2013 3:19 pm

Check out INTERNATIONAL LIVING magazine; they may have a special report of Cuenca.
IL ranks Ecuador as the best retirement location in the world; this report is FREE, just go to their web site.

Enjoy,
Philip :roll:
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Re: Travels in Ecuador

Postby chi chi » Fri May 10, 2013 10:57 am

We just bought tickets to Guayaquil. $365 each ticket from Tarapoto to Guayaquil and back.
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Re: Travels in Ecuador

Postby tomasb » Fri May 10, 2013 2:23 pm

I take what is written in IL with a grain of salt. The problem is a lot of naive North Americans read those reports and decide to move to Cuenca or Boquete or wherever they are promoting. Many of these retirees have never lived outside the country and are unprepared to be in a different culture. Some pay too much for real estate and artificially drive up the prices. Others remain insulated in gated communities though not so much in Cuenca, but Vilcabamba is a good example of this phenomena. Some just move because it is cheaper than the US but that is not a good enough reason. In the end, it makes it more difficult for those ex-pats who move to CA or SA because they want to be part of the culture, learn the language etc.

Cuenca is a very hot destination right now and you can easily tell by walking around for a day. It is a bustling city. It will never be Cusco unless they discover another MP buried somewhere but that can be a good thing too...

Chichi? So you mean that you can fly direct from Tarapoto to GYE. Surely, you mean the airline flies to Lima and then GYE. Which airline? How easy is it to take a bus from Tarapoto to GYE? From the map, it looks like a very longgggg trip.
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Re: Travels in Ecuador

Postby edgeclinger » Mon May 13, 2013 6:32 pm

Thanks to all of you for your input on Ecuador. We're planning to go there and stay for a few weeks, so info from those who have been there is great!
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Re: Travels in Ecuador

Postby chi chi » Tue May 14, 2013 1:57 pm

tomasb wrote:Chichi? So you mean that you can fly direct from Tarapoto to GYE. Surely, you mean the airline flies to Lima and then GYE. Which airline? How easy is it to take a bus from Tarapoto to GYE? From the map, it looks like a very longgggg trip.


Nobody takes the bus nowadays. Tickets with LAN and TACA are so cheap.
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Re: Travels in Ecuador

Postby panman » Tue May 14, 2013 2:38 pm

chi chi wrote:We just bought tickets to Guayaquil. $365 each ticket from Tarapoto to Guayaquil and back.

Is the price you managed to get including or excluding tax?
I'm just looking for next week and the inclusive price for both airlines are $532 return from Lima.
By the way any info' for good hotels on the coast?
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Re: Travels in Ecuador

Postby chi chi » Wed May 15, 2013 3:37 pm

panman wrote:
chi chi wrote:We just bought tickets to Guayaquil. $365 each ticket from Tarapoto to Guayaquil and back.

Is the price you managed to get including or excluding tax?
I'm just looking for next week and the inclusive price for both airlines are $532 return from Lima.
By the way any info' for good hotels on the coast?


All taxes included.

Look at www.despegar.com They always have great offers. They are often cheaper than booking with the airline directly.

On www.hostelbookers.com , you can find loads of hostels.
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Re: Travels in Ecuador

Postby Philipc4u59 » Thu May 16, 2013 12:45 pm

Listen to the advice of the "imfamous" Chi Chi; he is the "GO TO" guy for airline info!
He may even be a major stock holder of Lan & Taca stock; after all, he is a professed BILLIONAIRE!!!

Thanks for the psots; always looking to save a "buck"...

Philip :roll:
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Re: Travels in Ecuador

Postby tomasb » Thu May 16, 2013 12:48 pm

Actually, I thought Chi Chi was on a retainer with the town of Tarapoto...
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Re: Travels in Ecuador

Postby chi chi » Thu May 16, 2013 4:34 pm

Philipc4u59 wrote:Listen to the advice of the "imfamous" Chi Chi; he is the "GO TO" guy for airline info!
He may even be a major stock holder of Lan & Taca stock; Philip :roll:


I don't hold stocks because I don't want to support those fatcat bankers that steal from people that work.

I don't want money for helping out people.
I'd rather make friends than money.

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