We would like to share with you our top 5 things to do in and around Quito, Ecuador.
# 1 – Learning Spanish in Quito
We chose Ecuador to undertake a course in Spanish through Simon Bolivar’s Spanish School based in Mariscal Foch in Quito. The School was rated #1 in Classes and Workshops in Quito by Trip Advisor. All the reviews were positive and encouraging.
As absolute beginners, we survived the first week and came out feeling confident that with continued practice we will be able to communicate sufficiently over the next 9 months in Ecuador and Mexico.
The school offers daily activities for the students. Our Quito Night City Tour was a highlight and we thoroughly recommend it.
Costs: For the two of us with one teacher for 20 hours per week USD6.00 per person per hour with a registration fee of USD20 per person
# 2 – Quito Free Walking Tour
We keep mentioning it every city we go to, but we love the Free Walking Tours. This one was no exception. Guided by Ovi out of the Community Hostel in the Old Town area of Quito we wandered through the Central Market, the streets, alleyways and church squares of the old town. Through the Plaza de Independencia and onto the balcony of the Presidential Palace Ovi told us the history and stories of Quito. Tasting the sweet and savoury delights of the candy shop on the way to our coffee break Ovi held our attention all the way. He is one interesting guy. We strolled through the quaint bohemian sector of La Ronda and onto La Espejo the finishing point of the tour.
Cost: It is a free walking tour but tips are very welcome.
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# 3 – Journey to the Middle of the Earth
26km north of Quito you will find yourself in the middle of the Earth. Mitad del Mundo (middle of the earth) is a major tourist attraction in Quito. Standing in the middle is a 30 metre monument made of iron and concrete. Originally it was believed that the equator passed through this site but today with the latest GPS technology the equator lies 240 metres north of this line. You can stand with one leg either side of the equator. Besides the monument you will find many restaurants and souvenir shops.
We travelled by local buses with a change of bus in each direction for approx USD2 return.
Entrance fee that includes the visit to the Museum (all three levels) USD8.00 per person
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#4 – Visit the Amazon
On a recommendation from two female travellers in our hostel we decided we would visit the Amazon area of Ecuador. They had used a local travel agency to book the trip that was located a few blocks away from our hostal. Diana from Shine Galapagos was extremely helpful and recommended Guacamayo Ecolodge located in the Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve. Another good recommendation from the girls in the hostal was to book the private bus to the town of Lago Agrio the stopping off point before you are collected by another bus and canoe for the rest of the journey. Diana was able to organise this for us as well, the bonus being that the bus departed a block away from her agency.
We stayed for 3 nights, enjoyed sunset boat rides on the lake, a night walk through the jungle, three hour trek during the day in the jungle, a visit to a local indigenous community to watch bread being baked from the harvesting of the root vegetable to the table within 30 minutes and a visit to a local Sharman.
3 nights tour staying at Guacamayo Lodge including meals USD240 per person
Cost of private bus from Quito to Lago Agrio return USD$30
Indigenious community fee per person $6
Tips not included
#5 – Otavalo and its surrounds
Otavalo holds one of the biggest artisan markets in South America in Plaza de Ponchos. Saturday is the main trading day where the markets spill over into the neighbouring streets and alleyways. But there is more to Otavalo than its famous market. We toured outside Otavalo with Runa Tupari tours visiting the famous La Cascades de Peguche, three artisan villages, Cotacachi and the lake of the guinea pigs in a 5-7 hour tour. If you can we recommend you spend more than a day in Otavalo and enjoy another side of Ecuador.
Cost of local bus travel from Quito to Otavalo -USD $2.00 per person each way
Cost of our tour with Runa Tupari USD30 per person including lunch
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Thanks for stopping by and welcome to To Travel Too – Australia’s top Baby Boomer lifestyle and travel blog, with an international worldwide audience in mind, run by the married couple, freelance writers and full-time travellers Jane and Duncan Dempster-Smith. Come with us as we explore the world. Our two mantras that we live by are ‘chase time not money’ and ‘age is no barrier when it comes to travel’.