Country Overview: Travelling in Ecuador

On the basis that every time we ventured a bit further away we made the wrong fork decision, Señora Wayne was a worthwhile investment.

On the basis that every time we ventured a bit further away we made the wrong fork decision, Señora Wayne was a worthwhile investment.11-Jul-2009 18:55, Canon Canon EOS 400D DIGIT, 11.0, 28.0mm, 0.003 sec, ISO 400

Introduction: Ecuador is one of only two countries in South America that doesn’t border Brazil, and thankfully is fairly easy to traverse due to its small size (80th in the world) – a welcome break after the marathon bus journeys of Columbia! Ecuador is famous for its geographical diversity with a huge variety of flora and fauna. We were on catch up after enjoying ourselves far too much in the previous countries and becoming a little behind schedule. Doesn’t sound like us. In total we spent sixteen days here, and it was yet another whirlwind tour with some amazing moments.

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Gallery: Incans in Ingapirca & Chocolate in Cuenca!

That's all three angles covered then.

That's all three angles covered then.17-Jul-2009 18:42, Canon Canon EOS 400D DIGIT, 8.0, 28.0mm, 0.006 sec, ISO 400

After the Devil’s Nose disappointment, we were keen to make sure we visited at least one of the something specials in Ecuador; the Incan ruins at Ingapirca are the largest in the country and definitely something they’re proud of. It was only a small stop on the way to Cuenca, the third largest city in Ecuador and possibly our last stay before heading south to Peru. Neither went to plan, but both had their moments…

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Gallery: Buggying in Baños and the Walk of Monkeys!

One great similarity between Colombians and Ecuadorians is their inability to understand photo directions. Still, one similarity between Lynette and I is our inability to speak anything but the most basic Spanish.

One great similarity between Colombians and Ecuadorians is their inability to understand photo directions. Still, one similarity between Lynette and I is our inability to speak anything but the most basic Spanish.13-Jul-2009 21:27, Canon Canon EOS 400D DIGIT, 8.0, 35.0mm, 0.006 sec, ISO 400

Baños is the “Gateway to the Amazon”, and to us has been the San Gil of Ecuador. Nestled high in the Andes and on the side of an active volcano that last erupted in only 2006 & 2008, the scenery is stunning and the spring climate great, especially when you´re starting to miss those jumpers. There´s plenty to do, our main reason for coming was a half told story about a monkey park we´d heard when in San Agustin. But… did we find them?!

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Gallery: Hiking the Quilotoa Loop in Ecuador

Here we are! Quilotoa crater!

Here we are! Quilotoa crater!11-Jul-2009 17:16, Canon Canon EOS 400D DIGIT, 4.0, 28.0mm, ISO 400

The Quilotoa Circuit is a 200km loop that runs through beautiful landscapes and rural villages South of Quito. Having spent several days in the smog filled capital we were looking forward to breaking away from the bustle and seeing perhaps a more traditional slice of Ecuadorian life. The different sections can be tackled by bike, bus or on foot. We planned to squeeze the whole thing into only three days as time was tight, and on Friday morning set off for Latacunga, our first stop.

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Gallery: Climbing Pichincha Volcano in Quito

Such big smiles deserve two photos. :o)

Such big smiles deserve two photos. :o )08-Jul-2009 20:20, Canon Canon EOS 400D DIGIT, 13.0, 38.0mm, 0.0020 sec, ISO 400

Climbing Pichincha Volcano (or, the Highs & Lows of death by altitude) was something we didn’t even know we could do. Quito lies on the east side of Pichincha, an active stratovolcano that last erupted only in 1999 when it covered Quito in ash. It is also 4,698m to the Rucu peak. Conveniently forgetting the trouble we’d had only a week or so ago with a couple of crutches we decided we needed to start warming up for more Andes challenges some time, so why not today? Well, on reflection…

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Gallery: Arrival in Quito and the Middle of the World (Mitad del Mundo)

The middle of the world! I'm currently in the Northern hemisphere, while Lynette's in the South.

The middle of the world! I'm currently in the Northern hemisphere, while Lynette's in the South.09-Jul-2009 21:51, Canon Canon EOS 400D DIGITAL, 11.0, 28.0mm, 0.003 sec, ISO 400

After our heptathlon of a journey from Colombia, we were looking forward to seeing what Quito, our first stop in Ecuador, would offer. Initially, smog and high altitude, but we’re now very excited about what else we can do in this small but famous country. At an altitude of 2,850m (over twice the height of Ben Nevis) it is the 2nd highest capital in the world and the bus takes an hour from the Quito border to reach the actual centre. That could have something to do with the relentless snack sellers that hop on and off, but also because the place is damn big with a population of 1.4m. So… what is it like?

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Gallery: Crossing the Colombian border in Ipiales and Las Lajas Cathedral

Trying to direct a Colombian on how you want your photo to look is very difficult, and potentially life threatening when he still doesn't get it &*&^|%£^& right. But hey, its still a good photo! :o)

Trying to direct a Colombian on how you want your photo to look is very difficult, and potentially life threatening when he still doesn't get it &*&^|%£^& right. But hey, its still a good photo! :o )06-Jul-2009 18:18, Canon Canon EOS 400D DIGITAL, 9.0, 28.0mm, 0.005 sec, ISO 400

After a few days chilling in San Agustin, it was time to head to Ecuador. Quick sharpish; we’re developing a habit of liking countries we visit too much and that’s no good for our timetable. So with trepidation we headed to the Colombian/Ecuador border at Ipiales keeping our fingers crossed; and managed to sneak in a quick visit to the magnificent Las Lajas Cathedral near Ipiales on the way. Maybe we shouldn’t rush… perhaps Colombian border control would much prefer it if we stayed?!

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Itinerary: South America

South America ThumbWe’re even closer to heading off – more goodbyes have been said at Kelly & Ben’s amazing wedding this weekend and we’ve both now had our last day at work. Current weather in Rio as I write is a balmy 28°c! We’re now hopefully pretty close to actually knowing our route so all the details are below. Its still, and always will be, in flux, but that is the nature and fun of backpacking!

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