Papallacta Pass is not a tourist destination in itself, but anyone taking the main highway from Quito to the eastern slope of the Andes Mountains will cross the pass. The highway follows the "Cinnamon Trail" which is the route taken by Spanish conquistador Francisco de Orellana in 1542 as he crossed the Andes Mountains searching for gold and spices.
The pass is around 14,000 feet (4,267 meters) in elevation, so visitors not accustomed to high altitudes will experience difficulty breathing, and could even suffer the effects of altitude sickness. The weather can also present some problems to the visitor, including clouds and mist, rain or snow, and extremely strong winds.
Papallacta Pass is popular among birdwatchers who visit the Quito area. The Cayambe Reserve, which protects high páramo grassland and wetland habitats, is one of the best places in the Andes region to find the difficult-to-see chestnut-bellied seedsnipe, as well as other high-altitude species of birds, including ducks, condors, hawks, falcons, cinclodes, canasteros, antpittas, and tapaculos.
Playa Escondida is a stunning Swiss Family Robinson style eco-retreat on the northeast coast of Ecuador at Punta Galera.
though there is a website ( http://www.playaescondida.com.ec/ ), it is not up-to-date, and does not nearly do justice to the unusual beauty of this place and the wonderful structures and environments the owner has created here. the grounds are lush and tropical, overlooking a beautiful, craggy beach with intriguing rock formations, and good swimming at high tide. there is one tropical-style "hotel", and several more cabanas and residences on the ground - - all built in a tropical artisanal rustic style with local hardwoods and objects. there is also an excellent open-air restaurant that serves meals based on local fare, primarily seafood. the lodging prices are extremely affordable - perfect for travellers who have student budgets but refined and adventurous tastes.
as an eco-sustainable retreat, all the toliets are simple outdoor, composting style. there is also an area for camping for those who want even more adventure...
the best way to get there is to fly to Esmeraldas airport and hook up with one of the shuttles going to the resorts a few miles up the beach from Punta Galera, and then take a cab. but there are other options as well.
the best thing to do is to contact the owner, Judith, by e-mail and get her suggestion. it's her creation, this edenic place.
It’s hard to call Chimborazo off the beaten path. After all, it is Ecuador’s highest peak at nearly 21,000 feet and is easy to arrange climbs even on short notice but the average tourist is unlikely to see more than a fleeting glimpse of the great extinct volcano from either the plane or bus if they are lucky. If you really want to get close to the massive peak, please check out the details on my Chimborazo page.
To get right off the beaten track in Ecuador, you can stay with a local family on their farm in Bolivar Province. This is between the Andes mountains and the coast - lovely scenery and warm weather in the foothills of the mountains, but hardly any tourists go there. It's run by a reforestation charity, so you have to plant a tree for each day you stay there (they help you) - take only photos, leave only footprints - and trees! ;-)
I don't even know if this is the correct spelling of Salvias, but it is a small little town outside of Zaruma. If you go to the tourism office in Zaruma, they can tell you about a hike to this waterfall. You take a chiva from Zaruma and pass a few towns until you reach Salvias. Then, and it really is this vague, you ask around for Francisco. He will find a ride to the trail head for you, and take you to the falls. Negotiate for the ride, $5 or more round trip (it's 35 minutes up the mountain) and you can give Francisco whatever you think is appropriate. The hike was really nice, at times we had to hack through some brush to get through, and the waterfall was beautiful.
After a few locals mentioned that Zaruma was one of their favorite places to visit in Ecuador, I knew I had to go. It is a small town in the mountains east of Machala. From Cuenca, take a bus to Machala, but get off at a big round-a-bout and catch another bus to Zaruma. The guys on the bus will help you, but in the bus office they will say that it is impossible and that you have to go all the way to Machala. That would add about 2 hours to the trip.
The town itself is a beautifull colonial city with great hiking and a great place to catch a little of the "local" feel for Ecuador. I spent a few days there, and other than the 2 peace core guys I met, i was the only tourist in town. Very cool place to hang out. There are number of hotels in town that all look about the same. I don't think you would ever need reservations.
The town has a nice tourism office where you can get good information about the surrounding small towns and some nice hikes. There is a nice hike to a waterfall in the town of Salvias (40 minute chiva ride from Zaruma).
One of the more interesting and exciting things you can do in Ecuador is to take a local bus, most of them are very nice, through the Andes into Northern Peru. It's a long and beautiful trip and some of the most spectacular scenery you can imagine. Stop in the little towns and eat great food.
If youre interested in learning spanish, ecuador is a great place to do. They speak slowly and clearly. i went to a language school called Simon Bolivar and they provided one on one lessons for me (although group lessons are avaliable as well) they also offered host families, apartments to rent and hostels/hotels near by to stay in. after the class times were over, there was optional lessons such as cooking, cocktail making, history lessons, school parties and city tours. and the class times werent just for sitting around, my teacher and i would often go off and explore the city or grab lunch or go clothes/grocery shopping. its a great way to learn the culture and to get to know the city. I highly recomend this school!
We had a tremendous time watching and photographing the animals throughout the islands. I am what I call an "odds photographer", i.e. odds are, if you take enough pictures, some of them will come out the way you want them. A good versitle camera and knowing how to use it will make the trip great.
Underwater is the same thing, it was fantastic. Always different and always wonderful.
It was an "off the beaten path"-tip in the Lonely Planet 1997 edition so it might be not off the beaten track anymore...
Dureno is a litte Cofan village in the oriente (lowland-jungle) of Ecuador. Getting there is a little tricky because You have to get off the Lago Agrio -Tarapoa bus at the Dureno turnoff about 20 km from Lago Agrio, walk down the road to the river and hope that someone on the other side hears Your yells and comes over with a dugout canoe to get You there. (I waited more than an hour, felt ridiculous yelling all the time and was just on my way back to the main road when I met the community-priest who took me over).
Bring Your own food, a hammock and a sheet and You will be given a space to sleep.
Walk around and watch the lokals, buy some necklaces made of seeds and see lokal home that way or take a guide to show You the jungle. If things have not changed, You will be the only tourist there at the time.
If You are on Your way to/from the Peruvian border, the old gold-mining town of Zaruma is a nice place to stop by. It used to be the capital of the province of El Oro and has the typical architecture of gold-mining towns that reminds of the "wild west". Visits to the old mine can be arranged at the town hall.
There are some little plantations in the area.
I liked the place most because I stayed at the house of a teacher I met on the bus and got some insight into to the life of the lokals.
Alausi is a small village about 1 or 2 hours away from Riobamba. The people very nice, humble, the landscape is beautiful, there is a train ride that takes you to "La Nariz Del Diablo" this train takes up up to a mountain peak and comes back in reverse, the senic view is out of this world, you can ride the train on the top of the train. This is a must do, if yu like adventure and nature. If you need more help do not hesitiate to contact me I will help you.
Avoid places like :Banos
Go to Cuenca , Ambato, and we know a smart place (unspoiled) at the Pacific : the isle Muisné.
We slept there in "our private hotel" at the beach for 3 dollar , drinking a caiperinia for 1 dollar with our feet in the sands!!!!!!
Don't forget to visit Otavalo and a bus trip to Banos is worth it as well. Banos is where Ecuadorians go for vacation and it is truly a beautiful place. Take a horse riding trip or rent a mountain bike.
Near Montanita, Ecuador is an ecological "resort" called Alandaluz. All of the buildings are constructed of bamboo and other local materials, the wind breaks through for, of course, NATURAL air conditioning. The accommodations are built in trees featuring compost toilets (outside, as are the showers) and other natural necessities. All of the gourmet food in the restaurant is fresh, organic and to die for. They also have a great little bar/hut where we had our first experience with "Flaming Cucarachas"! I haven't been there since '95 but I talked to an Ecuadorian who runs a stand at our Farmer's Market and he says they've made even more improvements since then, that it's even better than before! So don't miss it! It's an unforgettable experience!! Did I mention it's on the beach?! Beautiful!
Traveled thur Quito on a Eco Tourism trip. The Marriott was unforgetable. Beautiful hotel in every...more
When we arrived at the Hotel Victoria after our early morning flight from Quito it was only 9.00 am,...more
Av. de las Amazonas, Banos, 2000, Ecuador
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