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.
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!
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.
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.
If you're in the Peguche area, try to hook up with Alfonso Cachiguangu. He's a master wind-flute maker, as well as an international recording artist. If you make contact in advance, it is possible to visit Sr. Alfonso at his home in Peguche, where he will demonstrate the techniques of playing and building the lovely wind flutes that are played throughout the Andes. You'll also be able to purchase a cassette tape or CD of Sr. Alfonso's work, usually with his "Grupo Cultural", which he calls Nanda Manachi.
This is a couple of hours very well spent for music aficionados. Note, besides the home phone number listed below, Sr. Alfonse can be contacted via fax at 02-225-055. He lives in Peguche, Ecuador. Messages can also be left at the Hosteria Peguche Tio, which is located at Panamericana Norte, Km 2 1/2 in Peguche. The fax number there is 06-922-619.
If you are fit enough try to climb the volcano Cotopaxi. It is such a great experience. You will get up at 0.00 o’clock and after a quick breakfast you will start to climb it. It took me 7 hours to get to the summit. I was so exhausted. The bad news: I had to get down again. The amazing view and landscape helped me with that.
If you'd really like to blend in and check out life in rural Andean Ecuador, I'd suggest that you pull in and stop at some of the road side "farmer's markets". It's a chance to see how the locals deal with each other, and you'll understand the basic system of dependencies in the small towns and villages of the Andes.
Be careful what you do and say, though....you might accidently buy a pig.
From Lago Agrio in the Sucumbios province, you can take a trip to Cuyobeno national park. We found a guide in Lago Agrio and organized canoes to take us out through the rivers and lakes. The scenery is breathtaking! We camped on an island where there was also the possiblity to stay in cabins.
Two warnings: Although this seems to be a great place to go swimming, there are piranhas here! They have actually never attacked humans in this particular stretch of water, that usually happens along the Amazon itself. The bigger danger is the oil pollution (see my warnings travelouge). But hey, we went swimming anyway!
Secondly, the Lago Agrio area is becoming increasingly more dangerous as drug gangsters from Colombia try to escape the pressure there. Check the current situation before you go.
Mindo is located about 3 hours from Quito on the western side of Pichincha mountain. At about 1600 m, this is a sub-tropical cloud forest with exotic flowers and birds. You can visit orchid farms or take a bird watching tour. Or you can go hiking and jump off a waterfall! See my Mindo travelouge for more detailed information on this last point!
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.
On the way from Quito to Ambato (where Cotapaxi is located), stop by Salcedo (a.k.a. San Miguel). They have some great ice cream! They put the fruity, milky ingredients in a cup, put a popcicle stick in, freeze it, and then pull it out of the cup. You can find these treats other places, but they are originally from here!
We had great time with the Buchelis and we lerarned a more than basic spanish thanks to the lovely teachers of this school... A good address to learn this language next to the ocean...
On s'est beaucoup amuses en compagnie des Bucheli, directeurs de l'ecole, et on a appris un espagnol plus que correct grace a des profs bien sympas... Une bonne adresse pour apprendre cette langue pas loin de l'ocean...
I know it would normally be considered as a fool advice but we did not regret it at all ! Empanadas,olives,papas,salchipapas, hamburgers... It is worthwhile !
Taste the Ecuador Street Food in Jipijapa more than in any other place (our stomach made it through only in this peculiar place : believe us !).
Furthermore, there are not many restaurants in Jipijapa...
Je sais que ce conseil pourrait apparaitre comme un appel au suicide, mais vous n'allez pas le regretter !
Empanadas,olives,papas,salchipapas, hamburgers... Ca vaut le coup !
Testez la cuisine de rue equatorienne a Jipijapa plus que partout ailleurs (notre estomac n'en a pas ressenti les consequences : croyez-nous !).
De plus, il n'y a pas beaucoup de restaurants a Jipijapa...
We lost ourselves in Agua Blanca, a reserve next to Puerto Lopez...
And it was very nice !!!
We had the opportunity to talk with people living in Agua Blanca and they are very sweet, nice and will smile without any bias ...
Sortez du circuit...
On s'est un peu perdu a Agua Blanca, une reserve pres de Puerto Lopez... Mais, on regrette pas. On n'a pu discuter avec les habitants de cette reserve, et ils etaient des plus accueillants...
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).
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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