I’d have to say that Ecuador was all but without any tourist traps whatsoever. In six weeks I only felt taken advantage of one time. Vendors would rush after you to give you the correct change if you somehow “overpaid” and I am talking about ten cents here. No, by and large Ecuadorians are a very fair people. The one bad experience we had was with TAME airlines. I had read some nightmarish stories so I did everything possible to make sure it didn’t happen to us. We had booked a round trip flight to the Galapagos Islands and arrived there with no problems. We made sure to re-confirm our flight at the ticket office in person just as many internet posts had warned. The ticket person said all was well and we figured everything was fine. Once at the airport a few days later we were told that the flight we had booked didn’t run in the off season and that we could go the next day. All I can say is I was not happy and that we DID get on a plane that day. You can read more about it on my Galapagos Island pages where I’ll tell how to do the islands independently rather than be hoarded as well as how to get on the plane you booked even then they say it’s impossible!
Fun Alternatives: Try not to trap wildlife. I saw a lot of people chasing animals on the Galapagos Islands. The animals are very friendly and will approach you but if for some reason they do not, keep your distance and use a telephoto lens to capture them.
Yes, it's a kind of a tourist trap but when you're in Ecuador you should not miss it.
Unique Suggestions: Visit the nearby outdoor museum Solar Inti Ñan, where they show you different kind of equator experiments. Some are more and some are less scientific.
Not far from Quito, the City of the Middle of the World stands exactly at latitude 0º 0´0´´. It is a tourist complex with an obelisk-like monument that hosts a museum on the different ethnical groups of Equator, and the reproduction of an Andean village full of souvenir shops and touristy restaurants.
Unique Suggestions: All tourists need their touristy stuff, so this is an uncontournable place in any Equatorian tour. You will come back happier home with a picture of you standing with one foot on each hemisphere.
This is a place for volontary work in an ecologic farm, also providing instruction for rural kids ... You can do a lot in this farm : if you stay a long time, you will work as a farmer, and you will pay a descent price for living and eating every day.
But, if you decide to make only a 2 or 3 days tour... It's a bout 30 USD a day and even if you have a nice time, this is not worth the price you pay
Rio Muchacho, c'est une ferme ecologique qui dispose egalement d'une ecole pour les enfants des paysans du coin... Il y a pas mal de choses a faire si on veut retourner a la vie rurale, pour un prix modeste. Ce qui n'est pas le cas lorsqu'on ne fait qu'y passer et que l'on depense 30 USD par jour par personne...
Unique Suggestions: Don't do the 2 or 3 days tour.
It's maybe because we are French and then the life in a farm is for us more accessible, but we don't know why we should pay to do a "work" or "activities" that is an everyday work in french farms and whose specificities are only based on the particular environment.
We had the very deep feeling of being unuseful and unwanted (except for the "money" part).
Ne vous engagez pas pour une excursion de deux ou trois jours. Peut-etre n'est-ce que notre vision de francais plus habitues aux terrains agricoles (et encore), mais payez autant pour participer (si peu) a un environnement comme un touriste aiderait le barman du Club Med a faire des tequilas... On se sent pas tres utile, mais plutot "vaches a lait".
Fun Alternatives: Volunteering for a long time, why not, if farmlife is your hobby : but touring there is too much expensive for what it really is.
Si vous y allez, soyez volontaires pour au moins deux semaines : mais, c'est pas la peine de tenter l'aventure tres temporaire
Some kids will try and make you pay something at the entrance of the area of the Laguna, but there is no mandatory ticket to enjoy the view of the Laguna.
Des enfants postes a l'entree du site vous demanderont d'acheter leurs billets pour contempler la Lagune : mais, il n'existe pas de droit d'entree officiel.
Unique Suggestions: Unless you want to make a good action for the poor kids, don't pay .
Sauf si vous voulez donner un peu pour ces gamins, ne leur payez rien et continuez vers la lagune.
Fun Alternatives: Give them a big smile and some centavos... They are actually very poor.
Un joli sourire et quelques centavos.
Ces enfants de Zumbahua sont vraiment tres pauvres....
This whole street is one big tourist trap. Sure, you can buy a lot of souveniers here, but they are all overpriced.
Unique Suggestions: The only exception to this is El Ejido Park located at the cross-street Patria. On weekends you can go here and get reasonable prices on handicrafts. You can also have a nice stroll here and check out all the artists with their paintings.
Fun Alternatives: You'll definitly get a better value by taking the time to travel to Otavalo. However if it is convenience over everything, and money is no object, then check out Folklore, at Colon 260. There is a great selection of items, all at the very best quality.
Mitad del Mundo is a monument that sits on the equator. Everyone wants to come here so that they can stand in both hemispheres at once. Which is fine, I mean, I even came here 3 times. It costs 50 cents to get in and then $3 more if you want to take the elevator to the top of the 98 foot high monument and then walk down the stairs through a museum (that details regional indigenous peoples of Ecuador). The museum just isn't that interesting.
Unique Suggestions: Since it is north of Quito, I recommend stopping by in combination with a trip to Otavalo or other northernly destinations. Just don't make this the only stop on your iteniery - as besides the novelty of it, it doesn't have much else to offer.
Find out where the unsafe sectors are and avoid them.
Do not go out alone. The chances of getting lost are very high.
Be cautious with people who are become very friendly too quickly, or that offer to show you around.
Carry traveler checks and credit cards instead of large sums of cash. You can always get replacement checks or cancel your cards
Don't wear expensive jewelry or wristwatches when you are walking around. They make you a target of thieves.
Carry shoulder-bag, purses and back packs in front of you to avoid having them snatched or opened.
Keep all bags and other valuables where you can see them in restaurants and other public places.
Keep all important documents in a secure place, such as an inner pocket.
Make copies of your important documents, card numbers, etc., and leave them to a trusted companion or leave them at the hotels safety box.
Always carry an identification card when sightseeing
During the hikes, never leave the trails and stay with the group at all times. The only exceptions are the self-guided trail. It is essential to wear rubber boots for the rain forest or any other kind of comfortable shoes, else where, during the hikes.
Drink plenty of liquids during the hikes.
Collecting of flora and fauna is prohibited at the protected areas.
Please do not litter.
Fishing is allowed in most areas.
Please, do not take any animals or plants out of the area. Hunting is not permitted.
Please do not buy handicrafts made of feathers, animal skins or insects.
Please do not use audio gear without personal earphones at any encounter with nature.
Please do not give money, presents, or sweets to the kid, but educational material (pens, notebooks, colored pencil, etc.) is fine.
Keep at least one set of dry clothes in the jungle lodge.
Banos is a lovely little town set at the foot of the picturesque Tungurahua volcano. So charming is the place that it is always full of tourists, with large contingents of Germans and Brits. You can hardly hear any Spanish spoken in the town center! Having said that, don't miss the opportunity to rent a mountain bike and go downhill to El Paellon del Diablo - just make sure you don't collide with a fellow tourist :)
Mitad del Mundo. Just north of Quito, Mitad del Mundo ('Middle of the Earth') is a monument to the Equator, which runs right through the middle of Ecuador and gives the country its name. If you go to Mitad del Mundo, try not to go on a weekend, or you'll be fighting the crowds to get your picture taken at the monument!
The market at Otavalo is a total tourist trap but a must-see nonetheless. Haggling with vendors is near impossible since they know you have the money if you are there. I really enjoyed it. Other towns along the various main highways specialize in certain crafts and are generally better places to buys crafts & native goods.
Otavalo is a tourist trap from hell but luckily we had a local guide with us that helped us. The small town of Otavalo is famous for its Saturday Indian market, which dates back to pre-Inca times. Otavalo is two to three hours north of Quito by bus. Taxis are the only other way to get to Otavalo from Quito.
We found a few items that we liked but when we went to other market towns in the area, we found cheaper and better quality.
When in Baños do go to the hot springs! they are great especially after a day of hiking or mountain biking. BUT, do check at what time they close! (about 16.00h)They don't tell you and we have seen many tourists entering just a few minutes before they pull the plug!
Cotacachi is a 'leather' town near Otavalo. Famous leather handicrafts that are sold here for incredible (high) prices. It is not worth visiting as you won't see the art of making the products and in the many shops they sell the same things. Often it is included in the tours offered by the agencies in Otavalo, but when exploring on your own, just skipp it!
The center of the world is not much more than a cheesy museum and a line painted on the ground to show the 'equator.' I've actually heard they built it about a mile off the real line but hey everyone should go there at least once.
Traveled thur Quito on a Eco Tourism trip. The Marriott was unforgetable. Beautiful hotel in every...more
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Av. de las Amazonas, Banos, 2000, Ecuador
Satisfaction: Very Good
Good for: Business
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