Pretty soon our stay in Ecuador is coming to an end. We’ve been here nearly 2 months and really only explored 2 areas, Quito and Loja. Quito is the sprawling capital sitting at over 9000 feet and Loja is a small city in the south with a laid back vibe. There an abundance of parks in and around Quito and Loja for relaxing, physical activity, hiking and exploring. There are trails everywhere, some along rivers that go on for over 40 KM.
We’ve taken cooking classes in many countries during our trip. Ecuador was no exception. Laurie found a vegan place that offers weekly classes. We spent 2 Thursday evenings learning to make 4 traditional Ecuadorian soups. Today I offered to volunteer in the bakery of a local cafe next time I return. I want to learn how to make Quinoa bread and pineapple cake.
From Quito we’ve been able to do some awesome day hikes. One was to Cotopaxi, a snow covered volcano that rises to over 19000 feet. We made it to over 15000 and called it a day. Hiking is very different at this altitude. It can be hard to breathe, you go really slow, and you get tired quickly. But when it’s over it really feels like an accomplishment. Another hike we did from Quito was to Pinchicha, an active stratovolcano, which rises to over 15500 feet. This time we made it to 14440. The views were amazing as was the experience.
In Loja we did a few hikes. One was into Rumi Wilco and up a steep ridge. The other was a 5k loop in Podocarpus National Park. It was steep, really slow going and took us 4+ hours. The views on all of these hikes were amazing. I know I keep saying that but the only thing I can compare it to is hiking in Colorado. There are dozens of other volcanos in Ecuador so there are so many other opportunities for more hiking (someday).
In addition to hiking mountains and volcanos there is so much more to Ecuador. Like the Galapagos islands. This is probably Ecuador’s biggest attraction and it’s know all over the world. A lot of people have this on their bucket list. We didn’t plan on going there for financial reasons, as this is supposed to be a budget friendly trip. Some people spend as much on a Galapagos trip as we spent for the entire year travelling.
Then there’s Ecuador’s coast line that stretches almost 1400 miles. We didn’t make it here either (this time). There are beaches, island, retirement communities, surfing, etc. Oh, and don’t forget the Amazon. That’s right, almost half of Ecuador lies in the Amazon, over 50,000 square miles.
So there’s plenty more to do and see here. More mountains and volcanos to hike, beaches and jungles to explore. So the next trip here will include more of that stuff. But other things draw me here. The people are really friendly and happy. The country and it’s cities are not crowed. It’s easy and affordable to get around. Plus you can get here quickly from the US, a direct 6+ hour flight from NYC. I have a feeling I’ll be back someday. In the meantime I’m enjoying our last few weeks here, dreaming in Spanish, and reminiscing about those volcano hikes.