An Overview of Our Trip to Ecuador
I am Jess's younger sister, Erin. As my post grad trip (just finished up at the University of Pennsylvania), I wanted to go backpacking for a few weeks, but I didn't know where or with who. I recruited my boyfriend to join me because he is generally more competent than I am, and we eventually decided on Ecuador: a small, mountainous country in northern South America.
Ecuador was our final choice for a number of reasons:
1. Cheap. Round trip flight was $450, they use the American dollar, you can get lunch for $3 and stay at a hostel for $8/night. Massive beers are $1.75. Cheap. I am broke.
2. The Andes mountain range take up the majority of the country, and boasts a number of active volcanoes and beautiful hikes in totally unperturbed landscapes.
3. Ecuador is not a popular travel destination, and it generally a pretty untouched country. The lives of many indigenous peoples still go on with little influence from the Western world to this day, and we wanted an opportunity to see both nature and culture in its unmolested form. We wanted it to feel like an adventure.
4. Nightlife and salsa dancing are actually quite fun in Ecuador, and as both of us enjoy a good night out we liked that that would be an option for us (when we weren't too exhausted to leave our beds).
5. Architecture and ruins abound in Ecuador, from the time of the Incan Empire to Spanish colonialism.
6. The Amazon Rainforest borders the Andes to the east. That was cool.
Ecuador does have some downsides:
1. As it is not a popular travel destination, sometimes your hostel will be quiet, and in three weeks I met only three Americans (two were hostel volunteers).
2. Petty crime (not violent crime), is a problem in the major cities of Quito and Guayaquil, so one must be vigilant when on buses etc. (honestly, we found that keeping an eye on your stuff and telling people to back off when we felt uncomfortable mitigated all possible situations, but it is a problem).
3. The public transport system, although extensive, is somewhat unreliable. A one hour drive can take three hours if the bus driver has other stops in mind. Patience is the only way.
4. Dirty water is an issue, and you have to be mindful that you don't drink from the tap.
To us, the benefits far outweighed the detriments and we had a wonderful trip. Ecuador was everything we hoped it would be.
Our trip spanned three weeks, and I have included a map below that shows our trek around the country. I will break up my blog posts by city/region, and explain a bit about the touristy things we did as well as the hikes. There will be many pictures to come, I'm just saving them for the blog posts