Title says it all. I have a chance to fly to Quito (or Guayquil) at a really good rate, in business class, and stay at a top (well, the top – not sure what that means in Ecuador) hotel more or less free with some frequent flyer points.
Well, I’ve never thought much about Ecuador.
Are they the ones that elected some mini-Chavez? Even if so, I don’t get the impression that would make travel unsafe or difficult.
My parameters – I could do it any time in the next 3-6 months (work permitting). I can afford it (with the cheap ticket and free hotel), including any cool /mandatory side trips, activities, etc. My Spanish is very indifferent these days.
So: is it worth it? For how long (i.e., I don’t want to book a ten day trip and then find out (as I did with Pisa and Bermuda, notably) that all the fun/accessible things to do within a reasonable proximity of Quito can be done in a long weekend)? Where to stay, what side trips, where to eat, any additional tips? (I’m a little bit worried about the elevation in Quito, not just because it’s consistently rated one of the ten scariest airports, but because I was huffing for breath last time I went to Denver).
I was just in Guayaquil as a stopover to the Galapagos.
Perhaps with more time Id have found more, but there were lots of ‘dont go off main streets’ warnings and the like, and every shop on the main street had multiple armed guards. It feels like more of an industrial city than a great city for tourism.
I spent three weeks in Quito learning Spanish, and found it perfectly safe wandering around as a single guy, though some of the ladies in my school were a little more sketched out. Highlights that stand out several years later: the Guayasamin museum was amazing, Mitad del Mundo (middle of the earth - ie, the equator) had a cool tourist trap, we did a fun bike ride from Baños (it’s a city, not a bunch of bathrooms) to Puyo (mostly downhill.) The architecture in Quito is great, and you’re allowed to climb up the church. I don’t know why you wouldn’t go - I thought it was great.
I was in Ecuador in May/June (but I was en route to the Galapagos).
If you have trouble with altitude sickness in Denver, you’ll have trouble in Quito–it’s over 6000 feet, IIRC. I usually have no problem in Denver, but certainly had serious issues in Quito. It was the altitude exacerbated to a large degree by the amount of air pollution. I enjoyed the one day of sightseeing I had in the city, but I did tire easily.
I don’t know anything about Guayaquil except that you need to be very careful about what taxis you elect to take because of problems with “express kidnappings.” Read the State Department’s travel advisory for more information about that.
Personally, if I had free air fare to Ecuador, I’d take the chance to go back to the Galapagos.
Uh, turns out it’s 9,200 feet. I’ve been that high maybe once (in Rocky Mountain Nat’l Park) and just walking was a chore. Let me think this over again . . . but Quito does sound nice (turns out that along with Krakow, it was one of the first two World Cultural Heritage sites named, and Krakow was great).
You get used to it fairly quickly. I live at about 600 feet, and every time I would return to Mexico City (from 7,000 to 12,000 feet) I’d struggle with walking from the car to the building entrance (!!) for a couple of days. It didn’t take long to be able to run up stairs or hike in the surrounding woods, though.
Aww GD can’t believe I did that in the title no less.
I am reading good things online about some of their food, seafood esp. I might pass on the cuy (not for the obvious reasons, but because I’m kind of down on anything with tiny bones that need to be picked out/around – I know, lazy Westerner).
Typos and errors happen to me all the time. Don’t fret Mmm…seafood. I think you should go for it. Go to Ecuador and next time, go to Perú! Even better. I miss my country. I have not been back in many many years. If you go, report back with fun stories.
I found it spectacularly beautiful, the people friendly, Quito is very safe and lovely to visit, you’ll be charmed, I’m certain.
I didn’t have altitude issues, as I’d acclimatized while climbing in Peru. I had some minor symptoms when I first arrived, couldn’t sleep, wasn’t hungry, brain stemmy headache, like that, but it passed in a couple of days, and I was good after that.
Taking it easy, at first, is good advice. I’d never had symptoms at altitude before, but we couldn’t keep ourselves from clamoring over some of the nearby ruins on our first day. Not so smart, I think. But it’s not easy to override the excitement of arriving in some place you’ve anticipated and is so exotic and enchanting.
Colour me jealous!
(Definitely listen to lacortadora, Peru is worth the journey too!)