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Ecuador - Zaruma, Beaches and Coast, Quito, Zamora and Loja

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For one of the smallest countries in South America, Ecuador offers a huge range of landscapes and activities! In the east are the tropical lowlands and jungle areas, to the west are beautiful beaches and the Galapagos Islands, while through the middle of Ecuador runs the spectacular Andes mountains. Ecuador is extremely rich in plant and wildlife species and is a must for bird-watchers!

I have been to Ecuador 6 times now! I spent 2 weeks in Ecuador in June 2009, 2 weeks in May 2010, 3 weeks in July 2011, 11 days in June 2012, 18 days in July 2015 and 30 days in October 2018. I intend to see more of this beautiful country, here are my experiences and story.
Read more about Limon

The Oriente Road Halfway Between Puyo & Zamora - Limon

 » photoset (34 photos) « Unconventional transportation seemed to be the motto of my travels up the Oriente Road this time after hitching a ride in a truck from Gualaquiza to Limon (1hr 40mins). I had a day earlier taken a taxi from Zamora to Yantzaza (30mins). There are of course buses in the Oriente. More   date: October 2018
Read more about Yantzaza

They Eat Fried Maggots & Frogs Legs Here - Yantzaza

 » photoset (35 photos) « Have you ever thought of traveling the Oriente Road by river? In theory you could ride the Zamora River all the way from Yantzaza south to Zamora then continue westward to Loja. I wonder if it is possible? My 2nd time traveling the Oriente Road, this time from south to north (Zamora to Puyo) but stopping at a few places in between (Yantzaza, Gualaquiza, Limon and Macas). More   date: October 2018
Read more about Zaruma

A Gold Mining Town Off The Beaten Track - Zaruma

 » photoset (30 photos) « I heard a little rumor about a place called Zaruma, one of those little fairytale towns you occasionally come across while traveling, like Guatape in Colombia. I felt that if I didn't come here I would be missing out on something special! Zaruma is not particularly close to any major cities in Ecuador, but tucked away high in the mountains roughly halfway (distance wise, not timewise) between Machala (100kms, 2hrs 30mins bus) and Loja (130kms, 5hrs 45mins bus). More   date: October 2018
Read more about Beaches & Coast

Atacames, El Matal, Jama, Canoa, Montanita - Beaches & Coast

 » photoset (84 photos) « The plan to travel all the way down the Ecuadorian coast from San Lorenzo to Montanita was set, the only 2 places on the coast I had been to before were Puerto Lopez and Tarqui Beach in Manta. The most important thing I learned from this part of the trip is that beaches are really only beaches on hot sunny days during the weekends when there are lots of people, activities, food and beverages. More   date: October 2018
Read more about San Lorenzo & Esmeraldas

Tip Of The Northern Coast - San Lorenzo & Esmeraldas

 » photoset (40 photos) « I was excited to arrive in San Lorenzo on the most northern part of the Ecuadorian coast, just some 20kms south of the Colombian border. This would begin my travels down the coast all the way to Montanita. San Lorenzo is an old port city and isn't exactly flash, tourism is reasonably undeveloped, however, you can hire a boat to take you out to see the local mangroves, deserted beaches and some wildlife. More   date: September 2018
Read more about Ibarra

San Antonio Wood Carvings, Churches, Culture & Arts - Ibarra

 » photoset (35 photos) « Ibarra is a pleasant city halfway between Quito and the northern border, it's slightly north of Cayambe (45mins) and Otavalo (20mins) and worth a day of sightseeing to enjoy art, culture and museums, the beautiful plazas and parks, a significant number of historic churches and buildings and to see the famous San Antonio wood carvings. More   date: May 2010, September 2018
Read more about Quito Zoo in Guayllabamba

Zoo Animals & Fauna, 40mins From Quito - Quito Zoo in Guayllabamba

 » photoset (32 photos) « I travelled 30mins further south to Guayllabamba from Cayambe, it's 40 minutes north of Quito, the reason was to visit Quito Zoo, it's not located in Quito itself but here in Guayllabamba. I had heard it was worth visiting and I was glad I did, it was possibly the best zoo I have ever been to! The animals are all well taken care of, many have been rescued from abandonment or illegal animal trafficking. More   date: July 2011
Read more about Mindo

Birdwatching, Butterflies & Adventure, 2hrs From Quito - Mindo

 » photoset (63 photos) « Mindo is Ecuadors center of birdwatching. Other activities include tubing on the river, zipline canopy through the forest, hiking in the bush and a visit to the house of butterflies. The valley and forest of Mindo stretches from high to low altitudes and many species of birds live between the cloud forest and sub-tropical rain-forest. More   date: July 2011
Read more about Quito

How Many Historical Churches Can You Count? - Quito

 » photoset (83 photos) « Quito, especially the Old City is a treasure trove of historical sites, colonial buildings and vibrant streets. I have never seen so many churches in one place. The city has some lovely parks and fun recreational activities. If you are a keen photographer you will have an absolute ball capturing the city of Quitos many delights. More   date: July 2011, July 2012, July 2015, Oct 2018
Read more about Tena

My First Time In An Ecuador Jungle Town - Tena

 » photoset (23 photos) « I travelled through the night from Quito to Tena, one of Ecuadors jungle towns in the eastern Amazon basin - The Oriente. It took 5 and a half hours. I arrived at the shabby and dusty Tena bus terminal at around 4am and stayed here for a few hours until it was light. More   date: July 2011
Read more about Puyo

Things To Do In The Jungle Region - Puyo

 » photoset (76 photos) « Twice now in Puyo, first time I travelled by bus 78kms to Puyo from Tena, it takes 2hrs 30mins. The second time coming up from Macas (2hrs 45mins). Generally you find in Ecuador for bus travel it takes around 3hrs per 100km. Puyo is a hot and humid jungle town where the temperature ranges from 17-24 degrees, the altitude is 950m above sea level. More   date: July 2011, October 2018
Read more about Macas to Zamora

I Love Bus Travel In Ecuador, The Windows Open - Macas to Zamora

 » photoset (20 photos) « Twice now in Macas, traveling the Oriente road in Ecuador's jungle. The first time coming from Puyo in the north, the second time from Limon further south. Macas is a fairly small place and not overly attractive apart from the Upano river and jungles surrounding it. More   date: July 2011, October 2018
Read more about Zamora

Nature Walks In Podocarpus National Park - Zamora

 » photoset (64 photos) « Located in the very south of Ecuadors Oriente is Zamora, a beautiful and peaceful town known for its gold-mining, bird-watching, waterfalls and nature walks in Podocarpus National Park. There is a ton of accommodation in Zamora covering all budgets. I've stayed 5mins from the center at a place overlooking the river - double-room $13USD for 2 and also in the very center. More   date: July 2011, October 2018
Read more about Loja

Things To Do & See In Ecuadors Music Capital - Loja

 » photoset (48 photos) « Loja has a long history and because of this there are many things to do and see in the city. I've stayed in Loja 2 times now. The first time I had traveled down the Oriente road through the jungle regions of Ecuador and Loja was the first big city I had visited since Quito a week earlier. More   date: June 2009, July 2011, October 2018
Read more about Vilcabamba

Valley Of Longevity Live To Be 100 Years Old - Vilcabamba

 » photoset (28 photos) « Vilcabamba is the valley of longevity where the locals live to be over 100 years old and it's true, I saw many people who were at least in their 90's. There's no stress in Vilcabamba, just relax, take it easy and have a pleasant time walking, hiking, biking, horseriding and birdwatching, try traditional archery and dream of retiring here one day. More   date: July 2011
Read more about Vilcabamba to Zumba

The Most Remote Border Crossing To Peru - Vilcabamba to Zumba

 » photoset (20 photos) « To get to Peru from Vilcabamba there is a border crossing south of Zumba, the bus from Vilcabamba to Zumba takes 5hrs 30mins and then it is 1hr south again to Pucapamba where you cross the bridge to La Balza at the Peruvian border and continue on to San Ignacio. More   date: July 2011
Read more about Guayaquil

Best Thing To Do Is See Iguanas At Seminario Park - Guayaquil

 » photoset (60 photos) « I had passed through Guayaquil bus terminal a couple of times before, on my way to other places, on my third time I decided to actually visit the city. I am glad I did, it's a modern city with some nice sights. From Huaquillas on the border with Peru it took 4hrs 30mins in the middle of the night to get here. More   date: June 2012
Read more about Manta - Tarqui Beach

They Catch The Fish We Eat The Fish - Manta - Tarqui Beach

 » photoset (22 photos) « It was a 3 and a half hour trip north-west from Guayaquil up to Manta through the small towns of Lomas de Sargentillo, Pedro Carbo, Pajan, Jipijapa and Montecristi. I wouldn't describe the scenery as mind-blowing but I did see some cool monuments, the most memorable being the giant sweetcorn between Jipijapa and Montecristi. More   date: June 2012
Read more about Quito to Tulcan

A Direct Bus Can Be Hard To Find - Quito to Tulcan

 » photoset (20 photos) « In Ecuador there is no such thing as a direct bus, not really, the odd one maybe, but generally they stop here, there and everywhere between the places they travel through. This makes traveling in Ecuador a lot of fun and you see more than you normally would. More   date: July 2012
Read more about Huaquillas

This Border Crossing Is A Big Hassle - Huaquillas

Crossing the border from Aguas Verdes north of Tumbes (Peru) to Huaquillas was my first experience in Ecuador. I immediately encountered a busy main street with all kinds of things for sale including apparel, fruit and drinks. I headed to Machala for the night. More   date: June 2009, May 2010, June 2012
Read more about Huaquillas to Machala

This Is Where They Grow Bananas - Huaquillas to Machala

 » photoset (20 photos) « From Huaquillas I took a bus and spent 2 or more hours traveling north through banana plantations for miles and miles. One of the most enjoyable things to see on bus journeys in Ecuador are the traffic islands, they all have amazing monuments in the middle of them, not statues. More   date: June 2009, October 2018
Read more about Latacunga

A Mini-Quito With Many Historic Buildings - Latacunga

 » photoset (33 photos) « Latacunga has a gem of an historic center that most backpackers miss because it is on the other side of the bridge from the bus terminal. I had missed it on my 1st 2 visits to Latacunga when I stayed across the road from the terminal before and after visiting Quilotoa Laguna in 2009. More   date: June 2009, July 2012, July 2015, Oct 2018
Read more about Latacunga to Quilotoa Laguna

A 2 Hour Bus Journey - Latacunga to Quilotoa Laguna

 » photoset (24 photos) « From Latacunga I took a local bus to Zumbahua / Quilotoa, again like so many places in Ecuador, with amazing countryside to see along the way. It takes 2 or so hours. At the bus terminal locals were loading in produce to take to the famous Saquisili market. More   date: June 2009
Read more about Otavalo

Market Starts Early On Saturday Morning At 5am - Otavalo

 » photoset (37 photos) « From Latacunga I began a 2 or so hour bus journey up to Quito where I planned to immediately find another bus north to Otavalo for the Saturday markets. At the bus terminal in Quito it was easy to find a bus to Otavalo that was leaving soon. Especially because of the markets on the next day. More   date: June 2009
Read more about Mitad del Mundo

Wow, I'm Standing On The Equater! - Mitad del Mundo

 » photoset (11 photos) « There was one thing I wanted to do on the way down to Quito from Otavalo and that was to stop off at Mitad del Mundo to stand on the equator! The bus dropped me off and I caught a taxi for $5USD to Mitad del Mundo, it was quite far from where I was let out of the bus. More   date: June 2009
Read more about Puerto Lopez

Things To Do Include Whale Watching & The Beach - Puerto Lopez

 » photoset (38 photos) « The overnight bus from Quito to Puerto Lopez left at 7pm and should have taken 11hrs but due to the driver being in rally mode, it took only 9hrs. We arrived at 4am. There were other travelers on the bus and we all sat out on the road for a while waiting for the bread shop to open and to find a place to stay but without arriving too early, so that we wouldn't be charged for the current night. More   date: June 2009
Read more about Portoviejo

Best Thing To See Is The Botanical Gardens - Portoviejo

 » photoset (25 photos) « At sometime around midnight I turned up in Portoviejo after traveling all day since the morning from Piura in Peru up the coast through Tumbes and into Ecuador passing through Guayaquil. This was my second time in Ecuador. Portoviejo is not in the Lonely Planet and it is easy to see why. More   date: May 2010, July 2012, October 2018
Read more about Banos

Things To Do In The Adventure Capital - Banos

 » photoset (43 photos) « I had heard a lot of great things about Banos before I visited for myself for 3 nights. I didn't realise at the time of my arrival how amazing it would turn out to be and definitely not for the faint hearted. I arrived in Banos after an all night bus journey firstly from Portoviejo to Ambato then on to Banos as the sun came up, arriving early in the morning. More   date: May 2010, October 2018
Read more about Tulcan

Have Been Here A Few Times For Border Crossings - Tulcan

 » photoset (20 photos) « I arrived in Tulcan in the late afternoon from Ibarra where I had spent part of that day. I found a cheap hotel across the road from the bus terminal for about $8USD. I noticed pretty early that the tv plug in the wall had exposed wires and I should be really careful when plugging my camara charger in right beside it. More   date: May 2010, July 2011, July 2012
Read more about Cayambe

Yummy Baked Bizcochos Special Biscuits Made Here - Cayambe

 » photoset (39 photos) « I visited Cayambe during my 3rd and 6th trips to Ecuador. The first time I left Tulcan by bus in the morning, passed through Ibarra and Otavalo and arrived in Cayambe about 4 and a half hours later. The second time from Quito Airport to Cayambe is just 45mins. More   date: July 2011, September 2018
Read more about Ambato

Things To Do 2hrs 30mins South Of Quito - Ambato

 » photoset (64 photos) « More than just a transportation hub, Ambato offers a full day worth of sights, things to do and exploration around the city. Add an extra day for the fantastic journey from Ambato to Guaranda and back which is the closest road to the Chimborazo Volcano (the highest point on the earths surface from the earths center). More   date: July 2015
Read more about Guaranda

An Awesome Day Trip From Ambato By Bus - Guaranda

 » photoset (28 photos) « A day trip from Ambato, the journey from Ambato to Guaranda is one I have enjoyed twice now. It's a fantastic 2hr bus ride (each way) through the beautiful green Ecuadorian highlands passing just 5kms within Chimborazo Volcano and passing up, through and above the clouds. More   date: June 2009, July 2015
Read more about Riobamba

Best City In The Mountains Between Quito & Cuenca - Riobamba

 » photoset (73 photos) « Riobamba, just under 4hrs south of Quito or 1hr 20mins south of Ambato by bus, is a city worth spending a day or 2 in to enjoy the sights and also the views of the mountains around it. The city has plenty of colonial architecture, nice plazas, a bunch of museums and fascinating markets. More   date: June 2009, July 2015
Read more about Alausi

The Devil's Nose Train To Sibambe Wasn't My Highlight - Alausi

 » photoset (56 photos) « Alausi is the town that tourists flock to so that they can ride the Devil's Nose train. The Devil's Nose train ride is made out to be some kind of must-do activity, but to be honest it's not that great, the town of Alausi itself is much better! I came down to Alausi from Riobamba (2hrs north), stopping at Colta Lagoon for an hour on the way. More   date: July 2015
Read more about Cuenca

Pristine Colonial City (UNESCO) With Many Things To Do - Cuenca

 » photoset (86 photos) « Your eyes will be open wide with amazement when you see the colonial center of Cuenca, that's why it is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Trust site! The city is clean and tidy with cobblestone streets, many historical buildings and churches, fabulous plazas and open spaces, cool graffiti art and is a photographers paradise to say the least. More   date: June 2009, July 2015
Read more about Pujili

Ceramics, Pottery & Traditional Market (Sunday & Wednesday) - Pujili

 » photoset (40 photos) « I spent the night in Latacunga and took a taxi at around 7:30am to Pujili which took 15mins and cost $5USD. It was a Wednesday which was lucky because Pujili's market days are Wednesdays and Sundays. I hadn't planned to see the markets especially, more to have a look around town because I was going to nearby Saquisili later that day for their big Thursday market. More   date: July 2015
Read more about Saquisili

Indigenous Market, 6am On Thursdays Near Latacunga - Saquisili

 » photoset (43 photos) « If you sleep Wednesday night in Saquisili at the one and only hotel beside the main plaza, you will be woken between 3:30-4am by the vehicles arriving to start setting up the Thursday markets. The Saquisili market is a serious business for locals and the indigenous folks from the surrounding towns and villages. More   date: July 2015
Read more about Machachi

Valley Of 9 Volcanoes Near Cotopaxi National Park - Machachi

 » photoset (26 photos) « Machachi is the first town along the Pan-American highway you pass-by south of Quito (45mins by bus from Quito's southern terminal - Quitumbe). The town is about 1km to the side of the highway. There's not a lot to see in the town itself but it does have a beautiful setting surrounded by mountains and is very close to Cotopaxi National Park which offers hiking, camping, cycling, picnicking, birdwatching and horse riding. More   date: July 2015

Hostel & Hotel Reviews:

  • Hostal Primavera - Quito
  • Hostal History - Quito
  • Hostal Escocie - Quito
  • Hostal Plaza Real - Latacunga
  • Hostal Dugam - Banos
  • Hotel San Luis - Puyo
  • Hostal Los Canelos - Macas
  • Hotel Joya Limonense - Limon
  • Hotel Paraiso - Yantzaza
  • Hotel Torres - Zamora
  • Hostal Gaviota Azul - Loja
  • Hotel Aguila Dorada - Zaruma
  • Hotel Perla del Pacifico - Machala
  • Habitaciones Rosita - Montanita
  • Hostal Don Gregorio - Portoviejo
  • Hostal El Descanso de Belen - Canoa
  • Hostal at the Plaza - Jama
  • Hotel Yam Yam - Pedernales
  • Hostal Manabita - Atacames
  • Hotel Stefany - Esmeraldas
  • Hostal Estefania - San Lorenzo
  • Hostal Salas Sevilla - Ibarra
  • Hostal Imperial - Cayambe
  • Hostal Las Orquideas - Quito
  • Amanecer del Valle Hotel - Machachi
  • Hotel San Carlos - Saquisili
  • Hotel Norte - Cuenca
  • Hotel Europa - Alausi
  • Hotel El Libertador - Riobamba
  • Hotel Internacional - Ambato
  • Hotel Eva - Tulcan
  • Hotel Cotopaxi - Latacunga
  • Hotel Vista al Mar - Manta
  • Hotel Atlantic - Guayaquil
  • Hostal C. Tipica - Guayllabamba
  • Hostal Tia Mely Melyang - Mindo
  • Hostal Rocio - Mindo
  • Hostal Marsella - Quito
  • Residencial Napoli - Tena
  • Hostal Girasol - Puyo
  • Residencial Mayflower - Macas
  • Hotel Orillas del Zamora - Zamora
  • Hotel Londres - Loja
  • Hotel Valle Sabrado - Vilcabamba
  • Hotel San Marco - Portoviejo
  • Hotel Victoria - Portoviejo
  • Patricio's Hospedaje - Portoviejo
  • Hostal Jardin del Sol - Banos
  • Residencial Las Gemelas - Montufar
  • Hotel Las Acacias - Tulcan
  • Hotel Majestic - Machala
  • Hotel Imperial - Riobamba
  • Hostal Pillarenita - Latacunga
  • Hostal Pacha Mama - Quilotoa
  • Hostal Mi Otavalito - Otavalo
  • Hostal Fragata - Puerto Lopez
  • Hotel Los Helechos - Cuenca

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