Where To Go
My Quest For Zest...
DESTINATIONS IN ECUADOR
MY QUEST FOR ZEST...
After working in the States for several months, I quickly found myself needing outside inspiration again, so I booked a one way ticket to Ecuador, South America.
I flew into Guayaquil, and spent a few days here recovering from the long flight. I remember finding the best empanada here...but as years have passed, it would be miracle to remember the name of the place. There is a central park that's famous for its iguana population, Parque Seminario, that is worth a visit if you're in the city. It was rainy season, so I experienced some heavy afternoon rains. I remember walking through the streets barefoot in water up to my mid-calves but with a huge smile on my face. I was ready for adventure.
The main reason for flying into Guayaquil was because it was a cheap flight and close to the Galapagos Islands. I began my journey visiting my younger sister in the Galapagos Islands where she was located as part of a high school traveling program. It was amazing to see the wild life on the islands so abundant and open. I had to keep reminding myself that I wasn't in a zoo, that this was just real life! I enjoyed the bonding experience of spending time with my sister abroad in such a magical part of the world.
The Galapagos can be done high budget or on a backpacker budget+ haha. You don't have to book through agents, you can plan your stay just like any other place. I found accommodation on a booking site and luckily, splitting with one other helped to cut the cost. There are day tours you can arrange when you arrive to see different islands, the famous tortoise, blue-footed boobies, iguanas, and so much more! If you want to do an island tour where you stay on a boat and cruise around, these are where prices begin to escalate. You could arrive on an island and try to sort out a last minute boat, bargaining for the price. Either way, boat cruise or backpacking, the Galapagos is an amazing experience rich in history and wildlife.
From the Galapagos, I made my way to Quito, the capital. I had visited here when I was about 13 on a mission trip, and memories flooded back to me. Things to do in the city include the Basilica del Voto Nacional (cathedral) where you can climb to the top. Face your fears head on if you're scared of heights, it's worth the views! Take a walking tour through the Old Town. Eat street food (the grilled plantains remain, to this day, a favorite!). You can visit the equator line. Take a walk (but advised to travel in a group) to the angel statue above the city, El Panecillo. It's definitely worth a day trip to the Otovalo Market. Here you can shop for hours, or just wander aimlessly admiring. There are souvenirs, unique items, and of course food!
Banos is an adventure spot! It's worth a visit with its amazing location in nature and fun activities for low prices! Here I bridge jumped for the first time (and maybe the last...who knows haha), rafted down the river, rented a bike to tour waterfalls, drove around in a jeep, took a swing at the 'end of the world', zip lined....It's got it all and will keep you busy for days!