Tim's Ecuador Page
I guess I stayed too long in Peru, over 10 weeks, although skipped half of the country in my haste. I got to Ecuador late, but it turned out to be as nice as everyone promised!
The TrainRide from HELL!
Dinner the night before the Alusi Train Ride
The Train was crowded, so we rode up top!
Even the space up top was limited!
The train starts way up in the mountains, and drops many thousands of feet, all the way down to the coast!!!
The tracks are rickity and delapitated in places, and some of the wooden trusses that cross the streams are in pretty rough shape! I bought some good beers to share, to help us all mellow out!
Vilcabamba was beyond my best dreams. Called the "valley of longevity", where many villagers live to reach 100 years of age, its easy to see why! I stayed at the incredible hostel called Madre Tierra (Mother Earth), and would never be able to explain how cool the place was. It wasn't cheap, almost $10 a day (with two meals), but the location up on the hillside overlooking the valley, and the spa and facilities made the three nights there seem like way too few. For $25 total I got the total massage, clay treatment, facial, etc. etc. (everything but the colon treatment!) (check this link out; very special place. note, prices much cheaper as a drop-in, as usual. same everywhere. never, ever, reserve ahead)
Quito was quite nice (for a city). Seemingly much nicer than hot and dirty Lima, although I loved Lima. Quito is high, in fact the second highest capital in the world at 2850 meters (almost 10,000 feet), so expect to feel the altitude at first. I spent about a week here trying to get acclimatized for the big climb up the 19,000 Cotopaxi Volcan.
Cotopaxi Volcano; 19,000 feet
Cotopaxi was a trip in itself. After slogging up to the refuge at 14,000 feet (click here for photos), we practiced roped glacier techniques, cooked up some hot dinner (mostly tea de coca for the altitude fatigue) then tried to sleep for a few hours,,,, a couple hours later, at midnight, we started the long pre dawn climb towards the summit. At around 8 am, we were only 250 meters from the summit, but, weather and altitude sickness told us to wait for a better day. Sure enough, two days later I was down at sea level in the Galapagos Islands! Cotopaxi was not to be. (I fell in a crevasse on the way down, but luckily the rope techniques paid off as they always do!)
Otavalo was kinda cool. Everyone goes to the market there on Saturday. I met Yfat, a very sweet Israeli girl there, and we traveled together, off and on, for several weeks, to the Galapagos, Colombia, etc.
Banos was real nice. Lots of great hotsprings. I had a real good time, especially because of the small group of great folks I met there. They had a small bus, and they invited me to join them for a week or so. We eventually made our way to Alausi, and the famous "Nariz de Diablo". This old train drops several thousand feet from the highlands down to the tropical lowlands via a series of crazy and rackety switch backs. Hundreds of peasants load all their goods aboard for the whiteknuckle ride. All the crazy foreigners ride up on top of the roof, even though there is really nothing to hold on to. This was one heck of a scary joyride!
After returning from the Galapagos, Yifat, Eric and I decided to take our chances and head into Colombia. We bought an airpass that gave us three flights, anywhere in the country, for $99. We were like the only gringos in Colombia, but I'd go back in a heartbeat!
Ecuador is a great place to visit for anyone who dares!
Page created and updated by Tim D; January 1999 (ud 4/25/02)