Montañita, Puerto Lopez, Baños and Chugchilan
21.06.2013 - 30.06.2013 18 °C
We hadn’t planned on staying long in Ecuador – maybe four or five days post-Galapagos, but the ol’ South American adage of ‘your gonna need mo time and mo money’ has rung true. As I write from the capital Quito – we will have clocked up a month in this relatively small country before our exit north, into Colombia.
Ecuador really has been a pleasant surprise (although to be fair, we (I) don’t tend to invest much in the way of advance planning to our travels – so this is hardly a revelation).
There is far more to this country than the Galapagos Islands and favourable extradition laws. It boasts a diversity of attractions in a small area (not unlike NZ), great bang for your buck (a three hour bus = $3) and possibly some of the best cuisine we’ve dappled in whilst being the continent (you would be surprised how many ways one can serve bananas).
Our first port of call following our return from the Galapagos was a beach town called Montañita, three hours north of Guayaquil. It is a party town where city folk come to let their hair down alongside backpackers, often of the antipodean variety. Our tolerance for doof-doof is pretty low, so we opted to stay slightly out of town in art-studio/beach bach/hippy hovel, which was just the ticket for a cruisey few days.
View of Montañita from the hippy hovel
A bit of this
Cocktail stands line the beach side streets of Montañita. Amazing
Nuevo sombrero, que elegante!
Ceviche at the beach!
One of the attractions of heading up this way was Puerto Lopez – a fishing town north of Montañita, which is home to calving whales from June to September. Neither of us had been whale-watching before so we absolutely loved watching these beasts do their thing, although a flip or two would have been nice…
Next stop following the beach was up to the hills to Baños (Ecuador’s Queenstown) for a little fun and adventure. It’s a laid-back tourist town where we hot-pooled, abseiled down waterfalls and enjoyed our best curry yet. Alleluia.
We abseiled down this sucker
It was a fleeting visit of just two days before we were on the road again to a spot a little off the beaten track called Chugchilan. This pipsqueak of a town is up on the grassy Ecuadorian Andes at around 3000m. The area has a large indigenous (Quechua) population , which we hadn’t seen yet in Ecuador, but sharing strong similarities to the Quechuas of Peru and Bolivia.
Agriculture on the hills
Looking down to the plateau and canyon. Loads of lupins too
On top of the plateau
Hayley had found an amazing eco-lodge (the Blacksheep Inn) laden with composting toilets, vegetarian food (yes, you read right) and a Frisbee-golf course amongst other delights. The main attraction of the area is some spectacular walking – namely the volcano crater and its laguna in nearby Quilotoa, but also spectacular canyons and plateaus.
The lovely A-frame we stayed in
view from the composting loo
We were joined by our friend Aritz who we had met on the Galapagos tour for four days of strolling, Frisbee and r&r (from our stressful holiday).
Put some pants on
Gave these kids an oreo each = limpits
Intense game of frisbee golf
Sophie in the rough. Siempre.
Was a bit windy
Next stop: Ecuador’s capital; Quito, for a visit to the dentist and to continue the quest north.