Cuenca to Quito in eight days
June 24, 2014 12:33 PM   Subscribe

We're getting into Cuenca, Ecuador on a Friday and departing out of Quito on Saturday night, eight days later. Other than that, we have no plans. Where should we go, and how should we go there?

We like architecture, history & museums, food, and nature. We like swimming and walking/hiking but are not even a little bit hardcore, plus I tend to get altitude sickness - hiking around for a few hours would be great, but we're not doing anything that requires gear or camping or whatever.

Whatever kind of transport is fine, except renting a car. Hostels or hotels are fine, provided they have basic amenities (private bathroom, outlets). I speak okay Spanish. We are not hugely outgoing people, so realistically we are not going to hang out in a tiny village making friends.

I've heard good things about Otovalo, Baños, Mindo, Ingapirca, etc., but eight days is not a ton of time, especially since they're not all that close to each other. What's our ideal itinerary for the time we have?
posted by goodbyewaffles to Travel & Transportation around Ecuador (1 answer total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Cuenca was a fun place to be for us because it is more modern and western feeling-- but you might not want that if you'll only be in SA for a week. Not too many museums. Beautiful, though. But you can see the historic part in a day.

Banos was tons of fun, it is definitely touristy but has a lot of ecuadorian tourists as well. While you're there, I'd recommend renting bikes and biking on the waterfall route, going to the hot springs, and doing some of the other outdoors activities around there. You can also hike up the hills behind the city, which was fun.

My favorite thing in Ecuador was hiking around the Quilatoa loop-- you're hiking from hostel to hostel. Might be a little more than you're interested in, but there was no gear-carrying and it was beautiful, you're hiking through very rural areas and staying in small towns which is interesting, and you're bumping into the same tourists at each hostel, so it's a fun (low key) social experience. I'm not sure you'd have enough time for it, though.

Ingapirca was cool, though less cool than many of the other latin american ruins, if you've seen those. It's a day trip by public bus from cuenca, not hard to figure out.

Quito is less clean/safe than Cuenca, but it's got amazing museums and is less westernized.

I'd personally do maybe two days in Cuenca with one of them for getting used to things and recovering from the flight and the next one doing ingapirca. Then I'd head to Banos for a couple days, then spend the rest of your time in and around Quito. Mindo was beautiful, but it's a long bus ride out of your way and Banos is almost as beautiful. Or you could do Mindo instead-- they're similar but Banos is more built up. Mindo has more of an ecotourism feel vs Banos which is all about partying and rapelling down waterfalls.
posted by geegollygosh at 1:08 PM on June 24, 2014 [1 favorite]

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