Archives for category: Ecuador

Sun, sand and surf. Montanita was our last stop in Ecuador before we head for Peru. Some last minute R&R on the beach before we start to move south and head for the cold (brrrrrr….) It was a beautiful spot with miles and miles of unspoilt beaches. Surf here was OK, a bit messy on the first day and then went smaller and smaller until the last day when the surf picked up but there was a surf comp on and I couldn’t get in the water šŸ˜¦


A very short distance from Puerto Lopez there is a beach called Los Frailes it isĀ located in Machalilla National Park. We took a local bus to that costs just 40 cent and then the entrance fee was $2 each. We spent the day on the beach and then went on to do a 7km hike back up and over to the spectacular view point overlooking the turtle nesting beach.

We headed off to the Isla de la Plata on the Satuday morning from Puerto Lopez. It is about 30km out took about an hour and ten minutes. Isla de la PlataĀ is a small Island is off the coast ofĀ ManabĆ­, and is part ofĀ Parque Nacional Machalilla. The tour itself cost $40 dollar’s each for one day and there was also a park fee of $2 dollars each. The boat was quite a big one held about twenty people including crew, it had two 140hp outboards on the back and we zipped through the sea as it was very calm. On our way we meet a school of Dolphins they followed us till just before the island. As we were approaching the island we spotted a large sea turtle.

The island was very barren and dry we were warned not to smoke, for danger that the island would take light. We did a hike around the island looking for boobies, we found loads, they were quite comicable with their dark blue feet and shiny sliver heads. They didn’t seem to mind the presence of humans until you got too close and then they would start flapping their wings as a warning sign.

After the hike went boarded the boat and had some free lunch which consisted of jam and cheese sandwiches with some sweets and a mineral. We then headed off to the other side of the island for some snorkeling. The sea was a little rough and visibility Ā was low but we got to see plenty of colourful tropical fish. Then right at the very end Alan caught sight of a large sea Turtle zooming around the floor of the ocean, which was the highlight of the whole day.

We travelled from Banos to GuayaquilĀ and then on to Puerto Lopez via Jipijapa. Puerto Lopez is a lovely little beach town who’s prime industry is fishing but it’s also used as a base to go to the Isla de la Plata, the poor mans Galapagos.

We arrived on a Friday and booked our trip for the next day for the Isla de la Plata, we were suppose to just stay two nights but we actually stayed for four because the town itself was so chilled with loads of little bars on the beach and fabulous fish restaurants our favourite was Carmittas run by a lovely lady that made the best fish and chips, that was soo fresh it would just melted in your mouth. It was unusually like Thailand, with motor taxis speeding up and down the street and at night the bars on the beach are lit up with colourful lights and hammocks hanging from everywhere.

After Quito we headed for the town of BaƱos a short bus ride south about three and a half hours. BaƱos is a small city set in theĀ Andean highlands under the smoke of volcano Tungurahua. The town itself is the only place that we’ve ever that has a town evacuation plan in case the volcanoes blow! Sounds scarey but they take it very seriously since the last eruption was in 2010 but it completely missed the town. Its name is Spanish for “Baths (of sacred water),” comes from the famous hydrothermal springs in the area.

It is also famous for a sweet they make called taffy it kinda tastes like treacle and it soo sweet that you get a tooth ache. See image below of how they stretch the treacle on oak posts in shop doorways.

We stayed 5 nights in BaƱos in total the city is small and welcoming, although very touristy with both local and international. It has a great array food restaurants and plenty of things to do from biking, white water rafting to extreme sports such as zip lining and bungy jumps.

We went on a tour to see some of the main waterfalls around the area which was a must. At the last one you can hike down to this fantastic waterfall and go for a swim, this was maintained by the community an ecological project there was a $1 admission but it was well worth it!

We discovered a little gem of a mexican restaurant calledĀ Pancho Villas they have the most amazing nachos and very generous portions the staff were very helpful and always smiley. The restaurant is just off the street up some steps to a large building.

We went to the thermal springs just in front of the virgin falls, always busy full of family day outs and tourists. The baths a like stone swimming pools full of water from the volcano with loads of minerals to help all ailments. There was one super hot one that kinda burned and didn’t go well with a hangover, one that was like a lovely warm bath and then the last was cold, colder then a normal pool we didn’t venture to that one.

We stayed in a place calledĀ Hostal Chimenea ran by a family who were very kind and helpful. The pancakes for breakfast were amazing and filled you up for the day.

One of the last evenings we headed to the top of the mountain on a type of truck bus, the views were spectacular with the whole of BaƱos was lit up. We had a local hot alcoholic drink which was complementary , tastey and heated the bones, that whole trip cost all of $3 dollars!

There’s meant to be a Volcano behind those clouds… and in all the time we were there we never saw it šŸ˜¦

Saint Patricks Day in Quito

We were at the metro station heading for the middle of the world , waited a while and then decided that we would be better off going to the pub as it was Paddy’s Day. So we headed into the Irish Bar called Finn mac Cools in the La Mariscal District also known as Gringolandia in Quito.

Started with a hearty irish breakfast in which I got a scone with my fried eggs very Irish:), well it set us up for the day.

We then went on to drink copious amounts of beer until the wee hours of the night.

Set at 2,850m above sea level. Quito took us a few days to adjust to the altitude. The first 2 days we went around breathless, climbing a flight of stairs would need a small break after. We started our first Spanish lessons in Quito and with the 5 days we are practically fluent (NOT! but we are a little better than before)

We spent the first 2 days in a hostel in “Gringolandia” – work that one out for yourself. It was dangerous, noisey and not really somewhere that we’d stay for long. So we up’ed and moved to a new hostel nearer the Old town where we met our new travelling (drinking) buddy Sean.

The Old town of Quito is beautiful, set with a backdrop of glorious mountains and a volcano, the town is on UNESCO’s list of culturally important citys. The town is filled with amazing old buildings, gold guilded churches and a very welcoming presidential palace.

Quito also has one of the coolest churches that I’ve ever been in (sorry Alex it’s better than Ballybrack!) But they let you climb around in all the towers and across the roof of the cathedral. The cathedral is modelled on Notre Dame and would have every Health and Safety officer worried about. It had crazy passes across the top of the roof, an extremely scarey staircase7ladder to one of the towers that I was made to climb on my own (Thanks Lisa & Sean – scarey cats!)