Ecuador: Day 4 – Otavalo to Quito
This is our last day in Ecuador and we have a huge lineup. Let’s see what we can squeeze in today.
1. Cascada De Peguche
1st stop, Cascada De Peguche, a waterfall within the bustling city of Otavalo. The drive from our hotel to the cascade couldn’t be more than 10 minutes. We pulled in to an unmarked lot and walked up a few stairs before we saw the entrance to Cascada De Peguche.
Before we could start the hike, we were asked to sign the guest list. We were the 2nd hikers of the day. It was about 8:45am. The worker explained that the trail runs on a donation basis and asked if we would like to contribute. We had a few dollars left in our pockets so we left them in the donation box.
The trail wasn’t difficult until we passed the view of the fall. We wanted to get closer which meant climbing up a few flights of slippery stairs. There were no boundaries protecting us from getting right up and personal with the cascade. I didn’t get too close because the water was already whipping my face but I did get close enough where I could touch the fast flowing stream.
Time Spent: 1 hour | Parking: Free
2. Laguna De Cuicocha
Our next stop, we visited the Laguna De Cuicocha, a crater lake at the foot of Cotacachi Volcano. It was about a 40 minute drive from Cascade De Peguche. Laguna De Cuicocha is smaller than Quilotoa but almost as beautiful in comparison. You do not need to hike down to get a closer view of the lagoon like you do in Quilotoa; you can see a perfect panoramic as soon as you park and walk a few steps.
There is the Ruta Sagrada Trail that takes you around the lagoon. The hike is a brisk 45 minute walk. The only difficult part of the hike is going up a few stairs at the beginning. There are a few resting areas in the form of sundials where you can stop and enjoy the view.
Time Spent: 0.5 -2 hours | Parking; Free
Mindo is a cloud forest in Northern Ecuador known for their interesting birds and butterflies species. Our big mission in Mindo was to zipline through the jungles but it was pouring once we arrived into the city. It’s been raining on and off during our stay but the rain doesn’t last for long. To kill some time, we decided to check out the chocolate tour.
I do not have a sweet tooth, however, chocolate is a must have when I travel around the world. In Ecuador, the chocolate is not sweet, it’s “real” chocolate.
We had a private tour of the chocolate facility. Chocolate is easily grown in the Amazon area and in Mindo, it has to be monitored due to the cold weather in the Andes. Our guide took us around the center pointing out the process of making chocolate. At the end of the tour, we got to taste chocolate.
We sampled a few pieces of dark chocolate with various amount of sugar. The more sugar the chocolate has, the less chocolate it becomes. For example, white chocolate isn’t really chocolate, it’s mostly sugar. I like white chocolate so I’ll just ignore that fact.
Our guide had us taste ready package chocolate with different percentage of sugar. After that, he had us scoop chocolate on a spoon, dab some sugar and put different flavors for taste. Flavors include but not limited to ginger, chili, and coffee. My favorite was the coffee. Chili was my least favorite because it was too spicy for me. Thank goodness we had tea to wash down the spice. We completed the tour with a chocolate brownie.
Time Spent: 0.5 hours | Parking; Free | Cost: $10pp
The rain died down a little bit so we decided to make our way to ziplining. There were 3 different packages to select from at Mindo Canopy Adventure, 2 zips ($8), 3 zips ($10), or the full tour which is 10 zips ($20). It was my first time ziplining. I’m terrified of heights so I was hesitant to agree with the full tour.
We had 2 guides taking care of us. Our guides secured us in our harness, our helmets and gave us gloves to secure our hands.
Once we were ready, We walked up the stairs to a little outlook to zip our first line. Our guides reviewed some safety guidelines before we were ready to start. My friend was the first to swing. He did it with such grace. haha. Than it was my turn, I screamed for maybe 2 seconds before I opened my eyes and enjoyed the view around me. After the first zip, we had to hike up the hill with our gear to the next stop. I thought I was going to die (we just did 2 hikes earlier). One of the guides helped me out by carrying some of my gear. The next few ziplines, we didn’t have to hike too long. There only 2 difficult hikes including the 1st one.
After a few zips, our guide let us try different soaring positions. The first one was the superman. That’s when you lean forward with your arms out and wrap your legs around your guide. The 2nd one was called the butterfly. That’s when you wrap your leg around your guide and dip back like you’re upside down. If you don’t have a strong back, I would avoid doing the butterfly. My friend and I also had the chance to soar together. It was great to see each others’ excitement.
I had such a great time ziplining at Mindo Canopy Adventure. The time flew by too quickly. Unfortunately, we were unable to capture any photos… all we have are our memories.
Time Spent: 1.5 hours | Parking; Free | Cost: $20pp
Where to Eat:
- Dinner in Quito: Aztec
We had dinner at Aztec Restaurant in downtown Quito. We ordered the sampler appetizer platter that includes, fries, kabobs, plantains, beans, and chorizo mix with onions. My favorite on the dish were the kabobs and the chorizo mix. It was happy hour so we got 2 drinks for the price of one. Overall we weren’t 100% pleased with our experience. The music was extremely loud. It was like the restaurant was competing with the shop next door on who can play the music loudest. Secondly, the food wasn’t authentic and it was made to tailor towards tourists. Thirdly, the price was ridiculous. I think we spent about $40 for the two of us.
Where to Stay in Quito: Hotel Saint Thomas
We were leaving for the airport around 3:45am but we wanted to enjoy Quito’s nightlife for a bit. We decided to stay at the Hotel Saint Thomas. The hotel is about 4 blocks away from Plaza Foch, a hip area with tons of restaurants and bars. We didn’t care too much about the type of hotel we were staying for the night as long as it was close to everything. The room we were given was set next to the fitness room. Thank goodness the lights shuts off in the night or we would have some issues. The room was a flat $40, cash only.
So there you have it, 4 days in Ecuador. I hope you enjoyed our journey around this beautiful country. Are you planning a trip to Ecuador?