Quick Guide to 4 Days in Ecuador

Quick Guide to 4 Days in Ecuador

Ecuador is a country where the Andes meet the Amazon, where the land straddles between two hemispheres. Ecuador has so much to offer: the beach, the wildlife, the mountains, and the jungles. I spent 4 full days in Ecuador in mid-May, the end of their wet season. Going in, I didn’t know much about the country except my desire to go to the Galapagos Islands, which I completely ignored. After weeks of research, I’ve compiled the best things to do in Ecuador in just 4 days!

Getting Around:

Ecuador is one of the smallest countries in South America, therefore traveling from one end to the other end is not difficult. There is a generous amount of taxi drivers, buses, and tours. Due to my short time in Ecuador and how much land I wanted to cover, I hired a private guide. His name is Luis Gavilanes and he has been a driver for 15 years for the yellow cab, 10 years as a private guide/driver for LAG. He charged $150 a day to go anywhere in Ecuador. We started our day around 8am and ended the tour around 7:30pm. In other words, this rate is a steal! Tours can cost upward of $200/per person per day. Buses can be cramped and taxi drivers can be impersonal. Luis’ service was one of the best, he is native to the land, speaks English, and can translate, and he built an itinerary fit for my adventurous spirit. (If you would like to get in contact with Luis, please message me for details).

What To Eat:

I enjoyed eating with Luis because I experienced a glimpse of what the locals would consume. He took me to a lot of tiny shacks, which is the reason why the restaurant names are omitted from my itinerary below. These are a few items I had during the week and you can find them at most restaurants. On a side note, most main entrées will include a side salad, fries, and rice. A community salsa is on every table and poured on everything (it’s very tasty).

  • Aguado De Gallina – Chicken soup with rice, yucca, onions, vegetables, and your choice of chicken parts.
  • Arroz con Pollo – paella type rice with chicken
  • Churrasco – thinly sliced steak that is seasoned
  • Cuy – guinea pig and usually served with potatoes.
  • Fritada De Chancho – slow-cooked pork


In Ecuador, the United States Dollar is used as currency. Change in coins can be given in either Ecuadorian coins or American coins. It is very important to bring small non-torn bills;  $20 is seen as $100 in Ecuador and torn bills are not accepted in most places. Do bring lots of $1 for parking and tipping. ATMS/Banks are not easy accessible unless you’re in the city. Make sure you bring or take out as much as you will need during your stay.


Each night, Luis drives us around to find a decent and affordable hotel. Our preference includes being in the city for easy access to restaurants and bars, a place that serves free breakfast, free wifi, and a room that is less than $70, including VAT. A 14% VAT tax is included in all hotel/hostel stays along with a 10% service tax. Most hotels, if not all, serve free breakfast which usually includes, fresh fruits, eggs, bread, coffee, and juice. Most hotels are also equipped with free wi-fi.

When I asked the concierge for a room, I was escorted to a vacant room to decide if the room fit our criteria. After my approval, I returned to the front desk to complete our transaction. Most hotels prefer cash. There is usually a 2% charge for debit card users and a 4% charge for credit card users.

Rooms will come with the bare minimum supply. There is usually 1 towel, 1 soap, and 1 shampoo. Remember to request additional towels and toiletries before returning to the room.

Screen Shot 2017-05-31 at 2.50.27 PM


Click on dates for the full itinerary.

Day Date Location To Stay To Do/To See To Eat
1 May 26, 2017 Banos In Banos: Hotel Donde Marcelo → Ambato, Baños de Agua Santa, Ecuador

  • Cost: $62
1. Quito2. CotopaxiCotopaxi National Park is where you can see volcanoes around you within the Andes mountains.3. Limpiopungo LagoonThis lagoon is on the Quilotoa loop (including Cotopaxi).

4. Quilotoa

The greenish crater lake that is a popular tourist destination.

5. Baños

Lunch at a random shop in El Chaupi before reaching Quilotoa:

  • Ordered: 2 cuy (guinea pig), 2 dishes of choclo con queso, chicken soup ($13)

Feels like you are eating at someone’s house. Sharing a table with other patrons.

Dinner in Baños:

  • Ordered: 2 beers, Churrasco served with fries, potato salad, green salad, avocado slices, and a fried egg ($8)
2 May 27, 2017 Amazon In Tena: Hostel Los Yutzos→ 254P+55M, Tena, Ecuador

  • Cost: $54 ($27pp with AC)
1. Baños

  • La Casa Del Arbol – End of the World Tree
    • Cost: Swing ($1/pp)
  • Cascada Manto De La Novia – Also known as the Avenue of Waterfalls
    • Cost: varies depending on excursion. Can Zipline ($15), take a trolley over the waterfall ($2RT), hike ($0.25), or observe the waterfall from the bridge (Free).
  • Pailon del Diablo – Devil’s Cauldron is probably the most famous waterfall in Ecuador 
    • Cost: $3/pp

2. Puyo – Amazonian city about an hour away from Baños.

  • Animal Rescue Center Zoo ($3)

3. Tena – stay in the vibrant Amazonian city

  • Shopping
Lunch By Devil’s Cauldron: Las Hortencias Restaurante

  • Ordered: carne asada that came with a side of rice, pasta salad, and fries, the loma (braised beef), chicken soup, chicken plate, and empanadas con pollo ($36 for 3 people)

Dinner in Tena: Cafe Tortuga

  • Ordered: Chicken burrito ($15)

Drinks in Tena: Iguana Restaurant and Bar

  • Ordered: Beers, chips and guacamole ($8)
3 May 28, 2017 Andes  In Otavalo: Hotel El Indio 

  • Cost: $58 (4% credit card charge)
1. Termas de Papallacta  A hot spring and spa resort in the middle of the Andes.

  • Cost: hot spring ($22/pp), massage ($50pp)

2. Quitsato Sundial

Cayambe Lat O°O’O” Equator – a sundial located exactly on the equator

Cost: $2/pp

3. Otavalo

Known for its street markets. 

Lunch outside of Papallacta:

  • Ordered: Breaded chicken ($25 for 3 people)

Snack in Pichincha:

  • Ordered: Bizcochos, hot chocolate ($6 for 3 people)

Dinner in Otavalo: El Jalapeño

  • Ordered: Chicken and mushroom tacos, sugar cane juice ($10)
4 May 29, 2017 Cloud Forest In Quito: Hotel Saint Thomas

  • Cost: $40 (cash only)
1. Otavalo

  • Cascada De Peguche – A hike to the waterfall just outside of Otavalo.
    • Cost: Donation
  • Laguna De Cuicocha – A beautiful lagoon in Otavalo. Not very crowded and about a 45-minute walk around the lagoon.

2. Mindo

3. Quito City

  • Plaza Foch – Lively nightlife plaza that includes restaurants and bars
Lunch in Cotacachi: $15

Dinner in Quito: Azuca Restaurant

  • Ordered: appetizer platter includes fries, kabobs, plantains, beans, chorizo mix with onions. cocktails ($35)


Expenses for 5 Days:

Type Costs (USD) Total
Transportation from UIO Airport to City $25  
Private Driver $600
Guide Tip $75
Hotel $230
Food (We paid for our driver) $170
Activities $215
Parking (paid parking =$1/excursion) $7
  Total $1322
Per Person $661



Follow my blog with Bloglovin