Before we start here are some general ideas
- Ecuador is located in equator, so one of the main tourist attractions in Quito is Mitad del Mundo – Middle of the World.
- Galapagos – great place to explore wild life, but it is really touristic and expensive, but one never knows when he will be back to Ecuador, so take your chance.
- From Quito it is quite easy to get to Amazon Rain Forest (selva amazonica). Tours vary in price, there are two general starting point – Lago Agrio and Coca.
- They use american dollars as an official currency, but there might be some coins (25 cents) that you can use only in Ecuador.
So, now useful information in details.
As always Lonely Planet gave an accurate information. Still you will need to research something yourself.
Buy a copy of Lonely Planet Guide for Galapagos and Ecuador from Amazon:
- You will arrive to Baltra island, pay there 100$ entry fee, from there you´ll take a free bus to boat station, from there boat, and they taxy (about 15-20 $) or bus to Puerto Ayora, sounds complicated but it is not.
- Expensive and touristic (tourists are normally older people) place, but still beautiful and safe. Perfect place to explore wild nature, spend time in the beach.
- There are a lot of boat tours that you can buy, BUT they are extremely overpriced (starting 1000$ for 3-4 nights on low budget boat), and it is not obvious what benefit you have for this money.
- It is better and less expensive to stay on land and move between islands taking tours, in this way you can explore the same locations in the same time and paying much less.
- There are some small volcanic islands where you can get only with tour.
- Booking hotel on your own might NOT be good idea. For instance, El Castillo Galapagos Hostal was one of the cheapest options (good place to stay, one minus is that it is 10-15 minutes walk from the center). So try booking some tour that includes accommodation, some of travelers had better located hotels and the price was not much more higher.
- Visit – Isabela Island for even more wild life – it is day tour.
- From Puerto Ayora walk about 40 minutes to Tortugas Bay beach perfect place to relax and explore iguanas (there were no tortugas)
Amazon Rain Forest (Selva Amazonica)
- Allow yourself at least 4 days and 3 nights for this trip. It is normally cheaper that Galapagos, but you have more impressions and you will see more different wild life.
- There are a lot of agencies that can book a tour for your, I´ve used Happy Gringo, they provide accurate information about lodges and was easy to deal.
- Selection of lodges is really wide, the Samona lodge was really fine and low priced.
- 3 important things to have in Selva – repellent, flash light, swimming suite.
- Normally, it starts raining in the evening, so plan accordingly.
- Place to stay – Hotel Boutique Plaza Sucre – inexpensive, but really great rooms and breakfast. Located in the historic center, but still you can get here by taxis. I was forced to rearrange my trip plans urgently switching from plane to night bus to get to Selva on time – hotel staff was extremely helpful.
- Explore city center, it is really nice, you will need about 4 hours.
- TeleferiCo (8$), will get you up to the panoramic views of Quito. Do it in the morning, or at least before 2 pm when it is not cloudy.
Mitad del Mundo – Middle of the World
It is nothing more but the equator, but it still interesting to check it yourself.
- Official Mitad Del Mundo is not in 0°00′00″S, but it is nice monument there are a lot of small shops selling some local goods.
- Walk 200 m more to find another “official” Mitad Del Mundo, you´ll find some museum there, some experiments with water and egg, but according to scientists most of them are a little but tricky and have nothing to do with physics, but some facts are still interesting.
- Finally, you can walk 5 minutes more uphill to find real 0°00′00″S, which is nothing more but dirty road. But there you can find restaurant where you can try guinea pig (cuy).They printed out the google map that shows that they are actually at 0°00′00″S – Mitad del Mundo.
- Getting there. You can go there by taxi (40$ with waiting time) or try local bus (0.80$). Ask hotel staff how to catch the bus, from Hotel Boutique Plaza Sucre it is just 10 minutes walk to the direct bus to the Mitad del Mundo. On a way back you can go uphill with TeleferiCo, but it worth doing only when it is not cloudy.