After such a wonderful time in the Galapagos, we returned to mainland Ecuador. We began with a trip to Banos. We had heard a lot about Banos in the guide books. It's famed for its hot thermal baths, volcano, a place to do adventure sports and for just being an overall really cool place to chill out a. It wasn't wrong. It is a really relaxing spot to chill for a few days and there is no shortage of things to do. We only had 3 days there so we decided on a bit of rafting which I really enjoyed. The guides were good craic and there were enough rapids to keep a bit of excitement in it. We didn't have much of a chance to do much else but just chill out and start to stock up on homecoming presents. We stayed in a really nice hostel called La casa de molina blanca which felt a bit like a home from home. I was very sad to leave Banos. It would be a great place to return to with a group of friends.
Onward from Banos we began our journey in search of an eco-lodge called 'The Black Sheep Inn', Chugchilan We had heard other travelers mention about how good it was and we felt like we needed a bit of rest and recuperation so it sounded like the spot to do it. The only thing about it is that from Banos it takes about 7 hours to get there, 3 of which are pretty uncomfortable on a bumpy road. Albeit that journey seemed short enough to us at that stage. The nice thing about the lodge is that when you do arrive there you are right up beside the famous Laguna Quilotoa. This area is very beautiful and many travelers do what is known as the Quilotoa loop, trekking from village to village. I have to say that this eco-lodge was one of the nicest places we stayed in our months of travelling. It is an all inclusive accommodation and they only serve vegetarian food which is yummy and plentiful. They also have a really nice yoga studio which we were both really grateful for. The other great thing about it is that you can do numerous treks from there. We just done one short trek as were tired and Ger had a bit of a stomach bug. It was a beautiful trek though. It really is a stunning area of Ecuador. Here are a few pics.
Our last stop in Ecuador was the capital, Quito. We spent two days here before catching our flight to Bogota. We both really enjoyed Quito despite it being a little bit ruined for us by people telling us how previously how likely we were to be robbed. We weren't robbed and found the city to be as safe as other cities once you take the usual precautions. Its a very beautiful city consisting of a stunning old town and then a newer town. Its is big but easy enough to walk around in the central town. There is lots to see in a couple of days and some good spots to eat out. I would particularly recommend 'Jimmys' stall in the central market for some of the best fish I have had in my life.
I was sad flying out of Quito and leaving Ecuador. Its a fabulous country. Its really diverse and its small enough to get around and experience it all. We didn't have enough time to do the Jungle but its meant to be great too. The people in Ecuador were noticeably friendlier than in Peru and Bolivia and the transport was frequent and cheap. If you want a 3 week trip to South America, I would highly recommend Ecuador as the country to visit.
Dodging Mosquito Status: After the Galapagos, they weren't too bad where we were as we began to ascend in altitude again. Something tells me they would be ready and waiting in the Jungle had we ventured there!!!!