I’m just going to come right out and say it. We’re not totally wild about travel in Ecuador.
It hasn’t helped that we’re here in rainy season, which means unexpected dumps of impossibility on our outdoorsy plans. And we’ve both been more than a little under the weather too. But our review of travel in Ecuador will have some equivocation.
We’re not really in a position to complain – many struggling with nine to five jobs at home (or nine to nine, more likely) would probably kill to be here. It’s just that one of the challenges of the kind of long term travel we’re doing is there are likely to be highs and lows of destinations. Ecuador isn’t really a low, but it isn’t a high either. It’s funny the impacts that reference points have on your perspective.
Quito has a really charming old town, and there’s amazing views to be had like the photo we’ve finally an excuse to use in this post. But it’s touristy to the point of seedy in parts. The jungle was entertaining, but our tour company had some issues, and the animals didn’t really show up for us. And, while Banos is a pretty little town, tourism here is much more pervasive than it was in Colombia: we get asked if we want menus in English, there’s hostels on literally every corner, and some light harassment to take tours or go rafting as we walk down the street. That’s probably great if you want to go rafting…
There’s something else more fundamental too. In Colombia we had time to get to grips with things. We had personal relationships with locals. We had the chance to go off the beaten track to places like la Guajira. And we had the time to seek out the things we really wanted, like sloths. Plus we were volunteering, which nearly always seemed meaningful. We’ve less time in Ecuador, and will have less in most places we travel. That makes our journey seem a bit more conventional – the gringo trail.
We’re expecting things to be a little different when we get to Bolivia. Travelers report more of a wild west feel there. And our forthcoming odyssey across Asia will be well off the beaten track. In the meantime, we’re not ungrateful for the the experience we’re having, and we might try and spice it up a little with the unconventional too. But when we look back at our travels we’ll likely rave about Colombia, and be a little ho-hum about Ecuador.