Quito, Ecuador’s capital, was our home for 7 nights in total, with some side trips in between. We opted in stay in the central historic part of the city aka ‘Old Town’, built centuries ago it is steeped in history, the streets dotted with churches, chapels, museums, beautiful plazas and general architectural awesomeness. We loved it here!
We spent 6 of those 7 nights in a fairly new hostel called Carpedm – opened by a Canadian who owns a very successful Tour Agency under the same name. The hostel is more like a hotel and overlooks a nice plaza called San Blas and had the most delicious complimentary breakfasts. Definitely recommend to anyone thinking of staying in Old Town. Carpedm (the agency) also helped us to book our Amazon + Galapagos trips.
We spent several days exploring our new surroundings visiting some of the main attractions Quito has to offer. There is a lot to see, especially for free, which was perfect for us as we had just spent a small fortune on those aforementioned trips. Though one afternoon we ventured north out of the city (about 2 hours by bus one-way) to Mitad del Mundo, meaning Middle of the World in Spanish. It’s a bit of a gimmicky place but felt obligated to go get those all important photos of standing in both hemispheres.
One of our side trips from Quito was to a small city called Banos, a major tourist town famous for its hot springs, waterfalls and adventure activities. We spent just a day and a half here, taking the 3 hour bus from Quito. On our first night we ventured to Las Piscinas de la Virgen nestled below a waterfall. We arrived right on 6pm when they reopened for the night session and there was already a long line – many locals. There were 3 pools open – very cool, mildly warm, and body-tingling, painfully hot at about 44 degrees. We’ve never experienced a hot pool that hot – it was definitely an interesting experience! They recommend you only stay in a maximum of 5 mintues – so you alternate between that pool and refresh your body in the small cold plunge pools right next to it. We alternated about 4 times – after that I started feeling a bit dizzy and felt like my lungs were burning! My entire body (apart from where my togs were) stayed bright red for about 1 hour afterwards. Apparently some people believe these hot springs have healing properties and I could see how you would want to keep going back for more. The following day in Banos we went up to La Casa del Arbol “the swing at the end of the world”. We were bitterly disappointed in this famous attraction, we were expecting to be flying out over a cliff that dropped steeply down though in reality it’s a rolling hillside – not dangerous or really thrilling at all. Still great for the photo opt!
Tonight we are spending our last night here in Quito before missioning North across the border to Colombia. It’s the 5th of December here, a Saturday night, and it’s Fiestas de Quito 2015 – a huge week-long celebration for the foundation of Quito. In the small plaza right outside our hostel there is a live band, everyone is in good spirits and I’m guessing we won’t be getting much sleep tonight!