Bienvenidos a Colombia

From San Cristobal (Galapagos) we flew to Quito. We arrived there in the evening and slept at hospedaje Tanpu, which was perfect because it had great beds, lovely breakfast and was close to bus terminal Carcelen.
In the morning we took a bus to Tulcan (6 hours). In Tulcan you can take a taxi to the place at the border (15 minutes), called Rumichaca. Here you have to get your exit stamp of Ecuador, cross a little bridge and get your entrance stamp of Colombia. Unfortunately on the Saturday before Christmas there were sooooo many people who wanted to cross the border so we ended up standing in line for 5 hours!

After having ‘fun’ at the border we were ready for Colombia! We took a taxi to Ipiales (5 minutes) and decided to continue our trip directly to Cali. Our legs were a bit sore from the long time standing in line so we we’re almost looking forward to a night bus of 12 hours 😊 The full cama seats in the night bus (company: ‘Supertaxi’) were fine and 24 hours after leaving Quito we arrived in Cali!

Galapagos Islands

We love the Galapagos Islands!!
✨🌎🐠🦀🐢🐡🦈🦉❣️

See below the video of our magical experiences:

This must be one of the most beautiful places in the world, we enjoyed every minute of it! We booked an 8 day cruise with the ‘Galaven’ and it was just perfect (we booked this tour already upfront in the Netherlands via http://www.galapagosislands.com, great customer service!). The group was really nice, our tour guides Erick en Patricio were excellent and the islands are just stunning. After the 8 days we didn’t want to leave, so we changed our flight and stayed 3 extra nights on San Cristobal island in Puerto Baquerizo Moreno. We stayed at ‘Hostal Romy’, which was great. We had some good breakfast and lunch (and carrot cake 😁) at ‘Fresco café’, delicious sushi at ‘Midori sushi bar’ and we enjoyed our cocktails at ‘Rustica’!

Guayaquil

In Cuenca we returned our rental cars, so we reached our final destination – Guayaquil – by bus. We took the ‘super semeria’ bus from ‘Atrain Alianza’. The comfortable bus ride took only 3,5 hours. In Guayaquil we stayed at ‘Hotel Palace Guayaquil’, a really nice (business) hotel in downtown area.

In the afternoon we walked around the city center: we started along the Malecón (boulevard) and ended up at Parque Bolivar; a city park full of iguanas!

The next day we walked to ‘Las Peñas’, a relaxed neighborhood with colorful houses. We hiked up to the lighthouse, from where we had a beautiful view over town.

It was not easy to find nice restaurants or coffee bars in the center of Guayaquil. The only place with good food close to our hotel was at ‘El Fortin’, the restaurant of Hotel Continental.

Guayaquil is definitely not the best place to stay in Ecuador, but it is fine to spend a day here waiting for your flight. For us it was the closure of a really successful and ‘gezellige’ family holiday. It was a special opportunity to get to know each other better and build some memories together 🙂

Cuenca

From Baños we drove 7 hours to reach Cuenca. The road between Baños and Cuenca was not as good as the other roads we had (lots of big holes in the road), so the ride was a bit exhausting.

In Cuenca we stayed at ‘Casa Montalvo’, a perfectly located B&B. Cuenca itself however was a bit disappointing. The buildings in the old city center are nice, but you hardly notice them because of all the traffic. Besides walking around a bit, we mainly used our time in Cuenca to relax! We had a great lunch at ‘El Mercado’ and had dinner twice at the Italian restaurant ‘Mangiare Benne’.

Baños

From the Quilotoa loop we drove in 3 hours to Baños, a small town surrounded by rivers and waterfalls. We stayed at Hostal Chimenea; basic but good and a perfect location!

After arrival we spent the afternoon checking out the impressive waterfall ‘Pailón del diablo’. Half of us went by mountain bike (which honestly was quite boring since the whole route was on asphalt) and the others went by taxi. We visited different viewpoints and really enjoyed it!

The next day we all went for a rafting tour organized by ‘Geo tours’. They did an excellent job; it was organized very well and in a safe way; we had a blast! After the rafting tour we visited the hot water pools of ‘Las piscinas de la virgen’ to get our adrenaline levels down again 🙂

In Baños we had a good (and cheap!) dinner at café Hood and we had some delicious steaks at café Mariane.

See below the video of the waterfalls and our rafting adventure!

Quilotoa loop

After we visited the Cotopaxi we drove to the Quilotoa loop. We entered via the north side and the road was pretty good, except for some speed bumps that were a little too high for our tiny rental cars. Besides some cows blocking the way, the ride went smooth.

We booked two nights at ‘Black sheep inn’, an ecological guest house close to Chugchilan. This place is a little different with its compost toilets and outside showers, but it’s really cozy with lots to do and great biological meals. The area around the guest house is one big playing field; we spent the afternoon playing frisbee golf in a field full of lamas. Afterwards we enjoyed some home made cookies and after dinner we booked the sauna, which was really nice!

The next day we took a taxi to the Quilotoa lake. The bright green crater lake was stunning!!

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From the lake we hiked back to Chugchilan. A beautiful hike through the authentic Ecuadorian backcountry. The path was a bit challenging once in a while, but totally worth the four hour walk!!

After our hike Mirte and Toon went for some horse riding. The rest of us chilled at the guest house and prepared for our next destination; Baños!

Cotopaxi

After a smooth ride of 2 hours we arrived around 11 a.m. at ‘Cuella de Luna’, our home for the upcoming 2 days at the foot of the Cotopaxi volcano.
After arrival we made friends with the huge Saint Bernard dogs that lived here, especially with our favorite Carlo (the biggest one). We had some lunch and in the afternoon we went for a hike. The intention was to go up to the Santa Cruz mountain, but because the explanation of the route didn’t exactly match the reality we had to go back after 2 hours (the path we were taking stopped). Besides that it was really cloudy (no good views at all) and it started to rain…a bit disappointing!

The next day we wanted to go to the Cotopaxi national park but unfortunately the weather was really bad; cloudy and lots of rain. We decided to chill at the hotel and try again the next day, when the weather forecast was better. We spend the day reading books at the fire place, we played with the dogs, walked through the huge garden of the hotel to see the horses, lamas, ducks and turkeys and did some preparations for the rest of our trip. We had dinner at the hotel and hoped for some better weather the day after!

When we woke up it was al grey outside… nevertheless we drove to the National Park and just hoped it would get better. You can enter Cotopaxi national park with your own car (even if it’s a really tiny Chevrolet Spark), drive to Limpiopungo lake and to the parking lot at 4500 m from where you can hike to the base camp. When we arrived at Limpiopungo lake the clouds disappeared a bit and we had a nice walk with sometimes a little view of the snowy peak of the Cotopaxi. When we drove higher up the mountain, it was a bit of a challenge with our car. With some maneuvers we made it to the parking lot. There we waited untill the rain stopped and we were lucky! After the rain the sky got a little more clear: we saw the icy summit and had a great view over the lake we just visited.

On our way back we had lunch in the park, picked up our bags at the hostel and continued our journey to the Quilotoa loop!

Papallacta

From El Reventador it was a 2 hour drive to Papallacta: a place famous for its thermal baths. We stayed here one night in a cosy family bungalow in the fancy ‘Termas Papallacta’. We had a great day; we enjoyed the private hot pools in our front yard and the bigger common pools, read some books and had a nice meal in the restaurant of the hotel.

After a good night of sleep and a tasty breakfast, we were completely recharged and ready for some action at the Cotopaxi volcano and Quilotoa Loop!

El Reventador

From Mindo we drove 5 hours to ‘Hosteria Reventador’, a hotel close to the village and vulcan ‘El Reventador’ and even closer to the San Rafael Falls.
After arrival, we walked for about 30 minutes from the hotel to the viewpoint over the 131m high San Rafael falls. A spectacular view!

The next day we woke up early to see the active volcano ‘El Reventador’. We had a clear sky and from the mirador up the hill we could spot the enormous amount of smoke that came out the volcano.
After breakfast we drove to the ‘Cascada Mágica’ (also known as ‘Río Malo waterfalls’). This one was even more impressive then San Rafael and lives up to its name because it was truly magical!

See below the video of this beautiful place!

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