Ecuador

10 days, maybe a week. That’s what I planned for Ecuador. Never really something I took great interest in, nor had much knowledge about. I knew Quito and the Galapagos. The latter I never thought I would do until I was older, maybe a honeymoon or a special trip. How much this place has took me by surprise. Why? No expectations. It’s size. The people. And most of all, so much to do and see here.
Ecuador is smaller than most of the South American countries. This makes it easier to get around from place to place. Secondly and more importantly it feels a lot more personal. It feels you are doing as much as you can with your time. The people are amazing and really down to earth. The backpackers are open minded and here for a purpose. The ones who rush through, well they’ve missed out. I thought Colombia would be my gem of South America, but Ecuador is so much better. It doesn’t have that past of dangerous times that Colombia has. It doesn’t have the expectancies that people make of Colombia. The parties, the girls the locations. Yet i loved Colombia, but it just seemed a bit of s tress after 6 weeks there. Ecuador on the other hand, has been a breeze and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it. I actually don’t really want to leave. But I feel like I’ve accomplished alot here. I have done of lot day trips, reunited with friends, went to sport events, done new activities, scuba dived, been part of a good group of travellers, ate good food, met people again and again. I’ve met some amazing people who live and work here. Could even say some people in particular have got me. They’ve taught me things when they didn’t mean to. Just picking up on things in life and thinking of a new perspective. Ecuador has given me that. Galapagos islands was the best natural and wildlife place I’ve been in my life. Such a cool trip. Nowhere near long enough. The parties have been fun and I’ve felt at home with some of the people. The cost is relatively cheap. There is no pressure here, it’s very relaxed. I’m definitely going to be returning here. But for now, here are some of things I’ve done here in Ecuador.

Reunited with a previous travel friend – Nico, a local I met in India 18 months back, couldn’t of gave me more of a welcome and hospitality if he tried. I met him in Quito, got a real buzz back on by reminiscing, and partying. I met his family and went to Ecuador’s biggest rival Soccer match. He then put me up in his home for one night in Guayaquil, introduced me to his friends and then joined me on my first of 12 days in Montanita. A great guy and true friend.

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Getting that Backpacker feeling back – A bunch of backpackers, some I’ve just met, some I know from a previous place, in one hostel, going out together, that buzz, that laughter, the conversations. The buzz and social feel that South East Asia was brought back in Quito and really continued to Montanita. That feeling of freedom, the electrical energy of meeting people new, everyone being happy and getting along, exploring somewhere new and having money in their pocket. No better feeling for me.

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Lake Quilatoa – Visiting the once active volcano 300 years on is now filled with a salty lake but boasts a dark turquoise glow surrounded by its steep volcanic walls. A pure place for tranquillity. A gigantic natural spot. Such in awe of its existence.

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Equator Point – More for the novelty but also a cool story. Visiting the middle of the earth. The equator splits here, north or south hemisphere. The Latitude 0.00:00.

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Volcano Pinchincha – A tough, unprepared hike which is underrated and towards the end presents itself as quite technical It involves rock climbing steep slippery slopes without equipment. Reaching the summit of nearly 5000m was a personal best however. A challenging experience.

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Paragliding in Banos – First time for me, but I felt the urge to do something new in adrenalin adventure activities. Once in the air, more of a tranquil experience, depending on wind changes. Beautiful views and an awesome experience looking over the valleys of Banos and a smoking Volcano on the backdrop.

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Casa Del Arbol – Visiting this famous swing which allows you to swing over a mountain side which gives the photographer an opportunity of a surreal picture. Costs 50c and is cool to give it a go. In all honesty though, the pictures do it way too much justice!

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Advanced Scuba Licence and Night Diving – Getting extra training to develop my scuba diving skills, I proceeded with taking my advanced diving course which involved a Night Dive. The other dives were generally okay but with completing them all I was an Advanced diver allowing me to go to deeper depths. I met an awesome instructor who has became a highlight of my trip so far.
The night dive was so different to other dives and was almost a Zen experience. Pitch black at times, it feels like you are in space. There is no sound, just floating around in sheer darkness albeit the glimpse of your flashlight. Switching them all off with fellow divers sat in a circle, becoming nothing and seeing nothing but still being present in the moment was eerie as ever.

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Getting stuck in Montanita – A bunch of us, an adventurous kind of backpackers who loved to party aswell, was the first time in 5 months of being in South America that I got that backpacker group feeling back. From all over the world, we all felt guilty of our most nonexistent days and our ever so lively nocturnal night life, yet we were together in it and enjoying it to say the least.

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Galapagos Islands – What more is there to say? One of the world’s top destinations for life in all forms. I scuba dived 4 times seeing Sharks, Sea Lions, Rays, Turtles and marks of sea life. Experiencing these natural islands and precious sights was my top travel experience so far in terms of what I saw and how unique it is.

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Ecuador, you have been amazing. My time here was well spent. I will return. And to the ones who firstly underrated or were ignorant of Ecuador, don’t be! Go and enjoy this wonderful country in all what it has to offer!

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