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May be getting flown down to Ecuador for a BBQ event in Cuenca. Likely connecting through Quito. 

Never been to South America. Don’t speak any Spanish. Would have hosts to help us out a bit but will likely be out about on our own a good bit too. 

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I've been to Guayaquil and Puerto Lopez and took a boat trip out to Isla De La Plata and saw some Humpbacks.  Cool place.  They don't speak a lick of English and most of the country is way behind us developmentally.

However, the Pacific coastline and the landscape is amazing.  The weather was weird in that it was always cloudy but never rained. It was warm but not unbearably hot.

Edited by Jayrod
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Never been, but super-jealous.  Oddly enough, Ecuador was recently voted #3 of South American countries that Americans know nothing about by Conde Naste.  It was just behind Suriname and Guyana. Sounds like an awesome trip...go explore it for us Gringos and report back!

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My teenage son was just there earlier this month on a class trip. He got to do some snorkeling and claims a lizard jumped on him at one point. He had an absolute blast.

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I was in Quito about 15 years ago.  I liked it, but I have no idea how much has changed.

One thing I'll say is this: Know where you are going.  And by that I mean, I knew I was headed to a country on the Equator so I packed short sleeve shirts and shorts.  Turns out Quito is closer to the moon than the ocean.  I froze for the first couple of days until I could buy some heavier clothes.  

We went horseback riding up to the rim of the volcano outside of Quito (and I mean RIGHT outside).  Makes me miss working for oil companies.  I remember saying to my handler, "It actually looks like the clouds are coming out of the volcano!", as we sat atop the rim.  And he said, "They are coming out of the volcano.  This is an active volcano.  It literally just blew its top a couple of months ago."  To which I said something like, "What the #### are we doing on top of an active volcano?!?  Let's get the hell off of this ####!"  Something like that.  

Regardless, I really liked Ecuador.  It felt safer than a lot of countries I went to (which doesn't really mean anything since I thought Chicago felt safe, too), and the people were super nice.  And they were one of the few countries that didn't seem to hate Americans.

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This was about 10 years ago when I backpacked through, spent about 2/3 weeks in Ecuador, so take this dated fuzzy trip report for what its worth...

I came up from Peru, stopping at Cuenca, the white city.  It was really a beautiful town and highly recommend it, time permitting.  Stopped in a town called Banos.  Went around the Quilatoa Loop for a few days and hiked around a crater lake.  Hard to get to but was an indigenous part of the country.  Cut over to the coast.  I think I posted up for a little less than a week in some surf town, maybe Manzanita?  Took a boat out to see the whales up close from Puerto Lopez, was certainly a highlight.  My buddy really liked the beach town Canoa up north.  Quito has a really nice historic center but it by far was the place that made me feel uneasy and unsafe during my year travelling all over South America.  My buddy got stabbed and robbed right at the gates of our hostel one night.  The equator mark is not too far away either.

If you have time and the money, my major regret was not flying to the Galapagos Islands.  The currency is the USD so that is easy.  I remember it being one of the cheaper South American countries and the people were were warm and friendly.  The typical Panama hat design is Ecuadorian.  With the exception of my feelings towards Quito, Ecuador was a great country and greatly exceeded the expectations I had going in.

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17 minutes ago, TheIronSheik said:

Also, at 6'2", I felt like how Yao Ming must have felt in America.

■_■

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6 hours ago, Teddy Stickles said:

Stopped in a town called Banos.

A town called bathrooms?

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My wife is Ecuadorian and we spent 2 weeks there in September, mainly in Quito, with a quick trip to the coast.  The food was better than expected, just dont eat from street carts.  Try the Cuy!!  The air pollution plus the altitude of Quito gave me major headaches.  My in-laws are from Cuenca and they say it's beautiful.  

Also, try not to fly Tame.  

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We went to Galapagos a few years ago.  Spent one evening exploring Quito on the way home.  Would love to go back.  Also went to Peru a few years before that, loved it as well.  South America is a highly underrated travel destination.  Fairly short and inexpensive flights and amazing culture.  

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On 6/18/2019 at 7:38 AM, Mr Dingles said:

My teenage son was just there earlier this month on a class trip. He got to do some snorkeling and claims a lizard jumped on him at one point. He had an absolute blast.

i had a lizard jump on me once to but you dont hear me bragging about it every day take that to the bank brohan 

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2 hours ago, Scoresman said:

My wife is Ecuadorian and we spent 2 weeks there in September, mainly in Quito, with a quick trip to the coast.  The food was better than expected, just dont eat from street carts.  Try the Cuy!!  The air pollution plus the altitude of Quito gave me major headaches.  My in-laws are from Cuenca and they say it's beautiful.  

Also, try not to fly Tame.  

Yeah I’ve heard about pollution in Quito. I’d be connecting through there overnight, then heading up to Cuenca for the bulk of the trip. Reportedly little to no pollution there.

The altitude will take adjustment. Will need to take it easy on booze for a couple days as I acclimate. 

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Spent 3 weeks there with my fiance (now wife) about 25 years ago, and spent about $400 each for the trip (we had finagled free flights somehow).  Did a bunch of hiking/climbing. We climbed Tungarahua, which was close to 18000 ft, but it has since blown up as an active volcano.  We also climbed Cotopaxi, getting as high as 19000, before we had to turn back due to altitude sickness. 

Banos was our favorite town by far - Very laid back and a beautiful area in the mountains and a great jumping off point for outdoor activities.  Cuenca was a really neat city with some great architecture.  Otavalo is close to Quito and had some great lakes and markets.  We spent a few days at some rathole on the beach, but there was a surf competition going on and it was crowded and dirty so we got out of there - I think there are some great beach areas so I wouldn't rely upon our experience. 

Only regret is not going to the Galapagos - it was expensive by our standards back then but would now seem stupid cheap - It's on our bucket list.

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3 hours ago, Scoresman said:

My wife is Ecuadorian and we spent 2 weeks there in September, mainly in Quito, with a quick trip to the coast.  The food was better than expected, just dont eat from street carts.  Try the Cuy!!  The air pollution plus the altitude of Quito gave me major headaches.  My in-laws are from Cuenca and they say it's beautiful.  

We lived there 40 years ago. Yeah, don't do that.  My dad got hep A from tainted food.  I'm sure it has changed a lot since I've been there (for example, at the time the roads to Cuenca were dirt).  Quito is an awesome place, though the landing is among the more challenging that pilots do.  9,500 feet up, so getting altitude sickness after landing is common.  Guayaquil was a pit.  Salinas, on the coast, was spectacular - deep sea fishing in sight of land.

Ecuador grows more varieties of bananas than anyplace else, so take the opportunity to try some of them.  

34 minutes ago, Mookie said:

We also climbed Cotopaxi, getting as high as 19000, before we had to turn back due to altitude sickness. 

Only regret is not going to the Galapagos - it was expensive by our standards back then but would now seem stupid cheap - It's on our bucket list.

Jealous you got to climb Cotopaxi.  I still remember driving there and having the water flowing down from the mountain steaming (tallest active volcano in the world).  I really want to do that climb - been as far as the highest road stop at 15k feet or so.  Not many other places in the world where you can get to 19k feet with a hike rather than a climb.

The Galapagos is a once in a lifetime visit.  I highly recommend going.  Stunningly beautiful place.

Edited by Sand
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4 minutes ago, Sand said:

We lived there 40 years ago. Yeah, don't do that.  My dad got hep A from tainted food.  I'm sure it has changed a lot since I've been there (for example, at the time the roads to Cuenca were dirt).  Quito is an awesome place, though the landing is among the more challenging that pilots do.  9,500 feet up, so getting altitude sickness after landing is common.  Guayaquil was a pit.  Salinas, on the coast, was spectacular - deep sea fishing in sight of land.

Ecuador grows more varieties of bananas than anyplace else, so take the opportunity to try some of them.  

Jealous you got to climb Cotopaxi.  I still remember driving there and having the water flowing down from the mountain steaming (tallest active volcano in the world).  I really want to do that climb - been as far as the highest road stop at 15k feet or so.  Not many other places in the world where you can get to 19k feet with a hike rather than a climb.

The Galapagos is a once in a lifetime visit.  I highly recommend going.  Stunningly beautiful place.

 

 

 

After spending 4 days there, I would concur with this.  Even the nicer river walk area was highlighted by views of a big brown river delta.  I did enjoy the weather and the food there.  

We went on a construction trip to help build parts of a school that was half private and half tuition-free.

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35 minutes ago, Jayrod said:

After spending 4 days there, I would concur with this.  Even the nicer river walk area was highlighted by views of a big brown river delta.  I did enjoy the weather and the food there.  

I will say this about Ecuador.  I loved, loved the people.  I was pretty young, but I will always remember the culture and how friendly they were.  May have helped that a little blonde kid could converse a bit with them in Quechua.

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8 minutes ago, Sand said:

I will say this about Ecuador.  I loved, loved the people.  I was pretty young, but I will always remember the culture and how friendly they were.  May have helped that a little blonde kid could converse a bit with them in Quechua.

I second that.  A friendly culture.  They are also very anti-drugs and a little conservative due to their proximity to Columbia and Catholic background.

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Bumping this, love all the feedback! THANK YOU! 

This is a go! Nailing down flights at this point with the event organizers, but looks like we are flying down to Quito on a Monday, staying the night then flying into Cuenca the next morning (common). 

We will have mon-thurs to explore on our own.

Friday we will be working with Roberto Mora at his bbq restaurant Cuchi Succo Pit BBQ and creating a special menu for the day as guest Pitmasters. Part of this will be training his staff on brisket, ribs, etc. Roberto owns many places down there and is treating us to dinner one night at his place El Mercado, considered by some the finest restaurant in Ecuador. 

Saturday is the Cuenca Grill festival. It is their largest grilling fest, tens of thousands of people. Teams competing. Exhibitions. Guest/Celebrity grillmasters. We will be there to demonstrate/teach competition baby back ribs. They provide a few kamado grills for us to use. We present (not sure on details yet), then hang around and take photos, answer questions, then are “celeb judges” for the competition. 

Sunday we have the day, then fly out that afternoon to Quito then a red eye to Atlanta and back home. 

Theyre covering all expenses which is nice. They’re springing for Delta One Business Class so I’m guessing they won’t be cheating out on hotels either.

Doesn’t seem like there are too many dicey areas in Cuenca. Love that the water is safe to drink. Food/coffee culture seems strong. Apparently you can chew coca leaf / drink coca tea. That’ll be entertaining :lol:  Looks like weed is legal for personal use (but illegal to sell). May get some for one afternoon of exploring the city on bikes.

Unsure if we will get out of town one day. Apparently there is a city nearby (Chordeleg) with incredible silver craftsmen. May head out there to check stuff out and get some jewelry for the ladies. 

Edited by [icon]

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On 6/19/2019 at 1:27 PM, Sand said:

We lived there 40 years ago. Yeah, don't do that.  My dad got hep A from tainted food.  I'm sure it has changed a lot since I've been there (for example, at the time the roads to Cuenca were dirt).  Quito is an awesome place, though the landing is among the more challenging that pilots do.  9,500 feet up, so getting altitude sickness after landing is common.  Guayaquil was a pit.  Salinas, on the coast, was spectacular - deep sea fishing in sight of land.

Ecuador grows more varieties of bananas than anyplace else, so take the opportunity to try some of them.  

Jealous you got to climb Cotopaxi.  I still remember driving there and having the water flowing down from the mountain steaming (tallest active volcano in the world).  I really want to do that climb - been as far as the highest road stop at 15k feet or so.  Not many other places in the world where you can get to 19k feet with a hike rather than a climb.

The Galapagos is a once in a lifetime visit.  I highly recommend going.  Stunningly beautiful place.

Wife and I are looking at taking a trip to the Galapagos in late May.  Any thoughts or tips?  We are looking at possible cruise options?  

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1 hour ago, skillz said:

Wife and I are looking at taking a trip to the Galapagos in late May.  Any thoughts or tips?  We are looking at possible cruise options?  

I was there 40 years ago.  I doubt my advice will be terribly relevant.  :oldunsure:

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11 hours ago, Sand said:

I was there 40 years ago.  I doubt my advice will be terribly relevant.  :oldunsure:

Oops didn't catch that.  Thanks for letting me know.  Anyone else have thoughts on the Galapagos Islands that they can share?  

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11 hours ago, Sand said:

I was there 40 years ago.  I doubt my advice will be terribly relevant.  :oldunsure:

Yeah, things may have evolved.

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1 minute ago, Ron Swanson said:

Yeah, things may have evolved.

3 minutes ago, skillz said:

Oops didn't catch that.  Thanks for letting me know.  Anyone else have thoughts on the Galapagos Islands that they can share?  

If you see some really big eggs on the ground or the Rock anywhere around I'd go ahead and dive off into the ocean.

See, some advice!

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Posted (edited)
17 hours ago, skillz said:

Wife and I are looking at taking a trip to the Galapagos in late May.  Any thoughts or tips?  We are looking at possible cruise options?  

I did the North Islands about 20 years ago on a small boat (maybe 20 people). It was a life changing experience. Can only recommend.

ETA: ####. Time flies. I'm getting old

Edited by msommer

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On 1/5/2020 at 9:21 PM, Ron Swanson said:

@[icon]I do believe we need to be regaled with tales from this trip.

Oh man, totally forgot to update. It was surrreal. 

- Cuenca is f'ing gorgeous. Quito is cool but I'd 100% rather spend time in Cuenca

- The people are insanely nice. Like over the top kind. I've never seen anything like it.

- we did a "flavors of America" dinner at Cuchi Suco BBQ, it sold out, we expanded capacity and it sold out again with a huge waiting list. Crazy experience. So much fun. 

- For the festival presentation, We were treated like celebrities. Billboards, huge 30' banners on sides of stores, radio and other media appearances.

- The presentation was a challenge, all the things we were promised (meat, charcoal, seasonings, etc) were late or not delivered at all. We had to rig/fake a good bit of the presentation but pulled it off. It was surreal speaking in front of thousands of people in a country I'd never been in before. We couldn't walk 10 ft without being asked to take photos... had one guy tell us we were his idols via google translate. :lol: 

- We trained a couple of about 12 teams, most of which had never seen a smoker. On comp day we walked around offering tips and helping with fire, meat, etc. 

- They presenters dishes by parading them thru crowd with an entourage, presenting to the three of us. Turns out the dishes were incredible! 

Even in Quito we ended up in this awesome restaurant by a Honduran chef who moved to Quito to revive ancient incan cooking style using sealed clay pots holding while chickens w rice potatoes and such. He kept the place open late, and we had a price dinner, then hung for hours drinking Ecuadorian beers and talking culture, politics, food, etc. awesome way to end the trip. 

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On 6/19/2019 at 2:08 AM, Teddy Stickles said:

Stopped in a town called Banos

I’ve been to Banos, too!  :hifive:

I bought a light coat there.  Still cracks me up the town is named bathroom. 

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