ECUADOR

This place BLEW. MY. MIND!!!!! I was so surprised that everything it had to offer and I would definitely recommend it to anyone and everyone! We had a crew of 11 friends and it was just such a blast! We flew into Quito, and then also visited Cotopaxi, Tena and Banos.

QUITO:

Central Quito – click HERE

We flew into Quito and just stayed there for one night. Our main thing we wanted to do was Cotopaxi National Park and the Quito airport was the best one to fly into for that. While we were here though we took this amazing gondola to the top of the mountain to an overlook. It was called TeleferiQo! There are hiking trails, mountain biking, etc. at the top. So beautiful!!

COTOPAXI:

Cotopaxi National Park was UNREAL!!!!! We drove all the way up to the volcano and got out and explored – it was so pretty and one of those moments where you can’t help but just outstretch your arms and take it all in! It’s definitely worth the bumpy ride and wind haha (as you’ll see in the photos below) We just did a day trip here and it was perfect!

BANOS:

Casa Nahuazo – click HERE

– This place was nuts! If you like adventure then make sure to go here because it’s adventure central! We went bungee jumping off a bridge for no joke $20! It’s ridiculously cheap and SO much fun! If you find the main bridge in town and ask someone for bungee jumping, they’ll point you in the right direction. haha They know what’s up! You just pay them cash, and before you know it you’re strapped in jumping off a bridge!

– We also went white water rafting and it was the best white water rafting I’ve done! You know when it advertises HUGE rapids, and then you go and it’s not even rafting, it’s more like floating haha…so not this time! It was actually big rapids and people flew off multiple times!! If you’re looking for something more mellow, then this isn’t for you because it’s for sure like “alright hold on, here we go!” I wish I had the name of the company that we went through but we honestly just found one in town(there’s a lot that offer it in the city center)

– We spent New Years here and it was the craziest New Years experience evvvver!! They have all of these huge paper machete life size figurines…yes I know, creepy and hilarious all at once! So they have these ALL over town and people are dressed up in masks and the weirdest clothing and it’s like the whole city has gone mad haha then when midnight hits they BURN everything!!! All the figurines go up in flames and fireworks everywhere. They have no sense of safety and just start burning anything and everything even if you’re standing a foot in front of it, so everyone is just screaming and running everywhere! Legit, the craziest thing of my life! Haha and then of course, there’s fun dancing and all that jazz that follows! I would DEFINITELY suggest going over New Years!! It was so much fun and not like your typical New Year experience!

– There’s an amazing waterfall here called Pailon del Diablo(Devil’s Cauldron) that is a MUST! You get to crawl up through these little openings to get closer to the waterfall and there’s a beautiful bridge that crosses over the rain forest that you get cross. For sure don’t want to miss it! Make sure to grab some mangoes from the guy at the shop on the left on your way back – hands down the best mangoes I’ve had to date!

– There’s a swing that looks like you’re going off the edge of the earth and it’s way rad! It’s called Casa Del Arbol – you drive up through the jungle a ways to get to the top of the mountain and then pay like $10 and it’s totally worth it. It’s an incredible view and you feel like you’re swinging off the earth….quite literally.

– After doing activity after activity we decided to treat ourselves to a day at the spa which was a fun experience! There are multiple different options – all of us got massages and then some of us did the candle ear wax and then some did a sauna box. I loved it and it was nice to just chill for a day. The name of the spa was called El Refugio Spa Garden.

TENA:

Eco Yoga Farm – click HERE

I CANNOT SAY ENOUGH GOOD THINGS ABOUT THIS STAY!!!! Seriously it was everything we could have asked for and more! It’s secluded out in the middle of the jungle! So beautiful!! The owner, Bhagavatamrita was so inviting and nice – we arrived fairly late and he was there to help us feel at home and situated. Every morning we got to do yoga on the deck for sunrise and it was the most magical experience ever! If you go to Tena you have GOT to stay here!!! 10/10!! This place is in the straight up amazon jungle with no service, no sense of where we were, just us and nature and I couldn’t have been happier about it!

The first night we were there was honestly the most magical night! We were just laying in bed and this HUGE rainstorm starts coming down and you can hear it hitting our deck, we had big open windows that looked out into the jungle and you could here all the animal noises, and then to top it off, a meteor shower is happening across the sky. It was seriously NUTS and will forever be engraved in my mind. And then waking up to the dewey jungle with the sun peeping through the trees was the best as well. I could seriously go on forever about this place, just so beautiful!

– We did an Amazon jungle boat tour which was ahh-mazing! We got to cruise through the rain forest and then stopped at an animal sanctuary to see all sorts of monkeys, birds, and all different kinds of animals. If you’re looking to experience the amazon then this is the place! It’s seriously incredible!!

– Rent a car!! This seriously made all the difference – we were debating about it for a second and I’m SO happy that we decided to rent a car because we drove EVERYWHERE, and we could go wherever we wanted to. It just gave us a lot of freedom to be able to do what we wanted to do, when we wanted to do it.

photos by Autumn Shipp

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