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One of our routines whenever we decide to purchase a big ticket item or dip our toes into something we're not familiar with is research, research and research. Ecuador is a something we are unsure of and know very little about the country and the Ecuadorian people. We are spending 10 days in Ecuador and want to make the best of our trip. We have been reading a lot of blog entries such as Travelpod.com, Lonely Planet Tree, and Fodor Travel blogs. These are valuable information with several great tips from other people's experiences that you would not find in a travel book. Of course, we have purchased a couple of books as well - "The Rough Guide to Ecuador" and "Insight Guides Ecuador." Furthermore, our good friends, who are already there, have started their own travel blog (which we check religiously).
We leave for Ecuador in 1 1/2 weeks. We have finalized our itinerary, which is a loose one, but something to go by. Usually we don't like to make plans while on vacation, but since we have to maximize our visit by seeing and doing the things we want in short time, a plan is not a bad idea.
Here is what we intend to do. Let's see if we follow it.
Day 1 - Quito is about 9,350 ft above sea level, making it the second highest capital city in the world. Since the city is so high, some people get sick or overexert themselves because of the high altitude. Our first day will be a day of rest so that we can get acclimated to the higher altitude.
Day 2, 3 - We planned our trip during the most important dates in the indigenous' calendar - 1st and 2nd of November. All Saints' Day (Todos los Santos) and Day of the Dead (Dia de los Difuntos, o muertos). The ancient belief is that the soul visits its relatives within these days and should have plenty of food to be fed and continue further on its journey to the after life. We hope to witness the cultural experiences of the Ecuadorians during the holiday.
Day 4 - Otavolo Market (more later when we experience first hand this famous market). Mitad del Mundo (middle of the world). That's where you can actually walk on the equator.
Day 5, 6, 7 - Banos. We are taking a 4 hour bus ride south to a town called Banos. Its near an active volcano with tons of outdoor activities. At the end of each day, we can soak in one of the several hot springs in the town. We are really looking forward to this one!
Day 8, 9 - We head north to the Cotopaxi area. We're staying at a Bed and Breakfast near Lasso. This will be our basecamp so we can do the Quilotoa Loop and attend the Saquisili Market (again more on that when we get there).
Day 10 - Back to Quito to visit our friends one last time and to stay overnight for an early departure the next morning.
Day 11 - Fly Home