As I am now in my last day in Ecuador, I always take the last day to review the trip, and decide whether I need to come back. Ecuador is a definite must come back to country. I feel like I saw so little of it, and there is so much to see and do- unfortunately, it was too little time. Next time will definitely do it differently, by choosing one particular area, arrive, check into a Spanish school/volunteer project and spend at least a week learning spanish and doing some volunteer work. Then off to explore.
First- I just want to let you know how impressed I am with Rough Guides travel book. Having been a Lonely Planet fan for many years, it was very hard to make the adjustment to Rough Guides. Rough Guides seems to have more information on ecotourism, community involvement and the indigenous people than Lonely Planet. It could be that the Rough Guides is a newer edition (2007) than Lonely Planet (2006), or maybe their focus is more along the lines of ethno-tourism. Rough Guides has a section on travel and climate change. They recommend you visit, www.climatecare.org pr www.carbonneutral.com to allow you to make up for some of the greenhouse gases that you use when traveling. Rough Guides and Lonely Planet support a carbon offset scheme run by climatecare.org. For more information go to www.roughguides.com/climatechange
10 Top Reasons to Visit Ecuador
1.) I am impressed with the safety and cleanliness of Ecuador. Never once, even in bad areas did I feel unsafe. Ecologically speaking, i think that Ecuador is far ahead of Mexico, Venezuela and Peru, Java, Lombok, the only other countries I have visited in the last 3 years.
2.) There are 32 national protected areas in Ecuador. (17% of the country) in addition to Private Reserves, which are growing. These Reserves are set up for conservation, scientific reseach, or eco tourism.
3.) Never have I visited a less ´hustle-free´country. Normally in other countries, you are surrounded by street hustlers, children and beggars, with hands out and products to sell. In Mexico, I usually walk around with change, to give to the poor, but here, there is little need.
4.) Opportunites for Eco, Ethno Tourism. Having looked into volunteering before, and it seemed to be costly and a hassle and what if you didn´like the area? Here, you still have to book a little in advance, but there are so many opportunities, just go to any city and you can make a decision from that city. Cost is from $200 – $300.
5.) Not alot of Tourists- with some exceptions, Ecuador is off the usual beaten path, most people go to Galapagos Islands and Quito.
6.) Lots to do and see- Beaches to Rainforests, Amazon Jungle, Active Volcanos, Hiking, Mountain Climbing, River Rafting, Horseback Riding, Birding, Animals, Ruins, Shopping, Community Involvement and more. Transportation is easy, buses seem to run every hour to anyplace you want to go, and the buses are decent and comfortable.
7.) People- I love the whole ´Latino¨culture, the music, the colors, the hardworking people. the handicrafts, the markets, the food, the beer, the atomsphere, just about everything. People greet you with a smile and a buenas dias, and que pais? (good day and what country)
8.) Costs less- For less than a week in Hawaii, you can come to Ecuador for 2 weeks. Depending on where you live, but a friend of mine got a flight from Los Angeles to Guayaquil for $575.00 and you can definitely live on $20.00 a day here. (less if you are couchsurfing and buying local food at the markets)
9.) Music and Dancing- Everybody dances here. If you are a woman who is tired of WBS (white boy syndrome- men who will not dance unless they have alot to drink) come south. Everybody dances, by themselves, with everybody else- it doesn´t make any difference, women dance with women, men dance with men, people dance by themselves. Music is everywhere!
10.) It expands your Life- Getting into another culture and seeing how other people live, makes one appreciate what they have at home. There is nothing like coming home, taking a nice hot shower, being able to drink out of a tap, having a washing machine and readily available goods, things we take for granted.