Number of days spent in country – 16
Cities/towns visited – Banos, Lago Agrio, Cuyabano (rainforest reserve area), Quito, Otovalo
Number of different lodgings – 4
Bus journeys – 21
Combi/collective/taxi journeys – 3
Boat rides – 8 short rides
Days of rain – 4
Total US dollar amount spent – $1,295
Average cost per day, per person – $40.50
Average lodging cost per person, per night – $11 We generally stayed in private rooms with our own bathroom. Staying in dorms would have cut our costs a little, but not enough for us to deal with the hassle of sleeping in a room full of randoms.
Most expensive lodging – $11.50/person for a double room with a shared bath in Quito
Least expensive lodging – $8/person for a kinda gross dorm room with a shared bath in Quito
Average food/drink cost per day (per person) – $15.51 We had some splurge meals that upped this total, you could get by easily on half this cost for a food budget if you stuck totally to cheap set lunches and street meat for dinner. We were pretty sick of soup, rice, potatoes and low-end meat by this point though so we opted to spend a little more and get a better variety/quality of food.
Our biggest budget buster was a 4 day trip to the Amazon, which set us back about $450, and was so totally worth it. We booked our trip through an agency in Banos, and ended up at the Jamu Lodge, which I’d highly recommend. All our food and lodging costs were included for those days, along with an English speaking guide and all the activities.
Hostel – Traveller’s Inn in Quito. Rooms are a good price, spotless, and a huge breakfast is included. They also have a happy hour with $1 big beers, though keep track of your tab or pay as you go, we were charged for at least 4 more beers than we really had.
Food – The encebollado soup (like a seafood and onion soup, sounds odd, but is DELICIOUS) at Picanteria y Restaurante Tiburon on Gyuaquil at Montufar in Quito. A gigantic bowl of soup will set you back about $3.50 and comes with a little bowl of popcorn and plantains.
Tour – Jamu Lodge 4 day Amazon tour. I’ve said before that we don’t generally do tours but you can’t go to the Cuyabeno Amazon Reserve without a tour.
It’s a protected area of primary rainforest, and had we known how much we’d love it, we would have done a week there. We heard you see more animals on a pampas tour in Bolivia, and compared to jungle treks there, that may be true…but I can’t imagine seeing much more wildlife than we saw in the 4 days we were on this trip. There were multiple species of monkey, pink river dolphins, caimans, anacondas (2!), all kinds of birds and fish and bugs and and and and and!
The lodge was very well run, clean, and comfortable. Our guide, Dario, was excellent. The food was good and plentiful. We got a better price than on their website by booking in Banos, though we didn’t realize it was a better price until later. There are a variety of different lodges you can visit, so check out your options before you book. They all seem relatively similar though, and are all located in the same general area. I’ll write a full post about it eventually, but if you are on the fence about a jungle tour while in Ecuador, just do it! It ranks in the top 5 things we did in South America for sure.
The bus rides. People say Bolivian buses are bad, but I’m telling you, we had worse rides in Ecuador than we ever did in Bolivia. Cramped seating, a total lack of air conditioning or circulation, and maniac drivers that I thought were about to drive us right of off the cliff’s edge numerous times. The absolute worst ride we had in all of South America was an overnight bus from Banos to Lago Agrio that was so cramped even I had my knees smashed into the seat in front of me. No one would open their windows and it was horribly hot and humid. They also oversold the bus so there were people actually laying in the isles for the whole ride. It sucked.