Have you ever stood between two hemispheres? Well the only way to do this is by visiting the equator. There are 11 countries the Equator crosses and one of them is Ecuador. The equator is 15 miles north of city of Quito. So why not kill two birds with one stone – visit the equator and check off a country from your list.
Quito, Ecuador is my first city/country in South America. The city is above sea level, 9,350 ft (2,850 meters) to be exact, so be prepared for the altitude and jaw-dropping view points.
The trip was something that came out of nowhere and one of the best weekend getaway. Below are several best ways to plan for aweekend getaway and be back to work on Monday without missing a beat.
Grab a friend or friends
When a friend calls and says “I found a deal on American Airline for $179 round-trip from Miami to Quito. Do you want to go”? Just say yes and go with the flow.
Hostel prices – Dorm rooms cost between 8-12 USD per night. Private rooms start at 20 USD for a shared bathroom. Free WiFi is standard, and many places also include free breakfast. There are also plenty of hostels in the city with kitchens if you plan on cooking your own meals. For those traveling with a tent, camping is really only available on treks outside of the city. There are virtually no Couchsurfing hosts here, so staying with a local won’t be possible.
Budget hotel prices – Budget hotels with WiFi and free breakfast start around 25 USD per night for a double or twin. For a hotel with a pool, expect to pay closer to 50 USD per night. Airbnb is also available in the city, with shared accommodation starting around 20 USD per night. For an entire home or apartment, prices begin around 30 USD per night (though expect to pay closer to 55 USD).
Luxury hotel prices – Even though I provided general pricing on hostels, Airbnb, or budget hotels; my preference in Quito is the luxury hotel, in particular, the JW Marriott. The average rate is under $165 which is a steal for 2 to 4 people to share.
Oh and the view of the city from the hotel is phenomenal.
Quito Centre is about an hour from the airport.
Bus Service – I did the bus service (Aeroservicos del Ecuador) which cost about $16 roundtrip.
Private/Shared Transportation – You can sign up with private/shared transportation with Viator for about $30 roundtrip.
Taxi – Don’t get into a taxi unless the driver is using his taxi meter. There are many stories of drivers unscrupulously overcharging tourists.
Uber – Uber is less expensive than taxis and are the best way to get around a city if you don’t want to wait for a bus or pay for a taxi.
Power Plug – Ecuador uses 110 volt, 60 cycle electricity, same as the US. Plugs are typically the 2 pronged flat type so US travelers will not typically need a converter or adapter.
Currency – The US dollar became legal tender in Ecuador March 13, 2000. Prior to 2000, it was the Sucre.
Things to Do
Now that we are done with the logistics, lets get down to the nitty-gritty. What is there to do while in Quito? Well…..
While in Quito, I did the Otavolo Cayambe Equator Cuicocha Full-day cultural tour via Viator. The local tour was $62 and it included lunch. I know that there are people who like to explore on their own which is good. However, investing in a tour guide or tour group is phenomenal, economical, and beneficial. We had a total of 15 people on this tour from the U.S., Switzerland, Thailand, Australia, and London; and guess what, we interacted and learned about each other. In some ways I ended “visiting” four other countries in one day.
During our tour, we had a great guide — Omar. The history he provided was better than Google or any book. The tour included eight (8) cities: Cayambe, Guayllamama, Quito, Cotopaxi, Tabcundo, Cotacachi, Cuicocha, and Otavalo. Please don’t ask me how to pronounce some of these cities. I got Quito down pat lol. The minimum amount of time in each city was 30 minutes and the max an hour and a half. Just enough to get a taste and for me to do a return trip.
Equator – Cayambe
The first stop was to Cayambe which is the city that has the real equator. There is a historical one — Ciudad Mitad del Mundo that is heavily advertised by the tourism department, but I liked going to the real on.
Yep , I am currently between the Southern and Nothern Hemisphere and I love it.
There is really nothing to say but to admire and be in awe
The last stop was the Otavalo Market. This is great opportunity to shop, people watch and especially have something to eat.
Lastly, you cannot leave Quito without visiting the Old Town and exploring the heart of Quito.
I know that I’ve inundated you with pictures of Quito but this is a city that everyone needs to visit. It has so much beauty and it is an experience of a lifetime to say that you were at the equator. Lastly, I did this during 2-night/3-day stay! Can you imagine if you had 5-days to explore?