After working 2.5 months on the Galapagos Islands, I have about 12 days left to explore Ecuador's mainland. I will arrive in Guayaquil and think of going to Montanitas, Banos and then leave the country from Quito. Would you say that's enough for 12 days? Are these places worth to go there or would you recommend others?
Thanks in advance for your help.
Can I ask where you were working in the Galapagos? I am trying to find a good volunteering Gig there myself.
I really recommend checking out Banos, Vilcabamba and the cloud forests that eventually make their way to the Amazon. I have not been to Montanita but planning on heading there myself!
It all depends what you want to do (and there is so much to do!) Thankfully it's quick to get around everywhere by bus and you can pack it all in if you're motivated, or take it slow and easy if you want to be a little more peaceful.
Adventure & Adrenaline Activities: climb Cotopaxi, either overnight to the summit or just to the glacier, mountain bike down the mountains near Otavalo and raft/rock climb/abseil/canyon (everything!) in Baños or you can surf in Montanita. Trek the Quilotoa Lake loop if you love trekking. You can also trek Rucu Pichincha from Quito.
Culture and Markets: Quito and Otavalo easily come to mind as well as Cuenca (Ecuador). Great to pick up trinkets for family/friends and explore UNESCO world heritage sites and architecture.
Peace & Relaxation: Mindo in the cloud forest. It's great for bird watching, quiet river tubing/floating, zip lining, has an orchid garden as well as a chocolate tour. It's very close to Quito as well and nice and small.
Unique Things: Mitad del Mundo the Equator line outside of Quito,
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You HAVE to go to Baños!! It is one of the most beautiful places around and the swing on top of the world is breath taking!! Have a look at my photos and info on my blog: