Category Archives: Ecuador

travel plans to Ecuador

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There are two agents we are using to plan and execute our trip to Ecuador and Peru next Spring.  Totally Latin America has put the Peruvian portion of our trip together for us.

Ecuador and Peru Trip Itinerary

We have finalized our spring trip to Ecuador and Peru.
We’ve book our Peru leg of the trip through Totally Latin America
I spoke with Nick in Cusco earlier today to go over our questions about the trip. We hiked Mt. Whitney some years ago. Both Ellen and I experienced altitude sickness at “base camp” at nine thousand feet and felt really depleted hiking toward fourteen thousand feet. We quizzed Nick about altitude and the length of hikes/walks on the trip. Nick was reassuring and sent back this information on the hikes around Machu Picchu:

Huayna Picchu Hike

Machu Picchu Mountain Hike

I’ll post details for each day of our itinerary closer to our departure dates.

We plan to visit Quito, Banos, Guayaquil, the Galapagos Islands, Tumbes, Cusco, Machu Picchu, the Sacred Valley, and Lima.  It may seem like too much time spent at Cusco.  The Sacred Valley and even Machu Picchu is at a lower elevation.  The Sacred Valley is at nine thousand feet and Machu Picchu is at eight thousand feet whereas Cusco is at eleven thousand feet.  It is good that we will spend some time at nine thousand feet before staying at eleven thousand.  The extra time in Cusco is to acclimate and to prepare for the Amazon leg of our trip.

Our Itinerary


Day 1 fly into Quito, Ecuador overnight Quito
Day 2 Quito to Banos overnight Banos
Day 3 visit Pailon del Diablo close to Banos
Day 4 Banos: free day, zip line, hikes
Day 5 Banos to Guayaquil, Ecuador, overnight Guayaquil
Day 6 fly to Galapagos board National Geographic Islander
Day 7 – 12 explore the Galapagos Islands
Day 13 return to Guayaquil, Ecuador

Machu Picchu, Peru

Day 14 Express Bus to Tumbes, Peru overnight Tumbes
Day 15 fly to Cusco and bus to the Sacred Valley (9000 ft)
Day 16 Sacred Valley private tour
Day 17 Full day private tour Cichero, Moras, Moray, & Salt Pans
Day 18 Vistadome train to Machu Picchu, MP tour, overnight Aguas Caliente
Day 19 revisit MP, return to Sacred Valley in the evening
Day 20 free morning, Cusco; shared Cusco tour in the afternoon
Day 21 free day Cusco

An Amazon Tribuary and Manu National Park, Peru

Day 22 Cusco to Cock of the Rock Lodge Andes Cloud Forest
Day 23 Cock of the Rock to Boca Manu
Day 24 Boca Manu to lower Manu National Park, Fitzcarrald Provence.
Boat to Manu Tented Camp
Day 25 Manu NP Cocha (lake) Salvador & Cocha Otorongo (oxbow lakes)
Day 26 Manu NP
Day 27 Manu NP Macaw Clay Lick hide, trail walks, canopy tower
Day 28 Manu NP to Miraflores Lima
Day 29 half day tour Miraflores Lima
Day 30 fly home

Ecuador and Peru, Spring 2016



We will fly into Quito, and drive to Banos, Ecuador.  Banos is the adventure capital of Ecuador and home of Pailon Del Diablo, devil’s cauldron.  Ellen and I will not do white water rafting, kayaking, or mountaineering here.  We will visit the cauldron, take a zip line, and relax in at spa resort.  Banos is “on the way” from Quito to Guayaquil.

we may stay at the Samari Spa Resort, Banos.  Here are a few photos from the hotel’s stock photos.




Pailon del diablo

One of the reasons to visit Banos is to see this dramatic waterfall.  A big “thank you” to Jim for posting this some time ago.  I do not think he knew we would be anywhere near Pailon del Diablo and he probably thought it was one very crazy place as if, “Who would want to go there?  This is insane!”  Well we will be traveling close enough to make a trip to Banos and this waterfall possible.  Both the waterfall and what I’ve read about Banos makes it a nearly “must do” for me.

Rio Verde and the Pailon del Diablo, Ecuador

Pailon del Diablo Waterfall, Ecuador


From Banos we will drive to Guayaquil and meet up with the Galapagos Expedition on a National Geographic boat.  We posted details of that leg of our trip in a prior post.  It will be a ten day tour of some of the islands returning to Guayaquil.


We will stay a few days in Miraflores, Lima.  Miraflores is right on the coast with high-rise buildings and a craggy shoreline.



Machu Picchu, the Sacred Valley, and Manu

From Guayaquil, we will take a short bus ride from Ecuador just over the border into Peru, then take a flight to Lima.  Here we will hook up with our second series of tours and an expedition down one of the tributaries of the Amazon River to Manu.  Nick has provided a remarkable itinerary for us for an additional two weeks, giving us time to acclimate to the altitude at Cusco, visit Machu Picchu, and the Sacred Valley on a private tour, and adventure down one of the tributaries of the Amazon, in the Amazon Rain Forest.

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We may see a jaguar or two while in Manu, if we are very lucky.   We can expect to see these guys

Trogon Quetzal

Trogon and Quetzal

capuchin Andean Cock-of-the-Rock

Capuchin and  Andean Cock-of-the-Rock


Ahinga Heron


as well as tapirs, river otters, and capybaras.  I hope some of our photos are as dramatic and inspiring as these stock photos taken from the web.




Trip Planning for Ecuador and Peru

Spring 2016 Ellen and I are going to South America, specifically Ecuador and Peru. We are in the planning stage of our trip. We have booked a ten day “expedition” to the Galapagos. After flying all the way to Ecuador, why not explore Ecuador and Peru too? We have the time. Here’s my plan, assuming Ellen is ok with it. We will visit Banos, Ecuador; Tumbes, Lima, and Cusco Peru; and take excursions from Cusco to Manu, the Sacred Valley, and Machu Picchu. It would be great to visit Nazca, but it is out of the way and not worth three days of our time.


Our Galapagos trip will be through a National Geographic Expedition. Our itinerary is preset. We fly into Guayaquil, meet up with the expedition. Ten days later we fly back to Guayaquil from one of the islands. The itinerary below can change.

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Banos, Ecuador

Banos is a tourist destination high in the Andes and about six hours from Guayaquil by bus. The name Banos, bath, comes from the famous hydrothermal springs in the area. Banos is the adventure capital of Ecuador. I’ll check out zip-lining here. Banos is also known for its waterfalls. If we opt to visit banos, we will take a bus from Guayaquil to Banos, stay for a few days, and return to Guayaquil. My research suggests that the city of Banos is flat and easily walkable. Still unknown is how to get from Banos to Pailon de diablo. Getting back to Guayaquil, we will probably stay overnight in a boutique hotel before heading on to Tumbes.



Tumbes, Peru

There are no direct flights from Guayaquil, Ecuador to Lima, Peru. Flights hop Guayaquil to Quito to Lima. It is more direct to take a bus from Guayaquil to Tumbes, a beach town just across the border into Peru. There are a variety of buses that run between Guayaquil and Tumbes and from Tumbes we can take a domestic flight to Lima. The border crossing between Huaquillas, Ecuador and Tumbes, Peru is sketchy and best not done on foot without help. My research suggests a bus from Guayaquil to Tumbes avoids the scammers “helping” tourists cross into Peru.





From Tumbes we will head to Lima, probably by plane. We may stay a few days in Lima on the way out or on the way back. I have not researched Lima.


Cusco, high in the Andes, is the gateway to the Inca Sacred Grounds and to the Amazon Rain Forest. Cusco sits at 11,200 feet where altitude sickness can ruin a vacation. There are numerous posts about people who have died while visiting the Andes.

We plan to stay in Cusco for a few days to acclimatize. Machu Picchu, the Sacred Valley, and Manu are at a lower altitude.


We plan to take tours of these remarkable sites (see below). There are a vast number of tours that range in price from extremely inexpensive to remarkably expensive. I would love to take the Hiram Bingham luxury train from Machu Picchu (MP) to Cusco for example. Most tours of MP are single day excursions from Cusco. There are a number of hotels in Aguas Calientes which are quite close to MP making two days at MP feasible. Safari Experts can tailor a tour for us though I think I would rather go “own plans”. Here is their itinerary:

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Machu Picchu


the Sacred Valley










For now that is how our adventure stands. We are considering the order of excursions to MP, the Sacred Valley, and Manu. Should we visit Manu first or last and for how many days? This is not a bad problem to have! It’s fun…

Happy Trails To You…

Past Post Categories

I’ve significantly changed the categories widgets and applied them in a regular way to my posts.
This makes access to all posts associated one click away. For example clicking on “Past Posts/Past Travel/Italy/Venezia” will bring up all our posts about Venice. Sometime in the future I’ll be adding tags for more granularity to access specific sites mentioned in our posts.

We will make it a point to add more photos to our posts.

We’re now researching the best way to get from Guayaquil, Ecuador to Cusco, Peru; the stepping off point for excursions to Machu Picchu and Manu.
Flights typically take multiple hops: Guayaquil-Quito-Lima-Cusco, can take more than 24 hours, and cost upwards of $500 per person. An Ormeno bus from Guayaquil to Lima stopping at the border at Tumbes costs $33 per person and takes about the same amount of time as a flight. I’ve read not so glowing reviews of Ormeno bus lines. Another option is a direct bus, Cruz Del Sur which has better reviews. A direct bus runs $99/111 (std/vip) and takes 26 hours. There is a bus that stops in Mancora for half that price, but it has no arrival time nor estimated travel time.

Now here’s an option! Take a bus from Guayaquil to Tumbes, Peru than fly from Tumbes direct to Lima. A direct flight takes about two hours. The bus from Guayaquil to Tumbes takes six hours. Now I’m looking into a side trip from Guayaquil to Banos to visit Banos and Pailon del Diablo