Cost per day: $21 pp – (with Galapagos it’s $200 pp)
Cities visited: 6
Days sick: 0/0 (yay!)
Conversion rate: $1 = $1
Adventures in Ecuador
– Being asked to design and paint a local cafe’s windows in Baños
– Survived partying ala college days in Baños
– Mountain biking down Cotopaxi, one of the highest active volcano in the world, on a very shitty mountain bike
– Rappelling down waterfalls
– Surviving seasickness on Galapagos
– Face to face with ‘boobies’, sea lions and penguins in Galapagos
Cost per day in Ecuador – $21 pp
Not counting Galapagos, Ecuador turned out to be surprisingly cheap. Cheaper than Colombia. Part of it is due to our lengthy stay in Baños where we paid about $3.50 – $4 per night in accommodation.
The price even includes the cost of all the activities that we did in Baños: canyoning, rafting, mountain biking, etc. We almost never cooked and ate out all the time. We also went out almost every day.
In a nutshell, what we’re trying to say is: it could’ve been a lot cheaper.
– Everytime I think of all the good times we’ve had in Ecuador, I’m reminded by a conversation I overheard in Colombia, ‘There’s not much to do in Ecuador, I think we’re going to fly directly to Lima from here.’ Ouch!
– Ecuador is such a beautiful country with varied landscape. It has more than 30 volcanoes. And those are only the active ones.
– The buses here in Ecuador are so cheap. About $1 per hour.
– The food is slightly better in varieties and qualities than Colombia. It doesn’t say much though.
– They play slightly less violent movies on their long buses than they do in Colombia. Again, it doesn’t say much.
Border crossing from Colombia
We spent the night in Pasto (CO) Then the next day, we crossed the border in Ipiales. Once in Ecuador, we took a collectivo to Tucan’s bus station (EC), then a 3 hour bus to Otavalo ($2.50).
The whole experience was painless (compare that to our recent Ecuador – Peru border crossing). Just don’t forget to stamp in and stamp out.
Indonesian passport holders do not need a visa to enter Ecuador.
Here is a very useful breakdown on Colombia – Ecuador border crossing.
During our 4 day stay there we didn’t do much other than hanging out by the market every day. The market was impressive in size but the quality ranges from ‘Hey, my 12 yo cousin can do that’ to ‘That’s amazing!’
Most of them also sell very similar items. So shop around before plopping down your hard earned cash on stuff here.
Where to stay:
Valle del Amanecer – review. Free Wifi, but no kitchen.
Where to eat:
A good Mexican restaurant (we were pleasantly surprised) is just up the street from the hostal on the way to the plaza. It’s on your left hand side.
|05-28 Otavalo Market|
We couchsurfed in a farm in small town near Quito, and I have to say it was the most unique couchsurfing experience we’ve ever had.
We didn’t spend much time in Quito itself other than one day walking around its colonial center. We weren’t too impressed. Between Cuenca and Cartagena we thought Quito’s colonial center was just, ‘meh’. We did, however, spend a miserable 2 hours on a bus, squished like a deodorant in an armpit on our way to Quito’s bus terminal.
If you’ve been following us for awhile, this won’t come as a surprise. Big cities are never our things.
We arranged our trip to Galapagos through an agency in Quito, called CarpeDM. It’s located in the same building as the Secret Garden hostal. The owner, Paul, was a blast to work with. Very personable and helpful. We can definitely recommend him.
We ended up on a yacht called Fragata and we enjoyed it. The crew was efficient although they could use with more smiling. The naturalist seems to know what he was talking about. The food was better than the average (the vegetarian option was horrible).
You can learn more about our Galapagos experience from the related posts below:
Stories and Photos from Galapagos
Learning to Appreciate Galapagos
How much does Galapagos cost?
It’s painful to talk about the cost of Galapagos, but here it is:
$1100 pp for a 7d/7n cruise.
$100 entrance fee
$275 flight fee
Looking for ways to get to Galapagos cheaply? Here’s an article from our friend at GloboTreks that you might find useful.
Billing itself as Ecuador’s adventure capital it lives up to its name. We did pretty much everything the town has to offer: canyoning, rafting, climbing, etc with the exception of going on a chiva bus and renting that very annoying 4 wheel go-cart.
We stayed in Baños for almost 2 months and we could’ve stayed longer.
We volunteered for an organization called Arte del Mundo who runs a library and after school activities for the kids of Baños. Check them out if you’re considering doing any volunteer work in Ecuador.
Where to stay:
We can’t recommend any hostal personally because we didn’t stay in any. We either stayed at the organization we volunteered with and we rented an apartment afterwards.
However, we did hear a lot of good things about Chimenea Hostal and Santa Cruz Hostal. Hostal Carolina has the cheapest bed we’ve heard for about $6/pp.
Where to eat:
Baños has a ridiculous number of good restaurants for its size. Check out some of our favorite restaurants and other Baños related stuff: Best of Baños.
Cuenca and Ingapirca
A girlfriend and I visited Cuenca and Ingapirca as a weekend trip from Baños. Totally not recommended (doing it as a weekend trip, not Cuenca itself).
Cuenca seems nice enough. It’s cleaner, prettier and overall feels a lot safer than Quito. It has a gorgeous river and riverside walk.
Where to stay:
Turista del Mundo – on Calle Larga – for $6 pp. Very friendly owners, large and bright rooms, but wifi is only available on the 4th floor.
Where to eat:
Many hookah bars along the same road also serve Indian/Middle Eastern snacks such as falafel, pakoras, and shawarmas. Yum!
Ingapirca itself was not too impressive. I guess here I should say that I’m not a big ruin person and lack the imagination it takes to truly appreciate the less intact ruins. The setting was beautiful though. The trip to Ingapirca from Cuenca takes about 2.5 hour one way.
Ingapirca – Not Quite Blown Away
From Baños, we went to Vilcabamba on our way to Peru. Maybe it was because of our mood, or what, but we didn’t care too much about Vilcabamba. It’s very popular with American and European retirees, conspiracy theorists, and hippies.
Where to stay:
Accommodation here is expensive and limited. We stayed in Valle Sagrado for $6 pp and it was just ok. Small kitchen and no wifi.
Where have all the hippies gone?
Now we’re in Peru making our way south. First big stop is Huaraz where we expect to do some awesome trekking and climbing. Rumor has it Peru has some impressive mountains and canyons and we can’t wait to explore them.
Ah! Sorry if this is a double post (not sure what happened with the previous post). I was wondering what you guys thought was better: San Gil or Baños? I'd love to hear your guy's opinion. Thanks!
[…] especially if you’re planning a one year trip. In South America, it is very possible to travel cheaply. The money you spend depends on what type of transportation you use, what type of accommodations […]
What a great site. We took early retirement to travel and hopefully find what is, for us, the ultimate place to live. We are currently in the first year of our ten year adventure. Our plan is to live in ten countries for one year each over the next decade [or so]. We are currently in Mexico and loving it.
We still haven't chosen our next place but Ecuador is in the top three, with Banos a real possibility. Since importing a car there is difficult, how did you find getting around? Any other suggestions for a pair of very young retirees?
Awesome, thanks Jill. I will email as it gets closer. That helps!
Thanks for the breakdown- very helpful! Good to hear Ecuador is cheap. I'll have to check out some of your Galapagos posts. It's on my bucket list but that cost is not. 🙁
The cost of Galapagos is painful. But if you're curious about the place – you should check it out someday. It's a unique place that's for sure. Let us know if you have questions about visiting Galapagos Island.
Ugh. Not looking forward to the Galapagos part of the trip. Well, I AM, but not from a monetary point of view.
Nice info and $21/day is really tempting! I really want to go to Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Chile since they don't require Indonesian passport holders to get a visa to enter the countries.
I love it! I got a new job at a diner for my trip and one of the servers is from Ecuador. It's so lovely being able to put pictures to all the places he tells me about.
Impressive that you were able to get by on $21 a day – especially with all the things you did! I'm heading to Ecuador in October and looking forward to checking out some of the places you've been. Definitely plan to go to the Galapagos so will check out CarpeDM for some options. Thanks for the info!
I don't know which is more impressive: 69 days @ $21/day or 0 days sick (yay). Haha, I love it.
Thanks for this information.
You're welcome! Yeah, we lucked out so far with the bugs and the viruses.
Sounds like a bargain!
Awesome! Thanks guys. I am really appreciating all of your tips on South America since we plan to follow a similar SA itinerary when we start our trip. One questions- was that the cheapest Galapagos trip you found? Do you have to cruise or can you actually stay on on the islands?
No you don't have to cruise. You can definitely stay on (some) of the islands and do day trips. Our friends even couchsurfed there and saved money doing that. But there are some islands that you can't visit as day trips (they're just too far). The cheapest cruise we found was through CarpeDM agency in Quito (good guy, Paul, recommended!) on a yacht called Darwin (I think it was 900-1000 for 8 day cruise). People say it might be even cheaper if you go to the island and book the cruise from there, so if you have the extra time – might want to do it. Err, what else? If you've got other questions – email me 🙂