I had the wonderful opportunity to travel to South America and tour Ecuador over New Years. It was the trip of a lifetime and I'm so excited to share it with you!
Get ready for picture overload!
We started out the trip in the capital city of Quito. This was the view from our hostel! The city is sprawling through a mountain valley and is just beautiful.
The courtyard at our hostel.
The first day we took a tour at the Equator. They tell you all about the history of the Amazon and the natives who live there. Then you get to do all these fun tests like balancing an egg, walking on the equator and watching water flows.
I could not walk on the equator! You walk on a straight line to the side of the equator (sort of like the drunk test!) and you walk perfectly. Then you try it on the exact equator and it's impossible! Watching water drain through is equally amazing. One side flows clockwise, the other side is counter clockwise. Then set it right on the line and the water sucks straight down like a vacuum, crazy!
Next we rode the cable cars known as Telefericos up to the top of a mountain over looking the city. The sun was setting while the clouds rolled in between the mountains. It was beautiful!
My guys and I.
The following day we made the two hour drive to the famous open air market in Otovalo. I wanted to buy everything! Above are the brightly covered hammocks they sell there.
I was swooning over all these embroidered tapestries. The biggest one you could buy was $190 and you could bargain down from there. Totally reasonable. I settled for two gorgeous pillow cases instead. Nik wouldn't let me buy one of the big tapestries and I totally regret it! I might have to get my brother to pick one up when he goes back.
Be still my heart...I'm still drooling over them!
After we hiked to a nearby waterfall. There was a little cave you could crawl through and then actually get in the water and walk around. The unique thing about Ecuador is that you can explore anywhere. Swim in the waterfalls, climb up a rickety ladder in a church steeple, they don't care at all!
Next we took a flight into the cloudforest near the city of Zamora. We stopped for lunch at this beautiful restaurant. You can see a storm rolling through the mountains in the distance. Beautiful.
This is our cabin at the cloud forest lodge called Copalinga. The lodge is built out of local materials and completely off the grid. You eat all your meals with other guests of the lodge, all handmade and locally sourced food. It was some of the best food I've ever had!
My room at the lodge.
This is the waterfall that powers the hydro electric plant on the property. The tires direct the water flow to begin the process. We toured it but I'm not an engineer so it was a bit confusing but impressive nonetheless!
The lodge is also known for it's bird watching. You can sit and observe several kinds of hummingbirds and other exotic birds only 5 feet away!
This was by far the best part of our trip, I would go back just to stay here again.
I bitched at Freddy for getting in my shot and this is how he responds!
The lodge is near a national park. We hiked up to a lookout over the whole forest. It was the hardest hike of my life! Straight up for miles! The humidity was really high too. We turned a corner a few times and kept scaring these large blue pheasant looking things, I think we were equally as scared as the birds though! Here's a photo of me at the top of our sweaty hike, steam was literally coming off of us even though it was 80 degrees!
After the hike we got to actually swim in this huge waterfall. It was freezing! Here's me standing on a rock trying to avoid the cold and act cool but I was freezing my booty off!
We spent the night in the beautiful city of Cuenca before heading to our next destination. Cuenca is known for its churches and touring it at night was amazing.
Then we were off to the coast to stay at the wonderful Mandala lodge.
There was this weird painting in our room. We decided it was how mermaids are created.
We took a day tour to Isla De La Plata, also known as the poor man's Galapagos! The coastline was breathtaking.
Freddy totally ruined this shot with his awkward hand grab. He said he did it so you could see the "boobies". Ha!
These blue footed boobies inhabited the island and they were everywhere along the trail. They were quite displeased with our presence though.
We drove to a cove to snorkel with some very colorful fish and a gorgeous coral reef near the island. It was one of my favorite parts of the coast.
Then we went back to Quito for one last night before heading back to the states.
We toured the part of the city known as old town. This church was unfortunately closed but the outside was really impressive.
We came across a parade while we were there. Apparently it was some kind of holiday about baby jesus and everyone was carrying around dolls in little cradles.
Then after an amazing 12 days it was back to real life!