08.06.2011 - 11.06.2011 27 °C
After the flight to Quito our bodies still felt the sway of the boat for a day and a half, not to mention adjusting once again to altitude. We took advantage of Quito to get some good food and stayed in probably my favorite place of the trip so far- Casa Hebling. Its an old wooden building with unexpected corners and large volumes of sunlight.
My favorite part of mainland Ecuador was taking a biking tour of Cotopaxi. This massive volcano forms a nearly perfect cone and its upper reaches are covered by snow and ice year round despite lying nearly on the equator. We drove up to the highest parking lot with a tour, then hiked on up above 5000m, reaching the ice and snow. The views were spectacular and we proceeded to slide down the snow most of the way back to the parking lot. Here we unloaded our bikes and started a mad dash down 11km of rough road to the base of the volcano. One German girl in our group crashed and started bleeding. It was thrilling, but Mirja and I aren't adrenaline junkies so we took it pretty relaxed. Let the kids defy death. Afterwards we ate some amazing guacamole with the group and relived our adventures while being happy to be back below4000m.
Our last excursion in Ecuador was to visit the cloud forest in Mindo. Mostly we were happy to just get out of the city. Big cities in South America, like the rest of the world can be very dirty and smoggy and loud. Quito also has a reputation for being quite dangerous as far as muggings and minor crimes are concerned. We stayed at the the Hostel Rubby in Mindo, which is probably the best name I could imagine for a hostel. While in town we mostly relaxed- skipping the thrill seeker activities like rafting and zip lines. We walked out into the countryside, visited a butterfly farm and an orchid farm.
Ecuador is a pretty amazing place, but we were so overwhelmed by the Galapagos Islands that the mainland almost seemed like a bit of a letdown. Everything the mainland has to offer is also available in Peru and Bolivia- mountains, jungle, Inca history, so since we had already been to those places, mainland Ecuador got the short end of the stick.