My Independent Travels

From December 15th until the end of February, the fellows have the opportunity to create their own travel plans to explore more parts of Ecuador. This is such an amazing experience because we get to leave our homes and see places that interest us independently. Personally, I would like to travel everywhere in Ecuador, but of course I don’t have enough time (that’s okay because I have a feeling i’ll come back to Ecuador sometime in the future 🙂 )


Nevertheless, over the past two months I have done three separate trips. I decided to make this blog to share some photos from these fun times.


Trip #1 – To Alausí and Riobamba (Central Highlands), December 21 – December 28

Grant came to visit me and we started our trip by traveling to the cute little town of Alausí. Alausí is most known for being a starting-off point for the famous “Nariz del Diablo” Train. The zig zag track runs along the side of the andes mountains, descending 500 meters in less than 12 kilometers. We departed from Alausí and made our way to the town of Sibambe, where we shopped at an artisan market and learned about the history of the indigenous people living there.

Some pictures from the train station/train ride:

After the train tour, we took a bus to Riobamba. The next day we spent exploring the city, visiting some viewpoints and famous churches. The main reason we came to Riobamba, though, was to do a bike tour through Chimborazo, an inactive stratovolcano in the Andes. Reaching a peak elevation of 6,263 m (20,548 ft), this is the highest mountain in Ecuador.

Here is a view of Chimborazo from our hotel:

On Christmas day, we left our hotel around 6:30 a.m. to begin our bike tour. We drove to the first shelter at 4,800 meters (15,748.03 feet), and from there hiked to the second, reaching over 5,000 meters of altitude.

Me taking a much needed break :p

After we got back down, we started our off-road bike tour:

Made a stop at one of the best places to rock climb in Ecuador!

Trip #2 – To Quito, Otavalo, and Mindo , January 16 – January 23

My parents came to visit and I met them in Quito to start our trip. We spent a couple days exploring the “Old Town” city of Quito, also known as the historical center.

View of the old town from the top of the Basílica Voto Nacional

After Quito, we drove to Otavalo for the famous Saturday market. Normally, during the week you can buy artisanal products in Plaza de Los Ponchos, but on Saturday the market stands flood the streets, taking up almost a third of the city with jewelry, clothes, food, and other items to choose from. We spent half the day bargaining with the local sellers and making many purchases.

Before heading to Mindo that afternoon, we took a small hike to Las Cascadas de Peguche:

Mindo is known as the cloud forest. Here there are lots of touristy activities to do including zip lining, the Tarzan swing, tubing, rafting, mountain biking, etc. After doing the Tarzan swing (while my parents watched :/ ), we took the “Tarabita” to the starting point of a path called “El Santuario de Cascadas” that takes you to see five different waterfalls.

My dad on the Tarabita that took us through the trees to the beginning of our hike.

The next day, we went to a Mariposario or butterfly house on the outskirts of town. Here are some photos:

After traveling in the north, I took my parents to Cuenca, the city I live near in the south.

My parents and I on the steps of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Cuenca.

Trip #3 – To Tena and Baños , January 24 – January 28

This! Trip! Was! Incredible! My friends from the program and I booked a tour in the amazon for three days and two nights. During this time we hiked through the jungle, visited an animal refuge, went tubing on the Río Napo, and climbed up many waterfalls.

Some photos:

The Napo River

A lookout from the jungle

My friends and I digging into Cocoa :p

A little snack we had (with chocolate we made)

So that’s just a little glimpse into my independent travels here in Ecuador 🙂 I have had such a great time these last couple months exploring different parts of this beautiful country.

I’ll post a blog soon on my current living situation because a lot has changed…

Chao for now ♡ un fuerte abrazo