Back home for a week now and looking back with fond memories on a particularly beautiful trip.... We have the feeling to have experienced Ecuador, its beautiful nature, fascinating culture and contact with the local people intensely.
Thank you very much for the excellent organization and the personal follow-up on the spot!
By way of feedback, here is a brief but more concrete overview of our experiences. Because we think this might be meaningful for future travelers.
Stage around Otavalo
> Great value added by guide John. Indigenous culture fascinated us extremely and he, by sharing his experiences and choice of stops to specific work studios, local non-tourist market,... responded nicely to our interests.
> Also very positive experience of the archaeological site of Cochasqui. Interesting tour by guide on site.
> Lodging : hacienda Cusin is a wonderful and attractive place, delicious meals too. The only downside were the (noisy) preparations for a huge wedding party, which meant that the garden was taken up to a great extent. Moreover, we were assigned another room than the requested garden cottage (according to them because of odor conditions?). When checking out, I gave them feedback regarding these points and advice to inform future clients in case of (preparations for) wedding party. Understanding response and accommodation
> Interesting excursion, especially the part by car (tour through barrio, mirador), very good guide and driver.
> Lodging : What a wonderful house and lovely room, what warm and lovely people! We particularly enjoyed the warm and personal stay at Casa El Edén.
> Gabriel and Alysson responded well to the extreme crowds on the scheduled day of visiting the Cotopaxi by returning and visiting Quilotoa that day. Very beautiful crater lake but given the difficulty of the hike (steep sandy and therefore somewhat dangerous descent) we did not stay there too long. We were a bit disappointed by the perhaps recent less attractive establishment of restaurants and given the (beautiful!) long trail, stops in neighboring villages would have been a nice addition.
> Excursion Cotopaxi on Monday was a lot quieter and the beautiful nature in the natural park is absolutely worth it, even in fog and impossibility to climb the bit up to the refugio. Nicely compensated by hike around the lake.
> Lodging : Hacienda San Agustín, another special place that we enjoyed very much.
> Fantastic (snow) experience around Chimborazo! Thanks to Tom and driver David for the super nice guidance. We are also grateful to have gotten to know Inti Sisa, discovering meaningful initiatives and smaller villages holds meaning for us. Moreover, we experience an additional "luck" that the train trip Nariz del Diablo is no longer possible.... This gave us the opportunity to explore the area in a more slowed down and authentic way via a quiet walk. Very interesting guidance and explanations by the local guide. Again immersion, also during lunch, in the indigene community and stories surrounding their current situation....
> Logies Hacienda Abraspungo. In itself a good hotel, spacious and comfortable room. Late evening noise due to family in adjoining room, but is independent of hotel and was immediately respected by a quietly asked question... ..
Given still long route the next day, a second night in Guamote (Inti Sisi) would have been interesting, but we understand that this possibility was not there years ago when booking.
> Glad we had two free days to explore this pleasant city. We also really enjoyed the excursion in the NP Cajas, good nature guide (Carlos). Long drive to Guayaquil on the last day of this leg, but round trip along Sigsig, Chordeleg and Gualeco was definitely worthwhile to get an impression of the daily life of the inhabitants. Fine atmosphere in the villages and local markets, interesting stop along the way.
> Hotel Santa Lucia : we had received (given anniversary trip) a wonderful upgrade (suite!). Beautiful building and room, friendly reception. Less satisfied with the service of the breakfast (many mistakes and given the formulas less interesting when one does not choose eggs). What we were not satisfied with at all was the dinner for a large number of guests as part of a wedding party (last night). This led to a lot of noise, the staff did intervene immediately after we asked if this could be addressed. It was noted that such parties are usually completed around 10:30 am, but the noise on the street in front of the hotel persisted a bit longer.
> These are situations that you obviously have no control and visibility over. Again, the same remark about the hotel informing clients or travel agencies about such activities and festivities... Possibly some clients are not bothered by this, we ourselves are the type who need peace and quiet, especially in the evening and at night....
Galapagos : So glad we were able to experience this unique experience. Very much enjoyed the beauty of the islands, special fauna and flora, being on the road with the catamaran. Great organization and guide.
> B&B Iguanazu : Basic room was compensated by attentive reception and table set in the garden. We were alone and enjoyed the peace that prevailed, after a wedding party that apparently had taken place the evening/night before and whose effects were still somewhat visible in the house. We mentioned how much we enjoyed the silence. Unfortunately, nothing was said at that time about the wedding party that apparently would take place five nights later, after our Galapagos trip.
You already know the rest of the story....
Thanks again for understanding that we opted for another location for our last evening and for accommodating us! We appreciated it very much, also the follow-up and contact for coordination. Our apologies that due to the cab driver's misunderstanding we ended up in a different and extremely more expensive hotel than intended....
This and so much more makes "Explore Ecuador" a travel company to recommend....
Best of luck to you!
I am Tom from Belgium and I have been living in Ecuador for more than 10 years. I got my guiding diploma here. Traveling and discovering new places is my passion. Together with the travel agency Descubre-Ecuador, we offer tailor-made tours in Galapagos and on the Ecuadorian mainland.