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What to do for four days before going to the Galapagos?

Fort Lauderdale...
Level Contributor
58 posts
42 reviews
What to do for four days before going to the Galapagos?

Hi, we are a family of five, two adults, three teens. We fly into Quito and have four full days before flying out on the fifth day to Galapagos for a cruise. What to do? Right now we plan on day 1) Quito and Otavalo 2) driver take us to Tena, visit animal rescue center , overnight Tena 3) morning activity in Tena, drive take us to Banos, afternoon activity in Banos. 4) morning activity in Banos, drive back to Quito.

I feel like this may be too much time in the car. I realize that Tena is not the "true" Jungle so thinking of skipping this but really would like to go to the animal rescue center.

My kids like : action, shopping, "exciting" wildlife (not just insects), culture (visit to a school or orphanage?)

We want to make the most of our four days. Any suggestions. Dates are the middle of June.

Thanks!!

Albuquerque, New...
Level Contributor
1,211 posts
168 reviews
1. Re: What to do for four days before going to the Galapagos?

That seems like a lot in a short time. Frankly, I would skip Otavalo. The market was interesting, especially on a Saturday, but you will find the same things for sale in Quito. Is there something in Banos that you really want to do? If not, you could skip that. There is a lot in Quito you can do and with a short time, you might want to consider maximizing your time there.

Fort Lauderdale...
Level Contributor
58 posts
42 reviews
2. Re: What to do for four days before going to the Galapagos?

Thanks grizz9 for your reply. Any suggestions on something fun to do in the Quito area?

Quito, Ecuador
Level Contributor
327 posts
2 reviews
3. Re: What to do for four days before going to the Galapagos?

You're right. That's a ton of time in the car. Also, keep in mind that night falls at 6:30pm every day so your time for activities in each place is a bit limited when you throw travel time into the middle of the day.

If you do follow the advice above and spend more time in Quito, consider a Free Walking Tour of the historic Old Town followed by time to climb the clock towers of the Basilica. The Guayasamin Museum is always a favorite, and the Teleferiqo cable car will carry you to 13,300ft overlooking the city.

Will your visit include a full Saturday? I ask because making a trip up to Otavalo for the Saturday market can be wonderful but, otherwise, you can also find the same tourist-oriented souvenir products in the Mercado Artesenal in Quito. If you would like higher quality goods, there are a few shops in the La Mariscal area of Quito that carry finer options. Is there something else beyond shopping drawing you to the Otavalo area?

You might consider visiting Mindo where the kids can enjoy some "action" on a zip lining tour, you can hike to some lovely waterfalls, hummingbirds are zipping about everywhere (though I don't know that this counts as "exciting" wildlife, they are gorgeous :), and you can participate in a chocolate tasting tour to round out a great day. Mindo is just a couple of hours from Quito...much easier to access than Tena/Banos!

Cotopaxi is also close by and if your family enjoys horseback riding, you can pull on some llama chaps for a half day ride across windswept plains enjoying stunning views of the volcano and end with a hearty traditional meal by the crackling fire of an historic hacienda.

If your visit includes a Thursday, there is an amazing traditional market south of Quito that is much less "touristy" than the Otavalo option. This market occurs in Saquisili. You could combine a visit to this market with an overnight at an historic hacienda near Cotopaxi, a hike and overnight at the stunning Quilotoa Crater Lake, or even visit the market on your way down to Banos.

There are just so many options!! Staying closer to the Quito area is highly recommended. If you narrow your options down to two of the following locations and let us know what days of the week are included in your stay, I can happily help with more specific recommendations! Here are some options to consider:

Quito

Mindo (cloud forest)

Otavalo (market...if your visit includes a full Saturday)

Saquisili (market/culture...if your visit includes a full Thursday)

Cotopaxi (volcano, horseback riding, traditional hacienda)

Banos (farther away...I recommend this only in combination with either Saquisili or Cotopaxi...waterfalls)

Quilotoa (again, farther away and best with Saquisili or Cotopaxi. Would be in lieu of Banos...volcanic crater lake, hiking, rural communities)

I hope that helps get you started in creating a new plan. Happy to help if I can!

Best,

Nicole

Fort Lauderdale...
Level Contributor
58 posts
42 reviews
4. Re: What to do for four days before going to the Galapagos?

Thanks Nicole for taking the time to answer my post. I appreciate all your comments. We arrive Quito 10pm Sunday night and depart 7am Friday morning. So I guess a Saturday at Otavalo is out. The Thurs market in Sasquisil is a possibility. My kids will not go to another museum (had enough in Europe) and a walking "tour" they would tolerate for maybe an hour or so. We would love to do biking, possible whitewater rafting, interact with local culture/people, possible horseback riding (seems like wildlife is out unless we go to the amazon), hiking is good if something interesting to see. Based on the above would you mind sending your suggestions. Truly appreciate your time.

Quito, Ecuador
Level Contributor
327 posts
2 reviews
5. Re: What to do for four days before going to the Galapagos?

Thanks for the extra info...it helps a ton :) It sounds like your kids might be largely opposed to time in the city as most of what you'd experience includes museums, churches, history, and art. Based on that, what do you think about the following...

Sunday arrival, overnight near Quito airport

Monday: Transfer to Banos; afternoon hikes along the Route of Waterfalls; overnight Banos

Tuesday: White water rafting; overnight Banos

Wednesday: a.m. transfer to an historic hacienda near Cotopaxi National Park (I recommend Hacienda El Porvenir for this); hearty traditional lunch; Horseback riding or mountain biking in the area; overnight at the hacienda

Thursday: early morning departure to Saquisili market; afternoon transfer to UIO area hotel

Friday a.m. departure

Wildlife in the Amazon is pretty illusive, generally, and that's even more true on the outskirts (secondary forest; areas like Tena). I'm not really sure what kinds of wildlife you'd consider "exciting"...I can HIGHLY recommend a visit to the Galapagos Islands next time around. Exciting wildlife is a guarantee there and is often up close and personal :)

Would love to hear your thoughts.

Best,

Nicole

Vonore, Tennessee
Level Contributor
131 posts
55 reviews
6. Re: What to do for four days before going to the Galapagos?

Crater lake near otavalo is awesome. Can hike around it and take boat ride on it. Lake chuicocha. And cotacachi would be a good place neat otavalo for an overnight. Cute town. Also there is a lake neat ibarra where you can ride rented bikes around it and eat fresh caught tilapia cooked in adobe oven onsite. I would seriously consider a day or two in the imbabura region as it is beautiful, mild weather, and close to quito.

Lincoln, Nebraska
Level Contributor
12 posts
2 reviews
7. Re: What to do for four days before going to the Galapagos?

I love your post! I'm going with my 11 year old twin girls to Quito from June 3-23. We are staying in Quito the entire time and I have been researching the heck out what to do. I have found all of am what you talked about and that's what we plan on doing, but you put things in such great order with great explanations. So thank you!

6 posts
1 review
8. Re: What to do for four days before going to the Galapagos?

curiosity

are you travelling to galapagos July 15th?

i ask because I am going with family with teens as well.

Martha

Fort Lauderdale...
Level Contributor
58 posts
42 reviews
9. Re: What to do for four days before going to the Galapagos?

I am going middle of June. What is your itinerary?

Montanita, Ecuador
Level Contributor
59 posts
10. Re: What to do for four days before going to the Galapagos?

Hi!,

So first of I would say you must must must go to Banos! Especially with teenage kids there is no better place than Banos. Filled with exciting activities & beautiful scenery you can't go wrong with Banos. Banos - Tena is about an 3 hour drive. An adventure style itinerary could be:

Sun: Arrival in Quito

Mon: Departure to Banos via Cotopaxi National Park for horseback riding/ hiking to the refuge at the snowline/ mountain biking. Arrival in Banos in the afternoon

Tues: Full day Banos -- activities include: canyoning, swing at the end of the world, bike riding down the Ruta de Cascadas (Route of the Waterfalls) zipling, horseback riding, etc.

Wed: Morning transport to Tena. Amazoonico visit in the afternoon

Thurs: White water Rafting in Tena. Return to historical hacienda near Quito airport in the Evening.

Fri: Fly out to Galapagos.

Hope these suggestions help! Any further questions just ask!