Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Quito, Ecuador

Guapulo

Check out the Guapulo area of Quito, its a winding steep area with several great bars and cafés with a real bohemian feel. Just be careful if you go in after sundown, since this area is a bit dodgy.

Where to Sleep

There are dozens of hostels and hotels in town to accommodate all the visitors. Most people stay in the new town, which is closer to the nightlife.

New Town

Budget

Grinn House, Calama y 6 de Deciembre (New Town), (info@grinnhouse.com). Located in the New Town at the end of the bar & restaurant-filled Calama St, this hostel is brightly lit, immaculately clean and features some of the most comfortable beds and blankets you'll find in any hostel in South America. Dorm rooms for 4+ people (if there isn't much traffic you might even get a room to yourself). The double suite has it's own private bathroom and cabinets for your belongings. Open kitchen and fridge for guests. Plenty of hot water, free wi-fi internet, and optional laundry service and breakfasts. Very friendly owner and staff are happy to help with directions, activities, tours, cabs, etc. $7 per person with shared bath, $20 double private suite. 

Hostal Marsella, Ríos N-12-139 (2035) y Espinoza (Alameda), (hostalmarsella@hotmail.com). Located between New and Old Quito, just up the hill from Parque Alameda. Plenty of clean rooms with sitting areas both inside and under a new glassed-in ceiling on the rooftop (with views of the Basilica and the Panacillo/Angel.) Hot water, free wi-fi internet in the common areas, laundry service, large breakfasts ($2-$3). Door is locked 24/7 for security and the very friendly owners and staff are happy to help with directions, calling cabs, etc. Great spot away from (but within walking distance of) the much more touristy Mariscal Sucre. $7 per person with shared bath, $10 private.  

Backpackers Inn, Juan Rodriguez E7-48 y Reina Victoria, La Mariscal, (info@backpackersinn.net). Centrally and very quietly located in the heart of La Mariscal District. The rooms and bathrooms are very clean. Good Kitchen for joint use, Free Internet and WiFi. Check-in and entrance available 24 hours. Big, comfy common rooms filled with fun things and a warm, welcoming atmosphere. Parking space available at no charge. From 6.50 USD/Dorm night.  

Casa Helbling, General Veintimilla 531 y 6 de Diciembre, La Mariscal, 02 222 6013 (casahelbling@yahoo.de), [32]. An old, but well preserved, large mansion where every room is different, but all are nice with a lot of light. Most are shared bathrooms. Full kitchen available for use; nice courtyards, roof decks, and outdoor speaces. Breakfast and laundry available. German and English spoken. Free wifi and a computer for use. Friendly, relaxed staff. Quiet and tranquil, perfect for those over 30 who want to be in La Mariscal but away from the crazy college crowd. Single $16, double $26, breakfast ~$5.  

Aleida's Hostal, 559 Andalucía St., 02 223 4570, [33]. Aleida's Hostal is a laid back family run hotel just a block away from La Floresta's big 5 star hotels. The building is a beautifully restored three story house built in the 1950s with friendly staff and a sunny courtyard in the front. Spanish and English are spoken and services include wireless internet, laundry, book exchange, and more. Rooms start at around $15 including breakfast in the restaurant downstairs.  

La Casa Sol, Calama 127 (La Mariscal neighborhood. Near Av 6 de diciembre), 02 223 0798, [34]. checkin: Noon; checkout: Noon. A colorful, homey hostel in the best part of the neighborhood, close to shopping, nightlife and entertainment. Great amenities: cafe and international library, and a beautiful antique house. Nice breakfast in a sunny restaurant. Walking distance to s 'Metro Bus' station. 20 USD.  

El Cafecito, Cordero 1124, La Mariscal, 02 223 4862. Clean rooms, a popular cafe/restaurant and a tranquil shaded courtyard all housed in a beautifully decorated building in the Mariscal. The hostel has 6 rooms and prices start at $7USD (June, 2009) for a dorm bed.  

La Casona de Mario, Andalucia 213 y Galicia, La Floresta, 02 254 4036, [35]. Single double and triple room. All rooms have shared bathrooms and there is a set price of $10.00 per person per night 
La Casa de Elize, Isabel La Católica N24-679. Hostel with a family atmosphere. It's a few blocks from the Mariscal area. Dormbed $6 and breakfast $1,50.  

El Centro Del Mundo, Lizardo García E7-26 Between Diego Almagro y Reina Victoria Quito, 02 222 9050, [36]. Has affordable rooms, a trilingual owner Pierre, and is a great spot for backpackers. Television room and free rum and coke nights three times a week. Food is also available. Showers aren't very hot though. USD 5.60.  

Hostal Belmont, 02 295 6235. Anteparra N-413, rooftop kitchen and terrace with great views over the city, TV room with DVDs and SNES, free use of washing machines, free internet, friendly family run place, 2 mins from Itchimbia park - more great views. 6 USD per person per night. Rooms with private bathrooms can feel a bit cramped, while the rooms with shared bathrooms have more space and air.  

Magic Bean Hostal, Foch No 681 (E5-08) y Juan Leon Mera Small hostel over the restaurant, 02 256 6181. One large room sleeps 3 with private bath ($40 plus taxes) the other accommodation in a Dorm style room. Friendly staff and an excellent breakfast, but its a very noisy area.  

Mid-Range

Quito Airport Suites, La Brasil y Mariano Hecheverría, [38]. $45 for 1 or 2 people. Get own key. Can have guests over. Pets allowed. Parking, full kitchen available.

Hotel Sierra Nevada, Joaquin Pinto 150-E4 y Cordero, la Mariscal, +593.2.2553658 (info@hotelsierranevada.com, fax: +593.2.2554936). checkin: 24h; checkout: 2:00 PM. The hotel (founded in 1997) is located in a charming old townhouse right off the famous Avenida Amazonas. It has 19 rooms and offers free breakfast. They offer airport pick-ups. Single $35.50; double $52.00; triple $68.00; quadruple $79.00.  

Hostal la Rabida, La Rabida 227 y Santa Maria, Tel. (5932) 222-1720. Rates range from $46-$70 a day. There is also a very good restaurant on the premises. Friendly staff. 

Hotel Sierra Madre, Av Veintemilia # 464 y Luis Tamayo, 2224 950. A good mid range place, comfortable beds, quiet rooms, close to La Mariscal (2 minutes) but much quieter. Breakfast expensive, just walk into town $60.78.  

Travellers Inn (2800 meters), La Pinta E4-435 y Av. Amazonas, La Mariscal. (2 blocks south of the Marriott hotel), +59322546455 (info@TravellersEcuador.com), [41]. checkin: 24h; checkout: 12:00. This is an old mansion from the beginnings of the 20th century, nicely decorated. It has a mini-bar, guest kitchen, travel agency inside and extremely friendly and helpful English speaking staff. It has yards all around the house and wireless Internet to all the building (2 computers with Internet conection as well). Included breakfast here is awesome: coffee (real coffee), tea, milk, fresh juice, 3 types of fruits, bread, cheese, 2 eggs, butter, marmalade, etc. There is a laundry service, spanish lessons, book exchange, free maps, bike rental, lugagge storage, etc. A nice TV room with a huge collection of movies. There are rooms with shared bathroom from 11 dollars per person, and rooms with private bathroom from 15 dollars per person. $11-$25.  

Splurge

JW Marriott Hotel Quito, Av. Orellana 1172 y Av. Amazonas, Phone: +593 2 2972000 Luxury hotel, offers spacious and luxurious rooms, along with first-class meeting facilities, a outdoor pool and garden, full-service SPA and outstanding restaurants. 

Hotel Quito, Av. González Suárez N27 142, Phone: (593)2 254 4600 This hotel offers the following services: Casino, Restaurant, Room service, Wifi, Swimming pool, Garden spa and fitness, Business Center, Shops, Parking, Wet and dry cleaning, Nanny Service 

Between the Old and New Town

Budget
L'Auberge Inn, Av. Colombia 1138 y Yaguachi, (593) 2 2 552 912 (reservation@auberge-inn-hostal.com, fax: (593) 2 2 569 886), [44]. Nice place to make your base for your time in Quito. Clean but basic rooms, internet in-house and a big cheap breakfast. There is also a Swiss restaurant directly below.  

Chicago Hostel Inn, Los Rios # 1730 y Briceño, (593)(2)2281695 (chicagohostel_ecuador@hotmail.com). checkin: 2 pm; checkout: 11 am. Our hostel is conveniently located near all major public transportation, inside a traditional neighborhood of Quito called San Blas. Our hostel is located to 8 minutes away to the Main Square in the Old Town and 20 minutes away to the night life (walking distances). We offer you private rooms with private and shared bathrooms and besides a mixed dorm room ensuite, internet, WIFI, housekeeping everyday, mailbox service, an amazing view point of Quito from our covered top terrace, luggage storage, security lockers, exchange books, bar, breakfast served at the top terrace, Spanish Classes, travel agency "TradeTouring S.A." (http://www.tradetouring.webs.com/) 
Old Town

Old Town is a good base for sightseers.

Budget

The Secret Garden, Calle Antepara E4-60 y Los Rios, San Blas, (593)2956 704 or (593)3160 949, [46]. Offers a roof terrace with a great view and herbs grown by the volunteer staff. Moreover there is a jaw dropping and wonderful view of the older section of Quito. Has a great in-house travel agency Carpedm Adventures ( http://www.carpedm.ca ) to help sort out Galapagos, Amazon & more. There are fires nightly and the staff cooks three course meals every night, the hostel also offers breakfast for $2,80. 

Hotel Huasi Continental (Close to the crossing of Flores and Sucre.), Calle Flores 308 (email: info@hotelhuasi.com), +593 2 2957 327/+593 2 2956 535, [47]. Nice and clean hotel in the old town with helpful staff. Note that some of the rooms facing the street can be a bit noisy. Singles from $10.  

Community Hostel (Four blocks from Plaza Grande.), N6-78 Pedro Fermin Cevallos and Olmedo (email: communityhostel@gmail.com), +011-593-59049658. A newly opened hostel in the historic district of Quito's Old Town. With a friendly Staff and very clean environment. D/$10,S/20

Mid-Range

 Hotel San Francisco de Quito, Sucre 217 y Guayaquil (Walk north-east from Santo Domingo Trole station to Sucre, turn left, hotel is on your left. If taking a cab, walk to a nearby street...cabs in front of the hotel will refuse to use their meter.), +593 2 2951 241/+593 2 2287 758. A lovely, comfortable, converted estate house offering excellent value. Price includes a basic breakfast, which can be upgraded for a price. Some rooms on the courtyard and street are a bit noisy. There are no windows in most rooms. The restaurant also serves excellent dinners, priced in line with other a-la-carte restaurants. singles/doubles $23/$42.  

Splurge

A number of small, boutique hotels have opened recently in the Old Town. These include the five-star Hotel Plaza Grande, Villa Colonna, El Relicario del Carmen and the longest-established: Patio Andaluz .
Stay safe

Quito's reputation as an unsafe city is becoming more apparent and as in every big city tourists should take special care in certain areas.

Do not travel up El Panecillo on foot; use a taxi even during the day. Not only is the neighborhood bad, but the road leading up the hill has very narrow sidewalks, and sometimes no sidewalks at all. This presents a risk of being, at best, overwhelmed with diesel fumes as busses chub by, at worst, getting run over.

It is probably best to avoid "Gringolandia", as there is quite a bit of assault even during the day.

As the Old City becomes quite dead after dark, it is best to avoid walking around alone. However, much of the central squares of the Old Town are patrolled by police and well-lit, so it is fine for a stroll in a group at night. During the day, it is perfectly fine, bustling with locals, shopkeepers, hawkers and tourists, and well patrolled by police, especially at the main tourist attractions. Nevertheless, pickpocketing and pursesnatching can be a problem, so take normal precautions. The plaza and doors of the San Francisco church, and the main trolley station near Plaza Domingo are particularly notorious areas for this. Pickpocketing is done by highly skilled groups of 3 or 4 people. You are best off not bringing a wallet at all--just some bills split between various pockets. Also, watch out for the busses and trollies while in old town. On many streets, sidewalks can be very narrow, so it is best to pay attention at all times so you can flatten against the wall and cover your face (diesel fumes!) if you need to let one pass, especially when the sidewalk is crowded.

Mariscal Sucre and all parks among other areas can be unsafe at night so taxis are advised for even short distances. Keep your belongings as close and as secure as possible, and if you feel in danger, duck into a bar or shop, and then hail a taxi. Beware of credit card fraud, which is an increasingly serious problem in Quito as tourists are being targeted in the Mariscal area.

The area near Hospital Militar is quite dangerous, even in the late morning. The road "Solano" where Casa Bambu Hostel is situated is especially dangerous. Armed robberies have become more common. Men have been known to jump out of cars to target and physically threaten foreigners in order to steal their belongings. Although its views are amazing, exercise caution when walking to and from your accommodation. Taxis travel up and down this road frequently so if you can spare $1.50 to get into Mariscal Sucre, do so. Parks nearby are also dangerous. Perhaps walk around the parks instead of going through them.

Con artists

The main bus station is an area known to target travelers (foreigners or locals alike). You need to watch your bags closely, before departure, during departure, even once on the bus. It is best not even to put your luggage in the overhead shelving or under your own seat, as you can be easily distracted and have all your key possessions stolen before realizing it. Unfortunately you need to watch your bags on top of, or under the bus, at every stop until you arrive at your destination. There are two important sorts of scams that you may encounter on buses:

One common one scam involves a thief impersonating bus staff (this can be easy because those of many companies have no uniforms) who will direct you to a seat and finding some excuse to ask you to put your bag in the overhead compartment or directly under your own seat where you cannot see it; an accomplice seated directly behind you will then slash open your bag and steal the belongings. Having the bag between your legs is not safe either as children are commonly used to climb down under the seat (from behind you), slash the bag, and remove belongings without you ever feeling a thing. Always have your bag on your lap.

Another scam will often have an accomplice who will provide a distraction such as pretending to sell sweets before spilling them all over you, giving their friend the chance to steal your belongings. This can't be emphasised enough: never let your belongings out of sight. If something suspicious is happening like this on a bus, just refuse to co-operate and hold your belongings close to you. Robberies of this kind are common, particularly on buses leaving Quito. It is worth considering paying $3 or $4 more for a trip on a more high-class bus as these often have additional security measures, which can prevent robberies of tourists and locals alike. On city buses, it is best to not bring a backpack. If you absolutely have to bring one, wear it on your chest, not your back.

Finally, several neighborhoods located to the very north and south of the city are infamous among locals for having gang/delinquent trouble. "La Bota" to the north is specially notorious as it even locals try to avoid passing through it as much as possible.

Wearing "gringo" clothes (fishing vests, travelers pants, bright colored t-shirts, dirty sandals) will make you a target. Ecuadorians in Quito generally dress conservatively; a pair of nice black pants or dark jeans and a non-descript white/off-white t-shirt will make you look a business person who knows his way around and not just another tourist posing as a Haight-Ashbury hippie.

Travelers in Quito are likely to be approached at some point or another by con artists or persons with "sob stories". Ignore such persons and be wary of anyone asking for money under any pretext, including children begging. If you feel charitable, Ecuador has lots of legitimate charities you can support.

Drugs

Avoid associating at all with the drug trade in Ecuador. Ecuador has strict laws against possesion, transportation and use of illegal drugs and foreigners caught transporting drugs at the airports have been sentenced to long prison terms. Unfortunately, any foreigner with a "alternative" or "hippie" appearance (such as men with long hair) may be assumed by some Ecuadorians to be looking for drugs. If you are approached about drugs in any context, it safe to assume the person approaching you is up to no good.

One exception is use of entheogens by indigenous people. Interest in ayahuasca is prompting increasing numbers of Americans and Europeans to travel to south america in order to partake in traditional ceremonies, and Ecuador is one such place. It is advisable to plan such a trip with a reliable guide before you travel there.

Police

All Ecuadorian citizens and visitors are required to carry ID at all times. If your stay in Ecuador is for a few months or longer, sooner or later, you will encounter a roadside police check and be requested to show ID. You can show your passport; however, carrying your passport around all the time is not advised due to the risk of loss of theft. A better option is to have a copy of your passport certified by your embassy and carry that. Students and long-term residents will be issued an Ecuadorian "censo" card that can also be carried in place of a passport for ID purposes.

If you are the victim of a crime it is suggested you report it to the Ecuadorian National Police (by law, you must report within 72 hours of the incident), as well as to your home country embassy and to the South American Explorers Club.

In 2009, two Visitor Safety Service offices were opened or revamped. Their job is to help with filling out forms, embassies and passports, etc. They have two vehicles for further assistance. Some staff speak English or other languages:

Corner of Roca y Reina Victoria, Edif. Relaciones Exteriores (Pasaportes) Opening Times: 24 hours, 7 days a week. Tel: (+593 2) 254-3983 ssturistica98@yahoo.com Be prepared to offer English lessons as a "bribe."

Historic Centre Plaza Grande (north side of the square on calle Chile, between Venezuela and García Moreno), Edif. Casa de los Alcaldes. Opening Times: 24 hours, 7 days a week. Tel: (+593 2) 295-5785 This office is known for its slow responses to crimes that are taking place; it is not uncommon to see locals yelling at these officers for not doing their jobs.

Contact

A good place to start is the Quito Visitors' Bureau [54]. It has several information centres around the city. These include at the International and Domestic Arrivals terminals at the airport; the Parque Gabriela Mistral in the Mariscal District (just north of Plaza Foch); the Banco Central Museum in the Masiscal District; and finally, in the Old Town, on the ground floor of the Palacio Municipal on one side of Plaza Grande - their main centre.

The main centre includes helpful English-speaking staff, lockers for leaving bags, maps, leaflets and books for sale, a store of Ecuadorian crafts. This centre also offers free guided tours of the Old Town, where visitors only pay the admission fees to sights. The contacts for the main office are: (+593 2) 2570 - 786 / 2586 - 591, info@quito-turismo.com 

The main iTur (national tourist information offices, [56]) is located in northern Quito, close to La Carolina park and El Jardin malls, to one side of the Ministry of Tourism, Av. Eloy Alfaro y Carlos Tobar.

Embassies

Ar-flag.png Argentina, Av. Amazonas y Roca, +593-2-2501-106.  

Be-flag.png Belgium, Republica y Nacioned Unidas, +593-2-2467-851.  

Bl-flag.png Bolivia, Eloy Alfaro y Fernyo Ayarza, +593-2-2446-652.  

Br-flag.png Brazil, Av. Amazonas 1429 y Av. Col, +593-2-2563-142 +593-2-2563-141 +593-2-2563-086 (ebrasil@uio.satnet.net).  

Ca-flag.png Canada, Av. 6 de Deciembre y Paul Rivet, +593-2-2506-162.  

Ch-flag.png China, Ave Atahualpa 349 and Ave Amazonas, +593 2-2444362 (embchina@uio.telconet.net, fax: +593 2-2444364).  

20px Chile, Juan Pablo Sanez y Ave Amazonas, +593-2-2249-403.  

Co-flag.png Colombia, Ave Colon Sanez y Ave Amazonas, +593-2-2222-486.  

Cs-flag.png Costa Rica, Rumipamba y Ave Amazonas, +593-2-2456-946. 

 Cu-flag.png Cuba, El Murcerio y El Vengador, +593-2-2222-486.  

Da-flag.png Denmark, Republica y Portugal, +593-2-2437-163.    

Eg-flag.png Egypt, Avenida Tarqui E 4-56 Y 6 de Diciembre , Quito, +593 22509501 (embassy.quito@mfa.gov.eg, fax: +593 22563521), 

Gr-flag.png Greece, Urb. Chiriboga 10ma transversal No. 109, entre Av. San Luis y Av. Del Progresso San Rafael, +593 2-2865848 (consul@consulado-grecia.org, fax: +593 2-2868801). 
Ja-flag.png Japan, Ave Amazonas N39-123 and Calle Arizaga, Edf. Amazonas Plaza, Piso 11, +593 02 2278-700 (fax: +593 02 2449-399),  

Ru-flag.png Russia, Calle Reina Victoria 462 y Roca, +593 02 252-63-61 (embrusia_ecuador@mail.ru), mo-th 8.00-13.00 15.00-17.00 fr 8.00-15.45. 
 Us-flag.png United States, Ave Avigiras E12-170 y Ave. Eloy Alfaro (next to SOLCA), +593 02 398-5000 (contacto.usembuio@state.gov). 

Get out

Quito is surrounded by a variety of places that could interest all kinds of tourists. A couple of hours on a bus ride is all it takes to reach them:

To the North, all tourists should visit the province of Imbabura, which has beautiful lakes such as Yaguarcocha and San Pablo. Hikers and mountain climbers can also ask for adventures in Cayambe National Park, home of the 3rd largest volcano in Ecuador. It's inactive. For tourists who want to shop a bit, they should take notice of the town of Otavalo, it's indian market is famous worldwide for the quality and variety of products on sale. Don't forget to haggle for your preferred price!

To the North West of Quito lies the region of Mindo, a subtropical rainforest paradise, full of rivers, majestic waterfalls, unique wildlife and more. The region is home to a variety of animal wildlife sanctuaries, and is famous locally and internationally because of its beauty. At a slightly higher altitude to Mindo is the Cloudforest. The variety of plants, birds and butterflies is wonderful. The guides carry good qulaity binoculars to help you spot some of the many varieties of birds. After each guided walk you can return to the lodge for meals. Near the main buildings there are many humminbird feeders which attract many of the energetic and luminous birds. Accommodation is simple but very clean and pleasant with balconies from which you get beautiful views into the forest. You can visit the butterfly and humming bird farm too for about 3 USD. The staff will show you around and explain to you in Spanish the life cycle of the butterflies (very worthwhile!) Landslides are known to occur on the roads to and from Mindo. Traffic can be held up for hours if this occurs. Trout (trucha in Spanish) is a specialty of Mindo and a dish of this should cost around 6 USD. To get to Mindo from Quito, catch a taxi to Ofelia bus station (5-6 USD) and at the North bus terminal buy a ticket to Mindo for 2.50 USD. The frequency of these buses differs between weekdays and weekends and travel guide times may be out of date. The earliest bus on a weekday is at 8am (13th April 2010). The bus trip is around 2 hours in length.

To the east, lies Papallacta which is a thermal water resort town. If you're into spas and relaxation, dipping into one of the natural hotwater pools for a couple of hours is a no brainer. The trucha (trout) dishes that are served here are also exquisite (~ $5.00). Take a taxi to Cumbaya bus station (from Mariscal Sucre it should cost about ~8 USD) and from there you can catch a bus ($2.50) to Papallacta. Just ask the buses that stop if they are going there. The bus will drop you in the centre of the town or on the main highway just a few minutes walk from the town (be sure to remind the driver to let you out!). You can get on the back of a Ute by hailing it (with wooden seats) for about 50 c per person to get to the hot springs. Entry into the hot springs is about $7.00. Be careful with your belongings here. You can hire lockers (50 c per locker plus a $5 deposit) but staff advise that you leave your expensive valuables behind the counter. The choice is up to you.
By Train - There are trains to Latacunga from Thursdays to Sundays leaving at 8am. The train makes a stop for breakfast and at Cotopaxi National Park. It arrives in Latacunga at 12am and heads back to Quito at 2pm, arriving there at 6pm. The price is 10$ for the return trip. You can use it as an excursion from Quito or get off at Latacunga and travel on from there by bus.


2 comments:

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