Having a bit of “homesickness” after leaving Medellin (I’ll be back as soon as I can booboo), Quito was...an acceptable replacement. Like Medellin, it has a bowl shape, with inhabited surrounding slopes, a cable car line, and some stellar history. Though Quito is about twice the size of my Colombian mistress, and at twice the altitude (2850m above sea level) the climate is a little less caliente, and a little more brrrrr, with a side of why? Here you are, essentially in the centre of the earth (give or take a bunch of kms) yet pants, a sweater, and a coat are a must! Wearing socks in the middle of the day is no bueno. My sweet, dear husband, is excited to the max to be here in Ecuador, weather has no bearing on his zest for adventure; me, I’m far less convinced. You better put out Ecuador, pronto! My tan is fading, my already extremely limited wardrobe is not suitable here, and I’m beginning to feel like I’m in Toronto, September-Octoberish. Just no. I actually had to buy chapstick the other day, that’s just rude! I will give you this however, food, accommodations, and travel are all super cheap. The entire country is extremely affordable. With Ecuador’s quaint size, it makes it possible to see a lot, with very little, and boy is there a lot to see! Given that we had just under 2 weeks to see it all, after our week’s stay in Quito, we weren’t exactly sure how we would fit it all in; enter Wanderbus Ecuador. Wanderbus Ecuador is a brand new way to see Ecuador and all its main attractions/locations in a very short, or very long time frame...whatever your preference. It is a hop on, hop off service designed with you in mind
How it works:
Wanderbus offers several different passes at various prices; all passes are good for one year. Each one has several different stops within Ecuador that you can visit. You decide how long or how short of a stay you want at each location, and then hop back on the bus. It’s that easy.
As an example, we chose the Wander Pass. This is the complete pass that covers all of Wanderbus’ stops from beginning to end.
Cotopaxi Quilotoa Baños Guamote or Riobamba market Ozogoche Cuenca El Cajas National Park Cacao hacienda Guayaquil Montañita Puerto López And many other short stops along the way!
My biggest concern before booking was, why bother with this when public transport is so cheap in Ecuador? You could easily travel the same route for less than half the price. So what makes this service so much better than doing it on your own?
The answer is sixfold:
You get to stop at so many additional sights throughout your ride from location to location, with a knowledgeable guide. Things like markets, national parks, lagoons etc which you wouldn’t really be able to stop at or divert to when using local buses.
There are some locations, like Cotopaxi National Park that you cannot enter without a guide...you already have one! And your entrance fee is covered as well.
Safety and reliability. Being able to visit sights while leaving your luggage on the bus with no concerns, and knowing all the passengers are registered with the service, no strangers get on along the way, is pretty priceless.
No planning required. As a backpacker you know planning bus routes is half the battle. You can completely skip this headache!
Save time. Using local transport, you often have to change buses several times just to get to one destination. You also run into limited trips in a day. For example your bus to Quilotoa may only leave twice daily, making it imperative that you must be at the bus terminal before the last departure, or you are stranded for the day. With the Wander Pass, in 11 days, we are doing what would have otherwise taken at least 3 full weeks.
You can change your plans* on the fly. The company only needs 24hrs notice to adjust your itinerary! That means if you’re really digging a certain location you can stay longer and explore more. Or if you had your expectations dashed on a stop, you can cut your stay short. *some locations do have a minimum stay requirement.
The service really is a heaven sent whether you’ve been backpacking for months and need a break from all the planning, or if you’re an inexperienced traveller and prefer to ease into the world of backpacking.
Before departing Quito, Wanderbus Ecuador even provided us with a free walking tour of The Historical Centre. Our guide Alex, is possibly one of the most knowledgeable people for everything Ecuador that you could meet. Tourism isn’t just a day job to him, he has a legitimate passion for history, and for his country. He has even penned a book about Ecuadorian Myths and Legends, which he will be releasing soon. We can’t wait to read it! Don’t worry we’ll be sure to let you know how you can get a copy too. I have to admit, I’ve always avoided tours. I feel like a bit of a dork taking tourism to that level, but Wanderbus has convinced me that sometimes, it’s the only way to go to get the absolute most out of your trip. Alex gave us such a complete and extensive history lesson along with the amazing 3 hour walk around the centre, and has continued to do so on the bus (yes, we were lucky enough to have him with us most of our bus trip) that I feel like I know much more about Ecuador than I do the other countries we’ve visited. That really counts for something in my books. Plus, the fact that you do your own thing for as long as you want in each location really balances out the super tourist part anyway.
We’ve been on the Wanderbus for over a week now, and we’re getting ready to share some very exciting blogs with you. All jokes aside, Ecuador is likely one of the most naturally beautiful places we have ever had the pleasure of exploring, and though the weather isn’t exactly for beach junkies for major parts of the country...get yourself a good jacket, and some thick sweats. Missing all that is magnificent Ecuador would simply be a tragedy.
And in the words of Wanderbus Ecuador: Be wise, travel flexible.