Ecuador: Quito & Colombia: San Agustin
Returning from the Galapagos, we spent a few days in Quito while it was Carnaval! The city had a strange atmosphere as all shops and restaurants are usually closed for 3 entire days. It was quite difficult to imagine the streets full of people as we nearly saw anyone for 2 days. Having dinner was also some kind of a challenge. As you can read us, we didn’t starve to death and are prepared to enjoy the rest of our trip!
Quito is a big city but the historical centre is concentrated in a few streets and plazas. It reminded us about Cusco, Peru, the two cities have some monuments and architecture in common. While Carnaval is a big open air family party with people playing with the “Cariocas”, big sprays of foam which doesn’t stain your clothes, (big buckets of water as it is the tradition have been forbidden by the municipality), we spent our time walking in the center. We did an excursion to “The Mitad del Mundo“, the Ecuador line 0, and had fun playing with the attractions around it. It is located about 1h, 20km, north of the city and is easy reachable by public transportation. After that it was time to reach the Ecuadorian-Colombian border and hit the country where we will spend our last 27 days.
BIENVENIDOS EN COLOMBIA!
First stop Ipiales, at the border, for a couple of nights. The city is very small but we were surprised by its clean look and the numerous fashion and shoes shops! We took time to visit Las Lajas a beautiful church set in a canyon. The construction dates from the 20th century and is based on a miracle. An apparition of the Virgin on one of the stone wall of the canyon to a girl one night on the 18th century.
Then we migrated to our next destination further North, San Agustin. It took us 10 hours to reach the village. We did take the interesting route including the “El Trempolin de la Muerte”, a dangerous road in the jungle. This is the Colombian version of “La Carretera de la Muerte” of La Paz in Bolivia. The path is extremely narrow and some parts have been washed out due to the heavy rain. It was foggy that day and hopefully our driver couldn’t drive very fast. Anyway we made it safe and sound! San Agustin is well known for its Parque Archeologico with carved statue and numerous tombs sites from 3300 BC. Very impressive. We did a nice half day exploration of more remoted sites, El Tablon, La Chaquira & Purutal, on horseback, we enjoyed it very much. Otherwise, quite a bit of a change from the climate point of view, Quito was cold and rainy, San Agustin is tropical BUT rainy too!
we specifically enjoy
- Quito: the free walking tour with CarpeDM adventures. You can watch an interesting information given by our guide, Consuelo, in our video.
- Ipiales: Pilgrim site of Las Lajas.
- San Agustin: both the visit of the archeologic park and the horseback ride.
- Quito: La Rosario, a wonderful little hotel owned by a family, very helpful. The accommodation was nice and the hot shower was a big bonus.
- Ipiales: Hotel Avanty, good hotel not far from the center. Staff was nice.
- San Agustin: Hostal Alto de los Andaquies, a hacienda property on top of a hill. Beautiful gardens and a lot of colorful birds. As well as 3 funny little dogs!
- Quito: Cafe San Blas, a real favorite. The lady who owned the place can cook delicious pizza and fresh salads. We loved it very very much.
- San Agustin: Pepe Nero, italian cuisine, owned by the ultra friendly Francesco from Trieste. In 11 months this is the first time that we ordered pasta in a restaurant, so good! We got back the next day for super crispy hand made pizza! Grazie dell’ospitalità e tante belle cose a te Francesco, a presto!