- This trip gives a fascinating insight into a less well known country. It is a country of contrasts; we experienced mountains, the coast, the jungle, volcanos, rain, sun and snow (really!). Our leader Myriam was simply fabulous - so knowledgeable and clearly rightly proud of her country. She promised magic and didn't let us down, providing a daily surprise and keeping her smile despite suffering from a heavy cold. In return we introduced her to the delights of a snowball fight on Chimborazo at 4600m! Our driver Carlos was young but dealt maturely with some challenging situations (not least driving in snow for the first time).
Only 3 slightly negative points. First, the weather. This trip spends much time in the Highlands and as such the weather is unpredictable, and we were unlucky on a few days. Don't underestimate the number of days you'll need long trousers! Second, the hotel in Riobamba is pretty poor. It felt grubby and served up the 2 poorest meals of the trip, though the staff were lovely. This stop is a tactical one to position you for the train the next morning and is only for one night, but use of this hotel could do with a rethink. Third, the flight home from Guayaquil to Madrid, though booked as Iberia, was actually operated by Latam. Very uncomfortable seats, staff who couldn't care less (not even an attempt at cleaning the toilets in an 11 hour flight) and the 2 most meagre meals I've ever been served on a flight. And as for the safety issues....I'll be contacting Explore with the details and will make enquiries in the future in order to do everything possible to avoid flying with this airline again, and I recommend others do too.
But none of that spoiled the trip. We saw wonderful views, had some excellent meals (including breakfast with parrots!) and wine and enjoyed the genuine hospitality of the Ecuadorians. You don't need to go to Peru if you want the Andes, the Inca Trail and the Amazon - you can get all that, and more, in Ecuador. Oh, and a genuine Panama hat!
Published on: 17 October 2016