From 5,000 meters above sea level to 26 below!

After my internship was finished, I had two weeks all to myself to explore Ecuador through its mountains and coast. I wanted to hike some more in the Andean mountains so my first stop was in Baños, a city situated three hours from Tena. The city has a famous treehouse located at the top of an overlooking mountain which can be reached by hiking from the bottom of the valley. Hiking with a friend from my internship, it was getting used again to the altitude difference that was the real challenge! But we made it and shared a hot chocolate at the top!

Baños is called so because of the thermal springs that run along the bottom of the city. To finish our day, we spent it dipping in and out of warm pools at the city’s communal baths. The next day, it was downhill biking which awaited us! Going down the road leading to a jungle-city called Puyo several waterfalls can be admired, some from our bikes and others by a short hike.

Our route towards the many awaiting waterfalls!

Next came some amazing views. Quilotoa is a famous lagoon south of Quito which can be done as a day-hike walking along the crater’s ridge. With such beautiful colours, the whole day passes by with beauty by one’s side!

Ecuador is home to the tallest mountain in the world if measured from the earth‘s center. The Chimborazo is a challenging hike only attempted by qualified people. I, very clearly, am not one of them, but with a car, the maximal altitude permitted for non-guided hikers can be reached with a 2km walk as cars can drive up to a close-by refuge. The mountain was hidden from view by the thick clouds, but I still got pictures in my gear!

With my tour, we then went down the volcano by the way of mountain biking. I was a bit scared by moments, but reached the bottom on my own!

My final stop in the Andean range was Ecuador’s third most important city, Cuenca! This city is filled with gorgeous colonial buildings, is very safe and offers a European vibe to visitors. I loved Cuenca for all those reasons. The museums were interesting and diverse, one of them being the Panama hat museum as this type of hat was initially made in Cuenca.

Cajas National Park was a quick day-trip from Cuenca and offered incredible views. I’ll let the photos speak for the place itself!

From great altitude, I travelled over ten hours by bus to arrive in Puerto Lopez on Ecuador’s Pacific coast. There, I was completing my Advanced Open Water diving certification. Over two days, I dove five times, admiring the vibrant coral and funky fish species. Among those dives, one has to be a deep dive so I could become certified for up to 30 meters deep. I went down to 26 meters and from there, colours lie only on the blue and purple spectrum, water pressure maintains a cracked egg’s shape (which we brought down to see the phenomenon).

I am certified! I honestly love diving and am sad I don’t have the proper equipment to take pictures of the underwater world too. This certification will allow me to access various dive sites around the world and I am excited to have this skill under my (weight) belt to discover more of our blue planet!

Carnaval

Carnaval is a four-day celebration that occurs across Latin America and which has roots in the religious observance of Lent, where the fast was preceded by the eating of treats, dancing and joyous fun. Many celebrate by spraying each other with soap foam, but some communities throw eggs, flour and coloured powders too.

In Ecuador, the height of celebrations occurs on the 28th of February and the 1st of March. I attended celebrations on the 28th held at the Mitad del Mundo monument in Quito, which indicates the historical equatorial line.

And that was that! My two months and final weeks flew by and now I am on my next adventures in… Europe! Stay tuned to learn more!

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