Altitude Is No Joke

Welcome to part 3 of my South America Series.

Our time in Quito was short. We had reservations in Mindo that couldn’t be changed so we only had one full day in Quito. Which left us to try and do everything in the city in one day. The challenge with this is that some of the city attractions were at one end of the city, while the other attractions were at the complete opposite end of the city. Mind you Quito was not a small city.

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Old Town of Quito

Everything in Quito was accessible by bus, and if you have the time, I recommend using the bus because it is so much cheaper. Most of our money spent in Quito went towards cabs, because we just didn’t have the time to take the buses.

We did take the bus to go to the old town of Quito. It cost $0.25, and took about 15 minutes. Our hostel, El Hostelito, provided us with a map of the old town that highlighted all of the churches. Emily and I made sure to visit every one of them. (We were there on a Sunday so there were a lot of masses going on, so going into the churches wasn’t as easy as what it would normally be.)

After visiting all of the churches and landmarks in the main area of the old town we took a break and went to the cutest little café, Café Galletti. I highly recommend their latte and their Oreo cheesecake!

After our quick break at Café Galletti, we ventured off to the Basilica Del Voto Nacional.

Now…. Getting to the Basilica was the most difficult thing we had done up until this point. It was the first time we were faced with altitude. Not only was it our first day of being affected by altitude but the hill to get up to Basilica was at the top of hill that went straight up.


The Hill.

Let’s just say the struggle was real!

The Basilica was absolutely gorgeous and I absolutely recommend making the hike up the hill to see it.

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Basilica Del Voto Nacional.

Make sure you pay the $2 before going in to get a ticket that will allow you to go to the top of the tower. The view of the entire town of Quito is breathtaking.

After visiting the Basilica we made our way back to the centre of town to catch the bus to go back to the hostel. At this point we were starving and hadn’t had lunch so we walked across the street and had Dominos pizza. Gringo 101.

Another thing I really wanted to do while in Ecuador was to visit the Equator line. We were planning on taking the bus, but it was far too long of a a bus ride so we hailed down a cab for $20.

Half hour later we arrived at the Equator line. If I remember correctly it cost us $7 to enter. The Equator line wasn’t that interesting, but it was cool to say we went and it made for a great Boomerang on Instagram.

We attempted to take a bus back to the hostel, but we didn’t have any luck so we ended up taking a cab once again. Because of rush hour traffic our cab driver charged us $5 more. Like I said before, most of our money in Quito went towards cabs.

The next day we took a cab (once again) to the bus station to catch our bus to Mindo.

My recommendation of places to visit in Quito:

  • Basilica Del Voto Nacional
  • Plaza Grande
  • Iglesia De Santo Domingo
  • La Compañía de Jesus (most beautiful gold door)
  • Plaza de San Francisco
  • Café Galletti
  • Equator Line

The bus ride to Mindo was winding but it only took about two hours.

Upon arriving in Mindo, we had no idea where we were supposed to go. Mindo is a very, very small town that with no real transportation area. Our bus dropped us off on the “main road” and we were approached by a few men, who didn’t speak a lick of english, who were trying to take us to our accommodations.  Because we were still new to this town we didn’t really feel comfortable getting into their cars so we waited. Another man then approached us who spoke english and asked us if we needed a cab. About five minutes later a man in a truck showed up to take us to our accommodations. It was at this point that we realized this town didn’t have actual cabs, but just people trying to make a few extra dollars. The man charged us $2 to drive us to our “hotel.”

Here’s a story…. When we were planning where to go in Ecuador we found a “lodge” called Terrabambu Lodge. On While looking online it came up saying there was only one room left during the dates that we were looking for. My thoughts were, well if there is only one room left, it must be a good place to stay, so we’ll snag that last place.

The views from the pool at Terrabambu Lodge.

Well….. We arrived at the “lodge” and there was no one there. Not one single person. Every single room was vacant. There was one woman working there, who didn’t speak any english, and I don’t think she was even expecting us.

We were finally able to communicate enough and she took us to our room. Emily and I decided to walk around the property to see if we could find anyone, since it did say that it was completely booked. There was not a single person in sight. We were the only ones staying at this lodge. We were beyond frustrated because for one, we were under the impression that this place was going to be fully booked, and we were paying a LOT of money for the three nights we were staying here.

Sunset over the town of Mindo. 

Our jacuzzi was broken, the pool wasn’t clean, the food was not the greatest. We were really disappointed with what we were paying for. As sad as this is, the only thing we were looking forward to at this point was the TV in our room. However, when we first arrived we couldn’t get our TV to work, and of course there was no one around to help us get it set up.

Eventually a worker showed up to the property and we were able to show him the remote and use hand gestures to indicate that we needed him to help us get our TV to work. We were then able to get the TV to work, and then we managed to figure out how to make it be in english. I hate to admit it… But we spent three days having Keeping up with the Kardashian marathons.

There wasn’t any food at the Lodge, so we had to go into town to get food. Because of no one working at the lodge, and no taxi services we had to walk into town, which was about a 15 minute walk. Coming home we found a “taxi stand” which was a little booth and random cars offering taxi services for $2.

Positives about Mindo:

  • The pool at the Lodge (once it was cleaned)
  • The pizzeria in town
  • Chocolate brownies from the chocolate factory (highly recommend)
  • The cute puppies
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One of the cute puppies. 

Negatives about Mindo:

  • Our Lodge
  • The lack of communication and false hope
  • Jacuzzi being broken
  • Honestly we weren’t fans of Mindo. We went in with a certain mindset, and that was all changed very quickly. I’m sure if we weren’t so frustrated upon arrival to the Lodge we would have planned to do other things. But with our frustration we in all honesty didn’t do any tourist things while in Mindo.

I would recommend going to Mindo however, DON’T stay at Terrabambu Lodge.

Stay tuned as my next post will talk all about my favourite place, Baños!



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