The Intended trip from Quito to the Amazon Basin and Cuenca


This summer 2014, some friends and their kids will be going to Ecuador with us (see future post about our part time living in Ecuador).  Aside from visiting Quito (Keep an eye for the future post Hola Quito), it’s museums, old town, parks, surrounding areas and doing trips to our usual destinations: cloud forests, parks, the beach (see some of our trips at, we’ll do some longer trips (in which everything will be “perfect”) such as the following:


THEN SOUTH TO CUENCA -Stopping at some awesome spots in between

Total Number of days: 11 days

Summary of our trip

We’ll visit the edge of the Amazon basin –there are two different entries via car, Papallacta and Baños. We’ll go in via Papallacta. We’ll stay in Papallacta hot springs for 2 nights, and hike in the Cayambe-Coca reserve. Then, we’ll go to Misahualli, and return via Puyo and Baños. We will then drive south to the city of Cuenca, via the Incan ruins of Ingapirca, visit Cajas National Park, and then drive back to Quito stopping in the town of Riobamba. We’ll visit other areas of interest as we go.


  • Papallacta hot springs (1 1/2 hours from Quito) – 2 days and 2 nights


    • Hike the surrounding mountains
    • Enjoy the spring pools and sleep there. Leave midmorning the next day


  • Misahualli (about 2 or 3 hours from Papallacta: maybe less since the roads are now all paved) – 2 ½ days and 2 nights
    • Stay at Casa del Suizo hotel
    • Enjoy the pool and the views from this hotel located at the junction of two rivers that flow into the Amazon
    • La Casa del Suizo offers canoe visits to a few places including AmaZoonico (a rescue place for amazon animals), Anaconda island, and others


  • Baños (3 hours from Misahualli) – 1 day and 2 nights
    • Visiting Puyo and areas of interest on the way out
    • Stopping at the magnificent: El Pailón del Diablo waterfall
    • Visit this colorful town, hike in the surrounding areas, and stay at one of the many hotels available in the town. Just to mention one of the nicest but fanciest ones:
    • Hotel and Spa Luna Runtun, above the town of Baños (with fantastic views of Baños), located in the slopes of the Tungurahua active volcano.


  • Cuenca (5 hours from Baños) – 3 nights and 2 ½ days
    •  Stay at Hotel Santa Lucia (a boutique hotel in the middle of the colonial town)
    • Visit the colonial neighborhood of Cuenca, UNESCO’s Patrimony of Humanity
    • Visit the Cajas National Park


  • Riobamba (4 hours from Cuenca) ) – 2 nights and 1 ½ days
    • Stay in the outskirts, at La Andaluza Inn, or in town at xxx Hotel
    • Walk around the old downtown
    • Drive to the Chimborazo refuge, and hike nearby
    • Train ride to La Nariz del Diablo (x hours back and forward): a scenic ride in an old train line that zigzags down the Andes. See old and beautiful re-enabled train routes at: Ferrocarriles del Ecuador 


  • Return to Quito (3 hours from Riobamba)
      • Hike in the Cotopaxi National Forest
      • Lunch At Café de la Vaca in Machachi. This is not only one of may favorite little local chains (I   think there are 3 around Ecuador) of Ecuadorian food from the mountains (coastal food is very different), but their locations have a huge grassy area for kids that includes a mini zip line

Diving into a pool at 11.000 feet with my kids in Ecuador


Taking a dip into the hot springs in the town of Papallacta, Ecuador, nested in the Andes at an altitude of 3300 mts, is one of the things I look forward to doing the most with my family every year when I visit Ecuador.782

Papallact755a has beautifully crafted natural hot springs, surrounded by some of the largest peaks of the incredibly gorgeous Andes Mountains. It also has nearby parks where you can hike for hours on end before you dive into pools. Restaurants that serve locally caught trout for lunch or dinner. Does that seem like paradise to you? To me it does and so to my kids.

When I go from San Francisco to Ecuador with my 10 year old daughter and my 7 year old son, on my yearly visit to my family, I make it a point to go to Papallacta at least a couple of times during my stay.  It is such a pleasant trip that my mom, sisters, nieces and nephews, cousins, etc… often join in, so it becomes not only a visit to an incredibly relaxing place, but an opportunity for us all to share a day and sometimes a couple of days of family time.

The drive from Quito to Papallacta takes only 1 hour and, once you pass the busy metropolitan area, you find yourself driving through 709an spectacular scenery. You drive up the mountains surrounded by farms and forests. When the days are clear, you can also see the permanently iced peaks of several high altitude volcanoes, including the Cotopaxi.

We usually arrive to the Termas Papallacta lodge. The Termas Papallacta lodge is a facility that includes a lodge, a cheaper set of pools for day use, and a spa that includes several large pools with different temperatures in the water and Jacuzzi style and a massage facility in the pool spa area.

During this past summer,   I drove there with my sister, my kids, and my niece. During the afternoon we went hiking in the trails of the Coca-Cayambe ecological reserve (a nature reserve next to Papallacta encompassing an area of 996,090 acres), then went to stay for the night at the Papallacta lodge and used the small pool facilities at the lodge at night before going to slept. Since the place is so close to Quito, my sister’s husband drove there at night after work to join us.

Needless to say we all slept like babies. The following day we went to the spa and my mom, sisters and more nephews and nieces came to spend the day with us and we all had either grilled trout or trout soup for lunch. We had one of those truly unforgettable moments life sometimes brings to us.