Quick Useful Tourist Information for Ecuador
( Just did some research these last few days while here in Cuenca Ecuador and this is what I have so far… See below )
Real Estate Tours From Quito, Ecuador
If you’re thinking about investing in Ecuador, real estate in particular, I suggest looking up Gary A. Scott’s Ecuador Real Estate and Mystical Andes Tours. The tour offers much more than just information about real estate in Ecuador, it gives you an education on the market and additional information on business ideas and life in Ecuador in general. Gary and his wife, Merri, are the perfect ones to be offering this tour, as they have experience in real estate around the world (40 years experience in international business), and have been in Ecuador for the last 13 years, owning property and a successful business.
The tour departs from Quito, Ecuador and has a duration of two days in the Province of Imbabura. Gary and Merri recommend that you arrive in Quito one or two days before your tour departure date. After the tour ends you can depart the evening of the last day of the real estate tour or the following morning.
Gary and Merri do a great job of helping those who take their tours to save money by avoiding brokers. They scour Ecuadorian newspapers looking for unique properties that they can present to those taking the real estate tour. They also contact developers directly and ask them to give discounts to those on their tour, since they do not have to pay the commission that would normally go to real estate agents.
For a look at a sample property they are currently showing, visit their web-site by clicking here. http://www.garyascott.com/catalog/ecuador-real-estate
We conduct these real estate tours to help our subscribers learn Ecuador’s real estate market in the most efficient way. We share the experiences we have gained living, traveling and working globally for 40 years and have been investing living and doing business in Ecuador for 13 years. We have an active Ecuador business and have personally purchased a 962 acre hacienda, condos in the mountains, a house, a hotel plus condos and apartments on the beach. Our tours share our continual research and experiences in global business, living and investing in Ecuador.
Currently you can book a tour on the web-site – the price is $499 for one and $749 for two.
Tours are offered once a month: Feb 16–17, March 8–9, May 27–28, June 16–17, July 9–10, September 22–24, and November 9–10.
Otavalo is a Popular Place for Tourism in Ecuador
One of the most popular destinations in Ecuador for international travelers and retirees who want to have a little less city than Quito, but a little more connected than Vilcabamba is Otavalo.
At less than 2 hours from Quito, Otavalo is easily accessible by visitors, and has become a major center of tourism in Ecuador. In addition, the first Indigenous Mayor of Otavalo, Mario Conejo, is working to transform Otavalo into a model city for Latin America. How? Renovation of the downtown area, a ban on inner city heavy traffic and other bold social programs. Such changes are expected to create a surge in tourism directed at Otavalo.
Otavalo was put on the map by the Otavalo Indians, who are considered to be the most successful tribe of Indians, both economically and politically, in all of Latin America. Not only are they recognized worldwide for their fantastic textiles and high quality craftsmanship, they are also a part of Ecuador’s political world. In addition, Otavalo has ventured into other businesses, becoming the center of Andean folklore music with 3 recording studios.
Surrounded by the Andean mountains, Otavalo is a valley of spectacular views with consistent spring-like weather, making it an attractive place to visit or live.
Fast Facts About Otavalo:
- Two hours from Quito ($2.50 by bus, $40–$45 by taxi)
- Currency: US dollars
- Very Safe: Violent crime is uncommon, watch for pick pockets
- Well connected: Internet Cafes and Export offices on practically every corner
- Uses 110V electricity, same as the US
- Public restrooms are on both corners of the Otavalo Plaza
- Has 3 major markets: The Poncho Plaza Craft Market, the Animal Market and the Food Market
Getting to Vilcabamba Valley
So for the amount I have been hyping Vilcabamba lately you are probably already making plans to come down and live the natural life! Problem is, how do you get to Vilcabamba?
Basically, you can get to pretty much anywhere you want to in Ecuador, in all of South America really, by bus, if you’re up for the trip. To get to Vilcabamba from Quito you have to take a 15 hour long bus ride from the there to Loja, where the transfer to Vilcabamba is. From there is it another 45 minutes drive to Vilcabamba.
If you don’t have 15 hours to spend touring the Ecuador countryside on a bus, or you value your back, you may prefer to take a direct flight from Quito to La Toma airport, near Loja. If you landed in Ecuador in Guayaquil you can also take a domestic flight into La Toma. Both flights take about 1 hour. Tame Airlines is a popular domestic airline in Ecuador and offers several flights throughout the week, both in the morning and the afternoon. Icaro Airline is also another option. (And I hear they employ lingerie models to walk to the aisles during flights…)
After you land in La Toma, Icaro Airlines offers a van service into Loja, which costs under 5 dollars per person. You can also choose to take a shared taxi into Loja, which will cost about half the price.
Once in Loja there is a bus and taxi service that takes you down into the Valley. It costs a couple dollars if you’re sharing, or around 5 dollars if you want it private.
There is also a taxi service that will take you from the airport in La Toma straight to Vilcabamba which costs between $30 and $40 per person. If you are staying at a hotel or hostel in Vilcabamba make sure and ask if they provide service to the airport. They may offer a discounted or free service for hotel guests.
Travel Warning for Vilcabamba Ecuador
Time for a little travel warning for those headed towards Vilcabamba: do not stay at the hostel Las Ruinas de Quinara, also known as La Casa de Mauricio. The place gets nothing but bad reports from those who stay there, and currently a petition has been made to LibertadLatina.org to do something about the situation.
If you look up Las Ruinas de Quinara almost all the reviews (we’re talking 99.9%) are bad. I have never stayed there personally, but around town no one speaks kindly of the owner (except maybe the hostel staff) and many travelers avoid the place because of his reputation of making unwanted advances on female guests.
Because of the hype Vilcabamba receives as being a modern day Garden of Eden of sorts, many who have invested there feel that this is not the kind of bad press that Vilcabamba needs. However, something has to be done. In Ecuador the police protection is minimal, at best, and there is little or no respect for harassment or rape charges. With no strong forensic science, a witness is required to even being to do anything against a sexual offender, and even then many of the police can be bought for the right price.
One person interviewed and quoted on LibertadLatina.org states:
This one guy that owns a hotel hostel and he is from a rich family who pays the cops off whenever he gets in trouble and though he has been in jail several times for rapes he pays his way out And the people fear him and let him do whatever he wants. He is known to be a sexual predator and a bully with a temper. He waits at the bus station and preys on young traveling girls and lies to them about other places being full and offers them very cheap rooms because he does not need the money. I have heard possibly because he is from a Colombian drug king family or some other country but I think Colombia. He is famous for getting the ladies into the hot tub and drugging their drinks and manipulating them into sex while under the influence of drugs and alcohol and offers them a rent free room for sex which locals view as not really rape and even the police say technically sexual manipulation is not rape so he pays the cops off and is out in a few days… plus most ladies flee embarrassed and do not report it… And even more ladies do not speak of it or admit it at all… those that do are on vacation and do not want to waste so much of their time to press charges and those that do report it to the corrupt cops the reports fall on deaf ears.
The reports go on from there, some talking about how because he comes from a rich family he is able to pay off the police, and how he has avoided sentences for various crimes (some even claim murder) by hopping from country to country, and staying in the US for several years.
These are the reports I have heard from locals and other travelers, and they are common on the internet. Although I have never stayed there, nor have I met Mauricio, the owner, I think it’s better to be safe than sorry, and I feel it is my responsibility to pass these warning along to you.
In the same regard, women should use extra caution when traveling though Ecuador, and traveling through the country as a solo female traveler is just asking for problems. Be smart, and you shouldn’t have any problems.
Ecuador, Vilcabamba in particular, is a beautiful place and it is sad to see such horrible crimes happening there, but the fact of the matter is, no matter where you go in the world you are going to find bad people doing bad things. The best way to avoid them is to stay informed and use common sense.
I don’t in any way wish to discourage travel to Ecuador, this beautiful country deserves to be visited; I just think it is important that those coming down here have a realistic image in their mind of what the country is like.