Our next stop was in Quito. The city has a lot of nice churches and other buildings. However the atmosphere is generally rather hectic.
We then started to descend, first to Mindo, which is located between the lowlands and the tropical Andes.
The Pacific coast does not experience the best weather at this time of year, with a lot of garúa. Nevertheless we were lucky and could catch some sun while camping at the highly recommended Canoa Suites.
We then took a boat trip to Isla de la Plata from Puerto López / Machalilla. This island is also known as miniature Galápagos. Although this is not entirely true, we had the opportunity to spot a lot of blue-footed boobies and some humpback whales.
The central Andes
Cotopaxi is very majestic if it does not hide behind clouds. We were lucky and made it to above 4600 meters altitude and enjoyed some great views.
After a relaxing stop in Baños we drove to Alausí and took the train ride over the Nariz del Diablo. This railroad climbs more than 500 meters in less than 12.5 km. Some setting-back tracks aid in gaining altitude.
Cuenca is one of the nicest and most laid-back cities. Of course is sports a lot of churches, but also some tranquil alleys and many good restaurants.
Vilcabamba, which is located below 2000 meters of altitude, is surrounded by mountains and Cerro Mandango looks down upon the village. We hiked Mandango from behind and enjoyed the great vista from there.