Ellie Švrlanská: Ecuadorian coast
07. 10. 2022
The Ecuadorian coast is often overlooked by travelers, most of whom head to the Andes or the Galapagos. However, I was attracted to the Ecuadorian coast because of its tiny shing villages, year-round sur ng, national parks and, for those who visit Ecuador between June and September, the opportunity to see the whales that migrate here each year.
From Quito, I take an overnight bus to the small village of Canoa, which is known as a great sur ng destination in addition to shing. This is con rmed within a few days, when almost every local boy proudly announces to me that he is a surf instructor.
For the average traveler, Canoa is perfect for a weekend at most, if he wants to surf, ride a bike around the area or a horse on the beach, or just relax at one of the many beach bars with a drink in hand.
I'm staying for a longer period of time. One of the hostels is looking for volunteers and I've arranged with the owner to help out behind the bar from time to time, which will give me free accommodation. There are only a few travelers in the hostel. I was immediately attracted to Tracy, a 60 year old biker who decided a few years ago to sell everything and travel the world on her motorbike. She also adopted a dog o the street in Colombia, who now travels on her motorbike with her.
Yoga instructor Naia immediately shared with me her desire to improve her sur ng skills, so every morning after yoga on the beach we take our surfboards and run to catch some waves. Her Spanish is as bad as mine, so we take online Spanish lessons together at breakfast and watch South American movies in the evening.
It's late September, high season at the coast is over, the sea is still warm but the weather changes frequently. It's usually warm enough to wear dresses or shorts but on cooler days I prefer to reach for leggings and a sweatshirt. The advantage of visiting the Ecuadorian coast in the colder months is mainly that you'll have half-empty beaches, a lot less tourists and lower prices. The only downside for me was that it was perpetually cloudy. The sun only came out maybe once or twice in 2 weeks, so it de nitely wasn't for sunbathing. Although Canoa is small and visited by me in the o season, it is de nitely not quiet. So far, this is the rst place where I've been woken up at 7am on a Monday by the street's roaring salsa music.
During the warm days, I mostly wore the WINIE-W sports bra and LAPINA-W shorts, which was the perfect out t for me for running on the beach and training before sur ng. The seamless construction and comfortable straps of the bra, along with the looser cut of the shorts, didn't hinder any of my movement and became my almost everyday out t.
Due to the unpredictable weather, I tried the three-quarter length ROZARKA-W leggings along with the extremely lightweight and breathable AILEEN-W sweatshirt for a short bike ride.
On cooler days, the MOUNTERIA-W leggings came in handy for longer walks around the neighborhood and to the beach with the ROLLER 40 backpack, which easily t all my photo gear, snacks, water bottle and HURRICANE-W waterproof jacket. Once the weather is unpredictable, it's always good to have a jacket in the pack that provides great protection against cold, wind and rain. In addition, the HURRICANE-W jacket is lightweight and takes up almost no space in your pack.
Grocery shopping in Ecuador
Right o the bat, I made the mistake of picking up what I would normally buy in Europe at the grocery store. And suddenly, the cheap Ecuadorian prices turned out to be much more expensive than I expected. A few days later I realized that food is only cheap here if it is local, once it is anything imported, the prices are much higher.
Later on, locals told me that prices are much higher in supermarkets as they have to tax them. However, in street stalls, markets or small shops they don't have to be taxed, the prices are lower and you can nd everything there fresh and local.
Puerto Lopez and Machalilla National Park
From Canoa we move more south to the town of Puerto Lopez. What a ride! The buses here never cease to amaze me. The road is so rutted and full of holes so passengers have trouble staying in place during the ride. Backpacks y from one side to the other and as soon as the bus hit a pothole, everyone on the bus was glad they didn't smash their head on the ceiling ( I'm not exaggerating at all, the girl who was on the bus with me really hit her head on the ceiling).
Puerto Lopez is a bit bigger and more popular for tourists due to day trips on boats to nearby islands or for whale watching. We, on the other hand, rent bikes and ride to Machalilla National Park. On the way through the forest we meet wild pigs, sheeps and wild horses. We are heading to the Agua Blanca community reserve, where there is a healing sulphur lagoon. The water and mud at the bottom of the lagoon are extremely bene cial for the skin due to the sulphur content of the sediments. The locals o er mud wraps and massages for a few dollars. And we can't miss it!
The community has also built a museum and a nearby lookout tower. There are also many small bistros and restaurants o ering traditional food.
For a cycling trip combined with a short hike, I chose the BERGEN-W shorts thanks to the warm weather, which suit me mainly thanks to the inner tight- tting shorts that prevent cha ng between the thighs. The HURRICANE-W jacket came in handy again on the return trip.
In addition to the community of Agua Blanca, the national park o ers stunning coves with rocky cli s and beaches with turquoise waters. By boat you can reach Isla de la Plata, which is considered by locals to be a cheaper and more accessible version of the Galapagos Islands.