The travellers were talking about their prior time in Quito and the adventures on which they embarked, such as hiking up Rucu Pichincha. They recounted that they had hiked with a large international group, and the only person who hadn't made it to the top was an American. Everyone looked pointedly at me, as I was the only one from the U.S. at the table. Well, that's not going to be me, I thought to myself, I know how to hike. Little did I know how wrong I was.
Cotopaxi Mountain was frequently named dropped by a number of travellers I met during my time in Ecuador; it's famous for being an active volcano, the second-highest summit in Ecuador at 5,897m (19,347 ft), and having a perfectly conical shape.
Upon arriving in Cuenca I began talking to fellow travellers and my hostel owners in earnest about how to best cross into Perú. I had already decided I wanted to cross at the Huaquillas crossing, as I had read some not-so-great things about border crossings in general, and this seemed to be the safest bet. I would have loved to leisurely made my way through Riobamba, Vilcabamba, and Loja, but I after spending five nights in Cuenca I was already at my 86th day. Time to ska-doodle out of the country!
The Galápagos Islands are known for being one of the more expensive places to visit, especially when compared to the price of traveling through mainland Ecuador. I knew I couldn't pass up a trip to the islands made famous by Charles Darwin. I visited the islands on a budget that ultimately equalled $79 a day.