Quito is a beautiful city full of colors, flavors, warm people and historic buildings. All surrounded by luscious green mountains wherever you look. According to UNESCO it has the best preserved historic center in all of Latin America. But no matter how magical this city is, you should not make it your only stop while in Ecuador. Ecuador is full of surprises, adventure, relaxing hot springs, everything you could wish for. And you can find all of it in just a short drive outside of Quito. Here are 3 different and fun day trips you can take from Quito to explore nature in different ways.
Where to go as a day trip from Quito?
Mindo is a small town 98km outside of Quito (2hr drive). It is nestled inside the breathtaking Mindo cloud forest, which is a protected area. It serves as a home for one of the most biodiverse areas in the world.
In Mindo, you can find all kinds of activities to do, such as; canyoning, tubing, zip-lining, trekking, bird watching, etc. All of the activities are easy to book on the spot, no need to reserve in advance. And they are all very affordable. If you are traveling with a group of people is easy to hire a taxi to drive you there, or you can always take a direct bus from Quito.
Baños de Agua Santa, also known simply as Baños, is a small town 193km outside of Quito. This cute town lays at the skirt of the active volcano Tungurahua. Just like Mindo, Baños is a perfect escape for the wandering heart. Is full of activities of all sorts such as; rock climbing, rafting, zip lining and canyoning.
What is the difference between Mindo and Baños? I hear you ask. I would personally consider Baños to be one step up on the adrenaline ladder. And in Baños you can also find the Instagram famous “swing at the end of the world”.
Heading to Baños could be a day trip if you are okay with driving 3hrs there and 3hrs back in a day. Or, as I did it, you could drive the day before and sleep there to be able to enjoy a full day of adventures.
If the last two were some small towns, then Papallacta is a reaaally small town. According to wikipedia it has a population of 530 inhabitants. The biggest appeal of Papallacta is its natural hot springs, Termas Papallacta.
If you go there for the day I would recommend to go have a nice traditional lunch at the spa restaurant “Pumamaki”. After, you could take a lovely walk down a little sendero and through the hills. And then come back to spend the rest of the afternoon soaking in the hot springs. The entrance for adults is 9 USD and 4.50USD for kids.
Papallacta is located 67km away from Quito, around 1hr 15min drive. So it is an easy, much more chilled day trip from the Ecuadorian capital.
Which to pick?
Mindo is beautiful and green, surrounded by the spectacular cloud forest. A place to look for some fun group activities. If you are ready to take it a little further, head over to Baños to really challenge yourself physically and mentally. Baños rock climbing and canyoning is no joke. And if you feel more like having an easy day, taking a nice walk in nature and relax, Papallacta is the right place for you.
Hope that you found useful these 3 different and fun day trips from Quito. Ecuador really is a magical place. Whatever you choose to do, or can fit into your schedule, I am sure will be a memory you will never forget.
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