Traveling with my dog in Ecuador
What a great time we had in Ecuador!
Note. It should be noted that in the first countries Cocaí was a pup (few kilos), reason why traveling was easier than now, that weighs between 22 and 24 kg (depending on if it gets fat).
We started from La Balsa, on the border with Peru, heading north to Cuenca. From Cuenca we went towards the coast, continuing in it until the north. Then we did Quito and part of the Andes. We flew to the Galapagos where we traveled for ten days (Cocaí stayed in Quito). We finished with a bit of jungle.
La Balsa – Vilcabamba – Loja – PN Podocarpus – Cuenca – PN Cajas – San Pablo – Montañita – Olón – Puerto López – PN Machalilla – Isla de la Plata – Puerto Cayo – Jipijapa – Canoa – Mompiche – Portete – Same – Atacames – Esmeraldas – San Lorenzo – Limones/Reserva Ecologica Manglares Cayapas Mataje – Quito – Otavalo – Laguna Cuicocha – Laguna de Mojanda – Mindo – Quito de vuelta – Islas Galápagos (Santa Cruz, Floreana, Isabela, San Cristóbal) – Quito nuevamente – PN Cotopaxi – Baños – Tena – Puerto Mishaualli – Quito.
LENGHT OF THE TRIP
We did most of the trip by bus, without major problems, although on several occasions we had to mourn a little so we both could travel in the passenger area. We traveled by bus from the border with Peru to Quito (except for a short stretch that we hitchhiked), and from Quito to Tena, and to Quito again completing the loop. In the coastal area it is quite easy, and we had practically no problems.
Alo? In the buses of the Ecuadorian coast everything is possible
With the arrival of my family, we rented a car for the first three or four days. We were not told anything about the company's policy not accepting pets. By car we visited Otavalo and its surroundings, and Mindo area.
Let’s hit the road!
To go to the Galapagos. Cocaí stayed at a canine training center in Quito. Note: tourists’ pets are not allowed in Galapagos Islands.
We flew from Quito to Lima on our way to Santiago de Chile to take the flight back to Spain. They did not ask me for out of the ordinary documents (passport/dog book, rabies vaccine, chip and deworming).
To visit a mangrove in the northern part of the coast (Manglares Cayapas Mataje Ecological Reserve). This area is very rural and very relaxed to travel. I bet even with a Saint Bernard would have been the same.
Taking a nap after a long day wallowing in the mud of the mangrove
There was a bit of everything.
Family / economic rooms: Loja, Cuenca, San Pablo, Jipijapa, Mompiche, Esmeraldas, San Lorenzo.
Rooms in Mompiche
Hotel/hostel: Cuenca (Hostal Azuaya), Quito (Hostal San Blas), Otavalo (Hostal Otavalo), Galápagos (Coqui did not come), Baños (La Petite Auberge: http://www.lapetiteauberge.banios.com/), Puerto Mishaualli (Yana Watsaru). In principle, I do not think it is a problem to find accommodation, but I would like to indicate some of the places we spent the night in. Especially the one in Quito, if it serves as an orientation to avoid getting lost in this great city, and because the workers were great with us. It is called Hostal San Blas and it is at Plaza San Blas (good location). The family that runs the hostel will be happy to welcome your dog. They have been rescuing dogs from the street and giving them home for years. On the other hand, Otavalo Hotel, in Otavalo, is also highly recommended, especially if you are traveling as a family or with a group of friends (double and quadruple rooms): no objections were raised on Coqui, it has a special charm, with colonial decoration, it is close to the Plaza de los Ponchos (Otavalo Market) and include an amazing breakfast.
Terrace inside Otavalo Hotel
Free camping: Podocarpus NP, Cajas NP, Montañita, Puerto López, Puerto Cayo, Canoa, Portete.
Camping in Montañita
Cabin: Jungle near Puerto Mishaualli (organized excursion to the jungle, there were no problems to take Cocaí).
Canine training center. Here Cocaí stayed while we were discovering marine iguanas, giant tortoises and other fauna in the Galapagos. For dog travelers interested in knowing this beautiful archipelago, this is a good place for your dog: https://www.winsdog.com/
Price is around 10 dollars per day and you have to leave your dog’s food. Everything else they do: feeding and walking the dogs several times a day. Your dog will probably make some good friends in this dog summer camp! In addition, they will ask you for a contact address (either Facebook or email) to provide you with feedback through photos of your dog, so that you feel your buddy a little closer, lest you miss him while swimming with sea lions. I recommend this team 100 percent.
FOOD LOCALS AND OTHER ESTABLISHMENTS
In establishments and indoor places you will not usually have many problems with your dog. In the street stalls and family restaurants (which are everywhere), you will always be welcome, while in more sophisticated restaurants it will depend on the owner or regulation, but the normal thing is that they do let you. We entered several (especially when I was traveling with my family) and we were never told anything. In a restaurant in Otavalo Cocaí ate a leg of the table...
In this Café in Quito they let us stay on the terrace
Family restaurant near Otavalo
Cocaí wanted an empanada from this food stand in Cuenca
You can also enter the locutorios and we also entered a shopping center (when we were looking for the kennel). I think it is quite easy to move around the cities.
It is usually easy to visit nature areas with your dog, even those that involve areas of high biodiversity. However, they are not allowed in many National Parks. At the Podocarpus NP, the first Park we visited in Ecuador, I came across two Park Rangers who explained the regulations to me. They let us spend the night and leave the next day for not knowing about it. At Cajas, Machalilla and Cotopaxi Parks, Cocaí had to stay at the entrances of the Visitor Centers (where they took care of me). The Galapagos, as I already said, can not be accessed with your pup.
We “slipped onto” the Podocarpus NP
Outside the category of National Parks, there was no objection in other natural areas that we visited. For example, we accessed the Manglares Cayapas Mataje Ecological Reserve by boat and ran through the mud without controls. Same thing at the lagoons around Otavalo. In addition, the beaches are accessible to dogs along the entire coast. As a curious anecdote, in Baños we rented some bikes and they let us ride Cocaí in one, providing us with a baby seat for that purpose.
Strolling in family through Lagunas de Mojanda
These wicked Colombian guys decided to bury good Coqui
Cycling around Baños
With regard to organized tours, it is easy to get your dog to many organized trips to the jungle. We made a family outing to the Amazon, Cocaí walking loose and free and being able to get into the boat when we traveled by river. On a trip I made to Isla de la Plata, Cocaí could not come, but they took care of her at the agency's office.
They never asked me for her documentation, but it is also true that I entered the country from a very little frequented border crossing. So much so that they did not ask for my own passport either. Keep the documentation always in order just in case, and, above all, for the good of your dog. The vaccine against some lethal viruses like parvovirus is essential. The rabies vaccine is also important because there are many stray dogs. Even if it is eradicated, it is always good to have it.
This was the country in South America where I traveled the most with Cocaí (almost 50 days), so I have a more approximate idea of what a dog trip means here than in other countries of the continent. In general, I found it easy to travel both in terms of transportation and accommodation (the two biggest obstacles to a dog trip). I can say that in all the ecosystems of the country, over the coast, mountains and jungle, it was pretty bearable, especially on the coast, which is where we spend more time. Even in the big cities (Quito and Cuenca), we easily found accommodation that allowed dogs. You can not take your dog to Galápagos Islands, unless you are going to move there, and yet I have heard that it is quite complicated.
In summary, the pros and cons:
Pros: Easy to travel as far as getting around by public transport (although obviously it will depend on the size of your dog) and getting accommodations. A lot of freedom to camp wherever you want.
Cons: There are many stray dogs, although they are usually well cared for (at least in part of the country, as on the coast, which is what I know the most). Difficult access to National Parks.
Degree of difficulty to travel: 3.