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Updated by Jon Jared on Aug 30, 2014
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The Traveller Hubs, Ecuador

Walking into a new place and feeling a different energy in the air is invigorating. Hubs can be restaurants, expat hangouts, motorcycle rental shops or the only cafe in town that serves good coffee. When travelling in Ecuador, make sure you check the following places out for the companionship of fellow travellers and the expertise of those who find themselves the proprietors of the establishments themselves.

Uncle Hos, Quito

Uncle Hos is the kind of place that you want someone to open in your neighborhood. It's casual while understated, part restaurant, part meeting point and wee pub to find a friend. People walk by and wander in, taking their time while enjoying good company and good food. Dinners turn into all night affairs ending with a few drinks at the bar. Its also the local expat hangout. Any day you can find tour leaders, teachers, writers, helicopter pilots and bar and hostal owners sitting around the bar.

Advice is given freely and many people traveling come back a few times during their trip. The owner, Stewart hails from Scotland and first came to Hos as a guest while travelling through Columbia and Peru. Its the spot to grab a drink, listen to live music on weekends, see the latest sport, enjoy some first class Asian food and meet others who know the road your on.

Ecuador Freedom Bike Rentals

Ecuador Freedom is a traveller's hub with a specific twist. The owners provide up-to-date information about travelling and riding Ecuador's many diverse roads by motorcycle, private vehicle and even bicycle. There knowledge is comprehensive, covering road conditions, shortcuts, the best off-the-beaten path routes as well as where to avoid. When venturing out of the road through the scenic byways off the Pan Americana, these are the guys to ask.

They lead many motorcycle tours through the Andes,the jungle, the Northern Sierra and the coast and are constantly going on scouting missions to open new routes. This gives them a bird's eye view of the conditions, and a unique insight to where to stay and who to ask for advice. They also like to eat, so will gladly point you towards the local cheese shop or Chinese restaurant. Considering the fact that they run the most successful motorcycle tour company in Ecuador, its well worth stopping by the shop for a conversation over a wall sized map.

La Luna, Otavalo

La Luna is a quiet retreat off-the-beaten path for travellers and expats. Kevin and Tamara Kidd host school groups, independent overland couples, motorcycle travellers, teachers from Quito and the odd travel writer in the friendly confines of their small, classy hostal. For those travelling the Northern Sierra, its an essential stop for good company, friendly faces and travellers not classified by genre or stereotype.
On any given day expect to find blues and classic music piping from the speakers, a warm fire in the main building matching the smiles of the long-term staff. They host groups of all kinds, backpackers travelling through, overland travellers and expats from Quito in relaxed, comfortable setting.

For information about town, they can't be beat. Hikes and horseback rides can be arranged, recommendations for places to see and local favorites are gladly given as is information for further travel. Make sure to try their pastas and pizza for filling meal around kindred spirits.

Casa Hood Banos

Casa Hood steps up the game when its about creature comforts for travellers in Banos by being the place to meet for longer than they would like to admit. . Its a community center, travellers hangout, book lovers dream and music lovers chance to see local musicians in their element. When it comes to the food, Casa Hood offers a variety of vegetarian, fish, sandwiches and healthy fare. From the home-made hummus to the Blackened Fish, everything has been made with love and attention to detail.

People drift in all day, coming for breakfast and good coffee and staying to browse the shelves of hard-to-find books. After lunch another crowd lingers, checking out the community announcements or talking to their neighbor over a beer. Free movies are shown everyday before the dinner crowd arrives. The owner, Ray Hood, his family and staff are always around to chat and answer questions. Stick around after dinner as their is often live music by locals and travellers alike.


Hostal Tiana, Latacunga

Hostal Tiana, Latacunga

Hostal Tiana is more than a pit stop on the way to hike the Quilotoa Loop. It's a source of hard to find information about hiking the loop, help with overcoming worries about being on distant roads at the mercy of milk trucks and a place to comfortably chat with the staff and guests about their experiences.

Located up a welcoming pedestrian street its open court yards, vaulted ceilings and spacious seating area are great places to rest up for the next adventure. Grab a cup of coffee and chat to your neighbor or watch a movie over beers and snacks while recounting your last escapade. They also can point in the right direction, literally, when it comes to hiking the loop and where to stay at the different way points all the way.

Across the street is a town favorite watering hole, serving only imported beer and good pub grub. For the local's favorites for pizza, Mexican, Chinese and other hot tips, ask the staff at the desk.

The Blacksheep Inn, Chugchilán

The Blacksheep Inn is the first of its kind in Ecuador. The owners, their philosophy and the incredible location and facilitates makes it a luxury stop on loop and a valuable source of up-to-date information, solid recommendations and casual company. The owners travelled South America before making the Quilotoa Loop their home and built an Eco-retreat center that put the "Eco" in lodges all over Ecuador. They created the ground rules for reducing waste, recycling and building with sustainable practices.

In the process they created a retreat where you can practice yoga on their yoga deck overlooking the mountains, soak in the hot tub, zipline over the hills towards town and relax and enjoy the fun-filled common spaces over a delicious vegetarian meal. Their website gives comprehensive information about the loop, the Inn, their services and philosophy as well a accurate info on bus schedules and driving directions.

Hotal Llullu Llama, Isinlivi

Situated on the side of a valley overlooking the patchworked hilltops and deep valleys that are a trademark of traveling the Loop, Llullu Llama is a traveller's favorite. The warm interiors are matched by the staff's friendliness, the heartwarming food and the degree of comfort gained upon arriving. New private cabanas offer rustic charm with modern elegance. They feature comfortable furnishings and unheard of amenities.

Guests gather over dinner around a common table to trade stories, gain information and hear about others journeys to far off lands. After dinner people linger around the table enjoying wine or relax in the common area around the fire or over a beer at the bar.

The owner's are also partners in Happy Gringo Travel Agency in Quito and have the most accurate information to be found about the intricacies of traveling the loop. Ask about bus schedules, maps for hiking, help with future plans or finding a climbing guide for Cotopaxi and you will get solid information you can count on.

hosteria izhcayluma vilcabamba

Hosteria Izhcayluma is impressive to a degree of organization that completely outdoes everything else in town. Where other restaurants, shops and hostals are relaxed but a little at odds with the normal ways of proceeding, Izhcayluma is organized while comfortable. Want to take a Spanish lesson in a few hours? That can be arranged. Looking for transportation to or from Cuenca? Happens daily. Care for some yoga time overlooking the hills and valleys that the Inca used as their vacation time? Got ya covered..

The out-of-town setting is a perfect distance to walk between town and back in an hour or so, the comfortable and affordable rooms in small cabanas with private hammocks are a welcome site after a busy day exploring. Lounge by the pool, grab a bite to eat at the above the net restaurant or get advise about where the night's hot spot is while enjoying a classic Ecuador experience.

The Bee Hive, Mindo

The Bee Hive arrived in Mindo quietly last year to the small collection of local shops and restaurants but has made a big noise on the travelers’ scene in Mindo. The warm cafe just after the bridge brings a slice of home to any trip with good company, sweet and savory snacks and smorgasbords, homemade jams, locally grown coffee, cold beer and yep, you guessed it, honey! The owners Ingo and Gennie take hospitality seriously and can always point you in the right direction.

This content was taken from the Bucketlist, Ecuador. Click the link for the original article and other tips about travelling in Ecuador.

Great Hostels Backpackers, Banos

This content was taken from The Bucketlist, Ecuador, to read the full article and up to date info about travel in Ecuador, click the link.

Great Hostal's proprietors and volunteers treat every person through the door with attention. Amidst the guest’s playing pool, seated at the scattered tables and couches and those waiting on a snack or beverage from the bar, the focus is admittedly on travel.

What tips Los Pinos over the edge is their helpfulness. Folks travelling onwards get up to date information and those seeking adventure get pointed in the right direction towards the best guides in town. Amenities such as Spanish lessons from the Marco Polo Spanish School, a book exchange, a guest kitchen and WiFi and computer use make the place a haven for those seeking travel creature comforts.