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PLEASE NOTE: The currency in Ecuador is US$s.
I stayed a total of 4 nights in Puerto Lopez at the Hostal Dannita. Because I use BOOKING.COM all the time, I got a ‘Genius Discount’ and paid US$12 / night (down from US$15) for a ‘basic’ Double Room (single occupancy) with a Double Bed, TV (which I never used), good in-room WiFi, and a Hot Water Ensuite.
It was time to move on to another coastal town in search of some sun and some decent ‘beach life’: Ayampe …
I waited only 5 minutes before the first bus went past. My luggage was stowed underneath (no receipt) and it took 30 minutes from Puerto Lopez to the Ayampe turn off ($0.75c).
SCAMS & SECURITY:
Please read my blog on Banos for more information about how to keep your possessions safe when travelling on these buses.
Ayampe is a commune located south of Puerto López in the province of Manabí, Ecuador.
Most of its inhabitants live on natural resources such as tagua, coffee, fishing, wood, and (now) tourism.
Ayampe is rumoured to have ‘the most amazing stretch of beach in all of Ecuador … with empty warm surf and no crowds … this place is slowly building up to be an amazing surf destination‘. Who writes this s**t? … read on …
WHERE TO STAY:
You have very few choices. Most (if not all) are listed on the normal online hotel search engines.
The southern end of town (in the back lanes) has the nicest ‘atmosphere’ and a wider selection of little cafes.
Accommodation-wise, this is typical of what you find online … this is for 1 night in early September 2018:
HOTELS & HOSTELS (Nightly Rates):
I have stopped providing Agoda listings. They more often than not (now) just refer you back to BOOKING.COM listings … and Agoda doesn’t allow you to filter for rooms with a Private Bathroom (which wastes me a lot of time).
PLEASE NOTE: Booking.com usually displays prices EXCLUSIVE of TAXES. You may need to add up to 12% to the displayed price to get the final price.
VACATION RENTALS (Weekly Rates):
If you plan to stay a week or more, another good option is to use AirBnB or TRIPADVISOR.COM to book a Holiday Rental / Vacation Rental. I have stopped listing Tripadvisor Vacation Rentals. Alas, TripAdvisor rarely have anything within GRANDPAcker price range.
Due to additional ‘service’ and ‘cleaning’ charges, Holiday Rentals are usually best rented by the week. A comparable search reveals the following … Please Note: these prices are in US$s …
PLEASE NOTE: AirBnB usually displays prices INCLUSIVE of TAXES but EXCLUSIVE of any ‘Security Deposit’ (if required). ALSO, the displayed price may also be EXCLUSIVE of ‘Service Fees’ (which can add as much as 16%). ALSO, watch out for any ‘Cleaning Fee’ as some places charge more than 1 day’s rent!
In S.E. Asia, I wouldn’t touch AirBnB with a barge pole … in my opinion and experience the accommodation that you find is an absolute rip off. However, here, they are worth a look.
You will, probably, need to go to AirBnB to find something within GRANDPAcking price range.
Once here, don’t expect to be able to get ‘deep discounts’.
Have a look yourself:
I booked myself into the Los Orishas (on the northern side of town) … it was 50 metres from the beach.
I booked 3 nights in a Double Room (single occupancy) at a discounted rate of US$19 / night (which included 12% tax). For another $4 / night I included the optional Breakfast. When I paid, they forgot to add the tax … so, I only paid a total of $21 / night.
The Free WiFi was good and good enough to stream video most of the time.
My room felt ‘damp’.
INTERNET / WIFI:
Your accommodation should provide good, free WiFi. You will, also, find free WiFi in the ‘better’ restobars around town (e.g. The Fish House).
CLARO POSTPAID SIM:
I had my Claro SIMcard and Postpaid Package that I bought at Quito Airport.
For more details, read my post on Canoa.
You can walk everywhere around town.
Get up to the main road to flag down local buses. The price is $0.75c to Puerto Lopez or Montanita.
You don’t have many options.
The cheapest option in town is the main Minimart where they do a nightly BBQ (usually chicken). They have a couple of tables at the front. I tried their Cazuela Mixto for US$7.50.
Expect to pay an average of US$4 for a cheap local Continental Breakfast with coffee. Breakfast usually includes a free fruit juice.
Expect to pay an average of US$6 for a cheap Lunch with fruit drink.
Expect to pay an average of US$9 for a cheap Dinner with a Fruit Juice / Small Beer.
Again, you don’t have many options. The cheapest bottle of 750ml rum at the main Minimart costs US$10 (it is US$6.80 in a Supermarket in Puerto Lopez) and a 3L Coke costs US$3.25. I advise you to bring a bottle of spirits with you so that you can have ‘a quiet one’ back at your hotel.
The normal price for a 330ml local beer in a restobar is US$1.50c. A 1 pint bottle of Pilsener is US$2.00-$2.50. A 1 litre Pilsener down at the Minimart is US$2 (remember to swap your bottles which have a 25c deposit).
Many people buy their beers at the Minimart and drink them in the square just outside.
MONEY / PRICES / SHOPPING:
The Minimarts in town charge ‘convenience store’ prices.
BANKS / ATMs / MONEY EXCHANGE:
There are no banks and no ATMs. There is no Bureau De Change.
Bring plenty of cash.
HEALTH & SAFETY:
There is no reason to feel unsafe. As always, exercise normal levels of caution … don’t make yourself an obvious target.
The main problem is Petty Theft … which is a ‘typical’ problem in Latin America. Don’t leave anything unattended. Lock up your hotel room. Lock up your valuables within your hotel room (single lock hotel room doors are notoriously easy to break into without a key).
I didn’t notice many mosquitoes. However, I went to the El Paso for a beer one night and got eaten alive. I drank my pint in record time and legged it out of there as fast as I could.
Don’t drink the tap water.
WHEN TO GO:
Ayampe has a similar climate to Guayaquil:The climate oscillates between subtropical dry to humid tropical (and extremely humid tropical). The climate is determined by marine currents. During the winter (December through May), the climate is hot and is influenced by the warm El Niño. In the summer (June through November) it is less hot thanks to the cold Humboldt current.
If you want to see lots of sun (rather than clouds), come in winter (when the rains clear the skies).
When I was in Ayampe, it was over-cast with periods of rain. I saw no sunshine.
MY ADVICE: Come between December and May when the sun shines. Don’t bother coming otherwise.
WHAT TO DO:
Laze around. Swing in an hammock. Lie on the beach (if you are lucky enough to have any sun). Read a book.
From June to September it is possible to spot humpback whales and, occasionally, killer whales and dolphins.
The waters are, generally, safe and you can practice diving, snorkeling, kayaking, or sport fishing. The boats to Los Ahorcados (an islet that you can see 1 mile off the coast) leave from the beach of Salango, where there are less waves.
Ayampe has a high biodiversity and you can spot a frigate bird, blue footed booby, white heron, pink spatula, brown pelican, kingfisher, sparrow hawk, and osprey especially around the marshlands.
From Ayampe, I head down the coast to Montanita. I will tell you more about that in my next post.
GRANDPAckers CANNOT afford to LIVE here to GRANDPAcking standard ….
Read About – GRANDPAcking Costs if you don’t know how to interpret my figures.
MY ACTUAL COSTS:
My costs are broken down into:
- Cost of Existence: The basic costs of just being there
- Cost of Living: The additional costs that make being there fun
COST OF EXISTENCE (COE):
I lived in Ayampe to GRANDPAcking standard.
I spent 3 nights at US$21 / night in a Double Room (single occupancy) with Hot Water Ensuite.
The Hostal wifi was good and reliable and strong enough to stream videos.
My room was US$17 / night and I paid another US$4 / night to include Breakfast.
I averaged under US$1 / day on Lunches – I don’t eat Lunch anymore. I was bored and bought a couple on mid-day beers.
I averaged about US$10 / day on Dinners.
I spent nothing on Drinking water.
My COE worked out to be about US$23 / day.
COST OF LIVING (COL):
In / Out Costs: It cost me US$0.75 to get from my Puerto Lopez Hostal to my Ayampe Hostal.
Living Costs: I averaged about US$4.75 / day on rum & beers.
My total COL was about US$27 / day.
COSTS FOR 2 GRANDPAckers:
Again, costs are broken down in Cost Of Existence (COE) and Cost Of Living (COL).
COST OF EXISTENCE:
Accommodation: Book yourself into something for the first 2 nights at about US$30 / night excluding Breakfast. Anywhere will do. Once here, ask around. You should be able to get this down to US$25 for something nice long term. Excluding Breakfast.
Transport: You can walk everywhere around town. I include a weekly public transport return day / shopping trip for 2 people to somewhere close on the coast ($1.50 return per person).
Communications & Fees: I include a Claro Tourist SIMcard: 1 Month Data, 4GB Data, Unlimited Texts, 110 Local Talk Minutes, 23 Intl America Talk Minutes. US$27.
Food & Beverages: Your budget is US$38.50 / day. This is to eat all of your meals in Cheap Restaurants. You can reduce these costs by walking to the bridge and back for every meal.
Your COE is US$63 / day (122% of your total budget).
COST OF LIVING:
This leaves you nothing to LIVE on. You are over-budget by $10 / day. You will need to deviate from GRANDPAcking Standard if you want to stay within budget (e.g. find an Hostel with a Kitchenette and eat meals at home) … or, walk the 1km round trip to the bridge for every meal. Even then, you may not be able to save enough to have any ‘spending money’.
THE GRANDPAckingACID TEST: Can a retired couple with no assets live easily, comfortably, and happily here with their only source of income being a standard NZ Married Couple’s State Pension? NO.
I found Ayampe to be overpriced and over-rated. In the middle of winter (when the sun is shining) it may be a different story … but, you will still be walking in muddy streets and paying over-the-odds for our meals.