Catamayo, Ecuador

Jan 9, 2023

Catamayo, Ecuador: Population: about 30,000. One of the tourist attractions nearby is the Chicaca Tunnel. It is a tunnel dug out of the mountain by the Incas. There is a gravel road to it, through it, and beyond. I did not make it out to the tunnel on this visit to Catamayo, but I will on my next. And, there will definitely be a next because I like this town.

The city dates back to the 16th century but it was in the 19th century when it really started to take off. The main industries are agriculture, the production of tiles and bricks, sugar, and tourism. Catamayo sits in a valley in the Andes Mountains, surrounded by mountains.

The climate of Catamayo is classified as a semi-arid climate. The average daytime high of 31° C (87° F), and the night average low of 18° C (64° F). Catamayo receives an average of 350mm (13.8 inches) of rain annually. The elevation of the city is 1238 meters (4062 feet).

So, my impressions: Catamayo is considered by some expats as un undiscovered, best-kept secret, of Ecuador. There are few expats living here. I met a man from Canada but his parents are both from Catamayo and they all live here in Catamayo. As for other expats, he said there were very few and, it appears, they typically keep to themselves. The town is located in a beautiful valley, fairly high in the mountains, but still has a really nice climate that allows you to wear shorts and a t-shirt pretty much 24/7. There is a central plaza/park with a church on one side and businesses around the other sides. The rest of the town center is concentrated around that. I found a small ridge that runs through the city and walked along the top edge of it. There are several houses and a small church up there. A couple of houses sit right on top of the ridge and have views of the valley on both sides. What a great place that would be to live! At any rate, I like Catamayo and have put it at the top of my top-10 list.

This is my goal: to find a new place to live. So to reach that goal I am traveling most of South America, visiting the countries of Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, and Chile, passing through Argentina, visiting Paraguay, passing through a bit of Brazil, and finally visiting Uruguay. I have a list of towns, about 70 towns, that meet these qualifications: Cities with average day temperatures of 22-28° C (72-83° F) and night temps of 14° C (57° F) and higher; and a population between 28,000-300,000. I analyzed climate and population data of around 700 towns in the above-mentioned countries and then pulled out the ones that meet the previously mentioned criteria, which leaves about 70. My preference leans towards towns of less than 100,000 people. Of the 70 towns, about 20 have populations of 100,000 - 300,000. And, now that I have visited more than 25 towns/cities, I've decided I will probably want an inland town. I love the beach and walking in the warm water, but, getting sunburned is just too easy, even on a cloudy day. At least, here in Ecuador. I've also decided that any town with more than 100,000 population will be too big. I've decided that any small town that meets the temp specifications and has a supermarket and ATM is one worth considering to live in.

At this point in my journey I have two towns on my top-20 list - Catamayo and Puyo. So far, in my travels in Ecuador, I have visited 27 towns/cities.

Next up: Loja.