As the worlds second highest capital at 2,850 meters above sea level, Quito is an exciting place to visit. It is not only a well preserved old town in all the Americas but is also dramatically situated, hemmed in by mountain peaks whose greenery is concealed by gray afternoon mist. It has a warm and relaxed traditional Ecuadorian Sierra culture with overflowing market stands, shamaistic healers, hatmakers and a mix of vibrant nightlife. The day is yours; make the most of it.
8 DAY TRIPS FROM QUITO
Not only is it famous for being the second highest mountain, at 5,897 meters in the Andes but also as being an active volcano that is part of the Pacific Ring of Fire volcanic chain, as well as home to an equatorial glacier, a rarity in the world. Cotopaxi is the central feature of the National Park and is home to a number of rare Andean species such as condors, spectacled bear, brocket dear, foxes, tail deer and rabbits. The Cotopix Museum and Visitors Center is featuring a collection of stuffed wildlife, a relief map of the volcano and some explanatory material. You can also visit the Inca Ruins, and Inca military fortress, discovered in 1987 by Ecuadorian archeologists. The mountain was considered as sacred by pre-Columbian peoples.
The colourful market is South America’s largest outdoor market and just two hours drive by bus away from Ouito. It is a good place to buy handmade textiles as well as items made locally from wood, silver and ceramics. The Plata de los Ponchos, as the market is known locally, is open daily, but Saturdays and Wednesdays, in that order, are the best days to go.
3.MINDO CLOUD FOREST
If you are into nature photography, especially birds, then the Mindo Cloud Forest is just the place to go. The nature reserve is home to more than 450 species of birds, plus an astounding variety of butterflies, mammals, reptiles and orchids. Several waterfalls can be seen while you walk through the forest. Visitors are asked not to use spray cans of insect repellant, but rather an atomizer to protect the ozone layer. Before you enter the forest you might want to buy some of there famous chocolate to snack one while you are hiking or taking photographs.
Volcanic ash was spewed as far as the Pacific Ocean when Quilotoa mountain erupted eight hundred years ago leaving a two-mile wide caldera. It filled with water and today is known as Quilotoa Lake. For experienced hikers there is the six mile hike around the caldera rim, but be warned, the hikes can be sandy, steep and challenging in places. There is also a shorter hike going from the viewpoint down into the crater, where primitive camping is available.
5.MITAD DEL MUNDO
You can visit the national landmark site where the equator runs through Ecuador, Ciudad Mitad de Mundo, 25 km from Quito. A 30-meter high monument honors the Franco Spanish Geodesic Mission that placed the equator here in 1736. You can also visit the The Museo Etnográfico Mitad del Mundo, devoted to Ecuador’s native people. The equator cross point was placed at Catequilla by ancient astromomers, now an archaeological site, which is at 0° latitude and the correct location.
In the hour-long drive from Quito you will see several villages and beautiful scenery high into the Andes Mountains. Situated at an elevation of more than 3,290 meters, and noted for its hot springs, which are said to have healing powers. The minerals in the springs are said to have natural health-giving qualities, assisting against the likes of rheumatism, allergies and swelling. If you’re lucky, you might see wildlife such as opossums, weasels and spectacled bear. The best time to travel in this region is between June and September during dry season.
7.NARIZ DEL DIABLO
The train track gets its name from the great cost of human life that it took to complete the train line. The Nariz del Diablo, or “Devil’s Nose,” describes the train line between the towns of Alausi and Sibambe. It is one of the most astounding engineering projects ever undertaken in the mountainous Andes, the stretch of track offers visitors spactacular views of the countryside. A series of switchbacks slowly takes the train up a steep ascent to Alausi.
The islands is a volcanic archipelago in the eastern Pacific Ocean. The small quite remote and isolated islands are known for their vast number of endemic species and is considered one of the world’s foremost destinations for wildlife-viewing. The isolated terrain shelters a diversity of plant and animal species such as giant tortoises, sea lions, penguins, marine iguanas and different bird species. Visitors must be accompanied by a national park-certified naturalist tour guide, in effort to protect the natural habitats.
On the coast, the dry season between late May until November is unpleasantly cool, muggy and overcast. So if you like lying on beaches, then the rainy season between December until May is surprisingly the best time to visit Ecuador.