Declared World Cultural Heritage by the UNESCO in 1978, Quito is a city full of contrasts. The old center of the city merges with a modern architecture and is surrounded by a landscape of mountains and valleys at 2850 meters above sea level. It has been awarded with several worldwide known prices, such as the World Travel Award 2014 and the best South American airport also in 2014.
The historical center of Quito is one of the best conserved in the region since colonial times and is the favorite attraction to thousands of tourists that visit Ecuador each year. Its landscape is typical to Andean cities and grants Quito a unique charm, offering many different viewpoints from where you will be able to appreciate the many volcanoes and valleys that surround the city.
During your visit to Quito, you cannot miss out on a trip to the Center of the World and learn more about the geodesic mission that visited Ecuador in the 17th century. The trip would not be complete without visiting one of the many traditional restaurants that offer local gastronomy, as for example a typical potato soup with cheese and avocado or the delicious fig desert, which are only two examples of the wide range of recipes that have been passed on for generations.
Guayaquil is the most populated city of Ecuador, the financial and commercial center due to its condition as main port. Guayaquil is the trader to most imports and exports and the streets transmit a dynamic that contrasts to the ones in the Andean cities of the country.
The river Guayas and the smaller rivers that merge into it, flow among the urban center of the city and finally run into the Pacific Ocean. Some estuaries full of mangroves and sea birds can be spotted from several points in town.
One of the main attractions is the esplanade 2000 and the “Las Peñas” neighborhood, categorized as Cultural Heritage of Ecuador, both located on the Santa Ana hill. Its story recreates the times when Guayaquil suffered from pirate invasion and still keeps its bohemian flair and serves as home to several renowned artists. Restaurants, viewpoints, fountains and museums are also part of this area. It is also possible to book a night tour on the river Guayas on the Yacht Morgan.
The local gastronomy is well known for its “Encebollado”, a dish made of fish, onions and manioc. Seafood is the main ingredient to many of the local dishes, especially lobster or crab is often found sided by green fried plantain and rice.
Guayaquil is often used as a stop to start the flight to the Galapagos Islands.
Officially registered as Santa Ana de los Cuatro Ríos de Cuenca, this city is considered done of the most beautiful cities in Ecuador due to its colonial and republican architecture. It is also known as the birthplace to many intellectuals, Scientifics and famous handicraft men.
On December 1st, 1999 it was declared World Cultural Heritage by the UNESCO and is therefore officially recognized for its cultural and architectonic wealth that combines perfectly its modern side with the colonial past.
There are a number of museums all over town that treasure artistic and historic relics that are admired by thousands of tourist every year. These treasures are conserved appropriately, so future generations will be able to admire them just the same as today.
Cuenca also has a strong handicraft tradition. One of the most famous products is the Panama Hat and a visit to one of the factories is a necessary stop if you are in Cuenca. Here you will see how the natural fiber is transformed into a unique product, still completely woven by hand, passed on by past generations.
Local gastronomy is always a reflection of the cultures of the world and Cuenca is no exception. One of the most famous dishes is the “mote pillo”, that includes a type of corn, pork fat, eggs and some spices. Another typical dish is known as the “cascaritas” and is made of crunchy pork skin. For the adventurous ones there is also Guinea pig, a local specialty of some parts of the Andean region. Many flavors and aromas mix in the cuisine of Cuenca, delighting locals and visitors from all over the world.
The Galapagos Islands were declared Biosphere Reserve in 1985 and this is one of the most important natural reserves the world. The Archipelago consist of 13 main islands, 6 smaller islands and many small islets and rocks of volcanic origin. The white sandy beaches, stunning landscapes and rich biodiversity make Galapagos a unique place.
The Giant Tortoises are ancient inhabitants of the Islands, flamingos, penguins, hammerhead sharks and playful sea lions are part of a huge list of species, and many of them are endemic. The Galapagos Marine Reserve is one of the most attractive sites for divers, its underwater world guarantees an unforgettable experience.
All Galapagos visitors will be able to interact with the species and be witness of the species evolution just like the young scientist Darwin who was fascinated by the wild and pristine landscape of the Islands.
The Otavalo Indian Market is one of the most visited places in northern Ecuador. The trip to this small town is surrounded by green hills and attractive landscapes, the San Pablo Lake with its eternal guardian: the Imbabura volcano is the preamble for starting a tour full of color and culture.
The market takes place in “La Plaza de los Ponchos”, where Otavalo communities show their good reputation of skilled craftsmen and traders. The market is open every day but is larger on Saturdays and Tuesdays, there visitors can admire or buy handmade fabrics in natural fibers or handicrafts. Otavaleños are proud of their culture and one of the most prosperous communities in Ecuador, many of them have traveled the world promoting their crafts and music. During the festival of Inti Raymi Yamor visitors can be witness of the cultural syncretism that merges ancient traditions with religiousness.
Nearby towns as Cotacachi, Cuicocha lake and Peguche’s waterfall are a great opportunity to be in contact with nature and enjoy the Andean landscapes.
San Pedro de Riobamba is a city full of history and culture. It was the first city founded by the Spanish in Ecuador and the foundations of the republic were built in these lands. For this reason it is known as the cradle of Ecuadorian nationality.
Riobamba shows a very versatile architecture, from a neoclassic town hall to the cathedral in a baroque style. The city offers the comfort of a large city surrounded by a landscape full of volcanoes like the Chimborazo, the Tungurahua and the Altar.
The city´s gastronomy has a broad variety in dishes and flavors. The traditional “hornado” consists of a whole pork, baked in the oven with eucalyptus wood and is usually served with fresh fruit juice with ice cubes extracted from the glacier of the volcano Chimborazo. The famous cevichocho is another delight that you can find in this city.
Riobamba is a unique place with very welcoming people and a cultural richness, all this surrounded by an epic landscape that will surely astonish all its visitors.
The volcano Chimborazo is considered a God by the original inhabitants of this land. It has inspired many famous men in history, such as Simon Bolivar and Walt Whitman.
The Natural Reserve Chimborazo is located only an hour away from Riobamba. Here you will start a fantastic adventure among impressive and beautiful mountain ranges. In between the Chimborazo shows himself above the clouds and native camelids run freely through this natural museum.
The name Chimborazo comes from the jibara word “Chimbo”, meaning house owner´s seat and “Razo” meaning ice, “The Seat of the Owners of the Ice House”
Different types of flora and fauna can be found here, a forest of Polylepis, vicuñas and pure glacier water. You can risk to live the adrenaline of different adventure sports, such as mountain bike or hiking to the spot closest to the sun, following Humboldt´s footsteps.
The Trans Andean Railway is a majestic work of art, unique in the world, connecting two natural regions of Ecuador. Visitors can enjoy the wonderful cultural, ethnic, gastronomic and bioclimatic diversity during this trip while relaxing in the remodeled “most difficult railway of the world”.
The history that is told by this construction starts in 1897, when the northamerican contracters Archer Harman and Edward Morely started this project. 4000 jamaican workers took part in the construction of the railway, threatened by the constant sismic activities that slowed down the progress and strong rainfalls that often flooded the region, as well as diseases and the threat of animals like snakes.
When arriving at the Nose of the Devil, called this way due to its peculiar shape, it is said that Harman stopped amazed by this natural masterpiece and pronounced the words that are recorded in history of this construction: The Nose of the Devil will be immortalized with my name. During a visit of the current president of that time, Eloy Alfaro, a methodic and cold man, he replied: First we´ll have a whisky, then we´ll defeat the devil.
Without a doubt, there are many reasons that assure the visitors an unforgettable trip among the Ecuadorian landscapes.