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Places to See Ecuador

quito toursQuito

Few cities in South America have as picturesque a setting as Quito, which sits in a valley perched high in the Andes.  The city itself is best known for the “old city”, a UNESCO World Heritage site.  It is there where you can walk the narrow cobblestone streets, visit incredibly restored churches or sit on a bench in the main square and people watch.  Quito is also a city of museums.  Be sure to visit the Chapel of Man, a gallery that contains the work of famous Ecuadorian artist Oswaldo Guayasamin.  Another must of the new Teleferico Cable Car that takes visitors to the top of Pichincha Volcano for a spectacular view of the city and surrounding area. A day trip from Quito could be to the Otavalo region.

otavalo toursOtavalo

The main attraction of the area is the market in the town of Otavalo.  The locals, known as Otavaleños, are famous for their masterful craftsmanship.  Every Saturday, local converge in the small town and fill a large square and the streets leading to it with their wares.  Popular items include: Tapestrieis, ceramics, sweaters, paintings, silver, and wood products.  Bartering at the market is recommended.  Day trips to the region also include a stop at a small equator monument, Calderon (for bread dough figures/ornaments), Cotacachi (for leather products), San Antonio de Ibarra (for wood products). By staying in the area for a few ays you will have time to go riding, hiking or trekking at nearby volcanoes.

cloudforest toursCloudforest

Within driving distance from Quito, cloudforest can be found and there are various lodges to choose from with varying levels of comfort and style. The area as a whole is a must-see destination for birdwatching.

cotopaxi national park toursCotopaxi National Park

South of Quito this area is dominated by Cotopaxi Volcano (5,897m). There is some great walking and riding in the area, all of which can be done while admiring the lovely views. There are also some good markets worth visiting and some nice haciendas to stay at.

cuenca toursCuenca

Cuenca is Ecuador’s third largest city, yet it still retains its pleasant provincial air. Its colonial architecture, red tiled roofs, cobblestone streets, flowery plazas and museums make it very special, so it is no wonder that UNESCO has designated the city a World Heritage Site.  Before the Spaniards arrived, Cuenca was the second largest city in the Inca Empire (after Cusco). Day trips out of Cuenca can include Ingapirca (the most northern fortress-temple remaining from Inca times), Cajas National Park and Gualaceo Valley.

guayaquil toursGuayaquil

In the past, Guayaquil was an unattractive stopover made by a small number of passengers before or after their Galapagos cruise. Today, however, a visit to this large coastal city offers great sightseeing opportunities. Highlights include the beautiful Malecon 2000 waterfront, the colourful neighbourhood of Las Peñas, beautifully restored buildings, museums, and the Historical Park. If you have more than a day, a visit to the Salinas beach or nearby banana plantations would make a great visit.

amazon toursAmazon

A short distance from Quito, layers of exotic, dense vegetation blocks the sky, brown waters sweep beneath gargantuan foliage, and more than 400 species of exotic birds and butterflies provide constant bursts of colour. For the adventurous and conservation-minded travellers there are several Amazon jungle lodges from which to base your daily excursions into this remarkable region. Most lodges are accessed by short flight followed by a boat ride along the river.