PLACES OF INTEREST IN ECUADOR

There is never enough time to visit all the places of interest in Ecuador, which offers thousands of years of history, awesome architecture, UNESCO sites, the Amazon jungle, volcanoes, beautiful cities, amazing markets - and when your land tour is over, there is Galapagos which cannot be left out of a journey to Ecuador! Choose your vessel and itinerary for your GALAPAGOS CRUISE.

Quito, the capital of Ecuador, has a setting few cities can match.

  • During the 16th & 17th centuries, Colonial architects built formidable temples, monasteries and mansions, creating an urban jewel designated by UNESCO as a World Cultural Heritage Site. 
  • The colonial quarter is the largest and best preserved of South America.
  • The Equatorial Monument, 25 Kms. (16 miles) North of Quito, marks the exact Middle of the World, latitude 0º, where you can stand with a foot on each hemisphere.

Andean Highlands - North of Quito in the Imbabura Province with its beautiful landscapes, handicrafts, Indian culture, colonial haciendas and great gastronomy. There are a number of towns dedicated to specific crafts where it is possible to see the craftsmen at work.

  • Otavalo is well known for its market where ponchos, woollen goods, tapestries, the original “Panama” hat, Indian jewellery and handicrafts are piled high. 
  • Visit the small town of Calderon which produces bread dough figurines
  • The town of Cotacachi is entirely dedicated to  the manufacture of fine leather products.
  • The Indian town of San Antonio de Ibarra is famous for its exquisite woodcarvings
  • Nearby Peguche procudes beautiful textiles woven on shuttle looms.
  • The valleys of Cayambe with dairy farms and rose plantations
  • Beautiful  Cuicocha Lake, a  caldera at the foot of the sharp-peaked, extinct Cotocachi Volcano.
  • Train trip from Ibarra to Salinas is really special
  • Visit a rose farm and rose showroom - Ecuador is a major exporter of roses

Cotopaxi National Park is an ecological sanctuary of 88,920 acres, surrounding the magnificent Cotopaxi Volcano, which rises 5,897 meters (19,347 feet) above sea level. 

  • The evergreen landscape of the Ecuadorian highlands is one of the main attractions, along valleys and mountains covered by multi-coloured fields.  
  • The small Interpretation Center imparts information about the habitat of the Andean paramo or moorlands, its flora and fauna.
  • Along the Limpiopungo Lagoon a variety of birds, and occasionally wild horses, can be observed.
  • On clear days, Cotopaxi Volcano is the magnificent backdrop.

Amazon Rainforest: A short 30 minutes flight over the eastern Andes mountain range takes you to the little town of Coca, gateway to the Amazon. 

  •  A trip on the Napo river, a tributary of the Amazon, in a comfortable covered motorized canoe takes you into the heart of the rainforest. 
  • Along the way herons, kingfishers and other birds can be spotted. 
  • This is followed by a peaceful dugout canoe ride through narrow creeks, which will take you to your selected jungle lodge where you will be accommodated in comfortable cabanas/cottages with en-suite facilities.
  • Enjoy forest hikes, accompanied by a knowledgeable ranger
  • Visit parrot clay licks
  • Meet members of the Quichua community. 
  • Climb one of the canopy towers, located deep within the terra firme forest, offering views over the forest canopy, formerly reserved only for the birds.  Flocks of colourful tanagers pass through he canopy, blue and yellow Macaws fly past and in nearby trees Spider Monkeys search for fruit, while large toucans call in the early morning and afternoons.
  • A hike through primary forest reveals the forest interior, home to lizards, colourful manakins or the unique and endemic Golden mantled tamarind monkeys.
  • Explore the lakes and creeks by dugout canoe with great possibilities of running into a Giant otter family on the way, or perhaps Monk Saki monkeys or rare birds.

Cloud Forest: The region of Mindo in the protected Mindo-Nambillo forest, and Mashpi in the heart ofrthe Andean cloud forest,are located a couple of hours drive to the northwest of Quito.

  • The cloud forest has an incredible diversity of avian fauna, particularly hummingbirds, as well as butterflies.
  • This area of primary forest with an immense biodiversity also has some of the highest rates of plant endemism in the world: orchids, bromeliads, heliconias, ferns, vines, mosses and lichens grow in abundance here.
  • Specially trained guides introduce guests to the mysteries of the Cloud Forest, pointing out the unique flora and fauna and leading excursions along nature paths flanked by crystalline rivers.
  • In the heart of the cloud forest, guests walk along hiking trails winding through this natural sanctuary, where the sight of brightly coloured tanagers and the Mountain Toucan will thrill bird lovers.
  • Your guide will assist you to spot the wildlife and the vast variety of birds inhabiting this area of Ecuador. The clouds which constantly come and go create an aura of mystery and magic.
  • Waterfalls can be heard long before they are sighted, the water being crystal clear and very cold
  • You may want to join a hike to a lek (a place of courtship) where the attractive cock-of-the-rock birds fly from one branch to another, displaying their red feathers to attract the females amid loud calls. For bird lovers, the cloud forest will be a highlight of your visit to Ecuador.