For the greatest of aficionados it causes the heart to race even though it moves no faster than 25 miles per hour. It is both a time machine and a modern marvel offering nostalgic voyages in a setting unlike any other on the planet.
Photo: Cuenca Tourism Foundation
It is one of the reason travelers migrate to Mexico and Cuzco: the stamp of times past in the ruins of civilizations long gone.
The dominant civilizations of the Americas have left legacies that are the source of hundreds of thousands of visits every year. The Mayan pyramids of Chichen Itza and the mystical remains at Maccu Pichu are almost unmatched in their majesty. But the Incas and those who came before have also left a trail of fascinating discoveries in Ecuador.
Conventional wisdom says that wine-producing grapes are grown between 20 degrees and 50 degrees latitude above or below the Equator (above the Tropic of Cancer and below the Tropic of Capricorn).
Though most wine is imported into Ecuador, with 70% coming from Chile, visitors to the Equator will be in for a surprise to discover locally produced wine from three vineyards.
In 1802 German explorer Alexander von Humbolt in a visit to Ecuador´s Sierra coined a phrase that is now part of the tourism vocabulary for mainland Ecuador: Avenue of the Volcanoes.
Between the eastern and western cordilleras of the Andes Mountains, along a stretch of 300 kilometers, all of Ecuador’s highest mountain peaks (nine are above 5,000 meters) are part of a protected area, either a national park or an ecological reserve. The mountain peaks are actually volcanoes, both active and inactive, which offer the opportunity to experience their beauty in many ways.
Photo: Ileana Viteri Gallery
Great art is not only to be found in the halls of Europe´s great museums. Latin America has an art tradition dating back almost half a millennium, influenced in part by the great masters of the old world. And stemming from that tradition, Latin America, and Ecuador in particular, have produced renowned modern artists as well.
Photo: Maurizio Costanzo
From alcohol to ice cream, the exotic fruits of Ecuador are commonly enjoyed every day as part of Ecuador’s rich gastronomic culture. Residents often do not think twice about them, but the fruits of Ecuador are one of the first things visitors notice as dozens and dozens of exotic fruits, many never before seen by tourists, are utilized in many different ways. But two of the most common preparations are juice and ice cream.
Photo: Dave Lonsdale
Ecuador in many minds is known mostly for its Galapagos Islands and within Ecuador, Quito and Guayaquil are typically associated as gateways to connect to the Galapagos. Two different cities – one in the heart of the Andean region – rich in Colonial art, history and architecture and one in the Pacific Coast – a tropical port city that has done so much to re-emerge as a modern and welcoming city. Both cities are known for their friendly people and are only 30 minutes apart by air.
Photo: University de las Americas
Food is an eternal theme that never seems to lose its appeal with travelers. For that reason, cookbooks in foreign countries can be coveted by those who travel to discover flavors. And in recent years Ecuador has produced some of the finest publications to introduce the world to its rich cuisine.
Photo: Jeff Kovacs
In the U.S. we call them hot pockets or turnovers; in Italy they are calzones; in India, samozas. And in Latin America, from Mexico to Argentina, stuffed pastries are known as empanadas.
The word empanada comes from the Spanish verb “empanar,” meaning “to wrap in bread.” Empanadas are filled with meats and vegetables and baked or fried all over the continent, with variations in each
country. If you find yourself in Ecuador and you want to try a true Ecuadorian empanada, what are you options?
Photo: Lance Brashear
There is a dish highly recommended at La Gloria Restaurant in Quito. When customers hear about it or see it on the menu, the reactions range from genuine delight to skepticism. For those who find the item disagreeable, owner Santiago Jarrin politely asks them, “But have you tried it?”
Inevitably the response is “No, but the head…”