Ecuador is a great place to see green. From its patchwork valleys and hillsides to its broad diversity of forests, the entire country is filled with green color. From the moment you leave its urban areas, vegetation begins to display its palate onto every landscape. Here are some photos of this green masterpiece.
Photo: Danny Ayala Hinojosa
Casa Gangotena, the residence, has for centuries shared the square with Quito’s oldest Spanish construction, the awesome San Francisco church complex. A 3.5-hectare enclosure is probably the largest in South America (or close to it). It was born only days after the city’s foundation in 1534. A handful of years ago, the Franciscan Order’s next door neighbors sold their heritage home, which would be restored and turned into a glorious hotel that (talk about location!) looms over Quito’s very first square, very first church, very first water fountain, very first streets… this is the heart of Spanish America. So staying at one of Casa Gangotena’s 31 unique rooms is a treat with a deeper historic premise.
Papallacta is only about an hour from Quito by car, and some 30 minutes from Quito’s new international airport, as one makes their way towards the eastern slope of the Andean mountain range. Continue along some 3 hours on the same highway and you reach the Amazonian rainforest basin. Papallacta, however, lies somewhat higher in elevation, but its natural dimension is breathtaking nonetheless, and its proximity is even more of a reason to visit, even if your stay in Quito isn’t long.
At about 4 pm, the employees at San Agustín de Callo let the estate llamas out to roam around the hacienda’s beautiful stone courtyard. With their half-dainty, half-clumsy swagger, the camelids hastily make their way towards a clutch of leafy vegetables left out for them. Guests are usually amazed to see so many so close.
I’m no photographer, let me tell you… I actually always forget my camera on my trips and everyone nags me for it. But this weekend I decided to take a quick ride up to the Mindo area, about an hour and a half away from Quito by car… and I decided to, what the heck, take some pictures.
Photo: Quito Tourism Office
Day One: Old Town
8 AM: Wake up to a leisurely breakfast at Casona de la Ronda, the boutique hotel located along old town’s iconic, cobblestone street. After some traditional helpings of local fare, mixed with international dishes, and a great cup of coffee, take a walk. Depart to the west, exiting La Ronda onto the 24 de Mayo Plaza until you reach Benalcazar Street. Turn right and head toward the Plaza San Francisco. Other hotels in old town: Casa San Marcos, Casa Gangotena, Hotel Patio Andaluz, Hotel Plaza Grande.
A long time ago in Stratford-Upon-Avon, England, I visited what I thought was the house of William Shakespeare. It was not. It was the cottage of Anne Hathaway, his wife. I assumed that surely he must have lived there, why else would it be an attraction? And if the letdown were not enough, the tour guide let a little more air from my bubble by commenting, “actually, it was not Anne’s house either. It belonged to her father and then her brother.” (though she did live in it).
Quito is a little more colorful starting this month, but don’t be surprised if you fail to take notice. Even though the new urban art project launched for 2013 covers nearly 4,000 square meters of public space (painted on bridges, cross walks, tunnels and walls), many people seem not to notice it.
The world often associates luxury and class with speed and sleekness. But along a 447 kilometer stretch of railway that snakes through the Andes Mountains and coastal plains of Ecuador, high class travel has begun to be redefined.
A symbol of man’s triumph over nature, the Ecuadorean train was a nearly forgotten, historic achievement until it was resurrected and enthusiastically restored over the past four years by the national government.
Photo: Beatrice Murch
Visiting the Equator is one of the original tourism attractions of Ecuador that never seems to lose its charm. But once visitors arrive at the “Mitad del Mundo” (Middle of the World), about 30 minutes from north-central Quito, they should not be surprised to find two Equators.
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