What to do and Where to stay in
Mainland Ecuador

With a rich cultural legacy and an architectural heritage that spans the centuries, Ecuador’s beautiful capital Quito is more than just a stop en route to the Galápagos.

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Experiences in Mainland Ecuador

Surrounded by patchwork fields, fertile valleys, and soaring mountains, it sits high up in the Andes and is in fact the second highest capital of Latin America, after La Paz. With clear skies and a little luck, you will see the snow-capped peak of Cotopaxi volcano on a good day. Meander along cobbled streets in the atmospheric old quarter, visit one of the lovely old churches or museums or enjoy a freshly prepared ceviche at one of the many little restaurants.

Just a short drive away is the Middle of the World Equator line – the golden opportunity to stand with one foot in the Northern hemisphere and the other in the South!

With longer to linger, there are some great day trips from Quito. Don’t miss the colourful local markets; Otavalo is one of the best for handicrafts and textiles and at the weekend it fills with locals from the surrounding villages who come to buy and sell their wares. There are some popular excursions from here too, including a heritage train ride into the foothills of the Andes.

For a more exhilarating day trip, visit Cotopaxi National Park with its fantastic trekking or consider a train ride along the Devil’s Nose pass.

In complete contrast, it’s definitely worth considering a jungle lodge stay in the Ecuadorian Amazon if you are travelling with older children. There are some pioneering eco-tourism projects where you can stay in a community-owned lodge. Whilst the facilities tend to be basic, they offer a rare insight into how these rainforest communities exist and enable visitors to experience the incredibly biodiversity of largely untouched forests. Mashpi Lodge is a different proposition altogether – it offers sleek, modern luxury in a remote, jungle setting and impressive eco-credentials to boot.

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