Stay 9 days in Quito, saw the procession os the saint week and visited a natural reserve and the ancient volcano in Cotopaxi.
South AmericaEcuador9 days / March 2018
Highs & Lows
Knowing the flora and the fauna, and a several diversities of heritage Indians culture. the gastronomy and the people
The suburban system of transportation is not so good. height can affect some people
Tourist visit to the capital of Ecuador and its surroundings, I spend several days in Quito, a city with a lot of history and classic and colonial architecture, full of museums, churches and entertainment sites. The city is good to spend a few days, but if you want to know Ecuador as it should be, it is your duty to leave it and have encounters with the nature of one of the few super diverse countries in the world, full of winged mountains, craters and active volcanoes, of jungles, forests, beaches and deserts. This time I go to the Mindo nature reserve (Reserva natural de Mindo), a cloud forest full of waterfalls, exotic animals and green trails and also to the Cotopaxi volcano, a huge snowy mountain full of wolves, with little oxygen and an unparalleled view.
I knew little about quito before going there. For me it was just another city. But being there I noticed many good things that I liked a lot, one was the gastronomy, a unique combination between the current western food and the Indian traditions, in Ecuador, and especially in Quito the cultural heritage is enormous, there are hundreds of ways to cook corn and even more eat it! Another very remarkable thing about Quito is the kindness of the people, almost unanimous and proverbial, very few times in my travels I have met such dedicated and helpful people, Quito is a place where you ask for an address and the locals accompany you to the place.
I think this city has a fairly cool temperature due to its height, this could represent a problem for people who live near sea level. Quito is not a city of skyscrapers, or full of nightlife (although there is more than one place where you can spend the night, but except for the discos, after three in the morning everything closed), Quito is rather a peaceful city, and especially its historic center in which you can spend hours walking, and it is almost mandatory to get lost for the pure pleasure of seeing the colorful architecture.
What Quito offers tourists are stories, it is a city that has gone through wars, revolutions and where very important people have crossed; That must be why there seem to be as many museums as there are bars, which is simply unheard of. Being a city enclosed in mountains, in Quito you do not go left or right, you always go up steep streets, or go down narrow streets. For example, you climb the Cable Car, one of the highest and most modern in the world.
Or to the various viewpoints from which you can see that almost all the houses in Quito are roofed by a blanket of red tiles. There are many hotels of different kinds, although the two times I have been I have stayed in the same one, since I already made friends with the receptionist who works there. On public transport it is quite cheap, and I always preferred it to taxis, although to be honest, Quito is a populated but very narrow city, and as it is almost always cloudy, as if threatening that it will rain and it never rains, it is best to walk and discover one of those stories that are always there waiting to be told.
The reason I went to visit this place was purely random. I rode with some friends in a taxi and we asked him where we could go outside of the city. He said without hesitation that we should see the Mindo reserve, a national park near a very austere town with the same name. The reason he gave us is that in this cloud forest we would know a large part of the biomes of the equator: full of butterflies, orchids, crossed by waterfalls, full of lagoons, a cable car that crosses over a river and many trails to walk.
So we had to convince the taxi driver to go there with us, wait for us and come back before the nitgh, so we get off at Mindo. And within hours we realized that a day, but i feel a week were not enough to see everything that was there.
Mindo is mainly a refuge for many species, some of them unique, for example birds; It is a paradise for ornithologists, or for anyone who enjoys seeing the exotic species that perch in all the trees. The silence of that place is only interrupted by the constant sound of water passing in all directions.
But there are not only natural attractions. There is also the opportunity to practice extreme sports, from climbing giant trees to canopy. Mindo is a place that offers two very different types of adventures, that of contemplation of nature and that of the strongest emotions. There are butterfly farms, aquariums and various places where you can appreciate even more closely the native species from there, and even true rarities from other parts, in the modest but entertaining aquarium I found a unique species that only inhabits a single lake in Mexico, an axolotl .
The end of the day came and I wanted to stay, each tourist guide or each resident told me about lagoons and rivers that I had not passed through. The mist already gave a mysterious ghostly touch to the forest. It will be for another opportunity, I told myself, because the taxi driver was already modestly furious because he was not going to arrive on time to dinner with his wife and children, as he said he had done every day without fail for 25 years. How rare this German precision north of the equator!
frist, some of history...
In the seventeenth century a commission of Spanish and French astronomers went to Ecuador to measure the earth, before GPS and satellites, using stars, shadows, and a host of numbers. The line they drew was called the equator line, the beginning of the north and the south.
On this line (which is literally marked) a commemorative monument and a colonial replica of a Spanish town from the 17th century were built. It functions as a park, and there are several restaurants, art exhibitions, planetariums and a museum about indigenous culture (that two thousand years before the Spaniards knew perhaps which was half the world).
The first day I went to this city (is a monument, but considered a City). Where even your passport is stamped again, it is your definitive proof that you were in the middle of the world. There are many curiosities here. It is a place where you can eat a hamburger, but also buy replicas of ugly heads reduced by the natives.
And there is still something extremely curious: this is the only place where an egg can stand on a nail, since the magnetic force of the two poles prevents the egg from falling to the right or to the left. Curious, huh? Other anomalies occur, the toilets on the north side swirl in one direction, and those on the south side, in the opposite direction.
Anyway, it is a quite peculiar place, quite magical. The monument is nothing more than touristy, but in this place there is something strange that is worth experiencing. On the second day I took it to go to a place in the vicinity, we took a tour to an active crater that is near there. The tour guide took out his GPS and checked, in a certain place on the road, that we were satellite in the middle of the entire planet.
We continue and arrive at the Crater, the most unusual or the most splendid thing is that a population of people lives below, on the active crater! The population is very small, it does not have a cable or electric light, they live on few livestock and the fertile crops of the volcanic soil. There are no hospitals, no restaurants, and there is only one school the size of a very small house.
I Talk to the school teacher, she lives in Quito, and goes down to the crater to teach, the road takes her three hours every day on horseback. And sometimes, he says, people talk about sounds that come under the ground. I go back to the city and I think that definitely unusual things happen here.
The climb up is not easy. The lack of oxygen. And the cold. God, the cold. But the view is worth it.
my crew convinced me to go, I went with some friends and the tickets to the park, which always cost $ 60, were cheaper. I couldn't say no. It seemed easy to climb. It was not. There are several options, there are three resting points on the ascent. But I could only get to the second. The third is reserved for people with more experience. That is why I could not get to see the top of Cotopaxi, and nevertheless, seeing the snow, and some wolves in the distance was a very important experience for me that I am from the Caribbean.
You don't have to worry about wolves, the park usually feeds them. They don't always look like each other, but I guess I had some luck. The best of all is the view, and that at the resting point they serve a hot chocolate, which I don't know if it will be because of how cold it was, it was the best I've ever had in my life!
Q & A
What would you have changed?I think I would have liked to go to the coast and see the beaches. Many friends, before and after, recommended it to me.
Anything go wrong during the trip?Transports to the smaller towns are not so good. but the view always makes up for everything
Restaurant recommendations?i like Bandido Brewing, is a local and artisan place who make his own beer. but, are a lot of places in the Foch, an areas of restaurants in the center of Quito.
Tips you would give a friend?visit the natural areas of this country, because they are really very beautiful and very diverse
Packing tips?tents, thermos and camping equipment, as many national parks allow it. Jackets, in general this area of Ecuador is quite cold
Transportation Tips?In the city try to use the "Trolebus"
Any surprises?I know of no other place where you can stop an egg on a nail without it falling off
Booking details?the best part of the city is the center, it would be good to try to reserve something there