Quito, Ecuador’s capital, is where most travellers arrive as their first port of call.
The historic city boasts an amazing Old Town – protected by UNESCO and filled with cobbled streets, colonial architecture and incredibly ornate churches. The dramatic mountainous backdrop means you should keep your camera handy!
I managed to fit in plenty of Quito’s highlights during my visit, including the San Francisco Convent and the golden Church of the Society of Jesus. I would highly recommend taking the journey to the Middle of the World monument, just north of the city. I stayed at the luxurious Casa Gangotena, though one of the best things about Quito is the variety of hotels to suit all budgets, spread across both the old and new parts of the city.
For a one-of-a-kind nature holiday, I’d also recommend a stay in the amazing Cloud Forest, just a few hours west of Quito – Mashpi Lodge (as featured on BBC’s Life Beyond the Lobby) is a real treat with exceptional birding opportunities.
2. The Amazon
After Quito, I flew to the amazing Ecuadorian Amazon – a real bucket list destination.
The Amazon is a fantastic addition to any Ecuador holiday – the rainforest covers almost 125,000 km², and is home to a larger variety of bird species than the whole of North America.
I flew to the town of El Coca and then travelled by boat, on foot and by canoe to the lovely Sacha Lodge. The guides were very knowledgeable and by the end of my stay I felt I’d truly discovered the secrets of the authentic Amazon.
There are two fantastic ways to experience the Amazon:
- board a river cruise and explore somewhere new each day, or
- settle down in one of the fantastic jungle lodges to be perfectly placed to wander nature trails and treetop canopies.
I spent a night in the Pacific port city of Guayaquil, renowned as the gateway to the Galapagos. Guayquil is often overlooked as a holiday destination and is sometimes simply thought of as a jumping off point for other places, but I was utterly captivated by the beautiful city.
I stayed at the 19th century Hotel Del Parque, a five-star boutique property located amongst botanical gardens. During my fleeting visit here I fell in love with the city’s charm.
I was lucky enough to enjoy a truly fantastic time at a bean-to-bar cocoa experience and chocolate tasting session – cacao is one of Ecuador’s biggest exports.