I’ll be honest here. When a friend asked me if I wanted to go to the Galápagos with her, I said spontaneously yes. I had no idea why and I didn’t know what to expect. All I knew about Ecuador and the Galápagos Islands was that it must lie on the equator, hence the name and that their football team played in one of the recent world cups (unlike the Austrians). Oh yeah and that there are lots of animals on the islands. That’s not much I knew about Ecuador. So why should you go to Ecuador? Here is my list now, which includes but is not limited to these reasons. Yours, Pollybert
1.) Quito lies 2.850m above sea level and is therefore, after La Paz, the second highest capital in the world. It is also the closest capital to the equator. I have never been in such a high capital except for Lhasa which is even higher with 3.658m but not a capital due to China. It’s amazing to see the houses clinging to the hills all around the city.
2.) It is full of volcanos and even has an ‘Avenida de los Volcanes‘ or avenue of the volcanoes. They sprout along this scenic route to the south of Quito and on clear days you can see all of them. The area is a paradise for hikers and climbers or even just for weekend trekkers like me.
3.) Ecuador has apparently 14 distinct indigenous minority groups but in the Museo de la Ciudad I saw pictures of a lot more national costumes. Each one looks a bit different with either a hat or a cap, one plaited braid or two, in any case they all look colorful and beautiful.
4.) The historic centres of Quito and Cuenca alone are worth a trip. Each one is unique but both of them are listed as a Unesco World Heritage Site.
5.) Ecuador is famous for its chocolate. Which tastes excellent and hot chocolate is available everywhere. Our guide even preferred it to coffee. But what you might not get everywhere is guinea pig. In Ecuador you try it from the BBQ.
6.) The real ‘Panama’ hat calls Ecuador its home. The hat only got the name because it was shipped out of Panama. But it has always been manufactured in Ecuador. You can easily spend up to 2000 US for the real deal, it’s also available for less though.
7.) A while ago I saw this list and fell in love with picture number 16. I always loved swinging and to do so at the end of the world was one crazy idea. Therefore when we discussed what to see in Ecuador I insisted on going to Banos. I wanted to swing there.
8.) The Galápagos islands are part of Ecuador. No matter what you expect they will exceed it. I for one am not really into animal watching. And even I was blown away. Whatever we did, from snorkeling to cycling, the animals were always around us in their natural habitat. The week there was absolutely fantastic.