Friday, November 9, 2012

14 Things to do in Ecuador

My husband and I were very fortunate to have been given plane tickets to Quito, Ecuador for Christmas. An amazing family was kind enough to let us stay with them and show us around the capital and other parts of the beautiful, South American country. This is in case you're about to go and don't have someone to tell you what to see and do. :) Good luck and have a blast! We went over Christmas and have been told that the best times to go is in the beginning of December for Seis de Diciebmbre- Decmeber 6 for the foundation of Quito, Christmas, and New Years.

Quito is beautiful- nestled between 7 volcanoes- some still active.

Cotopaxi- a volcano in Quito, Ecuador.

Things We Did And Highly Recommend

1. La Basilica 

The churches of Quito are amazing and gorgeous. Make sure that you take a day and night to just explore the city. (At night they have horse-drawn carriage rides.) There are so many beautiful churches, monasteries, and nunneries to explore.
Since it was Christmas there were cool things to see- large foam animals!
Large, orange foam fish in a monastery courtyard in Quito, Ecuador.

And a manger competition where people made different, beautiful mangers. It was really cool to see.

But my favorite church was La Basilica. It is huge! It is the largest neo-Gothic basilica in the Americas. It was made in honor of Mary's sacred heart. There is a window where you can see a statue of Mary on the hill through a heart-shaped window! See More About La Basilica. 
The outside is breath-taking.

La Basilica is gorgeous lit up at night- the lights change colors.

The sanctuary is huge and beautiful.

Sacred heart that looks out onto the statue of the Virgin Mary.

You can climb all the way to the top of the tallest spire! It's not for the faint of heart, but gives you a view you'll remember for the rest of your life!
Kissing in the stained glass window of Quito's La Basilica

Beautiful rose stained glass window.
Clock towers of La Basilica.
Inside the clock tower.
Black and white photo of the roof and clock towers of La Basilica in Quito, Ecuador.
Flying buttresses of La Basilica, Quito, Ecuador.
View of Quito from high above in La Basilica
Ornate steeple of La Basilica.
ross and view of the city to the virgin Mary on the hill at Quito.
Looking down into the sanctuary.

2. Mitad Del Mundo

Ecuador was named after the equator because it runs through the gorgeous country. You can go to Mitad Del Miundo to see where they declared the center of the world! There's a large, beautiful monument at Ciudad Mitad Del Mundo. Stop by and say hi to the llamas! It's great with a huge statue and everything, but it is inaccurate. For the real center of the world drive down the road a bit. There's another site with all sorts of experiments you can do on the real equator.
Line of French scientists and statue at Mitad Del Mundo, Ecuador.
Black and white photo of the middle of the world, Ecuador.
Get a super cute photo of kissing on the Equator!

Llama and cacti at Mitad Del Mundo.
Water draining north of the equator:
Water draining on the equator:
Water draining south of the equator:
Balance an egg on the equator.
My husband sitting next to a native woman making corn cakes to cook over the fire with berry jam- delicious!

3. Mindo Butterfly Farm

For a day-trip go to Mindo! If you can- get a local to drive, because the roads can be a little scary. Mindo Butterfly Farm ruined us for all other butterfly houses ever. My husband now refuses to pay for any butterfly houses now because none will live up to this. (So I go to free ones- like at Cox Gardens.) It was out of this world. You walk up a flower-lined path teeming with hummingbirds to get into the large butterfly house. There are so many butterflies! It's impossible to describe! The best part is that there are bananas that you can use to coax butterflies to land on you! (Just don't touch the wings!) It was an incredible experience and I recommend it to everyone! 
Hummingbird flying to a feeder in Mindo, Ecuador.
Hummingbird flying around a plant.

4. Mindo Ropes and Canopy Zip-Line

There's zip-lines all over the place, but we went to the one in Mindo. It was a ton of fun! The trip actually included 10 zip-line trips. It was incredible, flying over the jungle. It's completely safe and they've never had an accident- try it out! (There is another zip-line course in the area that has had accidents- so stick to this one.) I found an interesting post of someone who Stayed At Casa Divana

5. Country-Side

See the country-side some. Ecuador is stunning. Take a drive and explore!

6. Termas de Papallacta

So very sadly, I did not have my camera on this amazing day-trip out of Quito. Termas de Papallacta is amazing. It is a hot-springs resort up high in the mountains. Nothing is more romantic. You're surrounded by mountains, flowers, water, hummingbirds, and butterflies. We went to celebrate my husband's birthday and it was incredible. It's on the side of a volcano- so you have out-of-this-world views of mountains. Cool rivers run right by the hot pools. The pools are at different temperatures so you can always feel comfortable. They have a spa there with amazing massages. They give you strawberry juice afterwards- which is what got me hooked on the stuff. It's extremely popular at night because you can relax in the warm pools while staring up at the stars. Amazing. What some couples like to do is to hike during the day then come back for a massage and hot springs. I'd love to go back and do just that for a week.

7. The Market

This is especially fun around Christmas time! Great place to get souvenirs and gifts! 

Things We Didn't Do But Want To Next Time

1. Try Qui

Yes it's guinea pig and they're adorable, but I've never had it! Every time we went out to get some the store was closed or something. Next time!

2. Horseback Riding

In Mindo there is a horseback riding tour just down the road from the Butterfly Farm. We sadly ran out of time, but I hear it's great, but bring a bathing suit because you'll get wet!

3. Mindo Loma Cloud Forest Reserve

Hummingbirds galore! Even more than were at the Butterfly Farm!

4. El Pahuma Orchid Reserve

We missed the turn, so didn't get to go see all the orchids- but that leaves another thing for next time! :)

5. El Panecillo

There's a large, lovely statue of the Virgin Mary on a hill by Quito. Next time we'll have to visit her too.

6. Hike Volcanoes

I'd love to get a chance to hike the volcanoes around Quito next time- it'd be fun.

7. Gallapagos Islands

Need I say more?
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