Ecuador

Galapagos Island Travel Ecuador, Galapagos Island information and facts

Ecuador Attractions

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Ecuador offers you a wide variety of atractions. We invite you to know more about them by clicking on the one you prefer.

GALAPAGOS

Arrival and departure from mainland Ecuador to this island's airport. During WW II, from 1941 to 1948, this island was known as Beta. It was occupied by the US Air Force and the US Navy as a Military Base. Back in those days, this airport had the largest airstrip in South America. This uplifted island is a great visual introduction to Galapagos.

The pier is a 5-minute drive from the air terminal. If you happen to start your voyage in Puerto Ayora, you will take a bus ride to the Itabaca Channel, cross it by ferry towards Santa Cruz Island, and then an interesting ride from the lowlands up to the highlands and down again to the lowlands. The changes in vegetation that guests will experience will be a rewarding way to start your Galapagos Expedition.

A walk through Opuntia cacti and Palo Santo forests. You can see land iguanas (endemic to Barrington), lava lizards and sea lion colonies. Great swimming and snorkeling.

Perhaps the most photgraphed location in the entire archipelago. Climb up a wooden staircase to the summit for a stunning view of two beautiful bays. You can observe fascinating formations of lava flows and spatter cones. Many have called this island "an open Geology textbook". Sea lions and penguins can be seen around Pinnacle Rock. There is a sandy beach with great swimming and snorkeling. This is one of those selected locations where seeing penguins in tropical waters can be a revealing discovery.

The youngest island of the Galapagos group. The landing point is Punta Espinoza. Walk among the hundreds of marine iguanas on black lava rocks. See flightless cormorants, penguins, pelicans, sea lions and mangrove forests. The walking grounds will reveal the beautiful shapes of lava once it has cooled off. At this location, few rocks are older than 400 years of age. Fernandina's colossal dome shape can enchant anyone who visits, perhaps the most remote island in the Pacific.

Visit the famous barrel, a do-it-yourself postal service set up by 18th century whalers. Cruise by "Lobería" islet with sea lion colonies.

Point Cormorant: has an olivine-crystal beach and pink flamingos inhabiting a secluded lagoon. A short walk away is a white-sand beach where sea turtles nest (December to May).

Nearby is Devil's Crown with beautiful coral formations and great snorkeling.

A coral white-sand beach with sea lions and mockingbirds. Swimming and snorkeling at the beach and nearby islets.

Punta Suarez: Walk on lava rocks along a trail dotted with nests of blue-footed boobies and masked boobies, a colony of marine iguanas (endemic to Hood), waved albatrosses and a blow hole. There are also sea lions, Galapagos doves and Darwin's finches.

The largest island in the Archipelago. It is the result of six large volcanic domes fused together.

Tagus Cove: is a natural harbor where centuries ago whalers and pirates left their ship's names painted or carved on the rocks. A walk uphill takes you around Darwin's Crater salt-water lake for a superb view. A dinghy ride along the shoreline lets you see penguins, flightless cormorants, boobies, pelicans and Sally Light foot crabs.

Urbina Bay: is located at the central-west coast of Isabela Island at the foothills of Volcanoes Alcedo and Darwin. Land on a dark volcanic sand beach. Highlights include large and colorful land iguanas, since the inland area includes excellent nesting grounds for them. Good possibilities of seeing giant tortoises in the wild (all year, numbers may vary according to seasonal conditions). Along the rocky shoreline, possible sightings of flightless cormorants, blue-footed boobies, penguins and large marine iguanas. Quite impressive is the coral uplifting from 1954.

Punta Moreno: is located in the central-south western coast of Isabela Island. Spectacular view of volcanoes Alcedo, Sierra Negra and Cerro Azul. Highlights: impressive lava flows from eruptions years ago. Desolate, extremely pristine landscape. A textbook of pioneer plants, extraordinarily varied and unusual arid-zone vegetation. The main attraction is a compound of small brackish lagoons very much like a desert oasis with lagoon birds, including seasonal flamingos. Ideal place for observing the rare and reclusive gallinules. Frequent sights of frigates, pelicans and other sea birds doing salt cleansing dives to the lagoon's surface.

Punta Vicente Roca: a magnificent landscape shows the uniqueness of the western volcanos of Galapagos. We are now looking at the youngest geological features of the archipelago, and we are at the northern tip of the Galapagos' largest island, Isabela. This area is part of Ecuador Volcano, where a collapsed caldera floor is revealed after a major sinking of half of the whole volcano structure. The anchoring place lies in front of tuff-stone layers of a parasitic cone, next to the slopes of the host volcano. Lava intrusions, called sills and dikes, reveal the relatively recent volcanic activity of this area. Since there is no landing site at this location, our outing will include coastal exploration where our Naturalists will commit to explaining the dramatic geology of the area. Wildlife here will definitely surprise everyone; few hours before we crossed the Equator and yet this tropical area can have surprises like dolphins, whales, sea lions, sea birds, turles, and more. Where is all this life coming from? The answer is the Cromwell Current; a deep submarine current that upwells right at the volcanic platform of the western islands. These cool nutrient-rich waters attract plenty of sea-depending species which include brown pelicans, blue-footed boobies, noddy terns, shearwaters, and the only tropical penguin on Earth, the Galapagos penguin. Depending on sea conditions (current and visibility), we will schedule a snorkeling outing too.

Sullivan Bay: Dry landing on the area that had James' latest volcanic activity in 1897. Fantastic lava formations. A good spot for snorkling where pioneer marine species should be expected.

James Bay: Landing takes place at a black sand beach where the shoreline walk will reveal a great assortment of marine-related species. Particularly good for migratory species of birds. Great swimming and snorkeling. An easy stroll, observing Darwin's finches and the Galapagos hawk to the black lava rock formations, home to a fur sea lion colony.

Behind the island's red-sand beach, frequented by sea lions, is a flamingo lagoon. Pelicans and boobies nest in the vicinity. Nine species of finches have been spotted here.

Palo Santo trees, colonies of blue-footed boobies, swallow-tailed gulls and magnificent frigate birds. On the other side of the island, the waves crash onto the rocks and sea lions play in the surf.

A small island packed to its steep-cliffed shoreline with fascinating natural life: sea lions, land iguanas, swallow-tailed gulls, Opuntia cactus, and vegetation that changes color with the seasons.

ECUADOR

THE HIGHLANDS OF THE ANDES
AVENUE OF THE VOLCANOS

Time of Preparing: 30 minutes
Number of Portions: :6
Level of difficulty: Easy
Cathegory: Hot Drink
From: Ecuador
Ingredients:
1 cup of "aguardiente" - sugarcane liquour also known as "fire water"
3 cups of water
½ cup sugar (preferably brown sugar)
6 cinnamon sticks
1 teaspoon lemon juice
Preparation:
Combine water, sugar and cinnamon sticks in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Pour the aguardiente and maintain in the fire but do not let it boil. Once it is very hot, remove from fire and add the lemon juice. Serve very hot in short thick glasses.

Located in the Andes mountains in central Ecuador, Cotopaxi is one of the highest active volcanoes in the world. Cotopaxi which means "neck of the moon", rises from a valley about 2,750 meters (9,000 feet) above sea level to a height of 5,897 meters (19,347 feet) above sea level. The width of its crater from west to east has been estimated at more than 500 meters (1,650 feet) and the width from north to south at about 700meters (2,300 feet). The perfectly formed snow-covered cone of Cotopaxi is 1,341 meters (4,400 feet.) high.

Surrounding Cotopaxi Volcano is the Cotopaxi National Park, an ecological sanctuary of 36,000 hectares (88,920 acres), especially attractive for nature lovers, with the treeless vegetation of the Andean moorlands or paramo. You may see herds of llamas and perhaps deer, rabbits, frogs and lizards. Bird life includes the Andean gull, ducks, several species of hummingbirds and with some luck, the condor.

The first recorded eruption of the volcano was in 1534, at the time of the Spanish conquest, frightening both conquered and conquistadors alike. The last major eruption was in 1877.

In 1895, Eloy Alfaro, then President of Ecuador made contact with the North American technicians Archer Harman and Edward Morely, representatives of an American company interested in the building of the "most difficult railway in the world" as it was called at that time, "The Guayaquil & Quito Railway Company" which would link the main port of Ecuador, Guayaquil on the Pacific Coast to the capital city of Quito, high up in the Andes. An agreement was reached, and the construction started in 1899.

The tracks finally reached a huge obstacle -an almost perpendicular wall of rock- called the "Devil's Nose". Many lives were shed in the building of what until now is considered a masterpiece of railway engineering: a zigzag carved out of the rock, which allows the train, by advancing and backing up, to reach the necessary height to the town of Alausí. The train finally reached Alausí by September 1902 and Riobamba by July 1905.

Dating back to 1718, Hacienda Hualilagua de Jijón was built on the mountainside and overlooks the Valley of Machachi. It is still owned and run by the descendants of the founding family. During its early years it produced cereals and precious woods for furniture and religious sculptures. Its charming manor house is surrounded by gardens with many native species of trees, orchids and bromeliads. Hualilagua is noted for its extensive collection of paintings and furniture representative of the "School of Art of Quito".

Hacienda La Ciénega is located in the area of Guaytacama, in the Valley of Lasso at the foot of Cotopaxi volcano, and belongs to the descendants of its original owner, the Marquis of Maenza, dating back to the 17th century. The Manor House was built in 1838 and is reached via an avenue flanked by gigantic and fragrant eucalyptus trees. It was open to the public in 1982, with spacious rooms surrounded by beautiful gardens. The charm, taste and elegance of the rooms of La Ciénega have witnessed important events in Ecuador's history.

Colorful handicrafts -which make wonderful gifts - are found everywhere along the Andes. In Cotopaxi the shigras, bags made of sisal fiber, and originally used to store dry foodstuffs make great handbags.

Woolen ponchos of different colors and designs make great throws for back home and the wooden masks of Pujilí make intriguing wall ornaments. Baskets of every size and shape are good buys, and can be used bread, picnics or laundry.

Finely woven fajas or belts, in intricate designs and bright colors are sold everywhere.

Instruments like the rondador or pan flute, pingullo flutes, bocinas (a long horn) and guitars will delight those with a musical ear.

Hostería Rumipamba de las Rosas is located in an Andean Valley, in the outskirts of the town of Salcedo. This inn recreates an ambiance of nostalgia through artistic handicrafts and antiques of bygone days. They serve local and international cuisine.

Rumipamba de las Rosas has 16 suites and 15 luxury rooms. Each one has a different décor, country style decoration, equipped with fireplace and remote control color TV. All have private bath, heating, and receive room service 24 hours a day.

Swimming pool. Sports areas: Soccer, tennis court, basketball, volleyball, indoor football, ping pong, bikes, horse-back riding, horse-drawn carriage, large natural garden playground, children's train, giant chess, artificial lake, boats, handicrafts. On the surrounding grounds: fishing, hunting, trekking.

Address: In the outskirts of Salcedo, Ecuador.
Phone:
(593-3) 272-6128 Fax: (593-3) 272-7103

Close to the town of Pujilí is the small village of La Victoria, a town of potters. The clay is found in nearby El Tejar, Collas and El Tingo, where it is collected and prepared, first by drying it in the sun and then it is crumbled into bits. Water is then added to make a paste, usually by stepping on it. Then, it is passed through a sieve and left to stand for several days until it becomes gluey and is ready to work.

Both molds and wheels are used to make all kinds of figures, some animals like roosters, pigs, sheep, lions, cats and dogs. Pottery for domestic use like pots, plates and saucers are also produced and for Christmas, whole Nativity scenes with St. Joseph, the Virgin, the Child, angels, and more are created.

Paramo: Occurs at elevations above the tree line. Starts at 10,496 up to 13,120 feet (3,200 up to 4,000 meters). Nightly frosts.
Between the temperate Montane valleys and the snows of the highest peaks stretch high-altitude grasslands characterized by chill mists and low, spongy vegetation spotted with sharp grasses and shrubs.
High levels of ultraviolet light and wet, often freezing conditions have caused the sturdy layer of páramo vegetation to develop thick waxy leaf skins covered with fine hairs for insulation. Plants lay low on the ground to escape the wind, the temperature variations, and grow leaves in a circle to make sure none shade any of the others.

This is the most important ethnic group of the province of Tungurahua, said to have been brought to Ecuador by the Incas, from Bolivia, to guard the gateway to the rain forest. They are excellent weavers and have preserved their customs, costumes, traditions and original political and cultural organizat

The páramo or “Jalca” is a characteristic formation of the Tropical Andes of the North of South America, between the upper forest line (about 3500 meters altitude) and the permanent snow line (about 5000 meters). The ecosystem consists of mostly glacier formed valleys and plains with a large variety of lakes, peat (decayed vegetation matter) swamps and wet grasslands intermingled with shrub and forest patches It has a great biodiversity of plants, mammals and birds and multicolored flora such as spongy vegetation (cushion bogs), bromeliads, mosses and small forests of Andean trees such as Puma Maqui (hand of the puma), Polylepis and Ginoxis. This is also the habitat of deer, rabbits, wolves and a great diversity of avifauna from the tiniest hummingbird to the majestic condor, the largest flying bird in the world.

The páramo extends along hills, valleys and antique moraines of the Chimborazo and Carihuairazo volcanoes.

The Chimborazo is surounded by the "Reserva de Produccion Faunistica Chimborazo." which forms a protected ecosystem to preserve the habitat for the Andean camelids: vicuña, llama and alpaca.

The vicuña (Vicugna vicugna) is one of two wild South American camelids, along with the guanaco, which lives in the high Andes. It is a relative of the llama and the alpaca. Vicuñas produce small amounts (about a pound per year) of extremely fine wool. The Incas raised Vicuñas for their wool, and it was against the law for any but royalty to wear vicuña garments. Both today and under the rule of the Inca, the vicuña has been protected by law. In 1960 there were only about 6,000 vicuñas in the wild due to uncontrolled poaching ever since the Spanish conquest of South America. Protection measures were carried out and raised their numbers up to 125,000. Although the number is somewhat comforting, these animals are still classified as vulnerable by the IUCN and endangered by the U.S. Vicuñas were re-introduced to the Chimborazo Reserve.

The llama (Lama glama) is a large camelid that originated in North America and then later on moved on to South America. The term llama is sometimes used more broadly, to indicate any of the four closely related animals that make up the South American branch of the family Camelidae: the true llama, the vicuña, alpaca, and guanaco. They were used as a system of transportation and beasts of burden. Differentiating characteristics between llamas and alpacas are that llamas are larger and have more elongated heads. Alpacas also have a more luxurious wool than llamas

The Alpaca (Vicugna pacos) is a domesticated breed of South American camel-like ungulates, derived from the wild vicuña. Alpacas are kept in herds that graze on the level heights of the Andes of southern Peru, northern Bolivia, northern Chile and Ecuador at an altitude of 3500 to 5000 meters above sea-level, throughout the year. Alpacas are considerably smaller than llamas and unlike them are not used as beasts of burden but are valued only for their wool, used for making blankets, sweaters, socks and coats. The fiber comes in more than 22 natural colors.

In 1895, Eloy Alfaro, then President of Ecuador made contact with the North American technicians Archer Harman and Edward Morely, representatives of an American company interested in the building of the "most difficult railway in the world" as it was called at that time, "The Guayaquil & Quito Railway Company" which would link the main port of Ecuador, Guayaquil on the Pacific Coast to the capital city of Quito, high up in the Andes. An agreement was reached, and the construction started in 1899.

The tracks finally reached a huge obstacle -an almost perpendicular wall of rock- called the "Devil's Nose". Many lives were shed in the building of what until now is considered a masterpiece of railway engineering: a zigzag carved out of the rock, which allows the train, by advancing and backing up, to reach the necessary height to the town of Alausí. The train finally reached Alausí by September 1902 and Riobamba by July 1905.

Hostería Rumipamba de las Rosas is located in an Andean Valley, in the outskirts of the town of Salcedo. This inn recreates an ambiance of nostalgia through artistic handicrafts and antiques of bygone days. They serve local and international cuisine.

Rumipamba de las Rosas has 16 suites and 15 luxury rooms. Each one has a different décor, country style decoration, equipped with fireplace and remote control color TV. All have private bath, heating, and receive room service 24 hours a day.

Swimming pool. Sports areas: Soccer, tennis court, basketball, volleyball, indoor football, ping pong, bikes, horse-back riding, horse-drawn carriage, large natural garden playground, children's train, giant chess, artificial lake, boats, handicrafts. On the surrounding grounds: fishing, hunting, trekking.

Address: In the outskirts of Salcedo, Ecuador
Phone:
(593-3) 272-6128 Fax: (593-3) 272-7103

Tagua is the nut of a palm tree whose scientific name is phytephas accuatorialis, found in the tropical rain forests of the coast and the Amazon lowlands of Ecuador. The color and consistency of the tagua is very similar to ivory.
Before plastic and other synthetic materials came into the world market, it was widely used for making buttons, chess figures, handles for canes, etc. Then it was almost forgotten until the eighties, when it came again into use for hand made buttons, jewelry, toys and souvenirs. The working of the Tagua nuts not only contributes to the economy of the artisans but also to the preservation of this native palm, part of the tropical rain forest that are quickly disappearing. The main craft shops working on tagua nuts are located in the city of Riobamba.

Towards the western side of the Chimborazo Volcano is the high puna or dry paramo, with the presence of strong plants whose stems and leaves are adapted to the harsh conditions and the little water they receive, strong winds, high temperatures during the day and very cold nights.

The mountain inn “Estrella del Chimborazo” is located at an altitude of 4,000 meters (12, 120 feet) in the Valley of Totorillas, on the southern slopes of the Chimborazo. It is named after an endemic hummingbird of the area. Its installations consist of a main building with the living and reading room around a great fireplace, dining room and kitchen. Additionally there are two cabins, each with four double rooms and two complete shared bathrooms. Rooms have heaters and plenty of hot water. It provides modern and comfortable accommodations.

It is on the same site of the Totorillas Tambo or resting place on the Inca road system. It is used mainly by mountain climbers who acclimatize here before they climb the Chimborazo. This cozy refuge is full of photographs and graphics of the natural history of the Chimborazo.

South American Andean civilizations, even prior to Inca times, had very good road systems between the highlands and the coast. In the case of the Chimborazo, here was the mountain pass called “Yunga Ñan” through which coca leaves, hot chilies, dried fish and the magic spondylus shell came from the coast and maize, pota

CUENCA

Loja was founded in 1548 by a Spaniard captain named Alonso de Mercadillo, in the valley of Catamayo, and is recorded as one of the oldest towns in Ecuador. It was moved to its current location, the valley of Cuxibamba, after a devastating earthquake. The city has around 130,000 inhabitants and is surrounded by mountains; it has two universities, a law school and a music facility.
In 1897, Loja became the first city in Ecuador to use electric energy, catapulting the country into the Age of Electricity. Since then, careful industrialization and modernization has allowed Loja to retain its charm. Loja is a prime example of smart economic development. Lojanos have managed to succeed financially without destroying their cultural heritage and natural resources. This is exemplified in the conscious construction of buildings designed to harmonize with older ones. Loja's effort to preserve its architecture and colonial roots represents a forward thinking approach to development.
Loja, at 2100 meters above sea level, enjoys a temperate spring-like climate all year long, though the weather is best from October through January. Temperatures fluctuate between 16° C (60° F) and 21° C (70° F), with an average daily temperature of 17° C (63° F). February through May is wetter than the rest of the year but for many the guarantee of afternoon rainbows makes up for it. Layering is necessary because the equatorial sun often makes days hot and mountain nights are always cool.

The Historical Center is located on the second terrace of a big alluvial cone, which was formed by the erosive action of the rivers during thousands of years. It is characterised by the presence of narrow cobblestone streets and picturesque colonial and republican style buildings, which give the city a special charm. This is also the commercial centre in the city, where most of the shops, banks, boutiques and hotels are found.

This important historical building belongs to the religious order of the "Carmelites" which was established in Cuenca in 1682 and has been preserved in the original condition. The church shows a beautiful baroque front with several ornamental elements in carved in marble. It houses interesting colonial works, such as the wooden altarpiece and pulpit, both covered with gold leaf. Inside the cloister, the Carmelite nuns keep artistic and cultural treasures, such as sculptures, documents, books, mural paintings and more. The mural painting on the wall and ceiling of the Refectory are m very well preserved and depict scenes of daily life together with religious motifs, the finest example of Cuenca's cultural legacy.

The monastery of "Monastery of the Nuns of the Immaculate Conception of Mary", was the first cloister for nuns to be established in Cuenca in 1599. Far removed from the bustle of the world, the cloistered nuns dedicate their lives to contemplation of the Divine through prayer, silence, fasting, the sacraments, poverty and chastity. The Convent is divided into various courtyards and long corridors. The large whitewashed walls maintain an atmosphere of severity typical of monastic edifications with centuries-old construction methods which utilized damp clay mixed with straw. The interior preserves the cloistered feeling of peace and withdrawal. Special rooms like the "Chapter House", "De Profundis Room" and the Refectory, all house important mural paintings and art works. In 1986 half of the convent was sold by the nuns to be utilized as a Museum of Religious Art.

This museum is dedicated to the handicrafts of South America. It has a permanent exhibition of handicrafts and popular Latin American Art, with the purpose of showing the people to appreciate the popular art and handicrafts in their real value.
The purpose of the CIDAP is to help the artisans to sell their work; the money goes directly to the artisans. The products that are sold are of two types: genuine handicrafts from Ecuador and Latin America, exactly the same as those used by the different etnias in their traditional culture and also contemporary handicrafts, a product of good quality, with the original design. Permanent courses are dictated with no cost to the artisans.

The monastery of "Monastery of the Nuns of the Immaculate Conception of Mary", was the first cloister for nuns to be established in Cuenca in 1599. Far removed from the bustle of the world, the cloistered nuns dedicate their lives to contemplation of the Divine through prayer, silence, fasting, the sacraments, poverty and chastity. In 1986 half of the convent was sold by the nuns to be utilized as a Museum of Religious Art. The Convent, which recently occupied a whole block, is divided into various courtyards and long corridors. Special rooms like the "Chapter House", "De Profundis Room" and the Refectory, all house important mural paintings and art works.

The museum shows a great collection of religious art with 64 paintings, more than 200 scuptures, furniture and more.

The Plaza of San Sebastian was built in the 17th Century as an open marketplace for the western part of the city of Cuenca. On its side is the church of San Sebastian, with a magnificent carved door.

Located in the southernmost Andes of Ecuador, Podocarpus National Park straddles a mountain range called, "El Nudo de Sabanilla", between the cities of Loja and Zamora. Comprising 146,280 hectares (361,452 acres) the Park ranges in altitude from 950 meters to 3,700 meters (3000 to 11,811 feet) and includes a diversity of natural habitats, from upper tropical rainforest to moorlands or Paramo. The National Park was named after Podocarpus or Romerillo tree, Ecuador's only native species of conifer tree.
The diverse ecosystems protected within the Podocarpus National Park support a rich and varied avifauna. To date, over 500 bird species have been recorded in and around the park. Since only the Cajanuma and Las Palmas areas have been adequately surveyed, the list could rise to somewhere between 600 to 800 species, making the Podocarpus National Park one of the most species-rich national parks in the world.
The Park protects viable populations of threatened species, such as Golden-plumed Parakeet, White-breasted Parakeet, Red-faced parrot, Bearded Guan, Bay-vented Cotinga, Yellowed-scarfed Tanager and Olive Tanager.
The Park also supports populations of several large mammal species, threatened or endangered throughout their ranges, including Mountain Tapir, Giant Armadillo, Northern Pudu Deer, Ocelot, Spectacled Bear and Jaguar.
Podocarpus National Park has immense botanical value. The number of vascular plant species has been estimated to be between 3,000 and 4,000, making the National Park the richest cloud forest, in terms of tree species, in Ecuador. In the areas of cloud forest, there is a large variety of ephyphite plants, mainly bromeliads, orchids, mosses and also ferns.

The petrified forest is located in an area with an altitude between 360 and 500 meters above sea level and with an average temperature of 22.5° C ( 72.5° F) . The best time to visit it is the dry s

OTAVALO

THE SALASACA INDIANS

This is the most important ethnic group of the province of Tungurahua, said to have been brought to Ecuador by the Incas, from Bolivia, to guard the gateway to the rain forest. They are excellent weavers and have preserved their customs, costumes, traditions and original political and cultural organization.

PURE NATURE

Cloud forests have a delicate, misty appearance, featuring trees covered with spanish moss and icy rushing streams. It covers the transition zone between the high Andes and the lowland jungles with a high biodiversity. Precipitation (1000-1500 mm) comes in the form of clouds and fog, as well as rain, resulting in may plants that can live off the airborne moisture alone. Many plants in the cloud forest are epiphytes, especially orchids. Tree ferns with woody trunks and giant fronds are also found in the cloud forests.

Continuous damp conditions prevail. Cloud forests range in altitude from 700 to 1100 meters.

At the hot spring resorts you will experience the wonderfully restorative effects of the crystal clear waters at ten different temperatures. Submerge yourself in the warm water and take advantage of its curative properties for all rheumatic, arthritic, cardiovascular, digestive and respiratory complaints.
The sulfate alkaline terreus thermal waters well out of the earth, and the temperature of the springs at their origins vary from 30 to 70 C (86 and 157 F). The temperature of the pools fluctuates between 36 and 42 C ( 97 and 108F).

Canopy is only about 33-49 feet (10-15 meters). Altitude from 7,544-10,824 feet (2,300-3,300 meters). Cooler area than subtropical montane forest. Precipitation is anywhere between 79"-98" (2,000-2,500 mm). Important bird habitat. Polylepis trees --low, gnarled, flaky-barked trees of the genus Polylepis-- are found here.

This walk is short and for the most part, very easy. It is a round trip of about an hour which gives time for bird watching and resting at the 'paraderos' to admire the beautiful scenery and rushing river. The walk follows the river, crossing it at intervals over small swing bridges, with the opportunity to see birds such as hummingbirds and tanagers. Mosses, ferns, orchids and paramo plants are seen in abundance, and occasionally mammals such as llamas, rabbits and deer and even footprints of the elusive porcupine.

QUITO AND SURROUNDINGS

It is located at the Ecuadorian House of Culture in Quito and covers an extension of approximately 800 square meters, with over 1800 pieces on exhibit. It shows the evolution of the cultures that developed in Ecuador in pre-Columbian times.

The Archaelogical Museum is the product of a rigorous selection from the vast collection wich is the property of the Central Bank. The pieces exhibited correspond to the period between 4000 BC (the oldest piece) and 1534 (the arrival of the Spanish Conquers to Ecuador).

These vestiges, conceived by anonymous and skilled hands, represent the origin of the ecuadorian nation. The study and viewing of them show us a past that is still present and the deep roots of Ecudor as a country.

For a better panoramic view of the pre-Columbian period, and to allow an encounter with our origins, visitors are guided along a chronologic corridor, complemented by illustrative dioramas with artistic renditions of the daily life of the ancient cultures, and the Hall of Gold.

The chronologic corridor shows the most representative pieces of each period, together with a detailed explanation of the charcteristics of each, and of the culture that developed during this time.

 

The periods are as follows:

Paleo-Indian 6000-4000 BC defined by activities of hunting, fishing and recollection of food.

Formative 4000-600 BC defined by the appearance of agriculture, the building of permanent and solid home structures, communal cemeteries, use of stone implements and complex funeral ceremonies.

Regional Development 300 BC to 600 AD during this period the primitive societies stratified, there was intense commerce with other geographic areas in what is now Ecuador and with other regions of Central America. Religious ceremonies were monopolized by the chaste (class) of shamans.

Integration 600-1534 AD characterized by the concentrations of power in one in one individual, the curaca, and a rigid social stratification. Agriculture flourished with the system of terraces.

 

Dioramas:

The illustrative dioramas correspond to the cultures of Real Alto, Las Vegas, La Tolita, Valdivia, Cochasquí and Cotocollao, and show in detail the architecture of the ceremonial centers and religious practices performed in them. These dioramas are the product of years of reserch by the archaelogists of the Central Bank in the original sites.

 

Hall of Gold:

The Hall of Gold presents an exhaustive synthesis of the most precious legacy of magnificence and grandeur. In Ecuador as in all the pre-Colombian Andean world, the principal manifestation of power, hierarchy and wealth was the brilliance of gold and other precious metals.

On display are masks, nose pendants, rings, earrings and ornaments in gold and platinum, as well as artifacts of everyday use such as golden needles, fish hooks and depilatory tweezers.

Just as the church was finished in 1766, King Carlos III of Spain decreed the expulsion of the Jesuits from the colonies in America, so the church remained closed and deteriorated until the Jesuits finally came back to Ecuador in 1862. La Compañía is a copy of the Jesuit church of Saint Ignatius in Rome, of baroque style. The church is a magnificent example of the extraordinary artistic hability of Ecuadorian artisans, which can be seen in the intricately carved altars completely covered with gold leaf, with sculptures of the Holy Trinity in the Main altar and Saint Ignatius and Saint Francis in the side altars by Legarda. This is one of the richest and most magnificent temples of South America. La Compañía was recently re-opened after an unfortunate fire ocurred in 1996 while repair work was being done.

The imposing Church and Monastery of San Francisco is reached from the plaza of the same name via a beautiful stone round staircase and atrium. The inside is mostly Baroque with a rich Moorish coffered ceiling, gold leaf altars with ornaments made of silver and mirrors. The main figure is the winged "Virgin of Quito" by Legarda. This is one of the oldest churches of the city, founded by Franciscan Priests from Belgium who founded the first schools of art, music and dance in Ecuador.

The Ecuadorian Folklore Ballet Jacchigua, invites you to share a cultural dream which was made real with the production and direction of Rafael Camino.

The Quichua term JACCHIGUA means the infinite joy of the harvest, and this is how the Ecuadorian Folklore Ballet JACCHIGUA gathers the richness of our popular culture, showing the world the ancestral traditions and customs of Ecuador, a pluricultural, multiethnic and plurilingual country.

Ninety dancers, musicians, technicians and social investigators put their knowledge and artistic sensibility on the stage, creating these choreographies to show the past and present splendor of the peoples of Ecuador.

In order to safe keep the ancestral designs, textures and colors, and after a study of the late 19th century and beginning of the 20th, dresses, costumes and ethnical elements were gathered and used in the different choreographies of this Ballet. They were made by artisans and rescued from the mestizo acculturization. Some of the dances featured are:

The Saraguros, originally from Bolivia and Peru, were brought to the south of Ecuador -the province of Loja- by the Incas. This dance shows the process of blending of cultures at the time of the conquistadors, represented by the following segments:

The Offerings: The women dress up and take offerings of flowers to church, at seven in the morning; thus, when they die, they will enter heaven.

The Guiquis o Monkeys: Are popular in the fiestas of the communities. They put humor with their jokes, high spirits and grace.

The Dancers of Gañil: Symbolize the natural force and bravery of the animal, represented by men.

The Hat Dance: The sombrero is the testimony of the ancestors and the witness to future generations. It represents the cultural and ethnic value of the dresses.

The deer, lords of the Andean moorlands, battle over the female, ignoring that men are watching and chasing, in search of their skin and exquisite meat. This choreography represents the deer hunt and the celebration of the capture by the communities of Chimborazo.

The calm and crystalline waters, the enveloping reeds and the backdrop of the sacred mountain Taita Imbabura, inspire the native woman to immerse in Lake San Pablo hoping that her dreams for the future will flourish. This is a ritual of love and femininity.

The ancestral Indian dances in honor of the sun god and Paccha Mama (Mother Earth) mixed 500 years ago with this dance brought by the Spanish. Twelve couples dance around a pole, weaving multicolored ribbons in circles that represent the Summer Solstice and try to decipher the cosmos: its symmetry and its shape.

The native Americans from Maca Grande in the Province of Cotopaxi, danced during 21 days and 21 nights in a ritual in honor to the sun and the Paccha Mama, thanking them for the maize harvest. This is the most representative dance showing how the mestizo culture (blend of Spanish and Indian) came together and joined their religious beliefs in the most representative dance of Ecuador, featu

PACIFIC COAST

GUAYAQUIL AND SURROUNDINGS

Pedro Ycaza 113 and Avenida Pichincha. Phones 256 6010 Ext. 5290 to 94 Fax 232 8333 Ext. 5399

Open Monday through Friday from 09h00 a 18h00

Saturday and Sunday from 11h00 a 13h0

The Archaeology Museum of the Banco del Pacifico houses a collection of approximately 8000 pieces of the most ancient cultures of the Ecuadorian coastal region. The pieces exhibited are around 650, distributed in two areas "Culture, Ceramics and Creativity" from 3000 to 300 BC studies by Donald Lathrap and "Societies of the Coastal Area" from 300 BC to 1526 AD studied by Jorge Marcos.

There is also a vast collection of paintings which adorn the different spaces of the Banco del Pacifico and enrich the culture of the Ecuadorians.

This is the oldest area of the city with wooden houses and cobbled streets dating back to the 1500's, lined along a narrow street with various levels of stairs and steps. At the top is Plaza Colon, where the cannons that guarded the city against pirates can still be seen. Las Peñas is best viewed bathed in full illumination in the evenings, to enjoy cozy bars, cafés and restaurants. Many of the houses have plaques and old photographs showing before and after renovation pictures.

Cerro Blanco is very close to Guayaquil, administered by the Pro-Bosque Foundation and protects a mosaic of vegetation, including primary forest. Cerro Blanco in very rich in biodiversity and one of the few protected areas in Ecuador's coast. Apart of the bird life there are 600 species of plants and 33 species of mammals. Cerro Blanco has been designated as the second IBA (Important Bird Area) in Ecuador by BirdLife International (Mindo is the first). There are 20 well trained guides to take guests along trails of different lengths.

The Botanical Garden was founded in 1989 as a conservation center for the tropical species, many in danger of extinction. It is also a place visited by students who want to learn more about botany. The Botanical Garden is also interested in research programs, like developing new species specially in the orchid family.

The Garden is located in a perfect place, at the top of a hill called "Colorado" at 60 meters above the sea level. In this place there is a wonderful view of the Guayas and the Daule rivers.

The tour is divided in three sections. The first one begins at the entrance and ends at the auditorium. In this section you will see fine wood and fruit trees, each identified with common and scientific names. There is also the orchid garden with more than 200 species as well as banana, sugarcane, and maize. Here you can rest surrounded by birds - hawks and falcons among others. The last section is the largest one, there are many kinds of cactus, palms, medicinal plants, plus water lily ponds. There are also different kinds of butterflies like the morpho butterflies with their iridescent blue wings.

Although few cemeteries can be considered a tourist attraction, this one is worth seeing. It has outstanding sculptures made of white marble. The style has a strong Italian influence. A beautiful stretch of palm trees leads to the grave of the past president, Vicente Rocafuerte.

The Historical Park is divided in 3 zones:

Wildlife

The first area consist of 4 hectares (40.000 m2), an ample space for more than 50 species of birds, mammals and reptiles, not counting insects, crustaceans, fish and other animals found in this piece of protected mangrove forest which is their natural habitat, where the animals live in an almost free environment

The area of Wildlife is visited along raised boardwalk paths that allow close contact with the ecosystem without disturbing the animals. Along the way there are 23 informative stops which allow individualized observation of each species. The observation tower allows visitors to a bird's eye view of the park, and bird nesting sites along the path complement the visit.

The Urban Architecture Area recreates a time of wealth in Guayaquil, when the cocoa beans exportations brought prosperity to the city and surrounding farms. During weekends, you can also observe the daily life of Guayaquil, with persons dresses in the French fashion that was so popular at the time, street vendors of sweets and tobacco. Also recreated is the electric tramway which was pulled by mules.

After the big fire in 1896 that practically destroyed all of Guayaquil, the city was rebuilt and modernized with the houses that can be seen, like the house of Julián Coronel, Banco Territorial, Casa Lavayen-Paredes (Green House) and the Hospice Corazón de Jesús which were rescued as cultural patrimony, and moved to this park.

The Banco Territorial was built in 1886 and used as a bank. The structure and second floor were made out of wood; zinc was used in the façade and bricks on the first floor.

The Hospice was built in 1892 for social assistance. Wood and bricks were used on the first floor and wood was used on the second floor.

Once the building is fully restored, the bell tower will be used for viewpoint and the chapel is to be used for especial events. The remaining spaces (cloisters) on the first floor, as well as on the second floor, will be used for art exhibitions. Some of these include: the city, gallery of Guayaquilean presidents, history of the building and the restoration process, temporary exhibition rooms, and a museum for children.

Built in 1896, "La Casa Verde" was used as a residence. The first floor will have shops, craft workshops, an exposition room with the history of the building including its rescue and restoration.

A customary museum will be built on the second floor exhibiting furniture, tools and other objects.

The house of Julian Coronel was built during 1899 and 1900 with the second floor used for residential purposes while the first floor was used for commercial establishments. Wood and bricks were used on the first floor and wood was also used on the second floor.

The first floor will have a coffee shop and a restaurant. An exposition room with the history of the building including its rescue and restoration process will be located on the second floor.

Museums, restaurants and coffee shops, bank agencies, traditional workshops, audiovisual and exhibition room can also be observed.

The area of the Traditions is where you can meet the past and observe the life in the rural haciendas during the time of the boom of the cocoa production - which was known as the "Golden Seed". Visitors are led through a cocoa producing hacienda to see the whole process from the plants to the finished chocolate. Ecuador's economy was very rich, based on the agriculture exportation and production of cocoa. Handcrafting was also part of the farmers daily routine.

This historical monument is a spectacular semicircle commemorating the meeting of two Latin American liberators, Simón Bolívar and San Martin, when it was decided that Guayaquil be annexed to the Gran Colombia. The monument was designed and made by the Spanish Sculptor Jose Antonio Homs and finished in 1937. Bolivar was the famous Venezuelan liberator who brought freedom to Bolivia, Colombia and Ecuador.

ADVENTURE TRAVEL

Located in the Andes mountains in central Ecuador, Cotopaxi is one of the highest active volcanoes in the world. Cotopaxi which means "neck of the moon", rises from a valley about 2,750 meters (9,000 feet) above sea level to a height of 5,897 meters (19,347 feet) above sea level. The width of its crater from west to east has been estimated at more than 500 meters (1,650 feet) and the width from north to south at about 700meters (2,300 feet). The perfectly formed snow-covered cone of Cotopaxi is 1,341 meters (4,400 feet.) high.

Surrounding Cotopaxi Volcano is the Cotopaxi National Park, an ecological sanctuary of 36,000 hectares (88,920 acres), especially attractive for nature lovers, with the treeless vegetation of the Andean moorlands or paramo. You may see herds of llamas and perhaps deer, rabbits, frogs and lizards. Bird life includes the Andean gull, ducks, several species of hummingbirds and with some luck, the condor.

The first recorded eruption of the volcano was in 1534, at the time of the Spanish conquest, frightening both conquered and conquistadors alike. The last major eruption was in 1877.

Hacienda La Ciénega is located in the area of Guaytacama, in the Valley of Lasso at the foot of Cotopaxi volcano, and belongs to the descendants of its original owner, the Marquis of Maenza, dating back to the 17th century. The Manor House was built in 1838 and is reached via an avenue flanked by gigantic and fragrant eucalyptus trees. It was open to the public in 1982, with spacious rooms surrounded by beautiful gardens. The charm, taste and elegance of the rooms of La Ciénega have witnessed important events in Ecuador's history.

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