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Quito, Ecuador

Geography

The Capital City of Ecuador - Quito is about 9,200 feet above sea level, it has wonderful spring-like climate, despite the fact that it is only 22 km south of the equator. Quito is nestled in a valley flanked by magestic mountains and on a clear day, several snow-capped volcanoes are visible from the capital.

Historic Quito, a world-heritage city

Quito ChurchAs well as being in a beautiful location, it is rich in history and much of the old colonial town is well preserved, the buildings are unchanged and to walk down colonial Quito's streets late at night is to step into bygone eras. There are no modern buildings discordantly built next to centuries-old architecture, and no flashing neon signs to disrupt the ambiance of the past. Quito nestles a rich treasury of religious and decorative architecture and arts. Churches whose interiors shine of gold, heavy wooden doors with inserted grilles, red-tile-roofs, whitewashed walls, fountain courtyards offer a glimpse of 16th century life.

Modern Quito

To the north is Modern Quito, the new town with its major businesses, airline offices, embassies, shopping centers and banks. The best bars and restaurants are found here. Avenida Amazonas is the best-known street, though Avenida 10 de Agosto and Avenida 6 de Diciembre are the most important thoroughfares. The Chiva Don Otto would be a great way to experience downtown Quito at night. And a City tour during the day. Quito is a city for walkers who want to savor its charm.

Dining: Restaurants in Quito

Quito has a wide variety of restaurants. The best restaurants in Quito are located outside of the tourist area. However, the tourist area around Amazonas and Colon has increasingly started to offer quality food, especially lunches, at very reasonable prices. The top restaurants in Quito are located about a 10 to 15-minute walk from the La Mariscal area and offer international food. Restaurants in Quito include:

Japanese restaurants: Sake (Paul Rivet y Whimper), and Tanoshii (in hotel Oro Verde).
Mediterranean food: the excellent La Viña (Isabela La Catolica and Cordero).
French restaurants: Rincón de Francia (Roca and 9 de Octubre).
Italian restaurants: Spaghetti (Cinemark or Portugal and Eloy Alfaro), Pavarotti (12 de Octubre and Salazar) or Portofino (hotel Colon).
Chinese restaurant: Magico Oriental at 18 de Septiembre and 9 de Octubre.
Seafood restaurant: Barlovento at 12 de Octubre and Orellana, San Telmo at Portugal and 6 de Diciembre for excellent beef and La Choza at 12 de Octubre for great Ecuadorian food.

Weather

Quito has a variable climate with an average temperature of 70 degrees farenheit. The dry season runs from June to September and a short dry season occurs around Christmas.

Modern City

Rodeo QuitoModern Quito is a City of two halves, Old and New. The Old City remains much the same as it did at the end of the colonial period but the New City bears no marks whatsoever of its colonial past. While the New City does not benefit from the area's brilliant history, it shines in its own right. New Quito, with its gleaming office buildings and bustling crowds of business people, is leading Ecuador into the twenty first century. Take the time to explore both "Cities", neither will disappoint you.

Old Town

See the historic sites of Quito's Old Town and the City's dozens of museums; visit its hundreds of shops, cafes, and restaurants or simply soak up the atmosphere. If you haven't seen Quito, you haven't seen Ecuador!
La Plaza de la Independencia lies in the center of the Old City. The towering Cathedral that dominates the Plaza is a must, it is stunning - and it houses the body of independence leader Antonio Jose de Sucre.
Immediately South of the Plaza is El Sagrario, another noteworthy Cathedral, and a block to the west is El Palacio de Gobierno, a fine example of colonial architecture. Further west of the Plaza de la Independencia is the Plaza de San Francisco, which contains a beautiful church and monastery, as well as a museum.
South of the Plaza de San Francisco lies Cerro Panecillo, a 180 metre hill topped by a statue of the Virgin of Quito. The views from the top of the Panecillo are breathtaking. Quito also has much to offer outside of the Old City. The beautiful Guápulo neighbourhood, the parks La Carolina and Metropolitano, and great museums in the old town and the modern center.

Museums (old town)

Museo de Arte Colonial - this museum houses what many consider to be Ecuadors best collection of colonial art from the 16th to 18th centuries. There is also a collection of period furniture.
Casa de Benalcazar - This building dates from 1534 and was restored by Spain in 1967. Classical piano recitals are held here. It's well worth the visit.
Museo de la Ciudad - dating from 1563, this beautifully restored building houses great exhibits depict daily life in Quito through the centuries.

Museums (new town)

Casa de la Cultura Ecuatoriana - this large circular glass building houses a wide collection of contemporary Ecuadorian work and 19th century pieces. There is also a movie theatre that shows international movies and an auditorium where classical and other kinds of music are performed.
Museo Amazonico - This museum has a display of Indian artifacts collected by missionaries in the Amazon jungle.
Fundacion Sinchi Sacha - This nonprofit organization exhibits the artwork and utensils of the peoples of the Oriente;in addition, it supports Amazonian cultures and publishes a variety of literature about the rainforest and its peoples. (Sinchi Sacha is Quichua for 'powerful forest.')

Trip Reviews

  •   4.55 out of 5 (from 1341 reviews)

    Outstanding Adventure with the Best Guide Ever!

    The Tortuga trip was phenomenal. From the moment I arrived, my every need was met and all with grace and professionalism. The trip was well planned, we saw and did so many things, from adventures like hiking and biking, snorkeling and kayaking, to learning all about the Galapagos in a way a book will never tell you. What brought everything off the pages of a book, and from the land in front of us was the knowledge and the passion of our guide Pablo. What a treasure he is! He could answer anything, and it was all shared with enthusiasm, passion, caring, love for this land. I felt so honored to have had him as our guide. Thank you! The food was outstanding, the accommodations perfect. I could not fault a single thing!
    Laurie Kelley Review Image
    – Massachusetts, United States
    Tortuga, December 2016
  •   4.55 out of 5 (from 1341 reviews)

    Fantastic Adventure!

    This trip was wonderful on so many levels. It was a perfect experience for our family of three college "kids", my husband and me. We traveled with two other families- a total of eight kids and six adults, a good group size. There was lots to see and do and we appreciated the opportunity to be active! Seeing the wildlife and learning about the Galapagos Islands was fantastic!! Zambo, our naturalist was terrific and related well to children and the adults. One of the unexpected pleasures my husband and I experienced was hearing our children utilize their seven years of middle and high school Spanish as they communicated with locals. Also, needless to say, they were pleased that the drinking age on the Islands is 18. We all enjoyed having a beer at the end of each wonderful day. The December weather was lovely. Comfortably warm and the water was beautiful!! We took full advantage of any extra snorkeling and swimming opportunities.

    Our family had an extra day in Quito. We took the opportunity to hire a guide to take us around the city. What a great opportunity it was to learn about so many aspects of Ecuador's capital city. The Equator Museum was great and we enjoyed walking around the Plaza and seeing a couple of churches. Walking to the edge of the Pululhua crater was awesome! Lenin was a terrific guide!
    Katherine Babbott Review Image
    – Massachusetts, United States
    Tortuga, January 2017
  •   4.53 out of 5 (from 947 reviews)

    Whoa! What an incredible trip!

    There aren't any words that could properly prepare you for what is in store. Patagonia was A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!

    Cynthia was an amazing guide, she took such good care of us! She routinely went above and beyond to ensure we were safe, happy, healthy and well fed. What a gem she was! And on top of being great at her job, she's just an awesome person, fun, smart, flexible, just the kind of person you want touring you around the edge of the earth for 2 weeks.

    The trip itself was absolutely breathtaking. No photo could do that place justice. The W trail was an amazing hike full of ever changing views (and lots of wind!). Definitely, pay the extra to do the Grey Glacier hike! It was a trip highlight!

    Get ready to take your jacket on and off more in one day than you would over the course of a month back home :) Everything they say about the weather is true. You are at the mercy of the elements, but for the most part, we lucked out with weather (and when we didn't Cynthia always had a plan B).

    I'm so glad we did this! We will definitely be touring with Active again. Those folks do a stellar job of setting you up for an exciting adventure.
    Celeste Olds Review Image
    – Washington, United States
    Condor, December 2016
  •   4.50 out of 5 (from 1973 reviews)

    Jaguar, November 2016

    This trip truly was an 'active adventure', and exceeded my expectations in so many ways.
    Peru is such a beautiful country, rich in history, and culture. All of our guides were superb, but Erick as our trip host absolutely made this trip worry free, a true learning experience, and SO much fun! If it's all in the details, Erick and Active covered them all and more!
    I arrived as a solo traveler and left having made friends and memories that I will treasure always.
    Thank you Active Adventures, until next time!
    Sandra Datoff Review Image
    – British Columbia, Canada
    Jaguar 2017, December 2016
  •   4.53 out of 5 (from 947 reviews)

    Spectacular Time!

    We had a spectacular time in Patagonia! The venue was beautiful, challenging and exciting; Active did a great organizational job as well as Arturo our lead guide. Arturo is a multidimensional person that took great care of us at all times. Our group was very diverse, interesting spanning all age groups which got along great. Bottom line is that we had a fantastic time at a fantastic place with fantastic people. It was a very challenging trip that we are proud to have done.
    Alan Offstein Review Image
    – Pennsylvania, United States
    Condor, December 2016

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Why travel with Active Adventures?

Above all, we aim to be amazing hosts. We're proud of our kiwi roots, and our professional, warm and relaxed style of running trips around the world is unforgettable.

We're VERY picky about who we select to work in our team, and we have people from all over the world lining up to guide our trips. So we get to hire the absolute BEST in the business.

As soon as you get off the plane, we've got all the details of your vacation covered – top notch meals, comfortable transport & accommodation, amazing guides and INCREDIBLE service.

Whether you’re new to adventure travel, or you’ve never travelled in a group before, you’ll find yourself arriving home positively different from when you left.

With our small groups (no more than 14), you'll get to know our team, your fellow travellers, and have the flexibility and freedom to do as much (or as little!) as you like.

It's all about getting there under your own steam – on foot, in a sea kayak, or by bike. What better way is there to experience mind blowing scenery? If it's your first time, no worries – our expert guides have got you covered.

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