Quito's escape spots Recommended read

Deserved or not Quito’s reputation as an increasingly dangerous latin city and the scaremongering reports of certain guidebooks has left many of the more weary urban travellers ill disposed towards Ecuador’s capital, anxious to beat a hasty retreat after the prerequisite whilstle stop visit around the UNESCO heritage site of the old town. Amid the bustle, constant stream of people and often chaotic day to day life of down town Quito (which in some cases such as my own is exactly the charm of the city) it is easy to forget that Ecuador’s buzzing capital is nestled in the heart of the Andes and has plenty of tranquil escape spots that don’t cost the earth in organised tours or demand a five in the morning wake up call and full hiking apparel. La Parque Metropolitana is one such spot, located in the centre north of the city winding up behind the Estadio Olimpico it offers miles of unspoilt tranquil parkland that even the least enthusaistic trekker can’t fail to enjoy a few hours light strolling in.

 

For the more adventorous there are plenty of small paths leading through the woodlands that demand a slightly more strenous walking mentality! To get there either take a taxi to the centre of the park ($1.50)which is the best spot to begin walking or else take the ecovia to Naciones Unidas and commence the steep walk up to the park from behind the estadio. La Parque Metoplitana offers more than mere open spaces and delightfully clean air after the black fumes choked out by one of Quitos hundreds of buses in the busy streets below. The forests are home to a wide collection of birds and finding yourself at any one of the many look out points the views across the city are utterly spectacular.

So much so that one fellow Metroplitana lover has described the view points as being akin to watching the comings and goings of Quito from the clouds. For the aspiring photographer the light rays on a clear morning will offer unrivalled photographic opportunities that emphasise the vastness and rugged moutaneous beauty of Ecuador’s ever growing capital. On a Sunday morning the more energetic Quitenos can indulge in capoeira and yoga classes put on the in park ($1.00 9-11.30) whilst the enormous number of families spending their Sundays relaxing or walking offers excellent people spotting opportuninties and gives any first time visitor a real taster of latin life and the abolsute importance of family.

Picnic tables and open bbq stands means its easy to make a day of it in the park whilst taking any one of the paths north you will find yourself upon the small community of indigenous origin that live in the parkland. For those who feel that neither the highrised buildings of north Quito nor the traveller granola havens of the Mariscal show the ‘real’ Ecuador, undoubtably the maize crops, small carpintery workshops and grazing lamas that are quietly residing in the parkland show that despite the urban appearance of Quito it is easy to find yourself in minutes faced with more rural communities all trying to beat out a living in the capital. You see one reason why the weary traveller should not be put off by reports concerning Quito’s increasing crime rate or the noise and chaos of the city is that urban life everywhere is affected by similar problems, yet on exploration any visitor will realise that Quito is a unique city is full of hidden nooks and crannies just awaiting to be discovered by the traveller who chooses to take their nose out of the standard guide for five minutes and discover the charm of this paradoxically tranquil and utterly chaotic latin city.

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