Mitad del MundoThe country of Ecuador is named after the imaginary line that divides the planet into the northern and southern hemispheres and a visit to Ecuador would not be complete without a visit to its namesake. Conveniently visiting the equator is an easy and fascinating half day trip from Quito.

The concert took place in a large park and sports field with bleachers and the number of people seated was slightly disconcerting. There was a small minority at the front, who were clearly in the spirit of the concert but the vast majority seemed for want of a better word, bored. There were more people crowded around the food stands than the stage and other than the odd ten year old whose Latin blood had overridden the general malaise breaking out some dance moves, dancing seemed to be an alien concept to this crowd.

The white city of Ecuador and the capital of the Imbabura province lies some three hours north of Quito. A sleepy colonial city Ibarra is lined with whitewashed buildings and pretty plazas. However, for anyone choosing to go to this much visited northern city the true attraction lies in the spectacular lakes and mountain retreats surrounding the town. The surrounding lagoons and volcanoes are equally popular amongst Ecuadorians looking for a retreat from urban living as amongst tourists. ‘Lago Yahuarcocha’ some 2 miles outside the city is one of the most spectacular sights in the region. The lake originally bearing the name ‘the lake of blood’ in local language was formed from a glacier that proudly guards many local legends and is a focus point for many historical battles that have taken place there.

The concert took place in a large park and sports field with bleachers and the number of people seated was slightly disconcerting. There was a small minority at the front, who were clearly in the spirit of the concert but the vast majority seemed for want of a better word, bored. There were more people crowded around the food stands than the stage and other than the odd ten year old whose Latin blood had overridden the general malaise breaking out some dance moves, dancing seemed to be an alien concept to this crowd.

Situated about 25km north of Quito, near Mitad del Mundo, Pululahua is the largest and only inhabited crater in South America. Created when a massive blast of magma burst through the walls of the volcano, Pululahua Crater is 2500 years old and is the only one in the world with agricultural production. The crater is protected as a National Park, the first to be created in Ecuador, and has since been declared a geobotanical reserve due to its multiple microclimates and broad and unique varieties of flora, birds, mammals and beautiful butterflies endemic to the area including indigenous plants used for the treatment of ailments . Pululahua is a Quichua word that means “cloud of water”, and when you are inside the reserve with the misty outline of the Volcano walls and the gently decending clouds, there is a tranquil, relaxing and mystic quality to this enchanted haven.

Mindo RainforestSince 19,200 hectares of primary growth forest were declared protected in 1988, folk in the small town of Mindo have been abandoning aggressive agricultural practices in favor of careers in ecotourism. Today the eagerness of the Mindo community to share their slice of paradise with visitors makes it the capital of eco-friendly adventure sports in Ecuador.

Some 20 years ago, Mindo was "a town like any other", claims Milton Narvaiz, a leading conservationist in the area. Surrounded by such mind-blowing natural beauty, it is difficult to grasp his meaning. But until the late 1980s, Mindo was indeed a town in which people cut down trees to sell for survival and went about their daily lives oblivious to the unique tourism opportunities they were missing and to the vast amount of conservation work that needed to be done.

Arriving in the breathtakingly beautiful surroundings of the active volcano Cotopaxi, you could be forgiven for forgetting that the sprawling city of Quito is only 75 kilometres to the north.

In El Pedregal, a village which ascends higgledy-piggledy from the Chagra (cowboy) town of Machachi, children collect water in buckets while their parents toil amidst their small patches of crops and tend to the cows and pigs outside each fading pastel-paint house. There are plenty of activities for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers in this stunning area, as long as they are willing to endure a slightly uncomfortable ride in a local cabina (a glorified truck) hireable for $15 from Machachi or to walk for over an hour up the steeply winding road. Excellent horse-riding opportunities abound, with local residents keen to encourage tourists into their tranquil community and to offer them an experienced rider as a guide at a good daily rate.

Simiatug, ecotourism, fairtradeIn the mountains north of Bolivar, the small town of Simiatug is gaining international attention for producing striking textiles.

The products are the work of Simiatug Samai, a small company launched in 2000 with an initial outlay of just US$600. Built on the aim of increasing the participation of women in the economic development of the region, the company coordinates groups of women to produce unique textiles and market them internationally via the worldwide web. By 2006 Simiatug Samai had engaged over 400 women and generated US$28,788 profit.

From the 16th to the 20th Century, missionaries and explorers reported finding bare-chested, black toothed natives in the hot, rainy, snake infested country behind the Western Cordillera. The men were striped like jaguars, wore silver wrist bands, and jangled with feathers, bird bones, and Achiote seeds. They painted and sculpted their hair in such a way that they appeared to be wearing shiny, red, leaf-shaped helmets tilted forward over bald heads.

The Tsáchila, as they called themselves were referred to by the settlers as the Colorados for their colorful hair and clothing. The red hair dye, derived from extract of Achiote, accentuated their identification with the Achiote seed. The home was a seed pod, providing a foundation from which its members, like seeds, could go out and plant themselves in the world.

  •  Start 
  •  Prev 
  •  1  2  3 
  •  Next 
  •  End 
Page 1 of 3
Go to top