Ecuador

Loving whales, elegant hats, mischievous hummingbirds and extraordinary islands: Ecuador offers a journey rich in diversity

 

The equator is the closest point on earth to the sun. It’s where gravity has the least effect, so in Ecuador you weigh a little less. It’s a country where it’s even possible to visit the centre of the world. A interristing trip!
The cities here are beautiful. Cathedrals inherited from the colonial empire, Inca heritage and Modern architecture live together with respect. Traditional clothes, fervent Catholicism and ancient beliefs mix here with astonishing ease.

Ecuador’s richness also lies in the wildlife that lives in its jungles and islands. The fauna is unique in the world and the visitor will certainly have to find lots of superlatives to speak about. The trip will therefore be rich in teachings, miniature dinosaurs and giant cetaceans.

Hola, me llama Christine, soy francesa, ¡estoy encantada de conocerte! Hi Ecuador!

 

In the streets of Quito, you can find voodoo wizards, yeah! Ready for a spiritual travel into another dimension? 

 

These Afro-Ecuadorians are the heirs of a knowledge passed on by their ancestors who arrived from Africa on the stranded slave ships from the 15th to the 17th century. They trade their science to heal all ills, body and soul!

In the Ecuadorian capital, Quito, we find the same animals as in the Galapagos but they are not where we expect them!

 

The Basilica del Voto Nacional in Quito is worth a half-day visit on its own. The view from the towers over the city is certainly magnificent, but it is above all its ornamentation that is most surprising. The innumerable gargoyles do not represent demonic and legendary creatures but the most natural species: iguanas, pelicans, armadillos, turtles, caimans, condors…
Each ornament tells its own story. So it takes quite a while to go around it. Started in 1883, inaugurated in 1924, don’t expect beautiful, centuries-old cut stones. Here, scrapped concrete is omnipresent. The Basilica del Voto nacional is only 99% complete. It is still not officially finished and is unlikely to be one day: it is said that when it is finished, it will be the end of the world. Santa Madre!

In the markets of Ecuador you can find delicate and colourful handicrafts, welcome in the cultural part of the travel!

 

Travelling for a long time doesn’t allow to bring back a lot of travel memories. But it is possible, you just have to post. Not very interested in magnets to stick on the fridge, I mostly buy things useful for travel but rarely decorative. But that’s without counting on the magnificent craftsmanship that Ecuador has to offer, especially in Otavalo. The baskets made of white rushes braided with colored threads, the super soft, super warm alpaca knitting, jewelry made of beautiful beads and of course the Panama, the famous hat from Ecuador (and not from the neighboring country). 

Why should you bring back a Panama hat from Ecuador?

 
Because Panama, this famous hat comes from Ecuador and not from Panama! It was the hat worn by the workers of the canal (of Panama), this Ecuadorian straw hat thus became a hat of Panama. 
 

The specificity of the Panama hat is its finesse, suppleness, immaculate whiteness and elegant shape. It should be able to be rolled like a cigar. The qualities are very variable. Beware of cellulose imitations, you have to sniff it a little to make sure it smells like “straw” which is in fact a selection of young palm shoots.
The quality of the material and the way it is made will define its price (from 30/100€), the most expensive models are those that have required up to 10 months of work.
But contrary to what one might think, it is not reserved for high society. This accessory is not a luxury item but a popular one: young and old, men and women, rich or poor, everyone adopts it.
Montecristi, Brisa or Cuenca, they have different forms of weaving but necessarily start with a beautiful rosette at the top.
If there is a souvenir to bring back from Ecuador it is THE Panama: it will live a long time and will be useful for other trips. Its flexibility allows it to support without cracking a transport in a backpack or a suitcase.  

Do you want a 100% nature travel? From hummingbirds to whales, Ecuador offers a whole range of fauna to discover

 

From the forests, jungles and coasts of the Pacific, here is already a small idea of what it is possible to observe in Ecuador.
Playful sea lions, frightened iguanas, flying frigatebirds and singing whales. In this happy fauna we also meet happy hummingbirds, serious condors, snarling piranas and silky llamas. And the list is not exhaustive.

The hummingbird, symbol of Ecuador, is a joyful humming jewel

 

Delphine, Jacobin or Ariane are the stars of the city. Don’t look for a jet-set celebrity, it’s hummingbirds! Close to Quito, the city of Mindo is well known for its bird watching and just in the garden of the hostal, you can already observe birds without binoculars. These tiny birds, so fine, so brightly coloured that they look like jewels, are here.
With the help of a guide, other species are worth getting up at 4am: yellow-bellied sugarplum, red-headed cabezon, chocolate toucan… The mere mention of their names alone makes you want to get a pair of binoculars to go and see them up close. 

Whales are also privileged guests of Ecuador, then the travel becomes really wild!

 
Meeting these marvellous cetaceans is a real moment of grace. If this business seems touristy, overused or devoid of authenticity, don’t believe it. 
In Puerto Baleina, we go to meet them on small boats, in small groups to approach these beautiful creatures without brutality. It is obligatory to keep a good distance so as not to disturb them. It’s an experience that changes us profoundly.
 

OK, we’re in Ecuador, let’s talk about the Galapagos Islands!

 

If I were to introduce this paragraph by saying that I am saving the best for last, I would make people jealous and I want to spare all susceptibilities. But still! Galapagos is Yahooooo!

Extraordinary animals by the thousands and not at all shy! The Galapagos invites you to a wildlife immersion travel

 

All said and done, here we are surrounded by wilderness like few places in the world today offer it.
And it’s a big slap in the face that we come here, awkward, clumsy and unfortunate humans that we are. Just a few meters away from a couple of blue-footed lunatics, dancing albatrosses, giant turtles, we get very small.
Sea lions are everywhere, on the beaches, on the public shoals, in the fish market. The same goes for iguanas, birds and sharks.

The Galapagos is an encyclopedia of wildlife. Darwin on these travel understood this long ago

 

To talk about the Galapagos, you need a complete article, a novel, a library.
Sea, forest, jungle, Ecuador is more than generous to travellers in search of nature. 
It also offers its share of adventure with the ascent of Cotopaxi, which is close to 6000m. A very steep slope, a night ascent, strong winds and soft ground: it takes a good physical condition and a lot of energy to reach the summit.
It’s hard to close the page on this unique trip in a unique country: everything an adventurous heart desires is here. 

Muchas gracias Ecuador, hasta luego !

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Why not a travel to Galapagos Islands?

If the Galapagos Islands are such an incredible place, it’s because they are home to a fauna and flora unique in the world… The trip goes to meet a wild and beautiful world. An unforgettable privilege.