Quito the jewel of South America

Earning for itself epithets like “Oscar” and “Destination Leader of South America”, this Andean city has everything a luxury tourist would want from a vacation. Heritage hotels provide an experience that is very ‘Equadorian’ besides Colonial-style mansions transformed into boutique hotels, updated haciendas in the middle of expansive wildlife reserves, and the entire range of much-in-demand spa hotels.

With many of its Spanish colonial buildings dating back more than 500 years there is a quaint old world charm about the place. Straddled by feisty volcanoes, the high-altitude city is visually impressive with its mix of colonial splendour and vibrant indigenous culture. Get a feel of the city by taking Teleferico, the world’s highest cable car, gliding up the eastern face of Pichinicha Volcano to a giddy 4050m. Another must do is a gondola ride up the Pichincha volcano, with the Parque Vulqano amusement park at its base.

Food is a religion here and there is no way you can return home without spending some time on La Ronda, a street bustling with bars and restaurants selling seco de chivo (braised goat stew), grilled trout with aji criollo and giant empanadas. Whether you have a sweet tooth or not, you absolutely must dig into any of the fine-grade cocoa shakes, piping hot chocolates, ganache truffles and other chocolatey delights. Being on the equator, Ecuador has a tropical climate. Quito and the highland areas are best visited during the dry season from June to September.

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