Perched high in the Andes, Quito, pairs a UNESCO World Heritage old town with a wealth of superb restaurants and museums. To the north in a region of volcano-framed valleys, you'll find the traditional highland town of Otavalo, a focal point for indigenous handicrafts, made by artisans then sold at colourful weekend markets.
The historic quarter of Ecuador's capital is a treasure chest of Spanish-colonial architecture framing a maze of cobblestone streets and picturesque squares. Grand churches, filled with precious art, pierce an otherwise low-rise skyline, which is itself punctuated by a ring of towering Andean peaks. If this is your arrival point, as it will be for most visitors, you'll be flying in to an altitude of almost 3,000 metres above sea level, so take time to acclimatise before heading out to explore.
Just to the north of Quito is a world of green valleys and towering volcanoes. Nestled amid this spectacular landscape is Otavalo, whose mainly indigenous population has turned the town into a centre for traditional arts and crafts. The weekend market – housed in a building designed by 1970s Dutch architect Tonny Zwolo – is an extraordinarily colourful affair, where everything from textiles to jewellery to musical instruments are sold by local artisans dressed from head to toe in the traditional clothing. Combine a visit here with a tour to the Ciudad Mitad del Mundo – Ecuador's Equator Monument.
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Exclusive tailor-made fly, rail and cruise holiday
Book by: 31 December 2019
Combining two unique experiences – a mountain rail journey through the Andes and an island-hopping, luxury cruise through the Galápagos – this is your chance to see the natural wonders of Ecuador in style. Spot marine iguanas on snorkel trips before returning to all-inclusive fine dining.
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Explore some of Ecuador's most impressive landscapes aboard the award-winning Tren Crucero (Cruise Train) as you travel through the high Andes to the coastal city of Guayaquil.
Combine the history of Quito and the unique biodiversity of the Amazon with perhaps the ultimate in wildlife-watching experiences – a luxury Galápagos cruise.
This tailor-made tour is a comprehensive appreciation of the Galápagos’ alien natural world, taking in its spectacular scenery and philosophy-inspiring wildlife on a range of guided excursions. You’ll also have time to explore Ecuador’s colonial heritage and indigenous culture.
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