Quito sits on the slopes of an active volcano high in the Andes, and its old town is one of America’s best-preserved historic city centres. Explore its five main parks and 130 or so historic monuments, which include the neo-Gothic Basilica del Voto Nacional. And pay a visit to the 16th century Cathedral, where Bishop José Ignacio Checa y Barba was poisoned with strychnine dissolved in the consecrated wine. Beyond the sights, we’ll take you to a sweet shop, where you’ll watch a third generation confectioner make ‘colaciones’. And in nearby Otavalo, we’ll take you to meet a family who’ll introduce you to the Andean tradition of flute-making.
The historic centre if Cuenca was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its exceptional colonial architecture. It’s a city of red tiled roofs, cobbled streets, flower-filled plazas and domed churches, and includes its splendid blue-domed cathedral. We’ll also introduce you to its people – like the weavers who make Panama hats and a potter who will let you try his craft. We’ll also take you to nearby Ingapirca, the largest known Inca ruins in Ecuador.
We also give you the chance to visit a butterfly farm, where you can learn about some of Ecuador’s 6,000 species of butterfly. You’ll see more wildlife in the Parque Nacional El Cajas, which is home to many endangered species including the South American Condor and the world’s largest hummingbird. Here we’ll also take you to a cacao plantation to learn how cocoa is grown and harvested.
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