From the air, Quito's powerful landscape is very impressive. When the plane lands, visitors, still dizzy from the high altitude, look around and begin to grasp the immensity of this capital city.
Part thriving modern city, part decaying colonial showcase, Quito is in every way the geographical, political, and historical center of Ecuador.
The population of about 1,200,000 people makes the city the second largest in Ecuador (Guayaquil is the largest).
It's about 2,850 meters above sea level and is in the central valley in a roughly north-south direcction, with an area of aprproximately 17km long and 4km wide.
Adjusting to the altitude and getting your bearings
In the Morning, enjoy our Breakfast Bar, read "El Comercio" (an Ecuadorian newspaper), or "Q News Magazine" (an English language Ecuadorian Newspaper).
Check to see if Pichincha is clear, indicating whether or not there will be sunny weather later in the day.
Call or visit the offices of your tour operators.
Walk or take a short taxi ride to any one of the Ecuadorian art and culture museums; many have English-speaking guides.
Be cautious, but enjoy dining out in Quito. There are many places considered "safe" for new arrivals (ask our staff), and not all of them are the international fast-food restaurants. There are many where you can truly experience something different (check out the Ecuadorian section). Try all the fruit drinks..they are pure and tasty!
Check for a Private Spanish Teacher or Spanish school...Quito is one of the world's best centers for taking one-to-one lessons.
Back at the Posada del Maple, relax on a terrace sipping tea or coffee from the kitchen (it's free!), send some E-mails in La MOLIENDA de Jóse (the Cybercafe next door), watch a movie or sports on cable TV, or take a stroll along the nearby avenues, where you will find crafts and art from throughout the country.
A little more activity - Places to visit
Quito is divided along economic and ethnic lines into 3 main parts: the Old City (the colonial part), the North (the modern part) and the South (the working-class housing areas).
A short and interesting 10 minute trolley ride (about $ 0.25) will take you to Quito's Historic Old City, where many important examples of colonial architecture remain essentially unchanged. Recent attention to their historic and artistic worth, plus their designation by UNESCO as cultural treasures has given impetus to many renovations of these beautiful buildings, while they are being occupied in the same way as they have been for hundreds of years.
You can visit the "Plaza de la Independencia", the crowded centerpiece of the colonial city where the ornate "Palacio Presidencial" and huge Cathedral both stand.
Or get into the "Museo Nacional del Banco Central", located at the "Casa de la Cultura", which holds Quito's most impressive collection of both ancient and modern artwork.
Walking in the streets here is like meandering through many centuries simultaneously. At one time the very richest families of Ecuador used to live here in a very close community. Since then, they have moved to the modern part of the city, and other waves of occupants have passed through over the years.
You will see people selling their products, important politicians, indigenous in their native dress, business people with cellular telephones, students, beggars, and other tourists from around the world.
The Catholic Church reigned in Ecuador. You can visit churches, museums and enjoy a good meal of regional Ecuadorian food. The nearby hill, "El Panecillo" with a big statue of "la Virgen de Quito" offers a stunning view of the city.
If art is your hobby, you can't miss visiting the "Fundación Guayasamín". It has Guayasamín paintings and work displayed. He was a famous Ecuadorian artist and social activist, who died some years ago. He is one of the most important representants of the Ecuadorian art. The "Fundación" is located at the north part of the town.
On the weekend, you can spend the day visiting The Equator Monument, a complex of museums in a village-like atmosphere called, "La Mitad del Mundo ", which literally means "the center of the world".
We recommend it highly, for its representations of the various Ecuadorian indigenous groups. There are life-sized exhibits and traditional homes that you may walk through, and a live exhibit on how the famous "cuy" (guinea pigs) are raised. The easiest way to visit would be to hire a taxi for about $20 to take you there in 45 minutes. But you can easily take the public bus to get there, or to come back to Quito, which is less expensive (about $0.20). Many tour companies and guides can take you on tours.
On the weekends and especially on Sundays, the city parks are full of people playing soccer with their friends and families. You can buy handicrafts and paintings in some of the more central parks. It is best to stay away from the parks if there are not a lot of families and people around. Shopping malls have the most modern time schedules and are open 7 days a week. Some weekends they have special events free to the public. The latest movie releases are usually about four months behind and are normally in English, with Spanish subtitles. Animated movies are usually dubbed in Spanish.
The sun usually rises over the mountains to the east by 6:30am and sets over Pichincha by 6:30pm.
temperature in Quito usually hovers between 10°C and 25°C (50°F and 77°F) and there are very few seasonal variations: the morning sky, usually clean and sunny, becomes overcast by midday.
Rain in the afternoon is not uncommon, and the temperature drops at night. So, if you come prepared you will not be disappointed by Quito.
These activities are reason enough to visit Quito, or, they can be interspersed between your "major" tours - the rain forest, climbing, birding, and the incomparable Galápagos. We can help you book your tour before you arrive in Quito, for the same price you would get as if you booked it yourself.
If you are planning a business trip, education, or special seminar, we have the facilities and special group rates for you. Please for further details.