Just got back from an amazing trip to Ecuador! From start to finish, I was continually amazed by the immense beauty of its people and geography. From the lush green mountains of the Andean Highlands to the turquoise waters of the Galapagos – Ecuador has a little bit for everyone!
Beginning in Quito, the capital of Ecuador, I learned about the rich history of the Spanish and Inca influence from the city’s numerous art galleries, museums, and ornate Catholic churches. One of my favorite experiences was overlooking the Quiteño skyline from the rooftop of the Santo Domingo Church where we enjoyed cocktails as the sun set behind the mountains. Many travelers believe Quito is just a quick stop before they get to the Galapagos, but the city deserves more than an overnight stay. From its distinctive architecture & famous museums to its proximity to the highlands where you can go horseback riding on historic ranches, visitors should take their time while exploring this unique city. On top of it all, the food scene in Quito is quite interesting-from Andean recipes to seafood delicacies. My visit to Octava de Corpus proved to be one of my most memorable dining experiences because of its incomparable floor-to-ceiling artwork displays, excellent wine pairings, and the eccentric and charming owner, Jamie Burgos.
Next, we were off to the Galapagos – the highlight of Ecuador. Nothing really prepares you for the distinct beauty and oddity of the Galapagos Islands until you get there. As soon as our private plane took off for Isabela Island, I was amazed by the various textures and lava formations I witnessed below me. Named for Queen Isabela of Spain, it is one of the largest islands in the archipelago and was one of the last to be developed for human settlement. Its remoteness is one of the main draws as it has a laidback island ambience. In nearby Puerto Viamil, one can enjoy a cold beer on the beach after a day of hiking to the summit of the Sierra Negra Volcano or after snorkeling in one of the many gorgeous islets. One of the most exhilarating moments was climbing a 10-story look-out point off of the Wall of Tears Monument trail; once I reached the top I had views of the entire island! Besides all the fun there was to be had on land, I even got to swim face-to-face with a sea lion while snorkeling off the coast of the Tintoreras Islet!
After an unforgettable time on Isabela, we departed for Santa Cruz Island where we were got a taste of Galapagueño life on land. Santa Cruz was one of the first towns to be developed in the archipelago and is home to several incredible restaurants and bars. My favorite experience in Santa Cruz was visiting the Trapiche Organic Coffee Farm, which dates back to the 1960s and is owned and operated by a charismatic local by the name of Don Adriano. While there we witnessed his special process of roasting coffee beans and tasted a variety of treats grown on the property!
It’s safe to say that Ecuador is much more than meets the eye. From friendly locals, amazing food and seemingly endless action, Ecuador is spectacular destination for those looking for a hands-on cultural and adventurous experience.
Alessandra Motola, Luxury Travel Expert