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Be Architecturally Astounded; Quito, Ecuador

Arriving in Quito feels a little like getting out of the plane half way down and, in a way, with an elevation so high, you have.

The upside is that Quito is set amidst the peaks of the Andes and yet this isn’t the only impressive sight in city.

Quito Sights 

The UNESCO World Heritage Site that is Quito’s Old Town is an Ecuadorian feast of century old churches and is packed with plazas. Give yourself a few days to explore the sights if for no other reason than to tackle the Andean-steep hills that separate them.

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Exploring the Old City; Quito, Ecuador

Quito is a stunning capital, and one of South America’s finest cities. It was also the first city to become a UNESCO World Heritage Site, thanks to its colonial architecture and cobblestone streets.

Quito consists of two distinctly different personalities. The first is El Norte (New City), a sleek suburb known for trendy restaurants, high-class hotels, businesses and embassies. You’ll find more banks, travel services and English speaking locals here.

The second – and more impressive – is Centro Historico (Old City). It’s a wonderfully charming district with winding alleyways, churches, fountains and 16th century architecture. it also provides stunning views of the Andes mountains.

Whichever district you’re in, there is plenty to see and do. The following are just a sample of what Quito has to offer.

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Surf in Montañita, Ecuador

We all know the town… part beach, part surfer, part hippie, part backpacker, part English, part Spanish, and a whole lot of fun.

Montañita is a surfer hangout along the Pacific Coast that attracts people from around the world for the laid-back atmosphere, incredible waves, cheap accommodations, and beer clinking chatter all night long.

At first glance Montañita is just another cliche surf town, but if you delve beneath the surface you might find it’s a community full of intelligent individuals who’ve ditched their computer jobs in search of the ultimate endless summer. Continue

Trek To Inca Ruins; Ingapirca, Ecuador

Affectionately known as “The Machu Picchu of Ecuador,” Ingapirca is the largest and most important pre-Columbian architectural ruin in Ecuador. And while it may not be as impressive as its Peruvian neighbor, Ingapirca – which means “the wall of the Inca” – is certainly worth visiting.

The Incas occupied this section of Ecuador around 1470, after defeating the Cañari people. Shortly after, the Incas sent all Cañari men to live in Cusco while Inca men moved in with their women.

Due to this co-mingling, Ingapirca became a mixture of both Inca and Cañari architecture. A prime example of this can be seen in Ingapirca’s oval shaped structures; the site is in fact the only Inca ruin with an oval shaped palace in the world.

Ingapirca’s most impressive structure is the sun temple El Adoratorio, which aligns perfectly with the summer solstice. Many Cañari artifacts – including several bodies – have been discovered on the Pilaloma hill, located on the southern end of the site.

There is a small on-site museum which explains the history of Ingapirca. Guides are there to answer any questions you may have. Continue

The Deadly Secret of the Amazon Rain Forest

The Amazon’s size is well known. The largest river (by discharge) in the world, it continuously pumps out roughly one-fifth of the world’s river flow. It’s so big the second largest river in the world – the Rio Negro – is a tributary of the Amazon itself.

Sure, the river is large… but what really stands out is the Amazon Basin’s wildlife. In fact, the Amazon Basin houses over one-third of the world’s species, including one-fifth of all bird species and over 2.5 million different insect species. In a single square kilometer, you can expect to find over 75,000 species of tree and over 150,000 species of plants.

In short: it’s the most bio-diverse place on Earth.

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