A Photo Tour of Quito, Ecuador

16 07 2011


Quito, the capital of Ecuador

Ecuador’s capital city boasts rich colonial architecture, thronging streets and a transport system that outweighs most other South American metropolises.

Churches abound in the Old Town, with their grand doors and spires spiralling above the city. Columns and balconies adorn many buildings while parks and gardens give the city a ‘green’ streak.

Yes, it’s a place that I loved, a city that outranks all other capitals in South America. It’s Quito.

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Latitude Zero – Straddling the Equator in Ecuador

13 07 2011


Quito – standing on the equator at Inti-Ñan 

I gasped in amazement at the best news I’d heard since eating my greasy breakfast; I’d magically lost over two pounds in weight by simply shifting my location.

A group of six of us were standing in the southern hemisphere in Quito, Ecuador. Several metres away and we’d be in the northern hemisphere.

“Move onto the yellow line,” Nataly, a guide at Inti-Ñan museum told us. We did so dutifully.
“You’re all 2.2 pounds lighter than a few seconds ago.”
Puzzled faces stared back at her waiting for some logical explanation.
“If you look down you’ll see that now you’re all standing on the equator line. Due to less gravitational pull here you weigh less.”

I beamed triumphantly. Weight reduction in South America is about as common as a subtle Latino man – it simply doesn’t exist. In a continent that consumes fried food on a daily basis, any amount of weight shiftage, whether momentary or not, deserves a grin.

Nataly smiled back, proud to show us that we were actually standing on latitude zero. “Follow me,” she said. I did. Maybe I’d lose another few pounds…

Just north of Quito in Ecuador runs the equator line

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The Quilotoa Loop

29 06 2011


The Quilotoa Loop – for quick facts about the route, scroll to the bottom of the page.

I skidded down the sand path, desperately grasping at tree roots to break my fall. To my left was a 200-metre drop down a rocky outcrop to Quilotoa’s vast crater lake.

“Nothing lives in there except algae, the alkaline water kills all life,” an American had told me the previous evening. His words resonated round my head now, drowned out only by my thumping heart and skidding feet. I lashed out again and caught a clump of grass; I was determined this lake wasn’t going to claim my life.

The evening sun reflects down on Lake Quilotoa

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Nariz del Diablo – A Journey Down the Devil’s Nose

24 06 2011


Nariz del Diablo – The most difficult train journey in the world

The sleepy town of Alausi was waking up to Sunday market madness. An elderly couple donned in Ecuadorian Andean attire was pulling a herd of reluctant sheep. The livestock had spotted an opportunity to stall their impending sale by munching away on a trail of vegetables, spilt from a vendor’s bag.

Behind them, low-pitch shouts bounced off the colonial buildings, the cream and white exteriors slowly being immersed in the morning light. The humming cacophony was gradually buzzing around the town but that was nothing compared to chaos erupting inside Alausi’s train station.

Nariz del Diablo, the Devil’s Nose, was billed as ‘the most difficult train journey in the world’ and if the inability to buy tickets was anything to go by, it definitely was the most difficult, near becoming the most impossible train journey I’d encountered.

An engine on display at the train station in Alausi

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A Whistlestop Tour of Guayaquil and Baños

19 06 2011


Guayaquil and Baños

Guayaquil's renovated Malecon 2000 overlooking the Guayas River

I stared at the myriad blue and white buses wheezing in and out of Guayaquil’s bus station and doubted I’d ever be able to figure out which one went to the centre of Ecuador’s largest city.

I sought out the information desk but expected no more than a grunt and a nod from the two men hidden behind their computer screens. What I didn’t realise was that in Ecuador people seem only too willing to help a lost tourist. Even, it seems, in a city that has the reputation of a ‘must skip’ destination.

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