#68 best destination in the world

Galápagos Islands

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  • Archipelago of volcanic islands
  • The islands were studied by Charles Darwin and contributed to Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection
  • First recorded visit to the islands was in 1535
  • UNESCO World Heritage Site

 

Quito

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  • One of the largest, least-altered, and best preserved historic centers in the Americas
  • UNESCO World Heritage Site
  • A monument marks the general location of the equator in the city

 

Museo Templo del Sol Pintor Ortega Maila

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  • Museum temple of the sun completed by Ortega Maila, an indigenous painter and sculptor
  • Built using research of ancestral architecture of Andean culture

 

Pro Bici

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  • Bicycle tour that offers excursions into snowpeaks, mountain lakes, thermal pools, rain and cloud forests
  • Tour also includes viewing indigenous, historic and cultural sites

 

Pailon del Diablo (Devil’s Cauldron)

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  • One of the largest waterfalls in Ecuador

 

Hacienda La Danesa: Charming Farmhouse and Lodge

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  • Accommodation and traditional dairy and cacao farm
  • Offers horseback riding trails and artisan chocolate making

 

Los Tuneles

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  • Speed boat tour to different lava formations that includes snorkeling through the tunnels and swimming with the sea life

 

Swing at the End of the World

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  • Deep within the Ecuadorian wilderness is a seismic monitoring station in a tree, known as Casa del Arbol, whose purpose is to observe Mt. Tungurahua, the nearby active volcano
  • 8530 feet above sea level is a swing hanging from one of the station tree’s skinny branches
  • It is unclear where the swing came from
  • The swing is part of a small park at Casa de Arbol, complete with three swings and a small zip line
  • Though the swing used to be completely unmonitored, today there are guides to help you buckle in and push you as you swing
  • It looks like the swing hangs over a cliff, it actually hangs over a steep slope so the experience is not as scary as it seems

 

Quilotoa

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  • Water-filled caldera with a 2 miles wide caldera which was formed by the collapse of this volcano following a catastrophic eruption about 600 years ago
  • This last eruption followed a dormancy period of 14,000 years, a Crater lake was already present at that time
  • The lake has a greenish color as a result of dissolved minerals
  • There are a number of hostels in the immediate area offering services such as mules and guides
  • Activities include a four to five-hour hike around the caldera, otherwise the hike is sandy and steep in places and can be quite taxing, particularly if there is fog
  • According to local inhabitants, the lake level has been slowly declining over the last 10 years

 

Ingapirca

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  • Largest known Inca ruins in Ecuador.
  • The most significant building is the Temple of the Sun, an elliptically shaped building constructed around a large rock
  • Once used for ritual and astronomical purposes

 

Las Grietas

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  • On Isla Santa Cruz in the Galapagos Islands, the deep carvings in the landscape forming The Cracks run hundreds of feet into the Earth, creating narrow sheer walled canyons filled with clear water

 

Intiñan Solar Museum

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  • Home of the “true” equator, the museum is bisected by a line of red paint which marks what proprietors claim is site of the middle of the world
  • GPS tests come back with mixed results, and the rocky surroundings make accurate readings difficult to obtain, but you’re very close
  • Offers a sampling of native culture, with some interactive demonstration
  • The central focus of the museum is a totem pole surrounded by several stations, each designed to test the unique physical forces at work in the equatorial region
  • Some are clearly parlor tricks, but others are, at the very least, demonstrations of physics
  • There’s also a blow-dart range, pickled snakes, and “genuine shrunken head”

 


 

Costs

all flights $1,756

food $12/day x 12 days = $144

hotel $19/day x 11 days = $209

tickets (all attractions) $500

TOTAL for whole itinerary $2,609