Quito, The Equator And Papallacta

Quito’s striking location, set on the slopes of Pichincha Volcano, is matched by its history and heritage.

 

 

Quito with the Cotopaxi in the background
quito San Francisco monastery
colonial facade
hanging bridges of arenal

Quito, The Equator And Papallacta

Quito’s striking location, set on the slopes of Pichincha Volcano, is matched by its history and heritage. Its name derives from the pre-Colombian Quitus tribe and it was an important outpost of the northern Inca empire. The modern-day city dates back to the 16th century and the Spanish invasion and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Walking through the Old Town today you can see many colonial churches, monasteries, palaces and impressive plazas. The climb to the top of El Panecillo is rewarded by fine panoramic views over the city, valley and mountains, and makes a good conclusion to a city tour.

Heading out of the city it takes only about 45 minutes to reach Mitad del Mundo, the equator, with a 30-metre high monument marking the spot. You can stand here, with one foot on the northern hemisphere and the other in the southern.

Also within easy reach of the city are the thermal springs at Papallacta, situated in a tranquil Andean valley. There are pools of different temperatures which are reputed to have therapeutic properties.

En route to The Galapagos you are almost bound to have a night or two in Quito as this is the most usual routing for international flights and from here you take your flight out to the Galapagos Islands.

 

Highlights:

  • See Quito’s Plaza de la Independencia with its cathedral and palaces
  • Take a tour of San Francisco monastery, Latin America’s largest colonial building.
  • Enjoy panoramic city views from El Panecillo and the Teleferico cable car that ascends to 4,000 metres
  • Straddle the equator at Mitad del Mundo
  • Visit the Ethnographic Museum in the equator monument and the nearby Intinan Solar Museum with exhibitions on native culture
  • Relax and bask in the hot springs at Papallacta

When to Visit:

Quito and the surrounding areas can be visited all year. At any of time of year you are likely to get warm, sunny days and cold nights. It can rain at any time of year, but generally the driest months are from May to September.

Where to Stay:

Quito, The Equator And Papallacta has a good selection of places to stay, but it does tend to get busy in peak season so it is advisable to book early.