Though no one would look back on the last few centuries and declare South America’s history of colonialism to have been a great success or all around good idea, it did produce some architectural marvels that we can still appreciate. In the heard of Quito stands the Church of the Society of Jesus, built in the early 17th century. The elaborate Baroque style architecture makes it a breathtaking destination and an excellent choice for a first stop upon arrival in the country.
Exotic Jungle Tour
Often people traveling down to South America will try to avoid actually going into the jungle, being worried about exotic diseases, parasites, or getting lost. While those aren’t necessarily all unreasonable concerns, there are many guided tours to help you get into the jungle without putting yourself in significant danger. Those aren’t restricted to serious bushwhackers either, ranging from simple day-trips, to jungle lodges, to week-long forays into the green overgrowth.
We’ve all heard of the Galapagos as the place where Darwin came up with the idea for his Origin of Species, but the islands have a lot more to offer than to merely serve as the backdrop for a relatively minor western historical event. The islands are home to a multitude of unique species of animals, not the least of which are the 10 surviving types of giant tortoises. The tortoise populations on the islands has been recovering steadily, and even though the vast majority of the islands’ land is out of bounds for tourists, you don’t have to go out of your way far to get a picture with your friendly neighborhood tortoise. In other news, iguanas!
Traditional Drink: Chicha
Chicha is an alcoholic beverage that vaguely resembles beer. It’s made out of juiced corn and is the basic beverage of choice for many Ecuadorians. It’s not very strong, but it tastes significantly better than “corn beer” might sound to an uninitiated person, and I recommend it as a valuable piece of Andean food culture to experience for any tourist.
The Oriente’s Cultural Heritage
As mentioned earlier, you haven’t really experienced Ecuador to its fullest if you haven’t gone near the jungle. An important aspect of travel in this area is that the vast majority of all available tours and lodges are owned and operated by local indigenous groups. Making sure that local people retain control over and profit from tourism not only helps to protect those local people’s interests, but also means that you might get the chance to interact with them and be allowed to participate in their life and culture.
Ecuador is an incredibly diverse country in terms of weather, biodiversity, and culture. Because it’s not geographically very large it makes the perfect destination for people looking to experience a range of what the south American continent has to offer.
This is a guest post by Charlie Bennett, an adventurous explorer who loves to experience different cultures and meet new people. He writes for the South America travel experts at G Adventures
Featured image Laguna Quilatoa by Rinaldo W.