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Aussicht auf El Panecillo im Zentrum von Quito mit dem Cotopaxi im Hintergrund, Bild: Ecuadorpostales / shutterstock

Ecuador – a country between the poles of the earth

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This country has an unusual namesake: the equator. Where the globe puts on a kind of belt, Ecuador can be found – in the middle of the poles of the earth. If you know your way around South America, you will find everything here that makes up this part of the subcontinent. Nature has given the country many wonders and it provides holidaymakers with a number of magical moments during their journey. In the villages of the mysterious rainforest, in the interesting thermal baths, on the impressive Pacific coast, in the foggy regions with their green gorges and on the glaciers of the Andes.

The people of Ecuador are proud of the special geographical location of their country, and the inhabitants in the immediate vicinity of the equator mark their place of residence with a “zero”. If you can find a certain charm in the colonial past of these countries, you will be thrilled by the houses of Quito’s old town. The testimonies of a long-forgotten era exude a very special charm, and a stroll through the city is like a walk through the history of the country.

But the capital does not want to be a museum but a lively metropolis, even if the visitor is crept up here and there by the feeling that in Quito the hands of the clock have stopped at some point. The former conquerors from Spain have left their mark on Ecuador. With churches from the 16. and 17th century and above all with the Compania de Jesus, with its intricate basalt columns and the golden splendour inside. Indigenous peoples lived in Quito before the Spaniards, whose cult objects and statues from pre-Columbian times can be admired in the Casa del Alabado.

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On the beach you can unwind, Image: Mark52 / shutterstock

Located at an altitude of 2,850 meters, Quito is an ideal starting point for round trips through this beautiful country with its different faces. The contrast between the icy heights of the volcanic giants and the exotic lagoons against the backdrop of impressive mountains is enormous. Even though the “country under the equator” is the smallest among the countries of South America, a round trip is almost inevitable. For example, to the region of the more than 6,200-meter-high Chimborazo, the country’s landmark, with its glittering glaciers. Or to Cotopaxi. With its proud 5,900 meters, it is the highest still active volcano in the world. The people at the foot of the Fire Mountain call it “Dulce cuello de sol”, which can be loosely translated as “Sweet Neck of the Sun”.

Visitors to the Mindo Nature Park glide over the roof of the trees on steel ropes, and those who go to Cayambe at the right time and meet the indigenous people there can enjoy the ritual Aya Huma dances. The peoples of the highlands in Ecuador were apparently already familiar with the solar system a thousand years ago, because they joined their five pyramids in the Andes to form a huge astronomical system. The country’s Indians still paint their faces today when they hunt in the lowlands of the Amazon with spears and blowguns.

Ecuador, Quito
View of the historic center of the capital Quito, Image: Fotos593 / shutterstock

The inhabitants of Ecuador speak of the “whispering streams” when they describe the Oriente region, the species-rich rainforest of the Amazon. Holidaymakers penetrate with swaying dugouts over the quiet Rio Napo to the tropical lowlands of the Amazon, where the colourful hummingbirds are the constant companions. The historic haciendas are appreciated by guests as comfortable accommodations.

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From the mainland, boat trips lead to a unique showcase of evolution – the Galàpagos Islands. A thousand kilometers off the coast, thanks to the remoteness, a paradise for the inhabitants of the sea was created. It is a zoo without fences and a particularly worth seeing piece of a beautiful country.

Travel information Ecuador

Capital Quito
Form of government Republic
Presidential system
Currency U.S. Dollar (USD)
Area approx. 283,561 km²
Population approx. 16,863,000 (2018)
Languages Spanish
Electricity grid 120-127 volts, 60 Hz
Area code +593
Time zone UTC−5