A Journey of Discovery through the Ecuadorian Andes

By Veronica Rosero, Metropolitan Touring Ecuador

Once again traveling through the Ecuadorian Andes… Although I have passed many times through this region, every experience has been special and different. This time, our first visit was to the fruit and vegetables’ market in the small village of Sangolqui, where we discovered the variety of colors that the Ecuadorians’ land placed before us, allowing us to discover a little rainbow in the hands of our generous people, who present us their products with a big smile.

Our next stop was the Hacienda Santa Rita, where we lived an amazing adventure. We had been prepared with the necessary equipment and we were ready to fly over the trees, but we didn’t have wings… although it felt like we grew them as we began the first zips of the zipline canopy tour. Over the course of the seven lines at Santa Rita, we were able to observe Andean vegetation below, and small rivers coursing through the green — at the beginning with fear, due to the height we travelled above the landscape, but later our confidence grew and it was magical to glide effortlessly above the scenery amid the mountains: an unforgettable experience.

Continuing our route to the south, through chequerboard fields of rich green colors, over mountains and down valleys, we arrived at the town of Baños. This is a small town which lives mainly from tourism, offering many adventure activities, besides relaxation and health in its thermal baths. To end the day, we arrived at the hotel to rest as much as possible, since the next day we were expecting one of my favorite places on this wonderful country: the waterfall called the Devil’s Cauldron (Pailón del Diablo).

 On the way to this magical place, we were able to observe the dramatic change of vegetation from bushes to orchids, following the road that runs alongside the Pastaza River, passing by small waterfalls and the “heaven’s door” where our transport took a shower beneath the water of the tunnel bored through the mountainside. We passed from our side of the river to the other by air, by using a “tarabita” cable car; we felt like birds, looking down on waterfalls like the Bride’s Veil (Manto de la novia) and the sinuous curves etched out of the hills by the roiling Pastaza river.

 Following a downhill walk of about 20 minutes, finally, we arrived at the Devil’s Cauldron waterfall. Here we were overwhelmed by the power of the water, which can be observed from a number of balconies built into one side of the cliff, so that people can get closer to the water and feel the drops on their face and be filled by the falls’ energy and beauty.  After this encounter with nature, we were ready to continue to the city of Riobamba, our next destination, located on the slopes of Chimborazo, the highest snow-capped volcano in Ecuador, at 6,800 meters.

The next day, we woke up early to meet an Andean animal of some fame. Under the timid eyes of Chimborazo, we met our friends the llamas, who without fear welcomed us to their homes and let us learn more about their ways of life, under the care of their owners: modest and friendly people who shared with us some cherished moments. We then continued our trip south through the Andes and their lovely green fields. We arrived to Ingapirca, a Inca-Cañari fortress that allows the visitor to trace the history of these cultures in our country and understand the way in which they worshipped the sun.

 Out trip was to end at one of the most beautiful cities in Ecuador, Cuenca, surrounded by four rivers, with colonial houses and one of the most charming historic centres in Latin America. This city has a great richness on handcrafts, including the famous, and misnamed, “Panama hats” which have in fact been made in Ecuador for generations.  We watched the skilled craftsman given them the finishing touches that give us an elegant and well-recognized product the world over.

At the end of four days, our journey through the Andes came to an end, filling us with a diversity of experiences, images and unforgettable moments.

If you want to know more about Los Andes in Ecuador, please visit Metropolitan Touring’s website.

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