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BAÑOS :: CUENCA :: ECUADOR'S AMAZON :: ECUADOR'S RAINFOREST :: GUAYAQUIL :: QUITO :: RIOBAMBA
Positioned in the heart of the Ecuadorian Highlands, Baños de Agua Santa sits with its vast hills and phenomenal weather, completely surrounded by volcanoes, hot springs, and waterfalls. This is one of Ecuador's most captivating destinations. Between the gothic-style cathedral made from volcanic rock, art galleries, local markets, and natural wonders, you're surrounded by brilliance at every turn.
A magical, fairytale-like city, Cuenca is growing in popularity for its idyllic weather, colonial architecture, and relaxing way of life. Surrounded by the majestic Andes, it is laced with charming cobblestone streets and European influences. As capital of the Azuay province, it is the country's third-largest city and a haven for artists, writers, and foreigners who have chosen this seemingly perfect place to settle. Dating back to 1557, Cuenca is home to the old cathedral, built the same year, reflecting the rich history of this great city.
Monograms provides travelers access to a Local Host®, so you will have someone on hand to answer those vacation questions pertaining to Cuenca. No waiting in line at the concierge desk or trying to ask your waitress at breakfast directions to the shopping district. Simply ask your Local Host® about Cuenca and you'll be on your way in no time. Plus, your Local Host® will share local Cuenca insights and share suggestions for getting off the beaten path, leaving you more time to create lasting vacation memories that are yours alone.
I was born in Cuenca and lived here most of my life. I always liked to travel and that is why after finishing high school, I decided to study tourism administration. While I was studying at the University, I started to work as a tour guide and found it very interesting. Being a tour guide allows me to meet people from many different places and it took me to incredible places. For a period of time I moved to Argentina where I taught Spanish and English but I missed my family and country, so I decided to come back to Ecuador. When I came back to Quito, I worked as a Key Account Executive for a tour operator, which was a great experience for my career, but after a time, I decided to be a tour guide again. I realized I enjoy being with people outside in the nature more than working in an office, and I am able to have more time for other activities I like, such as painting and working with the children of my church.
This city river separates the colonial section of Cuenca from the more modern homes. It’s great for a stroll in the day or evening. You can grab a little picnic and sit on the banks, while you enjoy the sounds of locals, music playing, and the rushing water. There are even a few spots where you can grab a beer and take it all in.
Be sure to visit this main square as it is the center of action in Cuenca. Brilliant for people watching, relaxing with a book, strolling around the gardens, or grabbing a bite to eat. At the cathedral on the square, you can pay a nominal fee to climb to the top for impressive views of the city. It’s a great way to spend an afternoon or evening.
If you have time and you appreciate religious architecture, be sure to make a stop in this cathedral. The lighting, the ceiling frescos, sculptures and the old pipe organ will have you marveling. It’s dripping with history while well-kept at the same time.
People rave about the unique art experience here. As part of an old nunnery, this little gem houses some of the best religious art in Cuenca. Even for the non-religious, it’s a wonderful glimpse into the life of the early Cuenca nuns and the culture surrounding the city. It’s complete with gardens too!
Home to native communities, Ecuador's Amazon contains some of the Earth's most complex and diverse ecosystems. In just one hectare, there are an estimated 100,000 insects and a greater variety of trees, birds, reptiles, and amphibians than in the United States and Canada combined. The area is alive with the sounds and sights of nature—the roars of howler monkeys, lizards lounging in the sun, butterflies fluttering through the air, squirrel monkeys chasing each other across the tree branches, and giant trees soaring into the sky. Popular activities include birdwatching, canoeing in dugout canoes, visiting the local villages, swimming, and trail walks to view the flora and fauna.
From the giant kapok trees that tower 150 feet into the sky to the leaf-cutting ants and the noisy monkeys, Ecuador's Rainforest is teeming with life. It is a treasure trove for birdwatchers with hundreds of bird species. For those interested in orchids, Ecuador has over 4,200 documented orchid species, many that live in the rainforest. There are as many insect species in a hectare of the rainforest than in the United States and Canada combined. Within the rainforest, visitors may find waterfalls and rivers, and wildlife often seen include parrots, macaws, monkeys, poison dart frogs, plants used for medicinal purposes, and much more.
Spanish conquistadors, pirate attacks, yellow fever, revolution...Ecuador's largest city boasts a long and colorful history! Dating back to 1538, Guayaquil is situated near the Equator on the Guayas River and is the country's main port and jumping-off point for cruises to the Galápagos Islands. Main attractions include the Old Town, Las Peñas, for a glimpse into the city's colonial past; Parque de las Iguanas, home to hundreds of tame iguanas; Santa Ana Hill for sweeping views of Guayaquil; the Mercado Artesanal, selling hand-crafted souvenirs from all around the country; and swimming, watersports, and delicious fresh seafood at the General Villamil beach.
Monograms provides travelers access to a Local Host®, so you will have someone on hand to answer those vacation questions pertaining to Guayaquil. No waiting in line at the concierge desk or trying to ask your waitress at breakfast directions to the shopping district. Simply ask your Local Host® about Guayaquil and you'll be on your way in no time. Plus, your Local Host® will share local Guayaquil insights and share suggestions for getting off the beaten path, leaving you more time to create lasting vacation memories that are yours alone.
I was born, raised and educated in Guayaquil, Ecuador. I finished my education as an English teacher in Guayaquil, but I kept on studying as Tour Guide, graduated at the U.N.I.D.E.C. University from Riobamba and obtained my Tour Guide License. I worked with children as an English teacher in an elementary school from 1986 to 2012. Nineteen years ago I had the opportunity to work as a tour guide for the shore excursions provided to Norwegian Cruise Vista Fjord, and since then I discovered a wonderful job where I learned to know my country. Due to my high skills and responsibility I began to work as a tour guide. I love the Ecuadorian flora and fauna and I would like to be a specialized guide in bird watching in the near future. My great satisfaction as a tour guide has been incredible because I had the chance to meet people from other cultures and latitudes from around the world.
This is a good little work out as it’s ascencion to the top and there are plenty of places to stop and rest along the way. Getting to the top, however, is well worth it. There’s a beautiful park at the top and views unlike anywhere in the city. Like the ugly duckling to swan tale, this once poor area was transformed into a prime tourist attraction – a 465-foot stairway flanked by colorful houses, eateries, gift shops and galleries. Bring water for the trip!
This unique spot combines architecture, history, and wildlife. You can stroll around and view all the plaques that explain the buildings of this large museum, and then spend the afternoon with the animals in this well-kept facility with highly knowledgeable and friendly guides. Make sure to get there early enough to see it all!
If you only have time to take in just a little bit of Guayaquil, this little stretch is the perfect place to do it. It spans about a mile and a half along the coast and offers little drink spots, occasionally has entertainment, and you can see the variety of Guayaquil’s architecture along the way. It’s ideal too as it has openings that shoot off into various neighborhoods that you can scope out at your leisure.
For a strange and fun experience, head to the city square that hosts hundreds of Iguanas, smack dab in the middle of the city. With the hustle and bustle and a cathedral as your back drop, you can stroll around for an hour or two and watch these funny and fascinating creatures along with other wildlife in the square. Something you will remember always!
About a half hour outside of Guayaquil, Churute is simply amazing and a great way to spend half a day. You’ll have the chance to glimpse some species of monkeys, sloths, horned screamers, parrots, roseate spoonbills, rails, herons and so much more! The locals harvest seasonal mangrove crabs, and occasionally they’ll prepare crab meat empanadas right on site! Make sure to bring your insect repellant or mosquitoes may spoil your visit.
Founded in 1534 on ancient aboriginal ruins dating back to 1500 BC, Quito is Ecuador's capital and one of the first two cities in the world designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Situated at an altitude of about 10,000 feet and sandwiched between two mountain ranges, Quito's fascinating Old City is the largest in the Americas and a showcase of the rich legacy left behind by the Incas and Spaniards. Home to no fewer than 40 churches, 17 squares, 16 convents and monasteries, excellent museums, restaurants, and terrace cafés, there's plenty to see and do. Highlights include Independence Square with its imposing cathedral; La Compania de Jesus Church with its lacework stone façade; San Francisco Plaza Church, the oldest in Quito; and the basilica with its stunning stained-glass windows.
Monograms provides travelers access to a Local Host®, so you will have someone on hand to answer those vacation questions pertaining to Quito. No waiting in line at the concierge desk or trying to ask your waitress at breakfast directions to the shopping district. Simply ask your Local Host® about Quito and you'll be on your way in no time. Plus, your Local Host® will share local Quito insights and share suggestions for getting off the beaten path, leaving you more time to create lasting vacation memories that are yours alone.
I was born in Quito and lived here most of my life. I always liked to travel and that is why after finishing high school, I decided to study tourism administration. While I was studying at the University, I started to work as a tour guide and found it very interesting. Being a tour guide allows me to meet people from many different places and it took me to incredible places. For a period of time I moved to Argentina where I taught Spanish and English but I missed my family and country, so I decided to come back to Ecuador. When I came back to Quito, I worked as a Key Account Executive for a tour operator, which was a great experience for my career, but after a time, I decided to be a tour guide again. I realized I enjoy being with people outside in the nature more than working in an office, and I am able to have more time for other activities I like, such as painting and working with the children of my church.
Owning a “toquilla hat” means owning a piece of myth and legend. Visit this local outlet for renowned Cuenca hat manufacturer, Ortega and Sons, for the best hats hand-woven in Ecuador since 1899.
Held every weekend, this market sells everything from handmade jewelry to carved wood. But it’s famous for its paintings depicting Quito’s city scenes. If you want a piece of art to remember your visit to Quito, this is the place to go.
For a true taste of Quito, visit the vegetable, herb, and flower stands of this colorful farmer’s market. You can even purchase a locally woven basket to carry home your loot.
Whether you sit inside by the fireplace or outside by the garden, you’ll enjoy panoramic views of Quito while savoring traditional Ecuadorian dishes like lamb stew and fried bananas.
This quiet street in one of Quito’s best-preserved sections winds around 18th-century stucco houses with brightly colored balconies. It offers the perfect spot for a leisurely stroll.
Locals venture to this charming square on the weekends to listen to storytellers and delight in jugglers and mimes.
Tucked in a residential area of Quito, this museum features the works of Oswaldo Guayasamin, one of Ecuador’s most famous and prolific modern artists.
A British pub, La Reina Victoria, is practically the only place in Quito where you can get a draft beer. Enjoy a pint and a game of darts.
If you’d like to take home some Ecuadorian literature or photo books, this bookstore carries an extensive collection of books in both Spanish and English.
Located in Av Fosch between Amazonas and Reina Victoria, you’ll discover lots of good restaurants and cocktail bars here. Sometimes concerts are held in the square.
Nature seekers and lovers of expansive scenic vistas will find refuge in this fantastic city in the Chimborazo province. Its clean air, lovely city streets, slow pace of life, and welcoming people put travelers immediately at ease. At an elevation of 9,035 feet, mountain bikers, hikers, and adventurists love the unspoiled terrain, and anyone looking for relaxation and a break from the frenetic pace of life will find enjoyment in the unrivaled beauty of Riobamba.
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