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Ecuador: The Perfect Girlfriend's Getaway

Aug 18, 2007
The men go hunting without us, or watch motor sports, now is it our turn!

Ecuador is one of the smallest--but most diverse--countries in South America. This small country, lies at the northern South American Pacific coast, only 4 hours flight away from Miami. Your airplane will land in either Quito, the Capital City, or in Guayaquil, Ecuador's largest city--located on the large Guayas River.

Starting in Quito, you should organize an easy first day, because Quito lies at 9202 ft (2800 m) above sea level--and, if possible, you should acclimatize yourself a bit to the altitude. It's probably much higher in elevation than what you're used to at home.

If you would like a variety of restaurants accessible on foot, stay in one of the beautiful hotels in the Mariscal district in Northern Quito. We especially recommend Hotels such as Cafe Cultura---or if you like fun-- try the brand new Boutique Hotel Nue House at the Quininde Place. If you like Museums and cultural tours, choose your hotel in the historical Center of Quito which has been designated as a UN Heritage Site.

In the Historical Center we recommend to you the Bed and Breakfast Villa Colonna, the Hotel Relicario del Carmen (3*), or the Hotel Patio Andaluz (4*).

A full day City-tour is an excellent first day activity to start your trip off right! Do an extensive visit through Quito's Center with its 26 churches.

Are you the type of person who has seen Churches after you have seen 2 or 3? Don't worry; there are plenty of other things to do!

Have you ever been interested in how coffee is roasted and how the different roasting levels taste? Find the answer in the old town of Quito.

Have fun walking through the colorful Ipiales market where the "Quitenos" find everything for their daily lives. The market is organized by goods. There is a shoe section with more shoes than you have ever seen in one place in your life...even in your closet at home, including those back corners you never visit--principally because you're not sure what's there.

Those more interested in culture should visit a wood carver in one of the monasteries where they produce crucifixes and Religious statues for the whole world. Get introduced to old painting techniques carried forward for hundreds of years-- and learn about Ecuadorians and their daily Ecuadorian lives.

If you and your girlfriends like shopping, you absolutely must travel to Otavalo. The Indian market at Otavalo is world-renowned, and is one of the largest of its kind in South America. Most every type of item is represented, and all different qualities of products are available.
For those of you who enjoy buying the highest quality textiles---from sweaters and blouses to wand carpets--don't spend too much time at the market, take a taxi to Peguche or Iluman and visit the weavers, personally. Many of them can be classified as real artists and produce spectacular handicrafts you will find nowhere else in the world.

Overnight, stay with your friends in one of the colonial haciendas in the area.

Here we will recommend to you the Haciendas Pinsaqui or Cusin.

If you want one of the most exclusive Spa experiences in South America, stay at the Hosteria La Mirage in Cotacachi.

In all these accommodations, you can enjoy a candlelight dinner with your friends, a good glass of wine, or a drink next to a warm chimney fire-- and have a great conversation. Friendships can bloom, and lives can change---overnight.

If your group is more active, or you seek a more spiritual encounter, why not spend four or five days in the Rainforest in one of the beautiful Jungle Lodges? You will take daily Jungle Expeditions, guided by a bilingual Naturalist---or you can plan spiritual activities at or near the lodge itself. During the daily Jungle Expedition, you will experience Nature as far away from civilization as you can get. Check out the La Selva Jungle Lodge, the Napo Wildlife Center or Sacha Lodge.

Especially for women travelers I recommend the city of Cuenca. This small city in southern Ecuador is also a UN World Heritage site, with many museums and with excellent places for shopping. Cuenca is especially known, worldwide, for both its ceramics, and for its jewelry artisans.

You can stay in one of the excellent colonial Hotels in the colonial center of Cuenca. One of the best options is the Hotel Mansion Alcazar. From here, you can reach the whole colonial center on foot... and don't forget to try the excellent food and atmosphere in Cuenca's many restaurants in the old town. The ambiance is unsurpassed, and the cuisine is first class!

A "must" is the travel from Cuenca through the Cajas National Park to Guayaquil. The Cajas National Park is said to be one of the best National Parks in all of South America, and Ecuadorians pride themselves in having "the best." This park has hundreds of lakes which reach out and embrace you--almost singing a siren song invitation for either hiking or trekking. When the road through the park reaches its highest point at about 13136 ft (4000m) above sea level, take a deep breath and realize that you are at the watershed between the Atlantic and the Pacific Ocean. Everything west of this flows into the Pacific. Everything east of this flows into the Atlantic, hundreds and hundreds of miles to the East. From this altitude, the road winds down to the Pacific plain with its large Banana fields.

Who doesn't like Bananas? Visit a Banana Hacienda from Guayaquil.

You have a very interesting option in the Babahoyo area. Guayaquil itself is a tropical city. The "old town" of Guayaquil is called "Las Penas", and on the Santa Ana Hill, take a walk up to the Santa Ana Lighthouse. On the way up, stop and have a drink in one of the many local bars.

In Guayaquil stay at the Hotel Unipark, just opposite Seminario Park or the "Parque de las Iguanas"--in local parlance. It may not be necessary to say this, but--please, don't pet the Iguanas. Within this Park, Iguanas walk freely around--just like dogs or cats do at home.

Another wonderful option for lodging is the nearby--and less expensive--Grand Hotel de Guayaquil.

Guayaquil has also an International Airport where you either can start or end your trip to the Amazing Country of Ecuador, and all flights to the Galapagos Islands also go through Guayaquil.

You will see that Ecuador has something to offer for every taste and budget.

Don't wait, come and discover...Enjoy Ecuador--A Place for Friends, Food, and Fun!
About the Author
Peter Lauffer, General Manager of TrueColors
in Quito - Your Expert Guide for Galapagos Cruise Travel at www.galapagostraveller.com
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