Category Archives: Ecuador
In the old town of Quito, Ecuador’s capital, is a cathedral unlike any other I have ever visited. La Basílica del Voto Nacional combines an appreciation for religious architecture with an almost adventure sport activity that will chill to the bone anybody with the slightest phobia of heights. I had read up on La Basílica before visiting, so I thought I knew what to expect, but it was so much worse. My minor fear of heights together with a worry about the seemingly non-existent Ecuadorian health and safety regulations, created an extremely nerve-wracking experience.
Somebody told me that Los Frailes is the most beautiful beach in Ecuador, so of course I had to see for myself. Just down the road from the small fishing town of Puerto López, I found it hard to believe that it would be much different from the littered beach there. I jumped on a bus heading north out of town for 50 cents and after 15 minutes they dropped me off at the entrance to Machalilla National Park. There was no entrance fee but I did have to sign a form promising not to litter and some other stuff that I didn’t understand so just hoped I wasn’t signing my life away.
A beer wielding man approached our table and gestured to one of the stools. I smiled and nodded that it was free for him to take. I wasn’t expecting him to sit and join us at our table, but he did. Pulling the sleeve of his top up he exposed a large scar along his arm. “Whale, do you understand the word whale?”, he asked in Spanish. I understood. “A whale was underneath my boat, it came up and whoosh capsized my boat,” he explained, acting out the scene with his hands. He turned his weather-beaten face towards me and started to ask where I was from and whether I had any children. “No children?! Pray to God that he will give you children!” he exclaimed whilst pointing to the sky and kissing his fingers. I tried to explain that I don’t have children through choice, I don’t want children yet, but he was on a roll, telling me I will have children when God deems the time is right. Giving up, I accepted his sympathy and left the drunken fisherman to drown his sorrows.
I spent a month in the city of Cuenca in the highlands of Ecuador. Its centre is designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site due to an abundance of beautiful colonial buildings. However, even looking away from the city at the surrounding imposing mountains may leave you awe-struck. Here are my top recommendations for a day or two in Cuenca.
The Galapagos Islands. Home to giant tortoises, marine iguanas and blue footed boobies. In fact, the Galapagos is home to a number of species that you cannot find anywhere else in the world. This bio-diverse archipelago featuring active volcanoes, mangrove forests and soft, golden sand beaches caught the attention of Charles Darwin and is now famed worldwide as THE place to visit for wildlife enthusiasts. If you thought a visit to the amazing Galapagos Islands meant spending a huge amount of money, then think again, because it can be done on a budget and I can show you how.