Senior Travel to Ecuador

Dec 17th, 2010 | By James E Becker | Category: Senior Travel

Hey seniors.  Can you locate Ecuador in South America on a globe or world map?  It is fairly easy to find. Although the smallest of all the Andean countries, The Republic of Ecuador holds historical, cultural and natural wonders befitting an entire continent.  Straddling not only two hemispheres but also two worlds – the ancient and the modern – this tiny republic with its remnants of past civilizations and Spanish conquests offers the traveler a striking blend of landscapes, peoples and cultures. 

Your flight will most likely arrive in Quito the capital. Nowhere else on earth will you find so much natural diversity – and all the fun that accompanies it – in so tiny a place. Ecuador is the second-smallest country in South America, but its range of offerings is no less than astounding.  In one day’s drive you can journey from the Amazon Basin across glaciated Andean volcanoes, down through tropical cloud forest and into the sunset for a dinner of ceviche on the balmy Pacific coast. One day you’ll pick through hand-woven wool sweaters at a chilly indigenous market in Otavalo; the next day you’ll sweat all over your binoculars while spying on howler monkeys in the Amazon jungles of the Oriente. For nature lovers Ecuador is a dream, with exotic orchids and birds, bizarre jungle plants, strange insects, windswept páramo (Andean grasslands), dripping tropical forests and the fearless animals that hop, wobble and swim around the unique, unforgettable Galápagos Islands.
 
From ancient markets of the indigenous peoples, the Amazon’s 29 tributaries, Inca ruins, Andean peaks, 16th century churches, and the wildlife-rich Galapagos Islands, Ecuador boasts an incredible diversity which belies its diminutive size. Indigenous cultures, tropical forests, 42 active volcanoes, and a wealth of animal and bird life are all highly accessible within a matter of hours in a country no bigger than the U.S. State of Colorado.  Some of the most recommended places to visit include the capital, Otavalo, Cuenca, Salina and Guayaquil.

On this blog I can speak with some authority as I spent two weeks in Quevedo, Ecuador working with a group of doctors and dentists on a program called Christian Medical and Dental Society.  We had the opportunity at the end of our work to visit Otavalo.  What an experience.  Located almost directly on the equator the Saturday market in Otavalo is one of the largest indigenous crafts markets in all of South America. Otavalo is located two hours north of Quito in Ecuador’s Andean highlands.  About 50,000 people reside in the town from where the famous market took its name.  Surrounded by volcanoes, the market place is in a beautiful setting.  People from all over the world come to see the famous market, where an abundance of handicrafts can be found.  However, unlike other markets, the handicrafts available at Otavalo are not commercialized versions of authentic traditional weaving styles that are found in many other market places.  Rather, Otavalenos pride themselves as successful and intelligent business people who have over the years continued to make a livelihood off their craft skills. It is well worth the visit if you love to shop and look at native crafts. I purchased two very nice hand-crafted  belts in native colors and design. The craft market at Otavalo is one of the country’s top tourist attractions. In our group we had the fourteen year old son of one of the surgeons.  He started jumping back and forth across the equator line “La Mitad del Mundo” (Middle of the World) shouting, “one, two, three”…until he wore out.  Then he proudly announced…I’ve been to the southern hemisphere over 50 times!

Tomorrow it’s the Galapagos Islands.  They deserve a post all to themselves!  jeb



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