Quito & the Highlands
Highland town of Lloa, Ecuador
Cotopaxi Volcano
Historic Old Town of Quito
Dart frog, Amazon rainforest
Monastery of San Francisco, Quito
Local spices on sale at Otovalo Market

Majestically set in the Guayllabamba river basin and flanked by volcanoes, Quito wins on the pretty front and backs it up with cultural treats and totally moreish street food.


Quito and the Highlands

Straddled by feisty volcanoes, the high-altitude Unesco-listed capital of Quito is an underdog on the Latin American travel scene. Visually impressive with its mix of colonial splendour and vibrant indigenous culture, the best way to appreciate the full riches of the city is to jump on the Teleferico, among the world’s highest cable car, which glides up the eastern face of Pichinicha Volcano to a giddy 4050m. To be afforded a view like this without so much as a puff of exhaustion feels a touch naughty, and the coca leaf tea offered to help with the altitude only adds (pleasantly) to the notion.

Quito also punches well above its weight in culinary terms. Feasting is a right of passage on La Ronda, a street bustling with bars and restaurants selling seco de chivo (braised goat stew), grilled trout with aji criollo and giant empanadas. But it’s the sweet tooths that come off best in this land of fine-grade cocoa exports, where every second corner sees stalls selling piping hot chocolate, ganache truffles and all sorts of chocolatey delights. Another ‘naughty’, another tick for Quito.

Suggested Quito and Highlands itineraries