For an unforgettable trip with a difference take a ride on the Ibarra-San Lorenzo railway, linking the highlands near Quito with the coast near the Colombian border. The ‘train’ is a converted school bus mounted onto a railway chassis, and the spectacular scenery it passes presents a good cross-section of landscapes. The views are especially good from the rooftop!

 

South of Quito, there are tiny Andean villages nestled in some of the country’s wildest mountain scenery. The inhabitants’ lifestyles seem to have changed little over the centuries, and each village has distinguishing styles of traditional dress. The larger towns, such as Saquisilí, Pujillí, Zumbagua, Sigchos and San Miguel de Salcedo, swell with villagers on market days. The peaceful community of Salinas, in wild and beautiful countryside, is known for its delicious homemade dairy products and handicrafts, and traditional lifestyle.

Resting at the Cotopaxi Glacier
The Parque Nacional Sangay near Baños is one of the country’s most remote and inaccessible parks, protecting an incredible variety of terrain and some rare species of mammals. For plant variety, visit the Pasochoa Forest Reserve, 30 km south-east of Quito; for a wide range of habitats, visit the Parque Nacional Podocarpus between Loja and Zamora; for unusual wildlife, visit the Reserva Producción Faunísta Cuyabeno in north-eastern Ecuador; and for coastal scenery visit the Parque Nacional Machalilla, south of Portoviejo.

Riding through areas of outstanding natural beauty and history between Baños and El Altar, you will come close to the real Ecuador.

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