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Quito tours and excursions

Quito tours

Walking tours

One of the best bets for tours in the Old Town is the Free Walking Tour Ecuador which takes in major sights in the historical centre. The tour runs twice daily, Monday to Saturday, and meets at Community Hostel located on Pedro Fermin Cevallos N6-78. The company Quito Eterno organises interesting and alternative tours of the Old Town, in the company of actors and actresses playing characters.

Tel: +593 97 953 3832; +593 2228 9506.
Website: http://www.quitoeterno.org

Biking tours

For an adventure on two wheels, Biking Dutchman (La Pinta E 731 y Reina Victoria) has more than two decades of experience in providing biking tours in and around the Quito area. Tour itineraries include a mid-morning drop off on the side of Guagua Pichincha, an active volcano that overlooks Quito from the west, followed by a rapid descent on a mountain bike towards the coast through the Cloud Forest of Mindo.

Tel: +593 2256 8323.
Website: http://www.bikingdutchman.com

Quito excursions

Saquisili

To learn about the life of indigenous people, it's worth visiting the weekly market in the village of Saquisili, located on Panamericana, not far from the old colonial town of Latacunga. Saquisili is also the starting point for the Quilotoa Loop, a route that goes through a number of high-altitude indigenous villages to the top of Volcano Quilotoa, famous the emerald-coloured lake filling its crater.

The Andes

Quito's surrounding Andes are the main reason why most travellers come to Ecuador. There is a multitude of travel agencies in the city offering all kinds of activities - from easy one-day excursions to climbing 6,000m-plus (19,685ft) volcanoes. Towering above the city at 4,700m (15,420ft), Pichincha Volcano is used by climbers for acclimatization. Anyone with good lungs and no heart problems can walk to its top and then decide whether it's worth conquering taller mountains, such as Cotopaxi Volcano, at 5,900m (19,357ft). If the answer is negative, you can still go by car to the edge of the Cotopaxi's snowcap from where climbers begin accent. Below it, the Cotopaxi Recreation Zone (areasprotegidas.ambiente.gob.ec) provides endless opportunities for hiking through the beautiful páramo (flower-filled high-altitude grassland). It can be reached by a weekend tourist train leaving Chimbacalle train station in Quito at 0815 from Thursday to Sunday.

Tel: +593 2265 0421.
Website: http://www.trenecuador.com

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Featured Hotels

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Hilton Colón Quito

Close to the historical district and Quito's airport, Hilton Colón Quito is a large compound, complete with the excellent Italian Portofino restaurant and a sushi bar. The main 19-storey tower overlooks Edijo Park and the Old Town. Large rooms have all the expected amenities. The hotel also boasts a fitness centre, a spa with Turkish bath and sauna, and an outdoor heated pool.

Café Cultura

This legendary hotel, in the heart of Mariscal Sucre area, is owned by a Hungarian painter who has turned every room into a work of art. Located in an old mansion house, it has a lush garden and a common area where you can dine in style or chat with other travellers, sitting by the fireplace. Wireless Internet is available.

Swissôtel Quito

Set dramatically on top of the cliff overlooking the picturesque Guaopolo valley, this hotel offers luxurious rooms as well as apartments for a prolonged stay, complete with all amenities one might expect from a high-class business hotel. It has six restaurants specializing in Swiss, French, Japanese and other international cuisines. The Amrita Spa centre boasts a gym and two pools - indoors and outdoors.

Hostal de La Rábida

Everything is white in this friendly Italian-run, middle-range hotel: the mansion house which it occupies, the rooms and the rabbit that lives in the little garden into which rooms open - hence the name. There is a cosy little restaurant serving Italian and Ecuadorean meals. Wireless Internet is available.

Hotel La Cartuja

This mansion house with a large green patio occupies the site of the former British Embassy. The US and French embassies are both next door. Rooms are spacious, with comfy beds. The kind if somewhat hectic service creates a homey feel. Laundry service and Internet are available.

Hostal El Taxo

This no-frills guesthouse offers a range of private rooms and shared dorms, most with shared bath. Everything is a bit ramshackle, but the atmosphere is great and it attracts a cool crowd of hip young travellers. Breakfast is not included.