Quito tours and excursions
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.
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.
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.
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.