Volunteers on our Ecuador program spend much of their free time and weekends exploring Quito and other areas in Ecuador. There is plenty to see and do, and following is a list of some of the highlights from past volunteers’ experiences while participating on the IVHQ Ecuador program.
In And Around Quito
The IVHQ Ecuador program is located in the highest capital city in the world, Quito, Ecuador.
La Mitad Del Mundo
Travel to Ecuador wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the Equator. At La Mitad del Mundo (The Middle of the World City) you will be able to stand across both the Northern and Southern Hemisphere. It is at this location that Charles-Marie de La Condamine made the measurements in 1736 showing that this was indeed the equatorial line or, middle of the earth. The local staff will be happy to provide more information on visiting La Mitad Del Mundo.
Experience the traditional Ecuadorian culture by visiting the historical street of La Ronda. Local families and tourists alike flock to the alley to listen to live Ecuadorian music, while sharing a delicious empanada. Visitors can also avail themselves of the great local shops dotting the street.
El Panecillo is one of the greatest landmarks in Quito, accented by a magnificent statue of La Virgen de Quito (Virgin of Quito). Visit the summit of the statue for a nominal fee of approximately US$1 per person, for views of the sprawling city of Quito. Inside the statue also houses a “mini-museum” and beautiful stained glass windows.
While volunteering in Ecuador, volunteers can take advantage of the opportunity to travel further afield to see more of what the country has to offer. We have highlighted just some popular weekend destinations for volunteers in Ecuador, but our local staff are always willing to share with you the many other locations well worth exploring when you arrive in country.
Located approximately 2.5 hours from Quito, is Otavalo, one of the most successful markets in the Andes. Volunteers often visit here for an overnight or weekend excursion as a place to collect handcrafted souvenirs and chat with the local vendors, many of whom are indigenous people dressed in traditional Ecuadorian clothing. Try visiting one of Otavalo’s food markets, where local women and others from surrounding villages sell homemade meals, and organic fruits and vegetables harvested that day on their farms.
Banos de Agua Santa is an Andean highlands city also known as the “Gateway to the Amazon”. Although this city is small, it is a major tourist centre, and is widely considered the adventure capital of Ecuador. Volunteers can enjoy biking, rafting, jungle tours, bungee jumping, or hiking to any of the area’s beautiful waterfalls. For those wishing for a less adrenaline-fueled adventure, Banos is also famous for its baths; its name is Spanish for “Baths of Sacred Water”, which comes from the areas many hydrothermal springs. Volunteers can treat themselves with a luxurious spa bath or a massage form one of the city’s many studios.
Mindo Cloud Forest
Around 2 hours drive from Quito is Mindo, a small Western Andean town famous for its unique biodiversity. The Chocoan lowlands and the Andes meet in this area, making it an incredibly lush and fertile region of forests, crops and pastures. Try a hike or zip-line through Mindo’s expansive cloud forest, home to hundreds of bird, butterfly, and plant species. This is a must see for our nature-lover volunteers!