Cobblestone streets, whitewashed houses adorned with intricate balconies, and grand plazas are quintessential features of downtown Quito, forever under the gaze of the winged Virgin statue that sits high up on the Panecillo Hill.
Colonial Quito invites you to explore its streets, plazas, and passageways that are steeped in the history and culture of the city, to peep into the darkened shops selling traditional hats and chocolates, and to pause on street corners to taste the snacks that Quiteños have enjoyed for generations. Exploring downtown will bring you face to face with many of the landmarks in Quito!
Quito’s Old Town ranks among one of the largest and best-conserved historic centers in all of the Americas. It is a preserved wonder from a bygone era, brimming with museums and exhibitions that help piece together the larger picture of the city of Quito—a jewel on the crown of the Andes.
Join us for a walking tour of the historic heart of Quito at dusk, as we stroll to the Plaza Grande and back, looking beyond the façades of the mansions and churches to tell the human stories that are often overlooked. Your host will share the neighborhood’s legends and tales, full of characters—both real and invented—who make it such a fascinating place to explore. Definitely one of the top activities on the ground in Quito!
Walking distance: 1 mile / 1.5 kilometers
Available on Fridays at 5 p. m.
Join us for a cooking class in the company of our chef. He’ll share his knowledge of Ecuador’s incredibly diverse ingredients and fascinating culinary traditions. Together, you’ll prepare one of Ecuador’s most typical dishes: ceviche de camarón, shrimp ceviche. Although Peru has gained fame for its version, Ecuador’s is more liquid and includes all sorts of ingredients, including tomatoes and onions, as well as Andean superfoods such as amaranth and quinoa.
We can also prepare a vegetarian version, using heart of palm, which grows abundantly in Ecuador. ¡Buen provecho!
Available on Mondays at 4 p. m.
Many people have no idea that the delicious, and always slightly decadent, delicacy that is chocolate actually originated in Ecuador. And, more importantly still, nowadays the country produces some of the most amazing and mouth-watering bars in the world. During this hands-on experience in the company of your host, we’ll taste a traditional quiteño hot chocolate (which includes adding fresh cheese to the delightful brew) as well as a variety of fine chocolate bars from the Amazon and the Coast.
Available on Thursdays at 6 p. m.
We take you up to the third floor, to enjoy stunning 270º views of Quito’s Historic Center, brimming with churches and convents, squares, and daily life. It’s a truly privileged place: from here, we can appreciate our location right on the Equator—a key attraction for sun-worshipping peoples like the Incas—while tracing the Colonial, Republican, and contemporary periods of the capital’s development. We can also admire its dramatic mountainous location, cupped by the green and jagged peaks of the Andes’ “Avenue of the Volcanos”.
Available on Wednesdays and Sundays at 6 p. m.
Step back in time to explore our historic mansion, once the home of one of the most prestigious and wealthy families in the city. In the company of your host, you’ll learn about how life was lived out among its elegant rooms, how its history is intertwined with that of the city and, of course, we’ll let you in on some family myths and gossip, too. On our exploration, we’ll also take you behind the scenes, to understand the huge task that transforming the mansion into a hotel implied.
Available on Tuesdays and Saturdays at 6 p. m.
Ecuador has fantastic year-round weather. In Quito and the highlands, the dry season tends to last between June and September, with daytime temperatures hovering around 21 °C (70 °F). The rainy season lasts from October to May, with March and April typically being the wettest months. During this latter season, guests can expect clear skies in the mornings and showers in the afternoon, followed by intermittent bursts of sunshine. Average temperatures during the rainy season tend to hover around 19 °C (67 °F).
The highlight of any trip to Ecuador is the Galapagos Islands. The archipelago is full of fearless, fantastic creatures that inspired Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution. Whether aboard an expedition vessel (such as the Santa Cruz II, Yacht La Pinta, or Yacht Isabela II) or from the Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel on Santa Cruz Island, the Galapagos won’t fail to impress.
Aside from its impressive cultural treasures, Ecuador’s natural riches are staggering and amazingly diverse. Head north of the capital to experience volcanos, historic haciendas, lakes and Indian markets. Head east to discover the mighty Amazon, where the concentration of flora and fauna is truly remarkable. Venture south for the mighty “Avenue of the Volcanos.” Casa Gangotena is only the beginning of the adventure!
Mashpi Lodge is the ultimate cloud forest destination for those who want to encounter hundreds of species of birds, trees and frogs found nowhere else in the world, complete with crashing waterfalls and incredible flora. Trek down hidden paths, splash through rivers, rise at dawn to spot rare birds, or fly high above the canopy aboard the Dragonfly gondola.