Cobblestone streets, whitewashed houses adorned with intricate balconies and grand plazas are quintessential features of Quito, forever under the gaze of the winged Virgin statue that sits high up on the Panecillo Hill.
The Old Town 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.
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.
Ecuador’s tropical climate has produced a superior quality of chocolate: rich, bitter, heavenly and devilish all in one mouthful. Led by our chef, guests of Casa Gangotena will have the opportunity to taste a selection of chocolate from diverse regions of the country, learning about the art and science that goes into the creation of this exquisite treat.
The beautiful Church and Convent of San Francisco have always been open to the public, but our exclusive visit (which is hosted by a Franciscan monk) takes us up secret and winding staircases that take us up the towers of the church – spaces that are usually only accessible to bell ringers! When done at dusk, this unique experience is a truly memorable way of concluding a day of exploring.
Here at Casa Gangotena, we have developed a unique type of treatment that focuses on your soul. The Limpia Andina (“Andean Cleansing”) is a ceremony performed by Mama Rosita – an expert in traditional medicine whose family has been practicing the ritual for generations. She uses local herbs and plants to expel bad energy from your body, leaving you feeling completely refreshed and energized.
Do you know what the shell represents in Casa Gangotena’s coat of arms? Or where society ladies used to take high tea and gossip in the 19th century? As a former home to one of Quito’s most illustrious families, Casa Gangotena is rich with secrets, and our discussions of its history scratch the surface of the past of the very corridors you will tread.
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 and 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.