Jun 022012

Presidential guard outside the Ecuadorian Presidents palace in Quito

Ecuador is a very diverse country which offers lots of photographic opportunities. The country has four distinctly different geographic regions.

1. Galapagos Islands

2. La Costa (the coast)

3. La Sierra (the highlands)

4. El Oriente (the East or Amazon basin)

In previous visits to Ecuador I have been fortunate to explore much of the highlands and after four visits to Galapagos I have now seen the majority of the areas around the islands that are open to visitors.

Since 2008, I have been visiting Napo Wildlife Centre (NWC) in the Amazon basin. NWC is entirely owned and operated by the Añangu community and is the only lodge inside the Yasuni National Park.

In previous Galapagos tours I offered an optional tour to NWC after we returned from Galapagos. In 2012, Jim Slobodian and I decided to try something new; have the optional tour to Napo before going to Galapagos.

To make this work, I needed a buffer day before NWC in case anyone’s flight was delayed. Therefore, the first day of the workshop was a tour of Mitad del Mundo (the equatorial monument) and a tour of Quito. I organized this with Tierra de Fuego in Quito. Our guide was Felix, who proved to be an excellent guide.

Richard, Jim and the group visit the equator.

Instead of visiting the regular equatorial monument, Felix took us to the Inti-Nan Museum. This museum had a variety of interesting exhibits but best of all were the interactive experiments. The most popular was the demonstration of the Coriolis effect, check out my video on my Youtube channel….

Demonstration of the Coriolis Effect at the Equator

Nancy MacNab climbing the stairs to the top of the basilica's Northern tower

Following our visit to the equator we drove to the old part of Quito and went to the impressive Basilica del Voto Nacional. The basilica was started in 1892, it was consecrated and inaugurated over 90 years later in 1988. Officially the basilica is unfinished but they have something to do with the legend that the world will end when construction is completed!

 

The basilica does not have the history of other Quito churches but it does offer tremendous views from it’s towers.  An interesting feature of the basilica is that gargoyles have been replaced by sculptures of the animals found across Ecuador.

 

After visiting the basilica, Felix led us on a walking tour of the old city. It was a great walk, especially as it was Sunday and the streets were closed to traffic. Unfortunately the majority of churches were closed to visitors but we did visit the Jesuit church “La Compania” which is probably my favourite church in Quito.

"Gargoyles" depicting Ecuadorian animals around the Basilica

The only downside of our walk is that Ottmar had a trouser pocket slashed but fortunately he did not lose his money. In Quito, be very vigilant, keep your backpack in front of you. Take small amounts of money in your pockets.

The day ended at the viewpoint “El Panecillo” which is to the South of the old city. The following morning we flew to the Amazon basin but that’s another story…

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