“Driving along the Pan-American Highway | In search of the hidden Ecuador”
Travel+Leisure China edition, May 2017
By: David Lang Photos: Mark Downey
English Summary Translation
Most tourists in Ecuador only visit the Galapagos Islands，and treat Quito, Guayaquil and other cities as transfer stops. As a small country, Ecuador has a long history，amazing culture and colorful native people markets. My journey in Ecuador took me to eight provinces and covered many miles on the Pan-American Highway. I was deeply attracted by places such as Cuenca, and Ecuador’s delicious food, friendly people and their respect for nature.
A Capital City High in Clouds
Quito is dramatically situated, hemmed in by mountain peaks, and is the second highest capital city in the world after La Paz. The Plaza de San Francisco is a major public square in the Quito’s Historic Town, which was built on ancient Incan ruins. The Basilica of the National Vow is a Roman Catholic church. It is the largest and most beautiful neo-Gothic basilica in the Americas, in addition to many missions and churches dating back from the early days of Spanish rule. We stayed at the charming Patio Andaluz hotel, which is within walking distance to Plaza Grande, La Ronda Street, and multiple other attractions.
Craftsmanship and Historical Heritage
Quito has a number of historic shops passed from one generation to the next. I wrote about Las Quesadillas de San Juan, Colaciones, and Bigalli, and described their history and products in detail.
Colorful Native Markets
This section describes the scene and smell of markets in Saquisili, Guaclacco and Mercado 25 De Junio.
This section talks about all the delicious food that I have tasted in Ecuador: hornado from Guaclacco and Riobamba；Encebollado fish soup in Cuenca；stewed llama meat in Palcio Rio village; trout from Dos Chorreras；beef tripe and intestine from Guayaquil; ceviche and Loja coffee, etc. I also highlighted Alejandro Chamorro and his Nuema restaurant, talked about his apprenticeship with Chef Gaston Acurio in Lima and Chef Rene Redzepi in Denmark; and his new restaurant at the Illa Hotel in San Marcos. I predict that he will be one of the top three chefs in Quito in the years to come!
Cuenca - Love at First Sight
The Spanish settlement of Cuenca was founded in 1557. Andrés Hurtado de Mendoza, then Viceroy of Peru ordered the city named after his hometown of Cuenca, Spain. Cuenca is my favorite city with its cobblestone streets, old-world cathedrals, colonial parks and urban rivers. It is also a college town with four institutes of higher learning.
I toured Parque Calderon, El Sagrario and Catedral de la Inmaculada Concepcion, and saw a girl celebrating her Quinceanera with her family there. I love the flower market in front of Church of El Carmen; Carolina Bookstore and Libri-Mundi Cuenca; and Café de Nucallacta, where I met a number of American expatriates.
In the evening, I climbed up the hill in the Turi district to enjoy the stunning city view at night. I almost forgot where I am at!
Ecuador Travel Info
In this section, I recommend Latin Trails as a wonderful tour operator for small group travel in Ecuador.
Hotels listed are Patio Andaluz, Los Balcones and Illa Experience Hotel; and eateries/restaurants listed are Las Quesadillas de San Juan, Nuema, and Dos Chorreras Hacienda/Hosteria.
I also recite the routes we took to be used as a reference for Chinese tourists who want to do a self-guided driving tour.