A range of landscapes from near desert to the wet Choco cloud forest beckon to the north of Quito.
One of the main visitor attractions to the north of Quito is the famous Otavalo market – the largest artesan market in Latin America. On Saturdays (the busiest day) a full nine blocks of the city are closed off to traffic.
However, the region offers many other exciting experiences – and all just a couple of easy hours’ travel from the capital. Vast landscapes, volcanoes, lakes and valleys are the order of the day here.
Join the Tren de la Libertad (Liberation Train) for the one-and-a-half hour journey from Ibarra to Salinas and watch the landscape change before your eyes as the train passes through various micro-climate zones. Or visit the wood carving town of San Antonio de Ibarra and marvel at the skill of the local woodcarvers as they turn whole tree trunks into beautifully polished works of art.
The area directly to the north of Quito is generally quite dry, and there are some lovely haciendas where you can ride horses, go for day treks or just kick back and relax in the tranquility of the countryside.
Choco Cloud Forest
To the northwest of Quito, the gradual descent to the coastal plain starts and this area is known as the Choco Cloud Forest. Here the climate can be very wet, but this unique lush green habitat – enveloped in mysterious mists for much of the year – is home to an astonishing variety of fauna and flora.
Ecuador is a birdwatchers’ paradise with some 18% of the world’s bird species (totalling more than 1,600 species) being found in Ecuador. Add to that around a million species of insects, 4,500 species of butterflies, and hundreds of species of fish, amphibians, reptiles and mammals and it is no surprise that Ecuador is one of the planet’s top nations in respect of biodiversity.
New species are still being discovered in the Choco cloud forests of Ecuador and Colombia. The latest new discovery – the Olingito – belongs to the same family as the racoon and olingo, but has recently been confirmed as a new species.
To discover more about this truly stunning region including the cloud forest in Mindo and Imbabura Province, give us a call or send us a message.
Places we love to stay
This historic colonial hacienda set in beautiful countryside offers some of the best horses and riding in Ecuador.View details about Hacienda Zuleta
Undoubtedly the most exclusive and luxurious hotel in the heart of the Choco cloud forest, Mashpi Lodge is a world away from the world.View details about Mashpi Lodge