Arriving in Quito at night, we didn’t get a good look around until we awoke in the morning to find ourselves in the Andes at 9,300 feet elevation, surrounded by 15,000 foot high volcanoes. There are many contrasts between the Galapagos and mainland Ecuador and one of the most pertinent to travelers is altitude. We had prepared for the altitude with prescription medication, staying hydrated, and not over-exerting at first. Still, we noticed a shortness of breath when merely walking, especially the first couple of days.
Rodrigo, our Ecuador guide greeted our flight and together with bus driver Roberto, made sure we arrived safely and efficiently at our accommodation, Mercure Grand Hotel Alameda in a district called La Mariscal. We soon met-up with our second guide, Eduardo and enjoyed the services of two knowledgeable and personable guides. With a population of over 2.5 million, Quito is shoehorned into its mountain valley, shanties and modest homes creeping up the surrounding slopes. Its colonial center was one of the first World Heritage Sites.
“Virgen de Quito” and religious painting on wood