Ecuador capital is a city with altitude

9th Apr 2013

With an elevation of 9,350 feet in a valley surrounded by the Andes Mountains, it's easy to see why Ecuador's capital is held in high esteem.

Quito is the world's second-highest capital city.

It's because of this that tourists, particularly those seduced by trekking holidays, can enjoy its all-year springlike climate, despite it being located near the Equator.

A northern Quito suburb called Carcelen is just as majestic as the Andean peaks and volcanoes that look down on it.

The historical centre - or 'old town' - is a labyrinth of colonial splendour.

The old town retains a vibrant working class and indigenous character - despite intensive restoration - and helped Quito win Unesco World Heritage Site status in 1978.

Exploring its narrow streets is to wander into a bygone era of sensory overload.

Stray dogs stroll past indigenous women carrying impossible loads and old men in sailor suits selling ice cream, while shops sell every odd commodity imaginable.

The constant hum of hollering vendors provides an aural backdrop like chanting in a monastery, while the sense of smell is aroused by cooking peanuts and baking bread.

Quito's Mariscal Sucre 'new town' region - only a 20-minute walk from the old town - provides a colourful polar opposite with its multi-storey hotels, high-rises and government complexes.

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