The Most Beautiful City in South America

I started my journey in the capital city, Quito; it has been described as the most beautiful city in South America

I’ve been reading so many good things about Ecuador lately, I decided to fly down and check it out for myself. From snow-capped volcanoes to dense Amazon jungle, from sun-drenched Pacific beaches to the famous Galapagos Islands, this is a place of astounding natural beauty. Ecuador is perhaps the most biodiverse country in the world. Despite covering a mere 0.02 percent of the world’s landmass, it is home to 10 percent of the world’s plant and animal species. Ecuador has more than 100 different types of hummingbirds!

Ecuadorians live their lives in jungle river towns, coastal fishing villages, isolated cattle ranches, the grounds of ancient haciendas, and large colonial cities. Its compact size makes it possible to experience many of these different lifestyles in a single day. I started my journey in the capital city, Quito, which has been described as the most beautiful city in South America. Spanish influence here is apparent in its stately colonial architecture. At 10,000 feet in the Andes, it is also one of the highest capitals in elevation.

Wandering the cobblestone streets of the old town was a great experience

I was impressed with one cathedral in town that used indigenous animals instead of gargoyles on the façade. There were dolphins, turtles, jaguars, iguanas, monkeys, and anteaters!

Because of the strength of the US dollar (you can retire and live on $300 a month), I was able to rent an entire penthouse apartment that occupied the top two floors of a new building, for the same price that I pay for my one room in a three-bedroom apartment in America. And it was very nice:

You can retire and live on $300 a month

The view from my bedroom wasn’t bad either – the active Pichincha volcano. It looms over the western side of the city. Quito is also the only capital in the world to be directly menaced by an active volcano.

The active Pichincha volcano

The Quito penthouse was my base of operations as I worked from the internet, planned my next move, and made new local friends.

I made new local friends

A ceviche dinner for less than $5 is hard to beat

I finally had to leave the city and head for the coast, where I spent time in Canoa. Canoa is described as “a pleasant, laid-back fishing village on the Pacific coast of Ecuador, popular with travelers and yet not overrun by them. It’s an excellent place to chill out for a few days on the beach or practice your surfing skills.”

Canoa is described as a pleasant, laid-back fishing village on the Pacific coast of Ecuador

Here’s the main strip in Canoa

I sampled a local drink that included various insects, coca leaves, and a very strong local alcohol…

After returning to Quito and regaining my strength back at the penthouse, I headed off into the Amazon for whitewater rafting. I was joined by my good friend, Mike Galie, from Hawaii. I hadn’t seen him in at least 10 years, so it was great to see an old friend. For this adventure, we were off to Tena. Tena is famous for the rainforest and rivers that surround it. The jungle is impressive. One can be changed forever after laying eyes on a pristine stretch of the Amazon. Tena has reached near-legendary status with whitewater enthusiasts and boasts the best rafting and kayaking in Ecuador. Led by our indigenous Indian guides, Mike, myself, and a cool Irish couple were the only ones on the river.

I headed off into the Amazon for whitewater rafting

We stopped to jump off waterfalls deep in the Amazon

We spent six hours on near class-IV rapids. The river shown below merged with another river, and the trip got gnarlier. Almost everyone was thrown from the raft at some point.

Almost everyone was thrown from the raft at some point…

We were careful to watch out for biting insects and fish that swim up your penis

Leafcutter ants hard at work…

We saw more wildlife than you can imagine while in the Amazon

This is a country where jaguars still roam freely; although this is not one of them, he’s a cool jungle cat all the same

Sharing a beverage with our indigenous Indian friends at the end of a great day

Peace and Love,