Planning a getaway for two? Look no further than Ecuador, which is filled with romantic cities, mesmerizing landscapes and interesting wildlife. Go for a week, and come back more in love with South America… and each other. Why? Simply put, Ecuador is like no other place on earth.
Wherever you’re flying from, fly into Quito. (It’s the country’s most accessible international airport.) Most international flights to Quito land in the late afternoon or evening, so plan to stay two nights to have a full day to explore Quito. Start in the Old Town, where you can see the magnificent Iglesia de San Francisco and its accompanying museum; La Compañía de Jesús’ ornate interior; a 19th-century mansion, Casa Museo María Augusta Urrutia; and La Plaza de la Independencia, once the city's main square, lined with charming cafés today. After that, head to El Panecillo, where you'll get the best view of the city and see the Virgin of Quito monument. End your day at Plaza Foch, in New Town, for dinner, drinks, and if you’re both up for it, dancing.
Okay, you’ve done the bustling city thing—now it’s time for a few relaxing days in Ecuador’s natural surroundings. Rent a car and take your getaway for two to the highlands of the northern Sierra region; but on the way, don’t forget to stop at the Quitsato Mitad del Mundo. (You can take a photo here with one foot in two different hemispheres!) Stay a couple nights near Otavalo, where you can see Volcán Imbabura, go horseback riding, peruse artisan markets, watch weavers hard at work in Peguche, or have lunch at one of the area’s most historic haciendas, Hacienda Pinsaquí. The nearby volcanic-crater lake, Lago Cuicocha, is also not to be missed, so go for a hike around its rim or even hop on a boat and take in the views from the water. Whatever you do that day, plan to go to sleep relatively early that night. You both will have to catch an early flight to your next stop: the Amazon!
You can’t go all the way to Ecuador and not explore its rainforest. Catch a flight from Quito, and head to a part of the world where the birdwatching is unparalleled. Ecuador is home to an estimated 1600 species of birds, most of which are found in the Amazon: including toucans, macaws and even tanagers. The national parks in this region—like The Yasuní National Park and Biosphere Reserve, Sumaco Napo-Galeras, Cayambe-Coca and Llanganates—are also worth seeing. Go here for beautiful rainforest views, interesting hikes, and of course, a mystical land teeming with exotic wildlife.
Fly back to Quito and spend another half a day soaking up its city vibes. Then, the next morning, take those experiences with you as you catch your flight back home. Don’t stay away too long, though. Surtrek has more of Ecuador for you to see the next time you visit!