The longest continental mountain range in the world, the Andean highlands stretch the length of South America’s western coast. Amazingly long (4,300 miles), and surprisingly thin (between 120 to 430 miles wide), the Andes is also the world's highest mountain range outside of Asia...high enough to leave you breathless in more ways than one.
The Andes extend from north to south through seven South American countries: Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Chile, and Argentina. Within this region are of several high plateau, some of which host major cities that are among the best tourism destinations for a 2017 summer vacation. One of these is the Ecuadorian capital of Quito, which we believe deserves special consideration for those seeking unforgettable South American travel experiences this year.
With the historic district considered the largest, best-preserved and most beautiful city in all of South America, Quito is the jewel in Ecuador's crown. Ensconced in a long and narrow Andean valley, while skirted by the peaks of the area’s “Avenue of the Volcanos,” most travelers sense of wave of sheer awe the moment they touch down in Quito.
Because of its remarkable colonial architecture, with 375.2 hectares of historic downtown buildings, the city was designated the planet’s first UNESCO World Heritage City in 1978 (ahead of cities like Bruges Belgium and Venice, Italy). Strolling through its narrow, cobblestone streets is like taking a journey back in time.
Only a 20-minute walk from the history “old town” is Quito’s modern “new town.” A completely different world, here you will come upon trendy cafés, international restaurants, travel agencies, cybercafés, bars and small hotels. For travelers, its heart is the colorful Mariscal Sucre district, which definitely lives up to its nickname of gringolandia (“gringo land”), though locals also flock here in droves on the weekend.
In sum, on a summer vacation to this city, you will find snowcapped Andes Mountains, towering above you as they seem to glow in the moonlight. Quito is well suited for everything from active travel adventures and to indulgent shopping and big-city dining, just as it is for more relaxed activities like day walks, hikes and cultural experiences.
As an aside, keep in mind that Quito also serves as a convenient jumping off point for traveling to the nearby Amazon rainforest as well as for taking a short flight to the country’s legendary Galapagos Islands.