Laguna Quilotoa, EcuadorThe Quilatoa volcano last erupted back in 1280 and left behind a 1.8-mile caldera, which gradually filled with water. Now known as Laguna Quilotoa, it is colored a beautiful turquoise and lies 12,985 feet up an Andes mountain. Meanwhile, the town of Quilatoa nestles at the southwest edge of the lake and can be accessed by a 4.7-mile hiking trail around the rim of the crater.
Moreover, the area is crisscrossed with many hiking trails. However, visitors are warned that this is a challenging hiking area, only suitable for experienced hikers. However, the views experienced truly make up for the effort.
The Swing at the End of the World, BañosThis next location isn’t suitable for those with a fear of heights. The Swing at the End of the World is attached to a seismic monitoring station in a tree house, known as La Casa del Arbol. While the tree house is interesting in itself, what captures the daredevils’ interest is the swing. It does have a seat belt to hold the rider safely, but bear in mind it swings directly out over the canyon, with a massive drop beneath.
Apparently, no one can tell you who originally placed the swing, but it is likely the work of a whimsical seismologist. Whoever came up with the idea doesn’t matter, as the panoramic views are incredible – both from the swing and on the ground. You can see the swing in action in the video included below.
Garcia Moreno Prison, QuitoA rather more daunting location is the Garcia Moreno Prison in Quito. This infamous lockup dates back 140 years and has been converted into a museum. Meanwhile, the prison has had some fascinating inmates in its past. These include corrupt politicians and a con man who posed as the son of the Costa Rican president. Nowadays, visitors can explore the cells and even see some of the former inmates’ belongings, including old clothing, socks and magazines. Visitors can enjoy a two-hour tour where the guides, some of which are former prison guards, tell tales of the colorful characters imprisoned there.
Intiñan Solar Museum, QuitoWhile in Quito, make a point of visiting the Intiñan Solar Museum which claims to be the home of the “true equator.” The museum is tucked away in the Andes foothills and is a mix of culture, physics, and folklore. Meanwhile, it stands a short distance away from what is said to the the “official” monument to the equator. Moreover, the site has been bisected with a line of red paint to make what officials claim is the site of the middle of the world.
The museum itself is an interesting visit, with its life-sized dioramas depicting daily life in Ecuador. Among the exhibits are pickled snakes, a totem pole, an allegedly real shrunken head and a blow-dart range.
When on vacation in Ecuador, make a point to visit these unique and fascinating locations in the South American country.