Read more about the article Ipiales – Colombia
Ipiales - Colombia

Ipiales – Colombia

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Ciudad de las nubes verdes: the city of the green clouds

Our first experience and welcome in Colombia, as exciting as it sounds to visit another country, even though this is just for a tiny place (for now). Nevertheless, after coming here, whenever we plan a proper trip in Colombia it will save us lots of time and days in not having to come all this way far south in the country to get here and instead spare it for the so many beautiful cities and villages elsewhere through the country. From our base in Quito to Ipiales is 250 kilometres, which might sound not too much but believe me, it will be a lengthily journey, through 3 mountain passes and then both border immigration controls.

Getting this far south in Colombia, to the very last village before Ecuador (or first village after Ecuador depending how you look at it) might sound odd when you think on first instance, keeping you wondering why. However, once you do some research and get to see the major landmark that is the Santuario de las Lajas, you will immediately realise and recall it. It’s highly likely you’ve seen it in pictures, movies, travel brochures or somewhere, especially if you are a heavy traveller as we are. If you are on a trip through Colombia, then it is almost guaranteed you have this place in your tour, although will only make sense if you are continuing farther south into Ecuador, otherwise yes, it is really in the middle of nowhere. In the other hand, if you are touring Ecuador, it can be more realistic to do such a tour in a day trip from Quito; as it was in our experience.

Bear in mind that reaching Ipiales and visiting Las Lajas will take you an entire day, most of it will be sitting on a bus. In the plus side, the journey along the Panamericana is part of the excitement. Passing through countless volcanoes, mountain passes and lush forests; if you are lucky enough to have a clear day it is simply impressive to see. The beautiful and quiet countryside at the foothills of the Andes, with Ipiales itself at a height above sea level of 2900 meters, one of the highest cities in the world. (more…)

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Read more about the article Quito – Ecuador
Quito - Ecuador

Quito – Ecuador

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Ciudad de los Cielos: City of the Heavens

Our first big trip for 2017, back in Latin America onto a new country not been before, already number 84 in the list: Ecuador. A country long been in the wish list however always so expensive to go, and hard to fit it during the best months to visit. This time all matched perfectly, with the right season to get there (more or less, it was end of the rainy season) and a good flight deal with Iberia. And as later I will farther expand on each of the travel guides for the places we visited, the internal flights were also surprisingly not expensive, something very rare if comparing any neighbouring country where internal flights are horribly expensive as for example our past experience with Brazil, Panama, Costa Rica or Guatemala.

We begin in the beautiful capital, Quito. This is the highest capital city in the world at almost 3000 meters above sea level, and of course, also the nearest capital to the Equator itself. And I find it hard how to start with this guide because there is simply too much I wish to list and I don’t want to be too long but straight to the point. However, if there is at least a single word to describe it, I must be using “impressive”. Quito, together with Krakow, Galapagos Islands, Wieliczka Salt Mines or Aachen Cathedral to name a few, were the first 12 World Cultural Heritage Sites declared by UNESCO in 1978. Being in such list is always a privilege, and being on the very first one is a statement; but no one can doubt, nor question it. Quito is the most complete, best preserved and the least altered historic colonial city in The Americas. This is a place where time stood still in the 16th century, and no matter how many earthquakes and volcanic eruptions in what is one of the most active places on earth, the city has been lucky enough to escape and survive almost intact to our days.

Originally settled by the Quitu Tribe and conquered by the Caras Tribe in 980 AD who then founded the Kingdom of Quito, it enjoyed some centuries of prosperity until 1462 when the Incas integrated the region into the Inca Empire, but not for long; just 72 years after, in 1534, they would be conquered by the Spanish who developed a new city from scratch in a matter of few years, becoming one of the most prosperous on the back then Spanish Empire for centuries. (more…)

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