Great emperors, intrepid explorers, colonists and scientists have all been coming to the Ecuadorian Andes for centuries in search of treasures – be these in the form of land, wealth, knowledge or power. The Incas — who’s renowned empire was far larger than that of the Romans, but who never managed to fully dominate the proud, strong inhabitants of this land — established only partial reign that lasted a mere 50 years. The Spanish arrived on the heels of the Incas, finding a great deal of treasure in Ecuador and leaving behind a legacy best seen in the colonial architecture of its capital – Quito.
Scientists have long used the glaciated peaks along the equator to determine the shape of the earth, to establish the length of a meter, and to ascertain the line marking the planets exact middle. Yet their greater discovery was learning that indigenous peoples — without the use of modern technology — had already figured this all out thousands of years earlier.
The highland peoples of Ecuador have managed to maintain their cultural heritage — perhaps their most valuable treasure — largely unaffected by outside influences. In the 21st century, the inhabitants of “Volcano Avenue” (as explorer Friedrich Humboldt dubbed the Ecuadorian Andes), continue to welcome explorers from around the world with the promise of different kinds of treasures: Those of discovery, adventure and sensory delight.
The Andes are home to dozens of distinct cultural groups, each with their own language, history and civilization for exploring. The Andean region boasts ancient ruins and pre–historic cultures, as well as some of the most spectacular cathedrals in this part of the world.
For the adventurous, there is no shortage of things to do in the highlands: hiking, biking, trekking, horseback riding, mountain climbing, white-water rafting and countless other activities await.
Depending on your taste and budget, the Andes offer charming boutique hotels, business and chain hotels, countryside haciendas, cloud forest lodges and spa hotels – some with their own thermal springs. Meanwhile, cobblestoned streets, colonial courtyards and glowing cupolas dominate the charming highland cities of Quito and Cuenca, where modern and vibrant city life happily coexists with those traces of the colonial era.
The cities offer urban pleasures like shopping for indigenous arts and crafts, textiles, antiques, leather goods, jewelry, etc… not to mention exciting nightlife, world-class restaurants and an array of modern forms of entertainment.
Beyond the cities, visitors can get a taste of Ecuador’s indigenous lifestyle by visiting one of the many vibrant “Indian” markets. Here, cheerful vendors with sun-wizened faces framed by beads and embroidery, offer exotic spices, hand-woven fabrics, piglets on leashes and rainbows of tropical produce in town squares across the highland region.
We are passionate about the Andes. We want to give you a glimpse of our world.
Just imagine: Andean cowboys in llama-skin chaps herding wild horses across the lunar landscape of the Paramo highland; nature flaunting herself in an opulent spectacle as orchids, butterflies and hummingbirds compete in a pageant of color and mystery in the bewitching Andean cloud forest; patchwork fields blanketing pointy volcanoes with stormy grey clouds simmering up from the jungle beyond; rivers thundering recklessly down thousands of feet of rocky terrain, giving birth the mighty Amazon River; or the moon rising to sit on the shoulders of the world’s highest active volcano while the stars of two hemispheres dance in the sky above.
Let Surtrek share our highland experience with you.
These are lands of mystery, of natural wonders, of proud people;
These are the Andes of Ecuador