Ecuador’s Flowering Plants—Blooming Beauty Beyond Belief
February 2-9th, 2008

February 4, Day 3: City-tour Quito
We enjoyed breakfast at our hotel, then we were off for an amazing tour showing highlights of the beautiful Quito Metro area. From the historical center of Quito, with its Baroque churches, squares and museums, we experienced a wealth of 16th and 17th century architecture.

Nestled deep within the valley of towering Andean volcanoes, at 2,800m (around 10,000 feet) above sea level, Quito's spectacular old town extends over 320 hectares - the largest historic centre in the Americas. Host to 40 churches and chapels, 16 convents and monasteries with their respective cloisters, 17 plazas, 12 chapter rooms and refectories, 12 museums and countless courtyards, Quito's historical heritage is only equaled by the energy and vibrancy of its thousands of residents.

Quito is truly an asset to the history of America: the great majority of its buildings have withstood the trials of nature and the tribulations of Man. The city's diverse cultures have generated a treasure trove of artistic, cultural and historic wealth, safe-guarded down the centuries to the present. UNESCO recognized this fact in November 1978 when it declared Quito the first World Heritage Site. Quito is, without doubt, a tourist destination not to be missed. 25 years on, Quito's authorities celebrated its World Heritage nomination by transforming the Old Town, reclaiming its elegant public spaces, its grandeur and its legacy. New museums have been inaugurated, cultural centers opened up, mansions restored, restaurants and cafés launched, safety improved, traffic regulated. The capital's heart beats with renewed vigour, cultural life and pride, as citizens and visitors alike enjoy its unique attractions. The jewel in Ecuador's crown today shines brighter than ever before.

On the way to the Equator Line, we visited the Quito Botanical Garden. Mr. Alexander Hirtz met us at the gates, shared a bit of the history, then toured us around. The garden includes plants that have adapted to the harsh climate of the high Andes, as well as tropical plants that are bountiful in the lush cloud and rain forests. The garden includes representations of the following ecosystems: the moorlands or paramos of the high Andes, the cloud forest, the dry forest, the damps of the highlands, Inca garden, bromeliad garden, palm garden, and orchid displays. More than 1,200 orchid species and a number of hybrids are exhibited in "Crystal Palaces" inside the botanical garden. These palaces occupy an area of 800 square meters. One palace holds altitude orchids and the other tropical species. In Ecuador, one of each four plant species is an orchid. I can tell you that there were many in our group that were very surprised at the plant material here. These greenhouses are incredible! And should not be missed. I have seen many orchids over the years but in these greenhouses there were orchids I had never seen before.

In one hectare of the Ecuadorian tropical rain forest there are more than 350 plant species, a true world record! Ecuador holds approximately 17,000 plant species, more than the whole European continent. The medicine that has saved the most lives in the world was discovered in an Ecuadorian plant, the "cascarilla".

We enjoyed visits to monuments and museums and had time to purchase handicrafts and mementos for friends and family at home while visiting a local craft market.

Lunch was in the Crater Restaurant, perched on the edge of the world's largest
inhabited volcanic crater, the extinct volcano Pululahua.
We returned to our hotel in Quito until dinner.







  • New Eden
  • Kids Garden
  • Plant a Row Grow a Row