Bird’s eye view of Quito

Ecuador travelogue: Chapter 9 | Read other chaptersSee photo gallery

Views over Quito, Ecuador

I don’t quite know how a bird would perceive objects from the sky, but in this post I will show you, through a camera’s lens, how Quito appears from some of the lookout points around the city. Quito, as you may know, is located in a valley surrounded by mountains and peaks on all sides. In addition, the city has some tall structures from where the views are breathtaking.


1. Basílica del Voto Nacional – atop steep stairs and rickety planks

Located at the northern edge of Quito’s UNESCO old town this Gothic church is a relatively new contribution to Quito’s skyline. Built only in the 20th century, this basilica has two high rise towers that are open to the public for a totally-worth-it $2 ticket.

↑ Twin towers of the Basilica. In different timezones.

Tip: If you can plan your travel in advance, visit this church at the end of your trip to the old town. Most, if not all sights of the old town are visible from here, so the panoramic view from the top of the towers will make more sense. Unfortunately, I began my travel to Quito from here, so I couldn’t appreciate everything I saw.

↑ New Quito seen from one of the towers.

↑ Old Quito’s little streets are always busy

2. “TeleferiQo” – on the flanks of Volcano Pichincha

The city of Quito wraps around the eastern side of volcano Pichincha. This giant erupted last in 1999 covering the city in volcanic ash. One can climb to the summit of Pichincha, but I was content in doing only a portion of the hike.

↑ Rucu (old person) peak of Pichincha, approximately an hour away from where I was standing.

A cable car will take you to an elevation of 4,100m in a breathtaking ride from the base of the mountain. The cable car sways in the wind and its constant humming and clicking sound made me quite nervous, but the scenery, of an urbanizsd chaotic city transitioning to farms and then to a patch of trees and finally to rocky surfaces, is so beautiful that I forgot I was supposed to be scared.

↑ Yes! yes! The sky tram sways in the wind and makes scary noises as it drops all the way down to the city below.

↑ The air was rare at 4.1km and I remember feeling light headed and out of breath. But wait, I can’t remember why I was running around when I should have walked…

3. El Panecillo – from inside the virgin of Quito

Sorry if it sounds dirty, but you CAN climb up inside the Virgen de Quito statue. This statue sits atop a hill in the middle of Quito. The old city is to its north.

↑ South Quito, and HDR photo gone wrong

Tip: There are a number of travel advisories against climbing to the virgin statue on foot. I met a traveller who was robbed. Unless you want to walk in your underwear, taking a taxi might be a better option. A bus or Trolley is only good till the foot.

↑ La Virgen de Quito or “La ballerina” due to her pose.

4. Itchimbía – the other side

↑ View of Volcano Cayambe and the Tababela valley to the east of Quito. They are building a new airport here.

This mirador is on the eastern side of northern Quito. Quito valley was very cloudy, but the valley on the other side of the mountain offered a stunning view of the snow capped Cayambe volcano, also visible from the Equator monument I blogged about earlier.

Birdwatching in Ecuador

Ecuador has one of the highest varieties of bird species. 1600 species of birds call this region their home, with 60 species uniquely Ecuadorean. Bird watching is therefore a big tourist activity. Unfortunately, human activity has constantly eroded the natural habitat of the birds and many are now under a threat of extinction.

Have you been to any of these sites? Which one would you enjoy doing the most?

Ecuador travelogue: Chapter 9 | Read other chaptersSee photo gallery