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The Most Complete Guide of Ecuador

Sebastian Almeida: Discover unexplored routes around Quito.

Sebastian Almeida, mountain guide and survival instructor, is also a writer, on his way to publishing his second book. Sebastian is a member of “Aventura Extrema” or “Extreme Adventure” tourism operator and he is a firm believer and promoter of designated tourism routes in Ecuador.

In an interview, he tells us more about the several routes we have only 30-40 min away from Quito.


 In the Metropolitan District of Quito, there are 26 designed rural routes.

Extreme Adventure’s objective is for the Ecuadorian people to visit the rural areas of their country. Usually, a regular local tourist will travel to the Coast, Baños or Mindo but the destinations that are being proposed here are located 30-40 min away from Quito. “They (local tourists) have to dare to explore nature and come in contact with new local communities.”


Recommended Routes

The objective target are those who love nature and particularly bird-watching because most of the destinations listed below are important bird areas.

1. Pauma – Via Calacalí, La Independencia:

Pauma, in the region of Nono, means “flat head.” This route is managed as a star route because it combines birdwatching, rappelling, and the exploration of endemic flora such as orchids.

The trek takes a whole day and the trip includes transportation, breakfast, a detailed explanation of endemic orchids in the zone, a 2-hour walk to Pacai waterfall (45m tall), a short walk towards and the descent down Gallo de Pena waterfall.  You descend the “Gallo de Peña” waterfall, that has a 22 meters drop. (Don’t be fooled, people of up to 80 years old have done it!)

The highlight of the tour: orchids, birds, adventure sports!

2. Pintag:

This route begins at the general plaza in Pintag, where you get to try the famous Carlitos sweet bread. After eating delicious freshly baked bread, you advance to Mica Cocha following the Pato Urco trail, which stands at 4,100m)

You make a short stop at Tambo Condor where a guide will tell you about these grandiose animals of the Andes.

After lunch (included in the tour) a trail takes you to the Secas Lagoon (3,600m) to walk-in petrified water and artisanal fishing from the boat. By night you take a night walk through the surroundings of Tambo Condor.

The highlights of this route: fishing, camping, condors, and the beautiful Andean paramo.

3. La Piragua Waterfall – Nanegal

A family-oriented trek, easy for kids, or older family members because it requires minimal physical effort. The route can be easily accessed by car (following signs) and it is ideal for birdwatching.

La Piragua Waterfall stands at 1,300m and has a 45 m drop. La Piragua gets is name because of the umbrella-like shape that forms when the water meets the rocks. The walk to the waterfall is only 5 minutes long through a well signaled trail. Once there, you will find changing rooms, bathrooms and garbage cans.

For lunch you can find many nearby cafeterias and restaurants that offer typical dishes.


Bicycle Routes

1. El Cinto Sanctuary- Lloa:

From el Cinto you make your way to Toro-Urco towards the San Francisco community. You arrive at an elevated cable car, and its 21km only one way. It is a hard route preferably for people who are active and have a medium to high-level expertise on bikes.

2. Pacto- Mashpi (36km):

This route is a must because the encounters with nature are truly unmatched. You will cross paths with many animals including toucans and the Quetsal. We recommend this one for large groups, families, or friend groups.

3. Nono- Alaspungo (13 km):

This route is ideal for families. It begins in the central plaza of Nono, where you take the detour towards Alambi, and get directly to Alaspungo. You will enjoy incredible sights!


More about Sebastian:

Member of “Aventura Extrema” or “Extreme Adventure” tourism operator, his task is to explore through scientific expeditions. Some of his favorite expeditions to date have been the Tayos Cave and Llanganates where he studies the indigenous worldview and the mysticism or legends surrounding the area.

“I’ve always tried to focus on the mythology and mysteries surrounding different places because each zone has a mystical side that must be told.” Whether the stories are being told by the locals or by ourselves as guides, mystical storytelling is one of the components of experiential tourism that sells the most.  Tourists love to experience the supernatural.

Sebastian believes that the creation and better management of designated routes are key for the development of tourism in the country because their aim will be directed to rescuing traditions, historic ways of living and colloquial mythologies.

Thank you, Sebastian, for sharing your experience with us!

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