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Quito, the country's capital, is located about 2,800 meters (9,186 feet) above sea level and is propped right at the base of Pichincha Volcano. Founded in 1534, Quito lays about 245 km (152 miles) south of the Colombian border and about 750 km (466 miles) north of Perú. Most travelers arrive first in Quito, often described as a city with a small town atmosphere (although it is rapidly growing into a sprawling metropolis). Once the capital of the northern Incan empire, Quito is home to "Old Town", one of the most extensive colonial districts in Latin America.
A Little History
Parks in Quito
Services in Quito
Quito's Nightlife

Named a World Heritage Site by the United Nations, Quito's Old Town will transport you back and forth between centuries as you meander down its cobblestone streets, passing by vendors selling everything from grilled choclos (Andean corn) to ceramics to techno CDs.
Centrally located, Quito is also an excellent jumping-off point for a number of interesting trips, including river-rafting, cloudforest exploration, birding, mountain biking, hotsprings and more.

A Little History
Quito gained political power in the mid 16th century and by the end of the century it had become a center for art in South America where the Quito art school was created. Many parts of the city, especially the center (La Marín), has still the same architecture-wise, as it had at the time of it's creation. The independance of Quito was proclaimed on December 6th, 1809.  

Parks in Quito
Parque Metropolitano is the largest urban park in South America.  The park is located in the north of Quito, on the hillside, behind the Atahualpa Olympic Stadium. The park is an excellent place for mountain biking, walking, running or just exploring the different sculptures that are display for the public. The park has 4 sites where you can bring your family and friends to have a picnic or a BBQ. The backside of the park has a beautiful view of Cotopaxi, Antisana and the "Valle".

Parque La Carolina is the place to be on Sundays. You will be among thousands of Quiteños playing football, basketball, ecua-volley, doing aerobics, flying kites, running, snacking or just observing the thralls of people just walking around. The park is situated on the norther area of Quito not too far from the shopping district. The southern part of the park has a small pond where you can rent paddle boats. There are also many artists performing on weekends. In the western part of the park you will find the Quito Exhibition Center with different exhibits every month

El Ejido is the park situated between the old part of the city and the modern section. Here you will find handicrafts every Saturday and Sunday.  Local painters sell Guayasamín or Endera Crow copies and Otavaleños are selling traditional sweaters and carpets.

Parque Alameda has the oldest astronomical observatory in South America. The park has a monument of Símon Bolívar and a small lake where families like to rent boats.

Services in Quito
Banks: Quito has many banks, too many! Try Banco de Guayaquil (Reina Victoria y Colón) for cash withdrawal from your Visa card (3rd. floor, VISA BG). The Mastercard office is located at Naciones Unidas y Av. de Los Shyris. Banco de Pacífico is affiliated with Mastercard. Banco de Guayaquil and Filanbanco are the biggest "Visa banks". You will also find international banks as Loyds Bank, ABN Ambro Bank, and Citybank.

Money exchange: Try Casa Paz at Amazonas y Robles for money change. There are also many "casas de cambio" along Amazonas Avenue.
(see out Money Matters section for more detailed info)

Mail: Mail to Europe is quite reliable and fast (one week). To the States expect up to 3 weeks delivery. Post offices are located several places but the main "tourist branch" is located at Reina Victoria and Colón, in the Ecuatoriana building.

Couriers: All the big couriers like DHL, FedEx and UPS have service in Quito. The local couriers like Ecuadorian express, Delgado travel plus a dozen more have inexpensive deliveries to the main cities in The States. They do not have service to Europe.
(see out Communications section for more detailed info)


Taxi: Taxi's are inexpensive but be careful with"taxistas" trying to charge a "gringo tax". Female lone travelers should take taxi from a larger hotel during the night time and everyone should make sure they use the meter. The prices should be maximum 3 USD per 10 km...and a little more at night.

Busses: There are different types of buses, most have bus attendants. The buses are really inexpensive and plentiful, before 8 pm. You usually don't have to wait more than 5 minutes to get a bus on the main streets. You either pay when you board, during the ride or when you leave. Buses heading out of Quito leave from the "Terminal Terrestre" in the colonial part of town (La Marín), but also from some transportation companies own terminals in Quito.

"El Trole": In most main parts of the city you can catch a trolebus, which runs smoothly, quiet and fast. They travel to most major parts of Quito. The fare is the about half of that on the normal buses.

Renting a car: If you are just planning to stay in Quito we do not recommend you to rent a car. The traffic is chaotic and there are too many cars for the road system. If you have to however, there are good car rental companies, including Herz, Budget and Avis. They have offices at the airport.

Flying: The airport is situated in the north of Quito, about 10 km outside of the center of the city. Taxi from the airport to the center cost about 3 USD. There are flights daily to all major cities in Ecuador. For a list of national and international airline offices in Quito, check out this section.There is a 25 USD departure tax when leaving the country.

Phone: You can phone from ANDINATEL. They charge per 3 minutes but has become fairly inexpensive. There are two phone card services in Quito; Porta and Bell South. They both sell calling cards which can be used on local phones. The least expensive way to call overseas and consequently the worst quality, is to use an internet café and call via the computer. ATT (999-119) and MCI (999-170) have service in Quito.

Laundries: There are several "lavenderias" in the Mariscal area where you pay by the pound and get you clothes back relatively clean within a day. There are also more reliable dry cleaning companies.

Many foreigners come to Quito to study spanish. There are more than 50 spanish schools in Quito and almost all of them offer individual spanish lessons. With the "one to one" method you will be able to learn Spanish in less than 2 months without having any previous knowledge.

Quito has many quite good universities. Both the Católica University and the San Fransísco University have exchange programs with US and European Universities. Below you can check out the homepages of some of the universities in Quito.

* Universidad San Fransísco de Quito
* Pontificia de la Universidad Católica del Ecuador
* Universidad Central
* Universidad Tecnológica Equinoccial
* Universidad Andina Símon Bolívar

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