A land with the world’s first UNESCO World Heritage Sites has diverse landscapes which encompasses dense Amazon jungle, the longest continental mountain range in the world, Andean highlands and the wildlife-rich Galápagos Islands. The Country also straddles the equator on South America’s west coast.
We share many facts about Ecuador in a rendezvous with H.E. Mr. Buda Cueva Jacome, Ambassador of Ecuador to India.
Tell us about the things to do in Ecuador for first-time visitors.
Ecuador is the country of the “four worlds”. If you arrive in the country for the first time, you cannot miss the incredible Galapagos Islands, Natural Heritage of Humanity. Do not miss the Chimborazo, the closest point on Earth to space. Also, find yourself in two hemispheres of the planet at the same time in the Middle of the World. Visit the Historic Center of Quito, the best preserved in Latin America. Also, do not miss the jungle to contemplate life in the Yasuní, one of the most biodiverse places on Earth.
Exquisite flavours will accompany you throughout your journey in Ecuador. Our country has an infinity of dishes prepared with ancestral recipes and with high quality products. Did you know that the best bananas, shrimp and chocolate are Ecuadorian?
-Besides Quito, which other parts of the country, travellers can explore?
Ecuador is a destination for all types of travellers. It offers adventure activities, culture, nature and varied gastronomy in each one of its ‘four worlds’. Quito is the main gateway to the country. From the capital you can easily travel, by air or land, to tourist paradises such as: Cuenca and Galapagos.
Cuenca is a fascinating city, declared a Cultural Heritage of Humanity. Its colonial and republican infrastructure adorns the entire city with churches, domes, squares, long streets and dream hotels. Cuenca is very close to the El Cajas National Park, where travellers can enjoy unparalleled natural landscapes.
Galapagos is a natural paradise. Here you can admire species of flora and fauna unique in the world. Due to its diversity, Galapagos inspired Charles Darwin’s Theory of Evolution and today it is one of the most sublime destinations in the world.
-What makes the country different from other Latin American countries?
Ecuador: one destination, four worlds. In a matter of hours, you can enjoy warm beaches on the Pacific Coast, cross mountains and majestic snow-capped mountains and volcanoes, located in the Andes Mountains. Then, descend to the Amazon, with more than 120 thousand kilometres of exuberant vegetation and just a 2h15 flight from Quito or Guayaquil, you can enjoy the Galapagos Islands, a living paradise.
Ecuador has it all, so close, that it is guaranteed that you will live unforgettable adventures in every corner of the country.
-When is the best time to visit Ecuador? Do we have a direct flight from India?
Ecuador is ready to welcome visitors 365 days a year. Its spring-like weather, sea currents and diverse geographical conditions, create wonderful landscapes, that offer you unlimited adventures all year round.
During the year, the country has two seasons: winter and summer. Each one of them gives way to natural events that cannot be missed. For example, between the months of June and August we have what we call the Mountain Season. It is the, ideal time to visit the ‘Avenue of Volcanoes’. Between June and September, we receive the visit of humpback whales; in December, our Guayacanes flourish; and between January and March we celebrate various heritage festivals.
No direct flights connect India to Ecuador; however, there are various routes available via Europe and the United States.
-Tell us about the gastronomy of the country?
Ecuador’s diversity also applies to flavours. In each of our regions we have a wide variety of high-quality products demanded worldwide.
The variety of products allows us to have a range of dishes, prepared with ancestral recipes that combine traditional cuisine with our Hispanic heritage.
Ecuadorian gastronomy is made up of a variety of ingredients from the sea and the land. The flavours of ceviche, encebollado, fritada, locros, hornado or ayampaco will surely please your palate.
-Chocolate plays a vital role when we talk about Ecuador. Share some light on this?
Without cocoa there is no chocolate and the best cocoa is Ecuadorian. According to studies carried out by Ecuadorian and French archaeologists, the Mayo Chinchipe Marañón culture of the Amazon region spread the cultivation and consumption techniques of cocoa beans more than 5000 years ago.
Ecuadorian cocoa and chocolate, besides being gastronomic products, are today considered tourist products. Historic haciendas, cocoa plantations, specialty shops offer sightseeing tours and tasting sessions in various parts of the country. Discover the process and the magic that occurs from the plant to the chocolate bar and indulge in a unique sensory experience in the ‘Land of the finest chocolate’.
-Is Indian food available at Ecuador?
There are a few Indian restaurants in Quito and Guayaquil. The herbs and spices used in Indian cuisine are becoming popular all over the world and Ecuador is not an exception. Spices like turmeric are known in Ecuador not only for its uses in cooking recipes but also their medicinal properties.
I would say Indian and Ecuadorian cuisines have certain similarities. Strong and spicy flavours are common in both cuisines. In Ecuador, we have ají, a spicy sauce that you will find in every table in Ecuador.
-Travel to you is… (one word)
-Your favourite food.. (one word)
-Tell us about the important festivals of Ecuador?
Ecuador’s history is defined by the fusion of traditions. Today, the country has dozens of ancestral or indigenous festivals, and traditional mestizo festivals, which are celebrated throughout the year.
Each of these cultural manifestations have become a great tourist attraction and therefore, are part of the cultural beauty that Ecuador offers to the world.
If you want to discover the folklore and history of our destinations, we invite you to enjoy our heritage festivals: La Diablada Pillareña, Carnival, Corpus Cristi, Fruit and Flower Festival, Mama Negra, Pase del Niño, San Pedro and San Pablo, Inocentes and New Year’s Eve Celebrations.
-Your favourite travel destination in the world and why?
Ecuador has always been my favourite travel destination. Ecuador´s natural and cultural wealth ensures you always have something new to see and experience.
In India, Ajanta and Ellora Caves have captivated me. The history, art, natural beauty and spirituality of the place have made me come back several times.
-What do you like the most about India?
India is not a place, India is an experience. My experience in India has been characterized by daily learning, not only about this incredible country but also about myself. And this learning experience has been possible because of its people. Therefore what I like the most about India is its wonderful people.
FIRST LADY OF ECUADOR, TOYA CÁRDENAS SALDARRIAGA
-Tell us about shopping in Ecuador. What are the must-buy things of the country?
A trip to Ecuador will be incomparable and unforgettable and therefore buying souvenirs has to be a part of the experience.
Our crafts reflect the identity of our people; centuries of traditions become tangible in beautiful pieces such as: Tigua masks, filigree jewels, Otavalo fabrics, chocolates, preserved roses or the renowned toquilla straw hat; all highly valued internationally, for their uniqueness, finesse and beauty.
During your trip to Ecuador you will have plenty of opportunities to buy beautiful crafts that will always remind you of the unforgettable time in our country. Note that the currency used in the country is the US dollar.
-Tell us about the night life, the country offers to travellers?
Surely one of the things that you will enjoy the most during your trip to our country is nightlife. Nightlife in our country is not only about places it is about sharing with Ecuadorian people, who are characterized by their sympathy and generosity.
Quito, the capital has traditional neighbourhoods such as La Ronda, La Floresta or La Mariscal, where travellers can enjoy multiple gastronomic, entertainment and fun options. Trying a canelazo or the best craft beer in the region is an experience that you will definitely enjoy.
In Guayaquil, the embracing climate will surround you with its energy to explore squares, and boulevards. Currently, Guayarte is a new space that offers art, culture and gastronomy in Guayaquil.