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Follow the scent of flowers through Ecuador

Latin America's undiscovered natural beauty stretches far beyond the bustling city of Buenos Aires and the mariachi mayhem of Mexico. Cast your gaze to the truly mesmerizing backdrop of Ecuador – where you will find a haze of mountainous views and unspoiled scenery decorated with breathtaking floral decorations.

From tropical rainforests to towering volcanoes, it's hard to believe the endless array of adventure opportunities that surround such this small and colourful country. Straddle the Equator in Quito, go mountain biking on Cotopaxi, dare to trek the Amazon jungle and the Andes or simply seek out Ecuador’s overwhelming flower display on the famous Flower Trail – quite possibly the most beautiful selection the world has ever seen.

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The water-filled caldera of Quilotoa, one of the volcanoes in the Andes, has a diameter of around nine kilometres and is becoming a popular destination among hikers. The Quilotoa Loop is a 3-4 day, high-altitude adventure where altitudes can reach up to 4,000 metres 

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The pure waters from the Andean glaciers and the bright yearly sunshine provide perfect natural conditions for flower cultivation. Ecuador boasts more orchids and floral décor than any other country on earth, a definite reason to pay a visit and experience the Flower Trail

 

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Ecuador's national flower is the rose, also one of the country's main exports, comprising the third pillar of Ecuador's economy. Americans buy about 1.5 billion roses annually, roughly 400 million of them from Ecuador. Ecuadorean roses are known for their large blooms, which come in about 60 altering varieties in various shades of red, pink, yellow, purple and lavender 

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The Cotopaxi volcano, at a staggering 5,897 metres, is one of the highest active volcanoes in the world and is located 50 kilometres south of the capital, Quito. Here you can trek to the top and set your sights on hilltop vistas, or Mountain bike down Cotopaxi, an adventure that will see you soaring down the slopes of the world famous Ecuadorian landmark. For other trekking possibilities, visit the Equator, known in Ecuador as the Mitad del Mundo (Middle of the World) 

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Flower-farming has played a crucial role in the rural economy of the Ecuadorian Andes, allowing families and local communities to work together and bring development to the region 

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Otavalo Market, located about a 3-hour bus ride north of Quito, is South America's largest marketplace. It's the perfect place to practice your haggling skills while picking up a few authentic souvenirs for your family and friends at home 

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The Flower Trail allows you to experience nature in all its glory and has itself become a strong focus of tourism, bringing even more economic activity due to its trekking, horse riding and canoeing possibilities, not to mention stunning natural floral displays 

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Set in the heart of secluded forested hilltops, the construction in the early 1900s of this track that winds to the Andes was one of the greatest engineering works of the twentieth century

 

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The ancient culture of the Ecuadorian Andes is rich in legend, myth and folklore; there is a very strong bond with Ecuador's stunning lands and many traditions are tied to the agricultural calendar 

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