PREVIOUS: The TeleferiQo gondola in Quito climbs to 4,100m above sea level

ABOVE: Dining area at Hacienda la Danesa

BELOW: Writer Chloe gets a bird’s-eye view of the Ecuadorian capital

The Galapagos might be Ecuador’s most famous calling card, but there’s an abundance of flora and fauna to be found far beyond the shores of this hyper-touristy archipelago. Although Ecuador represents just 0.2% of

Earth’s land surface, it’s recognised as one of the 17 most mega-diverse nations on the planet. There are nearly 50 different eco-systems here, stretching from Ecuador’s sprawling Pacific coastline and its vast tract of dense Amazon rainforest to the spine that bisects the country, the mighty Andes, with plenty more in between. It’s no secret to locals how rich this landscape is – in 2008 Ecuador became the first country in the world to recognise the “rights of nature” in its constitution. And given Ecuador is now the second-fastest growing tourist destination in the world, it seems word is out internationally too.

FARM FRESH My twin-centre trip to Ecuador’s coastal lowlands and capital Quito wasn’t designed around nature, yet it’s practically impossible to avoid. At Hacienda la Danesa – a working dairy farm home to 200 Swiss cows, several dozen pinto quarter horses, plus free-roaming guinea fowl and chickens – river tubing is just one of the draws. Guests can milk the cows that provide the hacienda with fresh milk, cuajada cheese and dulce de leche (a moreish, creamy caramel that’s



Getting there: As yet, there are no direct flights between the UK and Ecuador. Clients can fly via Madrid with Iberia, via Paris with Air France or via Amsterdam with KLM. Flight time: Approximately 14.5 hours minimum (including connections). Time difference: -5GMT in mainland Ecuador. Coronavirus: The FCO is currently advising against all but essential travel to the whole country.

often found on South American breakfast tables). Or your more adventurous clients might prefer an

afternoon spent fatbiking through La Danesa’s 500 acres of teak forest, learning the art of beekeeping, or horse-riding with a local vaquero (cowboy). Clients with a sweet tooth can take a “bean to bar” workshop, which begins on the property’s 250-acre plantation of cacao trees. From plucking a ripe pod straight from the tree to roasting, grinding and tempering the beans, guests walk away with a handmade, single-origin chocolate bar. Don’t let the word “farm” put your clients off

either: this is no bare-bones outpost. Ecuador’s countryside is laced with haciendas – beautiful, historic estates built by Spanish colonists, which are typically family-run and have been restored

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