Indiana June is the main character in a real-life Pick-A-Path Adventure story. She is cycling the globe and letting people vote to decide what she does next. Her fate is in your hands so get voting to choose how the story unfolds. Read more…

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Saturday, 11 February 2012

Quito: Mango & Mountain exploration

Which of these Quito tours with a local guide should Indiana June go on?
Winning Vote


Gastronomic Old Town: Walking tour of the historic Old Town including a visit to a local food market followed by a local cooking lesson.

Winning Vote


Birds of Prey & Market foray: See stunning Ecuadorian vistas, visit an endangered birds of prey sanctuary and shop at a local craft market.

Winning Vote


Mangos & Mountains: Try exotic fruits & vegetables at a local market then cable car up to the top of Mount Pichincha, 4100 metres high!

Winning Vote


Sweet Tooth Tour: Visit one of Quito's oldest bakeries to see sweet treats being made and learn to make tamales and empanadas in a local home.


      179 Votes VIEW POLL COMMENTS

The latest vote dictated that my time in Quito was spent sampling Mangos and Mountains. My Urban Adventures tour guide Mauro was full of interesting information so here are four 'Mauro Facts' that you might be interested to learn:  

1. Quito, she's tall and skinny:

2 million people are jammed into a city 45km long and only 8km wide, nestled in between the bosom of the Andes cleavage.


2. Romance is cheap in Ecuador:

With Valentines Day just around the corner who would have thought 98% of Ecuador's flower exports would be roses? The perfect and stable climate is perfect rose-growing weather and twenty five long stemmed roses will set you back between $1 and $2.50 here.

Ecuadorian Roses

3. Two pitaja is one too many:

This delicious new fruit I sampled has translucent flesh and black seeds. Eating one is good for your digestion, eating two will give you diarrhea.


4. Bananas aren't just yellow:

Woohoo, pink bananas, who knew? And they are sweeter and more delicious than their yellow counterparts.


Normally I'm not a huge fan of organized tours but I'll eat my hat (or helmet) today. Mauro is a local who is sincere about sharing his local knowledge with uninformed tourists. I did the tour with Lisa, a lovely gal from Australia and the three of us explored Iñaquito market followed by a trip up Rucu Pichincha. I tried at least half a dozen fruits that I never knew existed and I ate pork stripped off the back of a recently deceased piggy, sprawled in front of me, permanently grinning.


Different species exist in so many varieties here, it's like being an individual is the norm, not the exception. "Hi, I'm a passionfruit, oh hello I am too, oh and me too." Click the video below to watch a yummy video of all fresh produce we sampled:

quito market video

We took the cable car up Rucu Pinchincha and it was cloudy. Apparently most tourists abort the mission at this point but up we went, entranced as much by the commentary from our new friend as the mist that was intent on bear hugging the air out of us. Because of the heavy cloud we were three of maybe ten people that had ventured up to the top of the deceased volcano. Dealing with 4000m altitude is a curious experience; walking on the flat leaves you short of breath. Walking up a gentle incline you find yourself doing a granny shuffle and the steep slope we ascended to reach 4250m felt like you had butterflies flitting around in your chest and cotton wool in your cheeks, interrupting the flow of fresh air to your lungs and brain. You're dwarfed by the Andes, spell bound by their colossal scale and then the mist starts to clear. It's like mother nature has whipped out her hairdryer and is putting on a show, blowing off the mist to reveal the magic and madness of the  capital city below.

Me  City

Coming back down the mountain I didn't have a lot to say, preferring to enjoy the slow descent to normal life, the city revealing more of itself with every metre we dropped.  While I've heard this saying a hundred times:

Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away...

today as I struggled to breathe in the thin air, it seemed more applicable than ever.


If you're interested in doing an Urban Adventures tour with a local guide check out All money raised from these tours is reinvested in the Yachana Foundation, leading the way in Geotourism to help cover costs of the Yachana Technical High School and conservation of the Yachana Reserve comprised of 1,800 hectares of protected rainforest.

Latest Poll Results
New York: What will Indiana June do in the big apple?
21% Track down and visit Oliver Jeffers:
Renowned Children's storybook writer & illustrator
11% Walk the High Line:
A linear park built on a 1.45-mile section of the elevated NY Central Railroad 
11% Be a NYC detective for a day: 
Part game, theatre and tour to discover some of NYC's most off-the-beaten path spots
13% Explore the City Hall Subway Station: 
Abandoned & hidden from the public for 60 years
12% Flying trapeze class:
Hone her circus skills learning how to fly on a trapeze 
30% NZ Flag + Statue of Liberty:
Bodypaint the NZ flag on her body and go up the Statue of Liberty
2% Go to Queens and find a 'Nanny' sound-alike:
Video someone with the nanny accent saying "noo Zealand, i love that place"
Voting closed | 204 VOTES
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