Ambato and Patate
Most tourists know the small town of Baños, located to the south of Quito on the edge of the rainforest. But not as many people know the places Ambato and Patate, which you can pass on the way there. In the following blog I will write about my weekend in these beautiful places. And one thing is for sure: these places are worth a visit!
The city is about 158 km away from the Ecuadorian capital Quito and can be reached via the “Carretera Panamericana”. Thanks to the good road conditions, the journey just takes about 2.5 hours. Ambato is located in the province of Tungurahua near the volcano of the same name. In addition, the lagoon Quilotoa, the volcano Chimborazo and the paradise for adrenaline junkies Baños are not too far away.
Ambato is known as the city of flowers and fruits and the diverse selection of fruits is truly overwhelming. At the street vendors and in the market hall of the city you can find fruits that I personally have never seen before. These include, for example, taxo, borojó or naranjilla. A special tip are the juice bars in the market hall “Mercado Central de Ambato”, there you can taste the different juices and get to know the fruits.
Another culinary specialty of the city is the “Colada Morada”. This dessert is known throughout the country and is traditionally prepared only on November 02. However, in Ambato you can get it all year round. The recipe consists of corn flour and a variety of fruits. Among them are blueberries, strawberries and pineapple.
When visiting the city center, it is noticeable that there are few archeological sights. The reason for this is the earthquake of 1949, which destroyed large parts of the city and the surrounding land. Nevertheless, you can still find a few isolated buildings in colonial style. The impressive cathedral is relatively new, but still worth a visit. In the “Parque Montavalo” it is good to relax, with the perfect view on the huge building.
One street away, you will find the next highlight: Ponche Suizo. This drink has been around in Ambato since 1952 and its recipe has been kept secret ever since. Although the ponche is available in other cities, the people of Ambato swear by their own and original recipe. The basic ingredients are milk and eggs, it is consumed cold and the consistency is like a dessert cream.
Next on the agenda was a viewpoint. The viewpoint with the name: “Mirador Parque Forestal Casigana” is located on a mountain in the west of the city. From this mountain you can either look down on the city or on the opposite valley. Through this valley a road leads directly to the highest volcano of Ecuador, the Chimborazo.
The next day we went to Patate in the Valley of Eternal Spring. The landscape there, as in Ambato, is dominated by cultivation areas and promises an equally diverse range of fruits.
In the park “Simón Bolívar” the locals enjoy the weather and relax. Here, the large colorful letters are particularly striking. Above the name of the small town, the words “Pueblos Magicos” adorn the inscription. Patate is one of the Ecuadorian “Pueblos Magicos”, or magic towns. This award is given by the Ministry of Tourism to places that have a special value for tourism. Ecuador has so far 21 of these places, among them are for example Esmeraldas at the coast of the country, the Isla Floreana or also San Antonio de Ibarra.
An insider tip in Patate is the new viewpoint “Zona de camping Angel Maria”. This is located about 20 minutes drive north from the small town and except for the last 200m it can be reached by car. After that it is a 200m walk downhill to a wooden platform in the shape of a hand. In addition, the site still has two swings with a beautiful view. The perfect photo location! For this beautiful view you have to pay only 1$.
Typical Ecuadorian lunch
After the viewpoint we went back to the valley. Once there, we had a typical Ecuadorian lunch called “Volquetero”. This dish is served with so-called chochos (Andean lupines), cancha (roasted corn), chifles (banana chips) and tuna ceviche. For me, as a vegetarian, the tuna was substituted with avocado. However, this dish is not always available with the same ingredients, because the quick dish is prepared differently from region to region.
Finally, for dessert, we had the arepas, which are famous for Patate. These consist of a pumpkin mixture with cheese filling and are baked in a sheet. The spices that are used are a bit reminiscent of Christmas.
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