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North of Quito

Parque La Carolina

Quito's largest park stretches from the intersection of Orellana and Eloy Alfaro almost one km east to Naciones Unidas. It's popular with early morning joggers, and the laguna has two-person paddleboats for rent for US$2.35 for half an hour. An orchidarium is underway; botanists hope to fill it with as many of Ecuador's 3,500 orchid species as possible.

Natural history is the focus of the Museo de las Ciencias Naturales, Rumipamba 341 and Los Shyris, tel. 2-449-824/825, at the east end of the park. The Casa de la Cultura administers displays on zoology, botany, and geology. Open Mon.-Fri. 8:30 a.m-4:30 p.m., Saturday and Sunday 9 a.m.-12:30 p.m.; US$1.50 pp.

Parque Metropolitano

The biggest park in Quito. You can walk for hours in here. Plus beautiful mountain bike paths all around the park. Free admision.

Museo y Taller Guayasamin, Capilla del Hombre

Ecuador's most famous artist once called this palatial spread home, at Bosmediano 543 between Egas and Carbo in the Bellavista suburb. Pre-Columbian figurines and pottery fill the first building, while Guayasamin's paintings and an impressive collection of colonial art wait further on. The balcony outside the cafeteria offers a panoramic view of the southern mountains. In the gift shop ask to see the many unique pieces of jewellery designed by the master himself.

To get there take a bus bound for Bellavista (marked Batan-Colmena or Batan-San Diego). Some taxis can't even make it up Bosmediano, possibly one of the steepest streets in Quito. Open Mon.-Fri. 9:30 a.m.-1 p.m. and 3-6:30 p.m., Saturday 9:30 a.m.-1 p.m.; US$2 pp

Museo-Biblioteca Aureliano Polit

You'd have to be a real history buff to come all the way past the airport to this former Jesuit seminary at Nogales and Arcos in the barrio of Cotocollao, tel. 2-530-420. A roomful of antique maps gives a fascinating glimpse into the development of the country, and its views of itself. You can view Quito's spread north from Old Town at the turn of the century into the megalopolis it is today, and notice how maps leave the Oriente area blank more often than not, or use terms such as Pocos Conocidos ('little-known Areas') and Naciones Bestias Desconocidas ('Bestial Unknown Nations').

To reach the museum, take a bus down La Prensa from La Y at 10 de Agosto, past the airport and almost to the neighbourhood of Condado. It's open Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday 9 a.m.-noon and 3-5 p.m.; admission is US$2 pp.

Old town | Between old and new town | New town | North of the new town

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