Ecuador travel blog by Mark Berman -
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More than just a transportation hub, Ambato offers a full day worth of sights, things to do and exploration around the city. Add an extra day for the
fantastic journey from Ambato to Guaranda and back which is the closest road to the Chimborazo Volcano (the highest point on the earths
surface from the earths center). I had passed through Ambato several times on my travels around Ecuador before I spent a couple of nights
here to get to know the place a little better. 2 and half hours by bus south of Quito.
City of Fruit and Flowers
Ambato is the first major city south of the
capital and is much bigger than both Latacunga
. It's of course the major hub for travelers heading east to Banos
. Ambato is
known as the city of fruit and flowers which there are lots of. You wouldn't think the city was last rebuilt in 1947 after an earthquake.
The central streets are well-worn and there's historic buildings and several nice shady plazas around the center too.
Bus Terminal and Hotels
The bus terminal
is right near the heart, you can walk up the street and along beside the park to get to several hotels on Avenida 12 de Noviembre.
Ambato I enjoyed the plazas and parks a lot, one of the best being Plaza 10 de Agosto which on one side has the National College (Colegio
Nacional Bolivar) and on another and old church possibly doubling as a museum. Just 1 block up the road is park Parque Juan Montalvo.
This is where you will find the cathedral, nice building facades, stone archways, gardens and flowers, statues and fountains as well
as plenty of shops all around. Ambato has 3 famous men called Juan by the way. Next I came to a museum called Museo Pictorico Luis
Edmundo Martinez Mera full of fantastic paintings which I had a quick look around.
From here I explored a few of the side-streets finding
street art, a guitar shop, and an interestingly shaped church. I ended up back at the same park I was at before that where I discovered
the house of Juan Montalvo standing right beside it, sometimes you need to take step back to see the view you know!
12th of November Park
A walk up the road
brought me to Parque 12 de Noviembre (12 of November Park). It is around here that several markets are located - the flower market, the
central market, the art market and Mercado Modelo. Indigenous people from the highlands sell their produce from the streets and sidewalks
all around this area.
The Botanical Gardens
I took a taxi to the botanical gardens Jardin Botanico de Ambato Atocha la Liria, this was the only garden and nature
area open of 3 the taxi and I checked out on this Saturday afternoon. It's a nice park across the river and valley from the city, a nice
place to take in some fresh air and smell the pureness of nature. Located here also is the house of one of the other Juan's - Juan Leon
Mera Martinez (author of Ecuador's national anthem). I enjoyed spending an hour strolling around the gardens.
Across the Bridge
From here I decided to walk
back into the city center and see what I saw along the way. I walked across the huge bridge Puente Juan Leon Mera across the Ambato River
to get back to the cityside of Ambato. I passed the markets in Plaza 1st of May (Primero de Mayo) - lots of fruit and vegetables and a few
churches including the Gothic brick Capilla de la Medalla Milagrosa. I had done a lot of walking by the end of this day!
I Enjoyed It
Ambato I enjoyed for
what it had to offer. It has a good area in the center to enjoy the day with also other sights and activities to see and do scattered
around town. It's what you want to make of it more than anything.
Day Trip to Guaranda
For my 2nd day in Ambato I did a day trip to Guaranda
and back - 2hrs each way by bus plus 4hrs exploring Guaranda
Bus to Riobamba
The next day from Ambato I took a bus south to Riobamba
, 1hr 20mins.