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Ambato, Ecuador - Things To Do 2hrs 30mins South Of Quito

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Map location: Ambato, Ecuador
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Ecuador travel blog by Mark Berman - July 2015   » View Photoset (64 Photos)

Mark Berman, South America backpacker for over 12yrs!
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 and Machachi. 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.

City Tour

In 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.

City Exploration

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 itself!

Bus to Riobamba

The next day from Ambato I took a bus south to Riobamba, 1hr 20mins.


View all photos in the Ambato Photoset

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My Hostel & Hotel Reviews for Ambato, Ecuador:

Hotel Internacional, Ambato, Ecuador - Large Photo
Hotel Internacional, Ambato, Ecuador (July 2015 - 2 nights) - Well priced compared to some of the other hotels in the same street at $12USD per night but you pay for it with freezing cold rooms and lukewarm water. Yep there's wifi and tv and it's centrally located more or less and not far from the bus terminal. The staff are nice. Sneak your own heater in and your winning!

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Ambato, Ecuador - Things To Do 2hrs 30mins South Of Quito. There are things to see in Ambato if you have a look around the city. The best thing to do is to hop on a bus and take a trip to Guaranda!