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Agence France-Presse
August 01, 2013
If you’re looking for a South American adventure, consider booking a trip to a 16th century Andean city known as the cradle of ancient pre-Incan history and recently named South America’s leading tourist destination by the world’s travel industry.

Quito, Ecuador captured the lofty title at the World Travel Awards for South and Central America in Peru this month, just in time to fete its 35th anniversary as a UNESCO Heritage site -- one of the first capital cities in the world to be bestowed with the title.

Founded on the ruins of an Inca city and tucked between Andean volcanoes 2,850 m above sea level, the 16th century city of Quito is described as a freeze-frame in time, boasting the best-preserved historic center in Latin America.

Major landmarks include historic monasteries, churches, convents, and colonial plazas.

Quito snatched the title from other major cities such as Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Lima, Easter Island, and Buenos Aires.

Surrounding areas also boast some of the most biodiverse and geographically rich regions in the world, with snow-capped mountain peaks, tropical rainforests, lakes, lagoons, volcanoes and cloud forests all within striking distance of the city.

Activities include horseback riding, mountain climbing, trekking, canopy, rappelling, and rafting.

The other big winner of the night -- known as the Oscars of the travel industry -- was Lima, Peru, which took the title of South America’s Leading Culinary Destination and South America’s Leading Tourist Board.

The JW Marriott Hotel Lima also took the prize for South America’s Leading Hotel.

Awards are voted on by travel agents around the world.