Travelers interested in exploring the best of South America should consider bypassing predictable destinations like Rio de Janeiro and Buenos Aires and book a stay in Quito, Ecuador, which was named South America’s leading destination for the second year in a row at a major awards gala dubbed the Oscars of the travel world.
Basilica Cathedral of Quito, Ecuador seen at night (Shutterstock)
Quito was also the host city for the World Travel Awards South America and beat Santiago, Chile; Lima, Peru; and Sao Paulo, Brazil among others to take the coveted title for the second consecutive year.
Last year, the city feted its 35th anniversary as a Unesco World Heritage Site -- one of the first capital cities in the world to be included in the exclusive club.
The Ecuadorian capital, which is perched 2,850 m (9,350 feet) above sea level on the ruins of an ancient Inca city, is cementing its place on the proverbial travel map for those interested in cultural and authentic vacations and boasts one of the best-preserved historic centers in Latin America.
Surrounding areas of Quito are 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.
Meanwhile, the gala event also crowned LAN Airlines, based out of Santiago, Chile, as the continent’s leading airline. Peru also won big at the awards, snagging titles like leading culinary, heritage and cultural destination.
Here are a few other major winners at the World Travel Awards, South America:
South America’s leading beach destination: San Andres Island, Colombia
Leading city break destination: Lima, Peru
Leading hotel: JW Marriott Hotel Lima, Peru
Leading resort: Arasha Tropical Forest Resort & Spa, Ecuador
Most romantic resort: Charming Luxury Lodge & Private Spa, Argentina
Leading boutique hotel: Hotel 101 Park Houses Suites & Spa, Colombia
Leading green hotel: Finch Bay Eco Hotel, Ecuador
The Asia and Australasia edition of the awards takes place October 10 in New Delhi.