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Dog-Friendly Quito—Parks and Vegan Bites

Tags: park quito path

For awhile, Dave and I were contemplating staying in Ecuador to rest and recharge after nearly two years of consistent travel on our bikes, debating between Cuenca and Quito. Not usually a large city fan, Quito appealed to me. We had a few friends we already knew in the city, as well as some friends who had lived there previously. We were seeking access to nature and dog-friendly places to walk and run with Sora. Located in a valley surrounded by mountains, with close proximity to Quilotoa, Mindo, Otavalo, and the Amazon, Quito seemed like it had a lot to offer.

Unfortunately, the visa cost ($450 a pop, yo!) ultimately decided for us that we will be continuing on to Colombia (but now they recently announced a 180-day automatic visa for travelers, days before our departure), but we did spend nearly half of our 90-day stay in Quito, living in five different neighborhoods, growing fond of the capital city.

In recent years, the Quito municipal government has been turning over land to the public, creating huge parks right within the city – all of which are dog-friendly. Not only that, there are tons of vegan food options near all these parks, and we took the opportunity to visit as many parks and restaurants as we could during our stay.

Pichincha and the TelefériQo

Opened in 2005, the highest cable car in South America transports riders from the the city at 2,950 meters (9,678’) to Cruz Lomato at 4,050m (13,287’), which sits at the base of Volcán Pichincha (4,784m/15,696’). Signs leading up to the Teleférico say no dogs, but they are indeed allowed, as are mountain bikes, as this is a popular mountain biking destination. Trails lead to the peak of Pichincha or branch off in other directions to the nearby mountains. Our visit, unfortunately was cut a bit short due to a religious celebration involving fireworks (Latin Americans love their fireworks), resulting in a trembling Sora who had to head back down with Dave not long after we arrived. We did however, have a few moments to take in the view of Quito—a city of 3M people that spans some 50km and is 8km wide. From atop, it seems endless.

Ticket costs for foreigners: $8.50 (adult), $6.50 (child, senior, and handicapped), $9.80 (large pet), $4.90 (medium pet). Fees also for bikes and baggage.

Due to Quito’s changing weather and constant cloud cover, it is best to visit Pichincha in the morning. Fuel your hike with a hearty breakfast at Jürgen Café, which has some of the best artisanal bread in all of Quito. While the menu doesn’t have a vegan-specific option, just ask for the Desayuno Ligero without the cream cheese and honey—it was fabulous.

Parque La Carolina

Located right in the CBD, Parque La Carolina is the city’s playground. The 67-hectare park includes a cycling Path, full-sized track, sports courts for soccer, volleyball (Ecuadorian-style), and basketball, a “crossfit” gym complete with giant tires for testing your strength, a walking path, a dog park, a BMX park, and skate park. Parque La Carolina truly has something for everyone.

On weekends, Quiteños flock to the park with their families and dogs to enjoy the outdoors.

Try cevichocho from one of the many vendors located throughout the park. A vegan ceviche (just be sure to ask for it without the optional meat accompaniments) made from chochos, or lupine beans, is a filling and healthy dish will keep you full for hours thanks to the chochos. These ancient Andean super beans come packed with 26 grams of protein, include omega-3 and omega-6 fats, and are a great source of source of calcium (8% of DRI), iron (11% DRI), and vitamin C (3%).

Parque Metropolitano Guanguiltagua

Located high above the city center at 2,890 meters, Parque Metropolitano Guanguiltagua is a huge forested park with views of the valley below. Trails weave throughout the park, making this the perfect place for a long run or mountain bike ride right in the city, where you can forget about all the traffic and busy-ness going on in Quito below. The 557-hectare park is a native forest and an ecological reserve with art installments, viewpoints, picnic areas, a dog park, playgrounds, and sports fields. Parque Metropolitano Guanguiltagua is one of the best city parks we have seen in all of Latin America.

Quench your thirst at La Reserva Pub, a dog-friendly beer bar located at the base of the park. With 33 beers on tap, many of which hail straight from Quito, and over 250 bottles, there is something for everyone.

Not too far from the park is Tandana, a vegan restaurant that “welcomes all beings” (aka Sora!). Perched atop the Guápulo Lookout, enjoy the view while savoring burgers, quinoa sushi, or the best calzone in South America. And don’t think about skipping dessert.

The restaurant tries to source organically and locally as much as possible and proceeds from the restaurant go towards promoting the rights of all animals, including humans.

Parque Ichimbía

We visited Parque Ichimbía most during our visit in Quito, mainly because of its proximity to the first neighborhood in which we stayed. A set of what seemed like 500 stairs (no exaggeration!) leads to the 133-hectare park, which overlooks Quito from the Colonial part of the city. A beautifully smooth bike path winds through the park, while wide walking paths cut through the trees. Even on weekends, the park seems less busy than the more popular parks, offering a nice place to find some quiet and reflect. Large fields are perfect for picnics and don’t miss the opportunity to pose with one of the famous Quito signs!

Just down the road from Parque Ichimbía is Café Mosaico, a pet-friendly restaurant whose terrace has one of the best views of Quito in town. The restaurant’s own dogs greet you upon entry from their enclosed area in the entrance and Sora was treated to a dog bone upon arrival. The restaurant has something for everyone, including a vegan menu, annnnd a dog menu! Sora ordered the grilled chicken and picked around the carrots (she would be the worst vegan dog, ever). Given that she devoured her plate in about two minutes, I’d say she enjoyed her meal.

Ruta ecológica El Chaquiñán

This gem of a path reminded me of why I love cycle touring. For the first time in nearly a year, we cycled along a path where we did not have the drone of cars emitting their exhaust in our faces and Sora could run alongside. Rather, for 20km, we found quiet solace as we pedaled along a gravel path through the beautiful Cuymbayá Valley. A former rail line, the path was converted to a multi-use off road path with rest stops ever several kilometers that include drinking water, bathrooms, and picnic areas.

The path passes through several small towns along the way, but we recommend stopping by QuiPizza before starting the journey. Just up the hill from the start of the path, we pushed our bikes a short distance back uphill after seeing the words “vegan” and “pizza” together. Soledad, the co-owner is delightful and the pizza is fantastic. Non-vegans won’t miss the cheese. Don’t leave without trying the vegan chocolate salami.

Sadly, the co-owner of the establishment was hit and killed by a drunk driver in December 2016, so double check before going that the Cumbayá location is open when you head that direction.

Thank you to Quito Turismo for showing some of the best dog-friendly places to play and eat in Quito. As always, our opinions are our own and we wouldn’t direct you somewhere if we didn’t think it was awesome.

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Dog-Friendly Quito—Parks and Vegan Bites


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