Cayambe &
the Solar Clock
Cayambe town square
Bizcochos and a wood-fired oven in Cayambe
Sundial (Solar Clock) built by the Quitsato Project
The traditional costume of Cayambe
Globe equator monument at Cayambe in EcuadorStreet in Cayambe, Ecuador
Cayambe is renowned for its "bizcochos" biscuits, and more recently for the huge Solar Clock on the Equator.

Cayambe & the Solar Clock -  Ecuador Destinations

Cayambe has for many years been famous in Ecuador for its "bizcochos", a type of rich, buttery biscuit, and dairy products.  There are also large numbers of flower plantations in the area, making the most of the rich soil.  More recently, the Quitsato Project has constructed a huge sundial on the Equator just outside the town.  Cayambe is an attractive little town with a bustling market and a pretty town square.  Many local people from the town and surrounding villages still wear their colourful traditional costumes on a daily basis.
A visit to a bizcocho bakery to see bizcochos being made and sample them fresh and warm from the oven is highly recommended.  It is said that bizcochos made in a wood-fired oven ("horno de leña") taste the best, though many are now cooked in gas ovens.  Visit in the morning to see the dough being made in a huge wooden trough and the biscuits being baked.  The most famous bakery is probably Bizcochos San Pedro, on Juan Montalvo street near the cemetery, where you can sit in a flower-filled courtyard and eat warm bizcochos with hot chocolate while you watch the bizcochos being made and baked in a traditional oven.
Cayambe is also known for its dairy products which include "queso de hoja" (rolled cheese made by wrapping in a leaf), yoghurt, and "manjar de leche", a toffee-like substance made from milk and sugar.  Bizcochos somehow taste equally good with either the salty cheese or the sweet manjar.
The Solar Clock built by the Quitsato Project is a few kilometres south of town, beside the main road at Km 47 on the Panamericana.  The meticulously planned and carefully calculated construction is exactly on the Equator.  Guides give an excellent explanation of the project which encompasses astronomy, geodesy, archaeology and history as well as the social and cultural implications of the equator.  A visit to the sundial might cause you to question your whole view of the world, for example Quitsato believe that the concept of north being "up" and south being "down" is incorrect.  They talk of evidence pointing to local peoples knowing the exact location of the equator, by observing the position of the sun at the solstices, long before the La Condamine expedition located the equatorial line in the 18th Century.  Quitsato can arrange visits to archaeological sites in the area.  The project is fascinating and well worth a visit.  A small donation is requested.
Guachalá, about a kilometre up the Cangahua road opposite the "globe" monument near the Sundial, dates from 1580 and claims to be Ecuador's oldest hacienda.  Members of the La Condamine expedition stayed there and there are some interesting maps and diagrams of the work of the expedition.  Guachalá operates as a hotel and is an atmospheric place to stay.  The restaurant is sometimes open to visitors and you might also get to look around a display of old photos in what was once a chapel there.
Getting to Cayambe:  Cayambe is northeast of Quito, the journey takes around an hour and a half on public transport.  To get there, take a bus along Avenida America to the Ofelia Regional Transfer Station in the north of the Quito and from there change onto the Flor del Valle buses which depart regularly for Cayambe, passing the Sundial on the way.  Cayambe can easily be visited on the way to or from Otavalo, and is also the starting point for a trip to the hot springs at Oyacachi, or the scenic route via Zuleta to Ibarra (about 2 and a half hours).
Useful Spanish Vocabulary for an excursion to Cayambe, Ecuador:
Reloj Solar: Solar Clock or Sundial
Bizcochos: buttery biscuits for which Cayambe is famous
Leña: firewood - the best bizcochos are said to be cooked in wood-fired oven
Manjar de leche: sweet, toffee-like sauce made from milk and eaten with bizcochos
Ecuador Destinations: Cayambe and the Solar Clock
Tourist information for a visit to the giant sundial on the Equator and the town of Cayambe, famous for its biscuits and dairy products.
Website www.ecuadortravelsite.org, text and photos by Sarah Clifford.
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