Ecuador is a small country located right on the equator on South America’s west coast, just south of Colombia. It is home to the Amazon jungle, Andean highlands, and the Galapagos Islands. The presence of each of these different landscapes means lots of adventure in store, and the size of the country means plenty of time to do it. Here are some of the things you can’t miss when traveling abroad in Ecuador!
Cruise the Galapagos Islands
The very first thing on your to-do list should involve seeing the Galapagos Islands. This is where Charles Darwin went when he developed his theories of evolution, and these islands are home to the famous sea tortoises that you hear so much about.
Climb or Bike down Cotopaxi Volcano
Ecuador’s second-tallest volcano also happens to be one of the world’s tallest active volcanoes, and it’s nearly 6,000 meters high! While some outdoor adventurers may want to set out to climb it, others might have more fun taking the mountain biking tour that goes downhill. You can usually do this tour regardless of age or skill, so it’s generally a fun experience for everyone.
Explore the Amazon Jungle
It simply wouldn’t make sense to go to Ecuador and miss out on seeing the Amazon Jungle! You can visit it in other parts of South America, but Ecuador is a very cheap place to go to visit it. You can take 3-day trips from Quito to tour the rainforest and learn all about the exotic wildlife that lives there. You’ll also learn all about the indigenous people who call the jungle home.
Straddle the Equator in Quito
Sure, this one is especially touristy, but when you’re in Quito, you can stand right on the equator…so, why not do it? Many tourists who visit go right to the marked spot to take a picture and show that they’ve stood right over the equator. If you’re already in Quito, it wouldn’t hurt to check it out.
Devil’s Nose Train Ride
If you’re hitting a few different areas while traveling abroad in Ecuador, don’t miss out on this exhilarating train ride. The Devil’s Nose is a giant rock that juts out from a slope in the Andes of Ecuador. The train ride takes you zig-zagging around the Andes where you can take in unforgettable views. Just be sure to catch the 7 a.m. train in Riobamba. You’ll return at 5 p.m.
The Cuicocha Lake is actually a two-mile-long crater tucked into the Andes. The water is known for being bright blue, and it is a famously photographed body of water. This journey isn’t for the faint of heart, however. The lake is located at a high altitude and will require a taxing hike along with thin air at 10,000 feet. Make sure you’re up for it!
Visit the Hot Springs of Banos de Agua Santa
One hundred miles south of Quito is a town called Banos de Agua Santa, and it is located adjacent to both a volcano and a jungle. This is a good place for outdoor adventures, as is most of Ecuador, but what really brings attention to it is the presence of warm, mineral-rich waters in the hot springs and thermal pools. While here, you can also hike the volcano, go whitewater rafting, and go horseback riding.
Tour Cuenca’s City Center
What’s special about the city center of Ecuador’s third largest city is that it’s listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site, thanks to the preservation of many historical buildings. Expect to walk down old cobblestone streets and view old-world cathedrals, colonial parks, and urban rivers. This city center is said to be the most charming in Ecuador.
Surf in Montanita
The beach at Montanita has long been known as a hotspot for surfing, thanks to its strong waves. This makes it a gathering spot for many young surfers, and if you’re headed there, prepare for lots of reggae music and an active nightlife.
Hike the Quilotoa Loop
If visiting the volcanic crater lake of Cuicocha is already on your list, you might enjoy making a full hike of it via the Quilotoa Loop. This trek will combine hiking and buses and take you on an isolated loop through the mountains, where you will not only see the lake, but you’ll come across many of the indigenous people of the Andes, artisans, painters, and beautiful views of the mountains. This is a 3-4 day adventure, so allocate your time accordingly.
After you’ve finished up your adventure covering each of these ten to-do items, your next Ecuadorian adventure should be trying out all of the authentic cuisine! After all, all of that hiking will have earned you a satisfying meal.
Image credit: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3ALaguna_Cuicocha.jpg