“It is impossible to forget this place”, a close friend told me once. “The majestic silhouette of the mountains, the sun, the food – I miss them so much”.
My friend Tatiana comes from Ecuador. Listening to her tales about this distant and exotic place, I got the inspiration to get to the heart of it.
Whether you like to explore natural wonders, remarkable culture, or adrenaline-full treks, this South American country is just what you need. Here`s the perfect guide to help you plan your trip to one of South America`s hidden gems – Ecuador.
Boost your adrenaline
Seeking the good old adrenaline rush that makes you feel alive? If the answer is “yes”, you probably look for some active experiences like water rafting, climbing, and hiking.
Don`t worry – Ecuador has it all! The country offers a wide variety of adventures from diving in the Galapagos to water rafting in the jungle.
Mountain lovers can reach new heights by climbing the summit of one of the nation`s active volcanoes – Cotopaxi. Only 50 km south of the capital Quito, Cotopaxi is one of the world`s tallest volcanoes with a height of 5,897m. However, it is good to bear in mind that you are up for some serious adventure – the volcano has erupted more than 50 times since 1738. If that is not enough for you, be sure to climb Ecuador`s highest mountain and the furthest point from the center of the earth – Volcan Chimborazo (6263m).
Surfers won`t be disappointed, too. The beachfront villages of Canoa, Momompiche, and Montanita are an absolute surfer`s paradise with its waves reaching up to 2 m. Plus, the places offer a relaxed atmosphere, good food and cheap lodgings. People who wish to forget life`s tensions and recharge should definitely consider paying a visit.
Bike adventurers can challenge themselves with a crazy bike ride from the edge of the Andes to the Amazon. The 61 km ride on the Ruta de Las Cascadas will also give you a bonus view of dozens of picturesque waterfalls. So, it is a total must-go for all the adventurous nature lovers out there.
Soak up the culture
Ecuador may surprise you with its diversity and vibrant cultural scene. In fact, over a dozen ethnic groups inhabit the country, speaking about 20 different languages.
Starting with the big cities of Quito, Cuenca and Guayaquil, you can explore some unique churches, colonial remnants and modern art museums. If you are into music, be sure to book your trip just in time for popular festivals like Fiestas de Quito in December, Carnaval in February, and Mama Negra in September.
If you really want to go off the beaten path, don`t miss on the local culture in the region of Salinas de Guaranda. Also, consider taking the Quilotoa Loop – a road that goes from the Panamericana to the depths of the Cotopaxi province. There you can get to know the Kichwa-speaking indigenous communities, along with their colorful art scene and food markets.
The Amazon Basin is another destination you totally need to explore. Your trip will help you learn about the cultures of isolated tribes like Shuar and the Huaorani, as well as the marginalized minority of Afro-Ecuadorians. The latter are known to be descendants of formerly enslaved Africans who were brought by the Spanish when they conquered Ecuador from the Incas.
Long story short, Ecuador has a lot to offer in terms of culture, nature and wild adventures. So, now that you are ready to embark on the journey of your lifetime, please be sure to read our useful tips section. Being well-prepared is important, if you wish to enjoy a fun and safe trip.
Usually, no visas are required for a visit period of 90 days per year.
US Dollar. ATM networks are available in all cities, whereas man locals accept Visa, Master Card, American Express and Diners Club.
3. Medical Advice
Take with you personal medicines of frequent use, a basic first aid kid, and a personal hygiene kit. Be sure to make the necessary vaccinations if you are traveling to the Amazon.
- Taxi cabs – only use those with the seal of Security Taxi. Ask for a reliable app for taxi ordering via mobile.
- Bus – good way to get from one province to another. Urban: $0,25 ticket.
- Bikes – free bikes in Quito.
Both luxury and backpacking accommodations are available. Use booking platforms like Booking.com or TripAdvisor to rent a place that suits your needs.
6. Don`t forget to bring
- Bug spray
- Travel insurance
- Warm clothes and sunhats for the Andes; fresh clothes, long sleeves and rain gear for Amazonia; comfortable men’s shoes/women’s shoes and swimwear for the Galapagos
- Utility knife
More information and maps of the different itineraries are available here.
Happy traveling, everyone! And don`t forget to share your awesome experiences in the comments! 🙂