Ecuador is known as the land of four worlds: the Galápagos Islands, the coast, the Andes and the Amazon Rainforest. It has something for absolutely everyone. There are abundant opportunities to interact with nature and to get active through hiking, surfing and biking. The capital is also a very exciting and beautiful city, sprawling through a valley and over hills. If you can fit it in your budget, the Galapagos Islands were hands down the best part of our trip. It’s like a whole different world, and being able to interact with the unique animal species there in such an intimate environment is truly unreal! The trekking and hiking is amazing, both deep in the Amazon Rainforest and in the Andes highlands through the Quilotoa Loop. We enjoyed some of the best views of our trip in this beautiful country.
- Quilotoa Loop/Quilotoa Lake – One of the absolute best self-guided hikes we did was this hike through the Andes Highlands in the heart of Ecuador. Spend your days hiking high over stunning, green valleys with mountains that go on forever. Spend your nights in quaint hostels staying warm and enjoying beautiful sunsets.
- Quito – This city is full to the brim of culture! You can easily spend a few days walking around, enjoying the beautiful and historical architecture. Bonus is that it is super close to the equator (aka the middle of the world!), an absolute MUST do in Ecuador!
- Baños – Known as one of the adventure capitals of Ecuador, Baños is filled with lush greenery, dozens of beautiful waterfalls, and tons of opportunities for an adrenaline rush! Spend a few days exploring, biking, hiking, jumping down waterfalls, and then relaxing in the natural hot springs.
- Galápagos Islands – World famous for their biodiversity, these islands will blow any traveller away! Amazing wildlife, stunning scenery, snorkelling, scuba diving, hiking and more will fill your days. Be ready for heightened costs, but it is completely worth it!
- Amazon – Although you can visit the Amazon Jungle from pretty much any South American country, we chose to visit from Ecuador. It is relatively easy to access, as it does not require a flight, and prices were slightly cheaper than lodges in the Peruvian portion of the Amazon. No matter how you see it, visiting the Amazon is an amazing experience. Boat rides through lush jungle where you’ll see sloths, different species of monkeys, tons of tropical birds, anacondas, caiman alligators, and even pink river dolphins. Just sleeping in an Amazon lodge is an adventure in itself.
Worth a Trip
- Montañita – A beach town with a surf and party scene, but not much else. We had a ton of fun bar hopping on Halloween, and then trying out different restaurants while we were hungover the next day. Lots of cool shops to check out as well. Make sure to go get some crepes at a crepe stand, and visit the mixed drink carts along the main road at night for some happy hour specials. If you’re feeling up to it, head to the beach for some cheap surfing lessons for a more adventurous stay!
Just Pass Through
- Otavalo – Otavalo is famous for hosting one of the largest markets in South America, and is a great town to see on a day trip from Quito. The market takes over a large part of the town, and sells pretty much everything you can think of. Some staples include colourful blankets, alpaca sweaters, jewellery and of course tourist souvenirs. Although it is fun to check out, the goods are definitely sold at tourist prices, so don’t plan on saving on souvenirs here!
- Guayaquil – Known as one of the most dangerous cities in Ecuador, this city constantly gets a bad rap. We enjoyed our short stay in the city, and explored the revamped riverside promenade Malecon 2000, colourful hillside neighbourhood called Las Peñas, and a park within the busy city that’s home to dozens of iguanas! It’s not a place you need to stay long, but if you do end up here in transit go check out the city! You won’t be disappointed.
- Latacunga – Another town we stayed at while in transit is Latacunga; a pretty bland working town. It was a necessary stay for us because it is the start of the Quilotoa Loop. You can grab a good slice of pizza in the main square, and the shops and grocery stores are good places to stock up before your hike. Other than that, don’t plan to spend a ton of time here.