Straddling the Equator, Ecuador is one of South America’s smallest countries. It lies in the northwestern part of South America, sandwiched between Peru and Colombia. Ecuador is also home to the Galapagos Islands, famous for its incredible wildlife. And given Ecuador’s variety of landscapes, ranging from lush jungles to scenic coast and majestic mountains, it makes for an ideal destination for adventure seekers. Below, check out the best adventures to be had in Ecuador.
Ecuador’s Cloud Forest is one of the world’s most biodiverse areas. Shrouded in clouds, it’s a great spot for discovering incredible animal and plant species, including orchids, epiphytes, butterflies, mammals, and hundred varieties of birds. The waterfalls, streams, and rivers also serve as a playground for outdoor activities, such as zip-lining and river tubing.
Birdwatching is the most common reason why many would visit the Cloud Forest. Home to more than 550 species of birds, the Cloud Forest attracts keen birders worldwide. Adventurous travellers will also love the numerous adventure sports they can enjoy in the area. Here, you can try canopy zip-lining, a fun way of admiring the cloud forest high up in the trees. You can also enjoy river tubing, where you race downstream on river rapids. Other activities to enjoy are trekking and swimming in the majestic waterfalls.
If you want to fully immerse yourself in the unique beauty of the Cloud Forest, consider staying overnight and sleeping at a cloud forest lodge. You can also book a safari tour with naturalist guides who will offer a great introduction to the Cloud Forest ecosystem.
Avenue of Volcanoes
Located two hours from Quito, the Avenue of the Volcanoes is a road lined with volcanos winding its way through the Andean foothills. Many of these snow-capped volcanoes are still active, which makes it an even more incredible place to visit, especially for adventurous travellers. Amongst these volcanoes, you’ll find the majestic Toachi canyon, bordered by scenic valleys of lush forest and farmland home to indigenous villages.
Trekking through the Avenue of the Volcanoes is one of those adventures you should experience in Ecuador. It’s a multi-day trek, ranging from 3 to 6 days or even more, departing from Quito, Ecuador’s capital city. The first stop is the Cotopaxi National Park, which lies at the foothills of the Rumiñahui volcano. You will then trek to the next village of Chugchilan, where you’ll spend your second day. On the third day, you’ll head to the Quilotoa Crater Lake. The hike is a bit strenuous, but once you get to the crater’s edge, you will enjoy incredible lake views!
The Galapagos Islands
Teeming with unique wildlife, the Galapagos Islands is one of the world’s most incredible travel destinations. Even if you’re not interested in Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution, you will enjoy exploring the Galapagos as it offers a bevvy of adventures.
The best way to take a Galapagos Islands tour and discover the unique wildlife is to go on a cruise. It consistently ranks among the world’s best destinations for cruising. During your cruise, you’ll visit the archipelago’s major islands, spread across 3,040 square miles of the ocean. Some islands you will explore are Santa Cruz Island, home to the Research Station of Charles Darwin, and Española, where you’ll find the most wildlife.
Another reason you should visit the Galapagos Islands is because of its stunning views. It’s not like any other place on Earth. From the romantic sunsets of Kicker Rock to the gorgeous beach in Gardner Bay, the Galapagos has no shortage of beautiful places waiting for you to explore.
On your fourth day, you’ll visit the Chimborazo Volcano, Ecuador’s highest mountain. Then, you’ll trek to Llanganates National Park, famous for its incredible landscapes and mysteries. Finally, you will reach the Road of Waterfalls and admire its picturesque views.
Quito is the vibrant capital city of Ecuador. Although many tourists would use it as a jumping-off point for exploring other popular attractions in Ecuador, the city is full of cultural wonders, home to some UNESCO World Heritage sites. Whether you’re a history buff or someone who craves adventures, Quito will have something waiting for you to explore.
The highlight of Quito is its Old Town, where you’ll find centuries-old buildings lining its bustling streets. The Old Town of Quito has some of the world’s most preserved and least altered historical centres. Because of this, Quito became the first UNESCO-listed city in the world. Wander around the Old Town to experience Ecuador’s local culture. Begin your exploration in Plaza Grande, surrounded by historical buildings, and visit the Presidential Palace and Metropolitan Cathedral nearby.
While in Quito, visit the Basilica del Voto Nacional, a Roman Catholic church and the largest neo-Gothic Basilica in Latin America. Then ride the TelefériQo, a cable car that will take you into the Andes. As one of the world’s highest cable car lifts, the scenic cable car ride is the best way to admire Quito’s unique charm.
Cajas National Park
Ecuador’s Cajas National Park will remind you of the picturesque Scottish Highlands, home to crystal-clear lakes, lush green mountains, and beautiful streams. Given its magnificent landscapes, Cajas National Park is the perfect destination for an adventurous holiday in Ecuador.
Wildlife lovers will be delighted to see wild horses and llamas roaming around Cajas National Park. You will also find mountain wolves, rabbits, dear, and pumas. More than a hundred bird species have lived in the park, including parrots, Andean toucans, hummingbirds, and condors.
Hiking is a popular activity in Cajas National Park, as it has several scenic trails. The guided treks usually take three to four hours, starting at Tres Cruces, a few kilometres past the visitor centre. From here, your guide will take you to a series of lakes before reaching the highway near Laguna Luspa. Another hiking route will take visitors to the Paragüillas, where you’ll find the world’s highest meteorological radar. It’s a fairly steep climb, ideal for hikers of all levels.
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