Located on the equator in South America's northwest, Ecuador is known for its great biodiversity, high altitude capital city, Andean history, and exciting array of activities for families, couples, and backpackers. Here are seven amazing things to do and see while visiting Ecuador.
1. Visit the Beautiful city of Quito
Quito is one of the prettiest South American cities I've been to - and at over 9,000 ft, also the highest capital city in the world.
With the exception of everyone being drastically shorter than me (I'm 5'9") I rarely felt out of place and loved exploring the city. I stayed at a modern Airbnb in the safe neighborhood of La Floresta and often took the street metro to get around.
Top sites to see and things to do: shopping in Old Town, visit Iglesia de la Compañía de Jesús (basically a church with gold interior that you can't take a photo of to prove you were there), visit Iglesia la Basilica (Gothic church that took FOREVER to complete), Casa de la Cultura, the Government Palace (gorgeous!!!!! and passport required), and Plaza Grande.
If you need a place to stay, check out the amazing Quito Airbnb I stayed at. Gorgeous city views and very modern.
If Airbnb isn't your thing, try booking.com for highly rated hotel and hostel options. It's my favorite website.
2. Explore the cloud forest
Less than two hours from Quito, visit the cloud forest 7,200 feet above sea level in Mindo, Ecuador. During your visit, you can explore a vast community of humming birds, and learn about bird life and the subtropical rainforest ecosystem.
In an effort to support sustainable tourism, I took a day trip and visited the Bellavista Cloud Forest Reserve to hike one of their 20 hiking trails and take advantage of bird photography opportunities. Serious bird watchers should definitely look into this one.
3. Enjoy the Galapagos Islands
The Galapagos Islands is famous for inspiring Charles Darwin's evolution theory. Home to over 200 recorded species, many people flock to these volcanic islands to cross the world famous trip off their bucket list.
If you want to go and save money, don't book your trip ahead of time. Instead, hop on a last minute cruise while you are there and take advantage of deep discounts.
4. Hike to the Quilotoa Lagoon
Visit this jaw-dropping volcano to take stunning photos of its glowing green lagoon and embark on a challenging hike into (and out of) the crater. Quilotoa stands over 12,500 feet high so prepare to take it slow and steady for an enjoyable experience.
I used ecuatraveling.com to book my tour and enjoyed the full-day group trip. As part of our package we visited a local market, andean home, and ate traditional andean food (amazing soup).
5. Visit a traditional Andean home
Book a trip that includes a stop in the Andes mountains to interact with Andean people and visit a traditional family home.
You will see guinea pigs being saved for special occasion consumption, vibrantly woven ponchos worn by Andean villagers, and creatively built homes that you'll likely have to squat to enter.
6. Have Fun in Montañita
How could you not fall in love with Montañita's quaint beach town? With hippie vibes, jewelry makers, and surfers galore, you'll find yourself wanting to stay longer than intended. Get comfortable, brush up on your Spanish and surfing skills, and take advantage of the super cheap late morning breakfast stands and evening drinks down cocktail alley.
To accentuate our stay, we booked a penthouse Airbnb that overlooked the small town and beach and was just a five minute walk from all the action. It was such an awesome place that Airbnb featured my photo on their Instagram and over 12,000 people LOVED it.
7. Trek through The Amazon Jungle
The Amazon is spread across nine of South America's countries, including Ecuador. If you are looking to become one with the Amazon Jungle, take advantage of the many 3-5 day tours in Ecuador. Your excursion will teach you a lot about the rainforest's medicinal plants, flora, fauna, tribal life, and Amazonian people.
Heading to Ecuador or know someone who is?
Share this Top 7 List for the best time in Ecuador!
Remember, they accept the American dollar so if you're coming from the States, that is one less thing to worry about. ;-)
Have fun and happy traveling!