Ecuador is a country in northwestern South America bordering Colombia and Peru, with the Pacific Ocean to the west. Ecuador literally translates to "Republic of the Equator", the Equator cuts right through it, causing for mild temperatures all year around. It is a land of many rivers, including the largest river in the world, the Amazon River. The Andes which happens to be longest continental mountain range also passes through Ecuador. A small chunk of the the Amazon rainforest can be found in Ecuador, and lets not forget the uber popular Galápagos Islands.
The Galápagos Islands is a province of Ecuador located in the Pacific. The islands are popular because of all endemic species and the delicate habitat. I have barely scratched the surface and there is already so much going on in Ecuador. I haven't even mentioned the capital city of Quito, all the different mountain ranges, the biodiversity (Ecuador has the most diversity per square kilometer of any nation) The range of things to do and places to go can overwhelm the casual tourists. So once again I have taken the liberty to prepare a list of the top things to do and places to visit while you are in Ecuador.
1. The Galápagos Islands
The remote and isolated Islands are 620 miles to the west of Ecuador. The Islands have become legend for its delicate ecosystem and inhabitation species that you can't find anywhere else in the world. Penguins, sea lions, and the über popular giant tortoises can be seen and approached on the Galápagos Islands. To protect the natural habitat there are strict rules on tourism to the islands. so its better to book early and arrange how you plan to get to the islands and where our are going to stay.
2. Walking Tour Through Quito
Take a tour walking through the diverse city streets of Quito. Quito was named a First World Cultural Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1978. Quito is a colonial masterpiece. The city is flanked by an active volcano and lies in a river valley, if that doesn't entice you the mainland of the city is filled with colonial churches, museums detailing the history of the city from the Inca Empire reign to present day Quito. The city has one of the least altered historic centers in all of the world. And for those of you that want to stand right on the equator, Quito is for you!
3. Whale Watching
Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands some of the best views of this majestic creature. Humpbacks feed only in summer, and migrate to tropical or subtropical waters to breed and give birth in the winter so between the months of June and September, Humpback Whales surround the coastlines of Ecuador and the Galápagos Islands. Take the whole family out on a boat to catch some breathtaking views of the whales. They frequently breach, meaning they throw their bodies out of the water, and splash back down. You are guaranteed to get some great pics.
4. Mountain Climbing
Ecuador offers some of the best mountain climbing adventures in the world. The landscapes are amazing. The Andes provides different mountain ranges for all skill levels. The Cotopaxi is one of the most active volcanoes of Ecuador, “the almost perfect cone shape is an identification sign which makes it world famous as a picture book volcano”. There is also Chimborazo, which is the highest mountain in the Ecuadorian Andes. Located near the equator it is the farthest from the center of the world. High snow capped mountains are a photographer, and a climber's dream. If you are up for the physical challenge, climbing one of these mountains is something you don't want to miss out on.
5. El Panecillo
El Panecillo Its a volcanic hill in the southern part of Quito. Standing at the top of the hill overlooking Quito is a statue of the virgin Mary, similar to Christ the Redeemer overlooking Rio de Janeiro. The statue is on a high pedestal and features the virgin Mary standing on top of a globe stepping on a snake. Popular among tourists, it is believed to be the only artwork depicting the virgin Mary with angel wings. The statue stands 45 feet.
6. Bird Watching
Although it is a small country, Ecuador and the Galápagos Islands is inhabited by 1600 bird species, you can spend your entire vacation traveling through the country looking at birds. The Chocó Region in northwestern Ecuador has the most concentration of birds in on area. You can even spend a full day in Mindo, Mindo has become synonymous with birdwatching. For a rare chance to see the Andean Condor a national symbol of Ecuador take a trip to Antisana National Park. Seasoned birders can navigate the Amazon and go bird watching there.
Like I mentioned earlier Ecuador is filled with many rivers that make rafting in Ecuador a tremendous experience, with fun rapids, accompanied with beautiful scenery. Rafting is a fun extreme activity that the whole family can take part in, no matter the age. The different rivers can dictate skill levels for you so you can plan accordingly. For example the Blanco River has big waves that beginners might find difficult to navigate, while the Anzu River has small rapids and relaxing pools. Families can take a day on the Anzu taking in the rainforest while swimming.
Tena is a region situated in the Amazon rainforest. Many visitors to Ecuador forgo the jungle to enjoy the mountains, but the Amazon region of the country is well worth exploring. Tena serves as a launching point for jungle adventures. The Tena River joins with the Masahualli River, and then with the Napo River, a tributary of the Amazon. Adventure enthusiasts cite Tena as one of the best places in the world for whitewater rafting and kayaking. For an outright jungle adventure, Tena is the place to be.
9. Amazon Trek
For those who want to really dive into the Amazon and get to know te indigenous people of the rainforest. Fly deep into the Amazon with this trip to a region inhabited by the Shiwiar clan and Juyu Intza community. A multi-day trip that will have you lodging, eating traditional meals with the locals, bathing in the Amazon, and catching your own food. A great way to really disconnect and recharge.
10. Horseback Riding
Theres not a better way to take in the volcanic views than on the back of a horse. You can ride pass remote mountain villages, admiring the cobblestone fixtures. The highlands features a huge biodiversity, and different scenery with each step you take. A fun activity that the whole family will enjoy. So if you are not trying to go mountain climbing or trekking but still want to enjoy the views from all the highpoints, horseback riding is for you.
If you have done any of these activities or visited any of these sites in Ecuador please share your thoughts in the comments.
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Written by Nelson Oduro
Nelson was part of TrekkSoft's marketing team in our New York Office for three years, paying particular attention to the growth of our digital marketing strategy.