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20+ Enriching Things to do in Ecuador

The South American seaside nation, Ecuador boasts of beauties worth remembering for a lifetime. The country lies on the Equator and hence, it is called Ecuador. Blessed with surreal surroundings and hypnotizing settlements, Ecuador has everything to grab your attention. Visit it and explore its paradisal expanses and enjoy the best of vacation. Pack your bags and discover the most enriching things to do in Ecuador.

Travel 101: Best Things To Do In Ecuador

1. Take a Walk Through the Historic Centres

Things To Do In Ecuador - Quito and Cuenca historic centre

Ecuador has two historic centers recognized as UNESCO World Heritage Sites for their long-standing cultural value. Roaming around the ornate buildings of the centuries-old streets can make you feel like you have stepped back into the past. The historic center of Quito delivers not only cultural significance but also boasts of immense old-world charm. Cuenca’s amazing colonial streets exude the quintessnetial European beauty.

Recommended For: History Lovers, Photographers

Location: Ecuador

Price Range: $5 – $10

Ideal Timings: 05:00 am to 06:00 pm

Pro Tip: Keep an eye on your belongings and your pocket as pick-pocketing is common at crowded places here.


2. Trek up the Cotopaxi Volcano

This glacier-capped Volcano Cotopaxi is one of the tallest active volcanoes in the world. It is also the second-highest point in Ecuador with a summit of about 5897 meters. To reach the summit of Cotopaxi, it takes a gruelling overnight trek. Sometimes it’s closed due to heightened volcanic activity. But a day trek to Cotopaxi’s base camp is a more accessible choice.

Recommended For: Adventure Lovers

Ideal Timings: 06:00 am to 05:00 pm

Pro Tip: Bring adequate water as there aren’t many shops inside the park.


3. Explore the Ancient Ruins of Ingapirca

Things To Do In Ecuador - Ingapirca

Although initially less impressive than Machu Picchu, the most intact ruins in Ecuador share an important insight into the country’s past. Originally an observatory for the Cañari people, then a military stronghold by the Inca in the 13th century, the Ingapirca ruins are still in use today. The main attraction of the ruins at Ingapirca is the Temple of the Sun. This ceremonial centrepiece is the most beautiful structure here.

Recommended For: Culture Explorers, History Lovers

Location: Canar Province, Ecuador

Price: $2 per person

Pro Tip: Keep yourself hydrated as you might experience altitude sickness at some places in Ingapirca.


4. Explore the Rich Wildlife of Galapagos Islands

Things To Do In Ecuador - Galapagos islands

If getting up close and personal with wildlife is your dream, then encountering the inhabitants of the Galápagos Islands is a must. The wildlife here has never learned to be afraid of humans, so you can body-surf with sea-lion pups, sunbathe with spitting marine iguanas, watch blue-footed boobies bounce from rock to rock and snorkel with the penguins.

Recommended For: Wildlife Lovers, Photographers

Price: $100 per person

Ideal Timings: 06:00 am to 05:00 pm


5. Ride the Devil’s Nose Train

Devil's nose Train

Built in the 1900s, the Nariz del Diablo, Devil’s Nose, stretch of rail track through the Andes is one of the most impressive feats of engineering in history. The track crisscrosses almost vertically from Alausí down to Sibambe. Sitting on the right gives you the best views. Look out of the open window and gaze at the mountainous scenery as you run past thundering waterfalls, glistening rivers and knee-trembling gorges. Turn to watch the rest of the train snake around the mountain behind you.

Recommended For: Families, Couples, Photographers

Location: Andes, Ecuador

Price Range: $25 – $33


6. Cruise Through the Jungle of Amazon

Eastern Ecuador covers a wide swath of the Amazon Rainforest and holds many tributaries to the Amazon River. It takes some effort to reach this remote jungle environment. And those who do so are rewarded with awesome Amazonian experiences. Within the Ecuadorian Amazon, it is possible to go fishing for piranhas, spot pink river dolphins, meet with a local shaman, and search for anacondas.

Recommended For: Adventurers, Wildlife Photographers

Price Range: $100 – $120 for a day tour

Timings: 06:00 am to 05:00 pm

Pro Tip: Always keep a tour guide with you as they are aware of the jungle trails in detail.


7. Visit Palion del Diablo Waterfall

Translated as the Devil’s Cauldron, Palion del Diablo is probably the most popular waterfall to visit in Ecuador and arguably the most scenic! The short trail to the waterfall includes lots of stairs and fun suspension bridges to traverse over. This adds to the adventure through a narrow canyon leading to the waterfall’s viewpoint. Yet soon enough, the 80-meter waterfall comes into view along with the misty spray that regularly soaks visitors.

Recommended for: Nature Lovers, Photographers

Location: Banos, Ecuador

Entry Fee: $2 per person

Ideal Timings: 07:00 am to 04:00 pm


8. Hit the Sandy Shores of Ecuador

Ecuador has some world-class beaches along its Pacific coastline and even throughout the Galapagos Islands. Sunbathers and surfers can both have fun in the sun across Ecuador’s many picturesque expanses. From natural beaches to resort beaches and party beaches to laidback surf towns, there is a lot for everyone in Ecuador.

Recommended For: Beach Lovers, Nature Photographers, Families

Locations: Montanita, Manta, Salinas, and more

Price: No Entry Fee

Timings: Anytime


9. Trek Down the Quilotoa Crater

Things To Do In Ecuador - Quilotoa crater

Quilotoa’s gorgeous three-kilometre wide caldera is a spectacular sight to see. This former volcano collapsed from an eruption, estimated to have occurred about 600 years ago. It now lays filled with water, transformed as a deep crater lake. It is easily possible to trek down into the Quilotoa Crater as a day trip from Quito. But for a more complete trek around the Quilotoa Crater, consider embarking on the 3-day Quilotoa Loop trek.

Recommended For: Adventure Enthusiasts, Photographers

Location: Cotopaxi Province

Price: No Entry Fee

Timings: Anytime

Pro Tip: There are a number of villages by the Quilotoa Loop trek where you can find decent accommodation to spend your nights.


10. Witness Different Species of Birds at Mindo

The Mindo Cloud Forest is one of the premier birding destinations on earth. More than 500 different types of birds have been spotted in Mindo. In fact, Mindo regularly holds the annual world record for the most bird species counted within a 24-hour period. Birders travel to Mindo specifically searching for varieties of toucans, parrots, quetzals, and even umbrellabirds.

Recommended For: Birdwatchers, Wildlife Photographers

Ideal Timings: 07:00 am to 05:00 pm

Pro Tip: Do not forget to bring along a pair of binoculars for you might spot a number of rare species here.


11. Shop For Souvenirs at the Otavalo Market

Otavalo is home to Ecuador’s most famous local market, which is one of the largest and most renowned markets in all of South America. The Otavalo market tradition goes back hundreds of years, all the way to pre-Incan times. Visit it and shop for different types of souvenirs. Bring home a bundle of memories. Also, explore the street culture of Ecuador at the market.

Recommended For: Shoppers, Explorers

Location: Imababura Province, Ecuador

Entry Fee: No Entry Fee

Timings: 07:00 am to 06:00 pm

Pro Tip: If you are extremely good at haggling, then you have a great chance of availing a minimum of 50% discount on souvenirs.


12. Take Photos at the Equator Line

Things To Do In Ecuador - Equator Line

The Equator line dividing the north and south hemispheres slices right through Ecuador and even the Galapagos Islands too. A visit to the equator line is a major tourist attraction and point of interest in Ecuador. It is a fun novelty to hover over both sides of the earth at once. If you’re coming to the country named after the equator, you have to take a trip to this famous line.

Recommended For: Explorers

Location: Quito, Ecuador

Price: $5 per person

Timings: 09:00 am to 06:00 pm


13. Indulge in a Refreshing Thermal Pool Bath

Given the volcanic origins to Ecuador’s Andes, it should come as no surprise that hot springs abound throughout the country’s midsection. After a grueling trek through the Andes or during a particularly chilly day, indulging in a visit to Ecuador’s many thermal pools can certainly feel heavenly. The thermal baths of Papallacta are a popular escape from Quito and boast volcano views among the more than dozen of pools to soak in there.

Recommended For: Families, Couples, Photographers

Price Range: $2 – $20

Timings: 08:00 am to 05:00 pm


14. Experience the Beauty of Ecuador Churches

Ecuador boasts a handful of impressive churches and cathedrals scattered about the country. Even those who may not be fascinated by these religious structures should find appeal with the experiences that can be had throughout Ecuador’s churches. Many of Ecuador’s cathedrals can be climbed for their spectacular surrounding views, among other interesting experiences. The list includes Basilica del Voto Nacional, the New Cathedral, and Iglesia de Balbanera.

Recommended For: History Lovers, Architecture Enthusiasts

Price: $2 – $5 per person

Ideal Timings: 09:00 am to 05:00 pm

Pro Tip: Climb up the top of the church spire to catch some awesome sights of Ecuador cityscapes.


15. Indulge in White Water Rafting

Down towards the Amazon basin, the town of Tena is a main base for white water rafting activity in Ecuador. The Jatunyacu River, which flows into the Napo River, is a major tributary to the Amazon. And it makes for some fine white-water rafting. The Jatunyacu River is the most popular white-water run in the area with class III rapids in a picturesque jungle setting. The rapids are mild enough for beginners, yet still offer some bouncy thrills across swift moving waves.

Recommended For: Adventure Lovers

Location: Tena, Ecuador

Fee: $45 – $80 per person

Timings: 08:00 am to 05:000 pm


16. Enjoy Ziplining Through the Cloud Forest

Ziplining

There are a number of great ziplining runs throughout Ecuador. You can find zip lines in the Andes surrounding Cuenca and others soaring over canyons near Banos. Mindo may be best known for birding. Yet it is also becoming an awesome hub for adventure pursuits in this unique cloud forest environment. There are some serious ziplining routes in Mindo to soar amongst the toucans.

Recommended For: Explorers, Adventurers

Location: Banos, Ecuador

Price: $15 – $20 per person

Pro Tip: As you would be in deep woods, make sure to have an insect repellent with you irrespective of what is provided by organisers.


17. Walk the Promenade of Guayaquil

Things To Do In Ecuador - Guayaquil

While many of Ecuador’s beaches are proud of their pleasant waterfront boardwalks, the riverfront walkway of Guayaquil still stands out with its extreme gorgeousness. The 2.5 km promenade boasts of excellent views of the River Guayas. It goes past gardens, monuments, museums, restaurants, artisanal markets, shopping malls, and other fun attractions.

Recommended For: Explorers, Nature lovers, Photographers

Location: Guayas, Ecuador

Entry Fee: No entry fee

Ideal Timings: Mornings and Evenings


18. Savour a Variety of Ecuadorian Cuisine

Ecuador has some interesting local cuisine to try while traveling throughout the country. The food across Ecuador varies regionally. Local specialties can be as diverse as Ecuador’s landscapes. Seafood rules along the coast. Meanwhile, warm comfort foods are found in abundance across the Andean highlands. The must-try delicacies include ceviche, hornado, fritada, guinea pig, bolon and more

Recommended For: Foodies, Culture Explorers

Price Range: $1 – $5 per meal

Pro Tip: You would find the best of seafood at places like Salango and Guayaquil.


19. Bike Down the Andes Mountains

Things To Do In Ecuador - Andes Mountains

Ecuador has some awesome downhill bike rides for adventure-seekers who want to fly down the Andes on two wheels. There are great opportunities to rent bikes in Ecuador or join a cycling day tour through some of the most scenic locations. You can either bike down Chimborazo or cycle through the Waterfall Route from Banos. These thrilling rides pass by numerous canyon, cliffs and waterfalls.

Recommended For: Bikers, Adventure Seekers

Price: $50 – $70 for a guided full-day tour

Timings: 09:00 am to 05:00 pm


20. Visit the Artisan Towns of Azuay Province

About an hour’s drive north of Cuenca lies a trio of towns that are highly regarded for their artisan products. Gualaceo, Chordeleg, and Sigsig each offer great shopping experiences. Here, shoppers can hunt down local crafts from right within the charming Andean communities that produce them. Most notable is Chordeleg, where dozens of jewelry and craft shops line the gorgeous streets of the town.

Recommended For: Offbeat Travelers, Art Lovers, Culture Explorers

Location: Azuay Province, Ecuador

Pro Tip: Visit the markets early mornings on weekends to find them filled with a variety of colourful souvenirs.


21. Take A Swing At the End of The World

Things To Do In Ecuador - Swing at the end of the World

The famous treehouse near Banos called Casa del Arbol is the swing that started the trend in the country. It is often known as the ‘swing at the end of the world’ and is a must-do activity for all adventure lovers and thrill-seekers. Bring along a good camera and capture some of the most beautiful shots from the top as you swing across the cliff into the valley.

Recommended For: Adventure Lovers, Thrill Seekers

Location: Banos, Ecuador

Price Range: $1 – $3 per person

Ideal Timings: 07:00 am to 05:00 pm

Recommended Read: 20+ Most Exotic Things To Do in Costa Rica

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