7 Best Places To Visit In Ecuador

No country in South America concentrates such diversity on a portion of land as small as Ecuador. Ecuador is a country in South America that doesn't get too much love, despite the fact it's home to some of the most beautiful places ever. There are two main reasons to go here; the Ecuadorian Andes and Galapagos Islands.

Both of these places boast a natural beauty that's really hard to rival - along with some genuinely stunning wildlife. Four worlds coexist in the small Andean country. With the Andes reigning the Ecuadorian heart, the universe of the Amazon Rainforest unfolds to the east, while the Pacific Ocean bathes all coasts and houses one of the most important treasures of the country in the Galapagos Islands.

Ecuador draws travelers seeking sea turtles, rich biodiversity, and incredible food. Its Galapagos Islands, though tough to reach, are among the world’s most important habitats for plant, animal, and sea life, and the sanctuary of wilderness extends to the mainland. Here you can mountain bike high peaks and view rare animals in the same day, concluding with dinner and a night out in the city. Few places offer so much in such a small area – and it’s high time you experienced Ecuador for yourself.

Best Places To Visit In Ecuador Mainland Ecuador is just as splendid; you can explore intricate little streets with traditional South American architecture that makes for the most picturesque scenery.

1. Quito

I grabbed a flight to Ecuador. I had no idea what to expect, but it surpassed all of my expectations! I explored Quito, Old town, and churches with a new friend I met on the plane! I went to Otavalo market by myself. I went to Quilotoa Lagoon with a tour group. I visited the middle of the world at 0' 0' Latitude and balance an egg on a nail. The list of experiences and memories is too long.

They use the US dollar which made me even more comfortable and able to negotiate prices at the markets. The people are so friendly! I went by myself but made some great friends. I always felt safe and glad I knew basic Spanish because English is not common there.

Couchsurfing works very well, and it's a good way to meet local people, and get a little inside the culture. The hostels are in less touristy areas. The other option is camping in Ecuador and it is possible, especially on the beach. If you do not find camping, the Ecuadorians are very hospitable, and you will not have problems when it comes to finding where to put the tent.

I stayed in an AirBnb in La Mariscal neighborhood that had a delicious restaurant below it with the best waitstaff! I tried traditional Ecuadorian food and sweets and it never failed.

Ecuadorian food include soup, second (almost always a portion of chicken or fish with rice and beans) and drinks. Morocho would be the Ecuadorian version of the mazamorra, a drink prepared from ground white corn, water, milk and sugar. The younger Ecuadorians do not even know what it is. Encebollado, the national dish of Ecuador they say is the ideal food for a hangover.

This fish stew is served with yucca, onion and chili, and seasoned with lemon. Bolón de verde is, as the name says, a huge ball made of green banana, which is mixed with pork rinds or meat.

So much fruit! If you go to any restaurant, a lot of the drinks are basically this blended fruit juice: they basically blend the fruit into the water/juice so it’s pulpy fruit juice, and it’s so good. This is mainly because they just have so much of it! Ecuador is very agriculture-friendly so they have a lot of locally-grown products that would be more expensive in the US.

Other things like this that immediately stuck out to me are chocolate and avocados. We had avocados at every meal, and the chocolate is so much better than anything I’ve had in the US. They made it into chocolate sauce, hot chocolate, and dark chocolate bars with pieces of fruit in them.

2. Cotopaxi

The volcanoes! ❤️ I kayaked in a lake in a crater of an active volcano! I didn’t attempt Cotopaxi which is usually #1 on everyone’s list but the weather wasn't great that day and I'm not in mountain hiking shape so, I was fine with it. I took the Teleferico up to the Pichincha mountain overlooking with breathtaking views.

3. Galapagos Islands

If you want an unforgettable adventure in Ecuador you have to visit the Galapagos Islands. You will get to walk the footsteps of the famous naturalist Charles Darwin and learn all about the chain of islands and its unique animal life. You will have the opportunity to see endangered tortoises, flamingo, marine iguanas, sleeping sharks, sea lions as the finches that inspired Darwin's theory of evolution in the first place.

But if that doesn't satisfy your adventure bug there are a lot of places where you can be super active.

There are so many places where you can go surfing, snorkeling, boating and even hiking. If you have a lot of time on your hands you have to make sure that you visit the Ecuadorian mainland where you will be able to enjoy some of the most breathtaking walks which have raised pathways above the forest floor that will make you feel like you are in a magical place.

Located at the equator in the Pacific Ocean, west of Ecuador, this archipelago of volcanic islands is a national park and a World Heritage Site. The picturesque islands are best known for their many species that exist only there, which are famous for contributing to Charles Darwin's theory of evolution. Be sure to see the many beautiful creatures, including land iguanas, turtles, penguins (the only tropical penguin), sea lions, and of course the blue-footed booby.

If you know anything about Charles Darwin's studies about evolution, then chances are that you’ve heard of the Galapagos Islands. They are known for the wide variety of endemic species that live there and served as the origin of Darwin’s famous book, On the Origin of Species, which focused on the various types of finches he discovered in the Galapagos.

Other interesting animals found in these islands include the land iguanas, Galapagos tortoise, blue-footed booby, and Galapagos sea lions. Unfortunately, human interference has caused many of the native species of plants and animals to be overrun. The introduction of cattle, goats, cats, and dogs, etc. has negatively impacted the Galapagos.

Cats and dogs have been known to ruin bird, turtle, and tortoise nests as well. However, a protection policy was established in 1930, and things started to change by the 1950s. Nearly ninety-eight percent of the land in the area was declared a national park in 1959.

This is where you will learn some of the deepest histories of people and wildlife. Galapagos Islands hosts some of the hardest to find wildlife, including the marine iguanas, blue-footed boobies, giant Galapagos tortoises, Galapagos sea lions, and Galapagos penguins. While here, you will have the chance of hiking the natural, seemingly abandoned Galapagos trails and ride yachts together with other international visitors.

Strangely, the Galapagos Islands are pretty well-known, yet very few people travel to Ecuador to see them. Plus, and this is a bonus, Ecuador uses US dollars as the currency. So, if you're traveling from the United States, then you can tick travel money off your list of things to worry about.

Ecuador is a paradise for seal lovers, full of species that are not found anywhere else on Earth. However, do not expect to find coral reefs here. Instead, the area has heavy currents and waters rich in nutrients that attract an important pelagic action. Most divers go directly to the Galapagos Islands.

The waters surrounding this group of deep-sea volcanic islands form a protected marine reserve where commercial fishing has practically not occurred in the last five decades. This fact, combined with the outcrops of deep waters of the area, creates one of the marine ecosystems with the greatest biodiversity in the world.

4. Machalilla National Park

Divers can take advantage of everything that this region has to offer in a liveaboard trip. These boats have the ability to travel to the northern diving sites, such as those around Darwin Island, Wolf Island and Punta Vicente Roca, which are far from the inhabited islands to be visited in a single day.

For those who wish to dive in Ecuador without the cost of traveling to the Galapagos, the Machalilla National Park is known as the poor mans destination of the Galapagos and presents some of the same endemic species found in the famous archipelago. The national park, which is the only coastal national park in Ecuador, incorporates cloud forest, dry forest, small islands and two larger islands, Salango and the small Isla de la Plata.

Large groups of giant stingrays, whales and dolphins are commonly seen here during the correct season as you travel in Ecuador. Unfortunately, the same level of protection has not been granted to the Machalilla National Park as seen in the Galapagos. Overfishing, pollution, poaching and deforestation are common problems in the region.

With as much to discover underwater as above, it is not surprising that most divers dream of exploring Ecuador underwater at least once in their lives.

5. Chimborazo

The summit of Chimborazo, in Ecuador, holds the interesting distinction of being the farthest point from the center of the Earth. As it happens, the Earth is not actually spherical. The centrifugal force of its spin gives it a significant bulge around the equator.

In other words, if you shrunk the Earth down to the size of a desktop globe and measured its circumference, you would find that if you stretched your measuring tape around the equator, it would be noticeably larger than if you wrapped it from pole to pole. Chimborazo stands at only a single degree of latitude below the Equator, making its peak very slightly (about 2 km) further from the center of the Earth than Everest.

6. Tena

The wildlife is truly stunning. There are just animals everywhere. In Misahuall√≠ there’s Playa de los Monos, where there are just monkeys chilling, ready to steal your bag. There were also monkeys on the “island” in the middle of Tena, and there was a sloth in the restaurant The Marquis (in Tena). Domesticated dogs would just wander into our school and stay for a day or a week.

And you could always hear interesting bird calls at any time of day or night. One taxi driver had a large tropical bird who sat in the passenger seat. On a negative side: so many bugs. And they’re so big.

Some of them are cool, like the tarantula who hung out in the roof of our pottery shed and came out during dinner, but some are terrifying, like the spider who disappeared under my friend’s bed and never came out but when we looked it was gone, and some are disgusting, like the cricket bigger than my hand sitting on our screen window.

7. Ibarra

Ice cream from paila is a good dessert. This artisan ice cream is characterized by its preparation, in a copper pan, cooled with dry ice. Typical of the city of Ibarra, it is the best way to say goodbye to the country.

The best season to travel to the Ecuadorian Andes is in June. Very few countries need a visa to enter Ecuador. Normally, with a valid passport you can reach here. If you enjoy mountains and scenery, this is the place for you!
Kalyan Panja