Ecuador is a small country – with lots to see and do – located in South America. It has common borders with Colombia and Peru.
Because of its location, Ecuador has almost everything South America has to offer. In mainland Ecuador, you can go to the beaches in the Ecuadorian coast, afterward visit the Andes and go up to 4.800 meters to then go to the Amazon. And then there is Galapagos, for which Ecuador is most known.
Continue reading to uncover the 4 places to visit in Ecuador you shouldn’t miss:
1. Ecuador’s Alive Coast
The Ecuadorian coast is located in the Pacific ocean. This makes it a good place to surf and enjoy the beautiful things the ocean has to offer.
Guayaquil. Guayaquil is the biggest city in the country. It is not directly located by the ocean, but it has the river Guayas crossing the city. Due to its airport, most people arrive here or in Quito. The city is a good starting place to go on ‘the sun’s route’, a highway along the coast from Salinas to Manta.
Salinas. Salinas is the first stop in la Ruta del Sol when starting from Guayaquil. This is one of the most known places on the coast due to its resorts. If you are into the more comfortable resort-style this is the place for you.
Montañita. A little bohemian town. Montañita is located about three hours from Guayaquil. Montañita is one of the most famous places on the coast. A lot of tourists have come and stayed here. It is known for its lively surfer scene and parties.
Ayampe. This little town half hour from Montañita offers also really good surfing conditions. Not as busy as Montañita, Ayampe offers beautiful and quiet beaches.
Mompiche. Mompiche is a small fishing town located in the province of Esmeraldas. It is a very nice place if you are looking for uncrowded beaches.
2. The Stunning Sierra of Ecuador
The Sierra is the Mountain Rage that crosses Ecuador in the middle of the country from North to South. This includes the Andes and a lot of volcanos.
Quito. Quito is the capital city of Ecuador and the second biggest in the country. It is located 2800 meters above sea level which makes it the highest capital city in the world. Here you can visit the beautiful historical center, which is a World Cultural Heritage Site. You can also visit the “Mitad del Mundo” or Middle of the World.
Cuenca. Cuenca is the third biggest city in the country. It was colonized by the Spanish and you can see this in the architecture around the city. From here you can also go to “El Cajas”, a national park with a singular vegetation. It is formed by hills and valleys with a lot of lakes and lagoons.
Quilotoa. A beautiful place for a three to five-day hike. Starting in Latacunga you will pass through different Andean communities, where you will be able to sleep and eat. You will also reach the Quilota Lagoon, a water-filled caldera.
Baños de Agua Santa. Baños is a very popular destination. This town offers a lot of extreme sports options. From rafting to paragliding, there’s something for every kind of adventurous traveler. It is located in the foothills of the Tungurahua volcano and it is also a perfect place to start your trip into the jungle since is the last big city located in the Sierra before reaching the jungle. There are a lot of waterfalls and hot spring waters around the city, don’t forget to check some out!.
Volcanos. The biggest ones are Chimborazo and Cotopaxi. Chimborazo is 6.286m high and the Cotopaxi 5.897m. The first one is supposedly the closest point to the Sun in the world, 2km closer than the Everest. You can enjoy the 98 volcanos that this country has to offer, 31 of which are still active or potentially active and explore the volcanos route, where you be able to witness lots of them on a beautiful train ride.
We often believe that all South American countries are cheap. Sadly it’s not always the case. In Ecuador, you can find a bit of everything. Some things will seem cheap, while others won’t. I wrote a post on saving tips for travel.
3. The Striking Amazon Rainforest
The Oriente, as it’s known the most eastern region from Ecuador, it’s comprised of the lowlands of the rainforest in the Amazon. It represents 48% of the Ecuadorian country.
Puyo. It is located between Baños and the Amazon and is the biggest city in the Amazonian region. Coming from Baños it is the first stop on your journey to the Amazon. It is also a good place to take tours into the Amazon.
Natural Park of Yasuni. This park is the largest mainland park in Ecuador. This park was designated by UNESCO as Biosphere Reserve. This park is located about 250 Km from Quito. Here you can also find a variety of species, including birds, amphibians and harder to see jungle wildlife such as jaguars, harpy eagles, and pumas.
Cuyabeno Wild Reserve. It is one of Ecuador’s largest reserves. It has 494 recorded bird species and 228 tree species per hectare. It also contains a huge network of lagoons and lakes. It is also very popular for the aquatic wildlife which offers pink dolphins, turtles, giant otters, frogs and 450 species of fish, to name a few.
4. The Unique Galapagos Islands
Galapagos consists of a few volcanic islands located in the Pacific Ocean, about 900 km from the Ecuadorian Mainland. Formed by 13 main islands and 17 islets. These islands offer a huge variety of animal and plant species.
Galapagos archipelago is famous for the huge amount of endemic species one can find there. The most known is probably the giant turtles. There used to be 14 different species, of which 4 have sadly already extinguish. It also has endemic Iguanas, sea lions, and a few endemic birds.
The biggest islands are San Cristobal, Santa Cruz, and Isabela. Once in Galapagos, the best thing to do is to take tours to explore the different Islands and sea life. Due to the large crowds, tourism is pretty controlled in order to preserve the Islands so be patient and do some research in advance in order to avoid disappointing situations once there.
Hope you enjoy your Ecuador trip and please leave a comment if you have any questions or would like to recommend other things to do or places to visit in Ecuador! We are always happy to hear your suggestions.