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to Ecuador & Galapagos

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Do you want to get a better idea of all that Ecuador has to offer? We created a map with the most interesting destinations to visit. Navigate around and get inspired for your own trip to Ecuador.

Please note: This map works best on a tablet or desktop.

Quito

 

Quito

Located in the Andean mountains, Quito is the second highest capital city of the world with an altitude of 2850 meters.

Its well-preserved historical center was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1978. Most of the architecture, churches, picturesque plazas and magnificent art-filled churches date back to the Spanish colonial period.

Quito offers a wide variety of parks, museums, cultural activities and a number of viewpoints to enjoy stunning views over the city and nearby volcanoes, some of them still active!

In addition, Quito is located exactly on the equator, which makes it possible to experience standing with both feet on 2 different hemispheres at the same time at Mitad del Mundo.

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El Ángel Reserve

The El Ángel Ecological Reserve is one of the most unique natural areas of Ecuador. It is located all the way up north of the country, close to the Colombian border.

 

The reserve is well known for is mysterious landscapes with frailejones and Polylepis paper trees. In the area live deer, wolves, reptiles and even condors. Despite the extraordinary features of this place, the reserve is considered an unspoiled gem as still not many visitors know of its existence.

 

Enjoy a visit to the frailejones forest for a hike in this special scenery. The frailejones can grow up to 7 meters (22 ft) high and take up over 11 hectares (27 ac). During the drive up here you will enjoy the scenic views of valleys against mountainous backdrops.

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Otavalo

 

Otavalo

Otavalo is a predominantly indigenous town about 2 hours away from Quito. With the majority of the
inhabitants still walking around in traditional clothing, it’s safe to say that the otavaleños take a lot of pride in their Kichwa culture.

 

The town is mainly known for the largest handicraft market in South America, but has so much more to offer. Surrounded by lakes and volcanoes, the area of Otavalo makes for beautiful sightseeing and outdoor activities such as hiking, mountain biking and horseback riding.

 

It’s also a great place to learn more about everyday life of indigenous families and communities of the Andes. Where many people make a living off agriculture, others are dedicated to crafts such as ancient weaving techniques, embroidery and leatherwork.

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Cuicocha Lake

At the foot of the Cotacachi volcano you will find the stunning Cuicocha crater lake. Its name derives from the Kichwa words for “guinea pig” (cuy) and “lake” (cocha), named after the guinea pig shaped islet right in the middle of the lake.

 

The hike around the 3 km (2 mi) wide caldera takes about 5 hours and has some steep sections going up and down.Even if you are not interested in an active hike, the views from the lookout point still makes Cuicocha worth a visit.

 

You can also enjoy a boat ride that goes around the crater’s central islets or walk up to the 2 solar clocks that are located on the first 10 minutes of the hike trail.

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Mindo

 

Mindo

Mindo is a quiet town located in the province of Pichincha, in northwestern Ecuador. Mindo is known for the cloud forest that surrounds it.

 

In this area two of the most biologically diverse ecoregions in the world meet: The Chocoan lowlands and the tropical Andes. If there’s anything Mindo’s about, it’s the birds. Birders come from around the globe to revel in the species density present in and around this very special valley.

 

Besides birding you could take a walk to the waterfalls, visit a butterfly and hummingbird garden, take a cocoa or coffee workshop or go canopying or tubing.

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Papallacta

Papallacta is a small Andean village that is mostly known for its hot springs. Being only 1,5 hour away from Quito, it makes for the perfect place to escape from the hectic city.

 

The scenic drive from Quito to Papallacta passes through several towns and villages before ascending to a peak of over 4000 m (13,123 ft), from where mountains and glaciers are visible on clear days. Descending from the peak to Papallacta, the ecosystems transform from alpine to tropical jungle.

 

The nearby Lake Papallacta used to provide a considerable part of Quito’s drinking water in the past, but not anymore. Both national and international visitors come to Papallacta to relax and enjoy nature. Besides thermal pools and spa facilities that the village has to offer, it’s also a beautiful area for hiking.

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Cotopaxi National Park

Located in the central Andes, the Cotopaxi National Park is named after Ecuador’s most iconic volcano. The Cotopaxi is the highest active volcano in Ecuador and the second tallest mountain in the country.

 

Its last eruption took place in August, 2015. The paramo that surrounds the area is habited by rabbits, skunks, deer and Andean weasels known as chucuris, sparrowhawks, black-chested buzzard-eagles, condors, Andean foxes and paramo wolves amongst others.

 

Enjoy a visit to the Cotopaxi National Park for some hiking in the altitude, downhill mountain biking or horseback riding.

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Quilotoa Lake

When the Quilotoa volcano collapsed after an immense eruption about 600 years ago, it created a caldera of about 3 km (2 mi) wide. Even though at the time of the eruption some water was already present, the caldera has since extended to the 250 m (820 ft) deep crater lake that visitors can enjoy today.

 

The different tones of green, turquoise and blue that makes this lake unique are the result of dissolved minerals in the water.

 

Even if you are not interested in an active hike, the views from the lookout point at the rim of the caldera on both the lake and the mountain ranges surrounding it are breathtaking and still makes Quilotoa worth a visit, although it can be foggy sometimes.

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Baños

 

Baños

Baños de Agua Santa – better known as Baños – is a town situated at the foot of the active Tungurahua volcano. It offers both activities for adventure seekers as options for relaxation such as the hot springs that the town was called after.

 

Adventure activities in the surroundings of Baños include hiking, mountain biking to the waterfalls, rafting, canopy, canyoning and a tree house swing that will take you to ‘the end of the world’. These activities can easily be arranged on site in one of the travel agencies that are located on almost every corner of the street.

 

If this is not your thing, you might enjoy the many spa, and massage and thermal bath options in town.

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Riobamba

 

Riobamba

Riobamba is the capital city of the Chimborazo province, located in the centre of the country. Long before the advance of the Incas during the late 15th century, the region surrounding Riobamba was inhabited by the Puruhá indigenous people.

 

In 1534, the city was officially founded by the Spanish conquerors, becoming the first city in modern-day Ecuador to be established. After a catastrophic earthquake in 1797 the city was completely rebuilt by the Spaniards on a nearby site that we know as Riobamba today.

 

The city’s layout, with its large arcades plazas, churches and narrow street are an imposing reminder of the Spanish colonization, but the inhabitants give it a strong indigenous presence.

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Chimborazo Reserve

The Chimborazo is Ecuador’s highest volcano (6263 m / 20,548 ft). The Wildlife Production Reserve surrounding the inactive volcano is inhabited by countless vicuñas. 

 

The volcano’s summit is the highest point on earth (measured from the middle of the earth) and therefore also the closest point to the sun. This is due to a bulge near the equator, which makes the earth not completely round.

 

Enjoy a visit to the reserve for some hiking in the altitude, downhill mountain biking or simply enjoy the view of the majestic volcano during a photo stop while traveling to your next destination.

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Guamote

 

Guamote

In the heart of the Ecuadorian Andes you’ll find the small village of Guamote. The Chimborazo province, in which Guamote is located, is one of the socio-economically most deprived provinces of the country.

 

Its large indigenous Kichwa community lives mainly of agriculture and livestock farming. Most inhabitants still wear the traditional clothing of this area.

 

As Guamote is anything but well-known as a tourist destination, it makes for the perfect place to get an authentic look of Ecuador’s countryside.

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Ingapirca Ruins

The Ingapirca archeological site has the best-preserved and largest known Inca ruins in Ecuador.

Not many people know that the Cañari people inhabited this place long before the Inca’s arrival. After years of battles and numerous attempts to conquer the area, the Incas made peace with the Cañaris and they decided to share the sacred settlement.

Although many times smaller than Machu Picchu in Peru, this small site, with its semi-intact temple, grazing llamas and open fields, is definitely worth a stopover if you are in the area.

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Cuenca

 

Cuenca

Cuenca is the third largest city of the country and according many by far the most beautiful.

 

Enjoy wandering around the churches, museums and markets in the charismatic city center that was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site because of its well preserved colonial buildings that are in abundance.

 

Don’t forget to pay a visit to the Panama hat factory to observe the complete manufacturing process of the iconic Panama hat that has its origins in Ecuador.

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El Cajas National Park

Visit the El Cajas National Park for a glimpse at lagoons and unique fauna and flora. El Cajas is located on the northwest side of the city of Cuenca and is famous for its characteristic tundra vegetation covering hills and valleys.

 

It’s formed by wetland from glacial origins with more than 200 lakes. The area is home to a large variety of animals, some of which are endemic or highly endangered, such as the South American condor, raptors, hummingbirds, pumas, bats, foxes, many amphibians, insects and many more.

 

The park and its surroundings are also famous for its trout population.

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Cuyabeno Reserve

During your stay in the Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve, you’ll go on jungle trekking’s, go bird watching, caiman watching, visit the Siona community, navigate around the Laguna Grande and have a guided night walk.

 

Due to its remote location it makes the perfect place to observe wildlife in the area. Animals that can be found in this area are: pink river dolphins, caimans, anacondas, sloths, and many species of monkeys, tropical birds and insects, etc.

 

The belief in true eco-tourism is intended to make your stay as comfortable as possible, while preserving the beauty of the Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve for the future.

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Yasuní National Park

The Yasuní National Park and Biosphere Reserve is renowned for its great beauty and biodiversity and covers 9,820 square kilometers, or 3,792 square miles.

 

As the most biodiverse place on Earth, Yasuní is home to thousands of species of mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and insects and is also home to thousands of species of trees and plants.

 

During your stay, you will set out to explore Ecuador’s Amazon rainforest and its people, accompanied by English-speaking naturalist guides and an indigenous guide, whether paddling by canoe, kayaking on the lake, walking along trails, climbing canopy towers, visiting native communities, birdwatching or seeking out incredible wildlife encounters.

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Tena

The region of Tena is the entrance to the Amazon basin, located in the Eastern part of Ecuador “El Oriente”, the area a place of unparalleled biodiversity.

 

It is the most accessible part to reach the jungle, with more than 500 bird species, big cats, butterflies, monkeys, fish, snakes and insects.

 

It’s also home to 50% of Ecuador’s mammals, 5% of earth’s plant species and prolific birdlife.

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Galapagos Islands

The Galapagos Archipelago, without exaggeration, is a place like no other. Its islands emerged from the bottom of the sea in astonishing volcanic upheavals, the effects of which can still be observed today.

 

The Galapagos’ wildlife will astonish you by traveling on a Galapagos cruise or by going on one of our popular island hopping tours.

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Isla de la Plata

Isla de la Plata is also known as Poor Men’s Galapagos, due to its comparable ecosystem and fauna.On the island you can spot blue footed boobies, masked boobies, frigate birds and other seabirds. As these marine birds don’t show fear for humans, you will be able to observe them from very up close.

 

A hike activity on the island is combined with a snorkel activity at the nearby coral reefs to see tropical fish and possibly some sea turtles.

 

During whale season, which starts in June and ends early October, it’s likely to spot humpback whales on your way to the island.

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Whale watching

During whale season, approximately from late June to early October, you can spot humpback whales in the waters near Puerto Lopez during a half day whale watching tour.

 

These big mammals are found in Ecuadorian waters during their migration from Antartica to the coast of the National Park Machalilla.  With your guide who helps you spotting, you will try to get as close as possible, without disturbing them with your presence.

 

Besides whales it is also possible to observe different species of dolphins.

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Puerto Lopez

 

Puerto Lopez

The fishing village Puerto Lopez, with its long wide beach, has become a popular, yet anything but over-touristy coastal town over the years.

 

With a laid-back atmosphere and a variety of cafes and beach restaurants it mainly attracts visitors that want to relax and enjoy the beauty of the nearby Machalilla National Park.

 

Puerto Lopez is also home to the country’s scientific whale foundation, as the whale-watching season runs here from approximately mid June to early October and makes for an incredible opportunity to observe humpback whales.

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Montañita

 

Montañita

Being a very small fisherman’s village only a couple of decades ago, Montañita has changed into a popular surfer’s hotspot with a lively nightlife that mainly attracts younger travelers.

 

Oddly enough, Montañita is also known for its yoga retreats that take place just outside the village center where the bars and restaurants are located.

 

Although the interests of Montañita’s visitors may vary, the long sandy beach is a place that has its appeal to everyone.

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Guayaquil

 

Guayaquil

Guayaquil is the largest and most populous city in Ecuador with a total of 2.7 million inhabitants.

 

Besides being the beating commercial heart of Ecuador it is also a vibrant coastal city. Guayaquil is home to the country’s main sea port, located next to the Guayas river. The climate of the city is hot and humid.

 

Although Guayaquil is not the most popular tourist destination, it has it fair share of sights that can be enjoyed during your stay here.

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Receive a custom made travel proposal

Let us make a tailor made program for you that suits all of your wishes regarding your trip. To help us set up the right trip for you, we kindly ask you to fill out our special inquiry form for round trips. Requesting a travel proposal is entirely free and without any obligation.

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