South America has some pretty impressive vacation destinations: breathtaking snow-capped volcanoes, rich wildlife, and beautiful culture. It’s no wonder so many people are choosing places like Ecuador as the main stop of their travels.
Ecuador is a small country in the southwestern part of South America. It is bordered by Colombia on the north, Peru on the east, with the Pacific Ocean to the south and west.
Ecuador is best known for its tourism, thanks to its diverse geography, numerous destinations and rich ecosystems. It’s no wonder that Ecuador has become an attractive travel destination for tourists from around the world.
Recently, I traveled to Ecuador and as a gift to my dad and mother, I brought them back something they have never experienced before: a wheelchair accessible van.
Vacation In Ecuador
I’ve long dreamed of visiting Ecuador. I’ve wanted to go since, well, forever. Love the people, love the culture and – of course – love the food. Ecuador offers a lot of unique experiences that you can’t get in North America or Europe.
Your best friend is getting married, and you’ve been invited to be in his wedding party. The big day is quickly approaching, but you’re stuck trying to plan a vacation at the same time. This can seem overwhelming — especially when your best friend isn’t being too helpful with the information you need (because he’s very focused on planning a beautiful wedding).
Located on the equator in northwest South America, Ecuador is known for its great biodiversity, high altitude capital city, Andean history, and exciting array of activities for families, couples, and backpackers. Here are 15 amazing things to do and see while backpacking Ecuador or simply visiting Ecuador on vacation!
1. Hike To The Quilotoa Lagoon
If you’re looking for amazing places to visit in Ecuador, visit Quilotoa! This jaw-dropping volcano is perfect for taking stunning photos of its glowing green lagoon and embarking on a challenging hike into (and out of) the crater. Quilotoa stands over 12,500 feet high so prepare to take it slow and steady for an enjoyable experience.
I used a reputable tour company called Ecuatraveling for my Quilotoa day trip and enjoyed the full-day experience as a group trip. I’m smiling in the photo but this was one of the hardest hikes I’ve ever had to do, thanks to the soft volcanic sand and my not-so-great cardio skills (hello, high altitude). I was the last to make it back up!
EcuaTraveling provided me with a press pass for this particular trip, but it usually costs $50 per person. As part of the tour package we visited a local market, Andean home in the mountains, and ate traditional Andean food (amazing soup) at the end of the hike.
2. Explore The Cloud Forest In Mindo
Less than two hours from Quito, visit the cloud forest 7,200 feet above sea level in Mindo, Ecuador. During your visit, you can explore a vast community of hummingbirds, and learn about bird life and the subtropical rainforest ecosystem.
In an effort to support sustainable tourism, I took a day trip and visited the Bellavista Cloud Forest Reserve to hike one of their 20 hiking trails and take advantage of bird photography opportunities. Serious bird watchers should definitely look into this one.
I liked that the trails were not strenuous; great low to medium impact activity for older travelers or those with physical limitations/injuries.
3. Cruise Around The Galapagos Islands
The Galapagos Islands is famous for inspiring Charles Darwin’s evolution theory. Home to over 200 known species, nature and wildlife enthusiasts flock to these volcanic islands to cross the world-famous excursion off their bucket list.
With 18 major islands dotted across just over 3,000 square miles, small ship cruises are the only way to truly encounter Ecuador’s Galapagos Islands.
Visitors love that the range of flora and fauna found in the Galapagos differs from island to island. As documented in The Voyage of the Beagle, Charles Darwin found that animals adapted genetically to a given island’s unique ecosystem. Report ad
Thanks to its remote location and UNESCO/National Park designation, the wildlife of the Galapagos is both plentiful and peaceful. Penguins, sea lions, giant tortoises, and marine iguanas are mostly unafraid of humans.
And, as confirmed by Bret and Mary of Green Global Travel, the snorkeling and diving opportunities there are spectacular!
4. Visit The Beautiful City Of Quito, Ecuador
Quito is one of the prettiest South American cities I’ve been to (I’d say a close second to Cartagena de Indias, Colombia) – and at over 9,000 feet in altitude, also the highest capital city in the world.
With the exception of everyone being drastically shorter than me (I’m 5’9″) I rarely felt out of place and loved exploring the city. I stayed at a modern apartment in the safe neighborhood of La Floresta and often took the street metro to get around.
Top sites to see and things to do in Quito:
- shopping in Old Town
- visit Iglesia de la Compañía de Jesús (basically a church with gold interior that you can’t photograph to prove you were there)
- visit Iglesia la Basilica (Gothic church that took FOREVER to complete)
- Casa de la Cultura
- the Government Palace (gorgeous!!!!! and passport required)
- Plaza Grande