Even as tourism boom in Ecuador, there are still plenty of enticing destinations that remain under the radar, offering travelers the chance to explore architectural gems, surf off gorgeous beaches, visit wildlife-rich reserves and much more. Here are a few suggestions for escaping the crowds.
Ecuador Travel Insights
Ecuador is a country that packs enormous diversity into a small area so it's ideal to visit for a short trip. You can spend a long weekend exploring Quito and the mountains, stay for a week venturing into the Amazon jungle or cruising the Galapagos, or spend two weeks climbing volcanoes, exploring cloud forest and enjoying adventure sports before relaxing on the Pacific beaches. Whatever your preference, use this guide to help you make the most of your visit.
This action-packed 7-day tour of Ecuador is perfect for travelers searching for adventure, culture and spectacular scenery all within a few hours' drive from the capital Quito. The trip begins with a thrilling bike ride down an active volcano and continues with hikes in the cloud forest, a climb up a waterfall and visits to an indigenous community. There will be plenty of opportunities to unwind too, with stops at hot springs and a quiet, mountainside hacienda.
Stretching from the Amazon to the Andes and straddling the southern and northern hemispheres, Ecuador boasts a remarkable range of landscapes, cultures and ecosystems. From raucous festivals to wildlife encounters, historic cities to Inca ruins, colorful markets to dramatic train journeys, it has something for everyone. This article picks out ten of the country’s most memorable activities.
There are not many countries this small that can boast four such starkly contrasting topographical regions. In an area roughly the size of Britain, Ecuador combines coast, rugged mountains, jungle, and the Galapagos. Sun-bathe on Pacific-facing beaches, climb volcanoes or hike around Andean lakes, go zip-lining in cloud forest or canoe up an Amazon tributary, or wildlife-watch in the Galapagos: these 7-day itineraries are full of astonishing variety.
Ecuador is one of the world’s most biodiverse countries: in this small but breathtakingly varied nation, you can visit tropical beaches, volcanoes, cloud forest and jungle all on the same day. Ecuador is also steeped in culture, with colonial Spanish churches, pre-Columbine archaeology, and bustling indigenous markets. The icing on the cake is the incredible Galapagos archipelago which belongs to Ecuador. From the Andes to Amazon, here are our main highlights.
If you love horses and want to experience Ecuador in a unique way, consider this five-day journey to volcano country. On this trip, multiple days are spent in the saddle as you traverse the high plains, stopping off to take in the views or walk amid stands of native trees. Magical nights are spent in the Andes at haciendas, where you'll eat hearty meals and rest up for the next days' journey.
This 6-Day trekkers delight crosses stunning grasslands dotted with volcanoes in the highlands of Ecuador. Each day will be spent trekking in the open high altitude plains until the final ascent up Cotopaxi volcano. Along the way, we'll spot wildlife, meet Andean cowboys, sleep in tents and overnight in comfortable haciendas.
This multi-activity 3-day trip in the Ecuador Highlands offers adventure by day and high comfort by night. During this trip, you'll hike up a volcano, do a high ropes course, go horseback riding and enjoy a cooking class. Nights will be spent at a cozy and historic hacienda, a short drive from the capital Quito.
Ecuador makes for a superb honeymoon destination that combines romance and adventure: canoe in Amazon jungle and then enjoy a spa treatment, go wildlife watching and then stargaze in the Galapagos, climb a volcano and then dip in thermal baths. Use this guide to kick off your marriage in a country of astounding biodiversity, diverse landscapes and unique culture.
Eco-lodges in the Ecuadorian rainforest offer excellent bird watching and wildlife spotting opportunities, guided tours, eco-adventures and surprising luxury. From exclusive boutiques to functional huts deep in the jungle, this article breaks down the best lodges in the Ecuadorian Amazon.
With 14 days in Ecuador, the hard part is narrowing down where to go. Many visitors come for the Galápagos, but the mainland swells with natural beauty, colonial architecture in walkable towns and diverse indigenous cultures still practicing traditional arts and lifestyles. The gorgeous landscapes range from beaches to snow-covered equatorial volcanoes and finally humid jungles feeding into the Amazon.
Ecuador is a fascinating, diverse country for families to explore. Whether you and your children would like to hike in the Andes, discover indigenous and colonial cultures, go bird-watching in the cloud forest, discover the wildlife of the Galapagos Islands, or swim and snorkel on Pacific beaches, you can have an unforgettable family holiday. Careful planning is essential though and this guide will tell you all you need to know.
Local people are fond of saying that Ecuador is four countries in one: coast, highlands, jungle, and the Galapagos. Whether you want to relax on the beach, climb volcanoes, hike around Andean lakes, go zip-lining in the cloud forest, canoe up an Amazon tributary or cruise the Galapagos, there is a perfect itinerary for everyone.
On the northwestern side of South America, straddling the equator, Ecuador contains a remarkably diverse range of landscapes, altitudes, and climates. Despite their great variations, the country’s highlands, rainforests, beaches and far-flung islands are all rewarding places to visit throughout the year.
Leave the cold climes of Quito and descend to the sinuous rivers and sticky jungle of the Ecuadorian Amazon, one of the most bio-diverse places on Earth. On this 7-day itinerary, you will wildlife-spot along mighty waterways, climb into rainforest canopies, brave some of South America’s best white-water rapids and bathe in beautiful thermal pools. If you are set on exploring the Amazon, Ecuador is one of the best places to do it.
Traverse the very best of the Ecuadorian highlands on this 7-day itinerary. Starting and finishing in the capital, Quito, you will encounter bustling markets, awe-inspiring volcanoes, centuries-old colonial towns and Inca ruins. There's great hiking along the way in terrain ranging from glaciers and high-level plateau through to forests and waterfalls.
Explore the best hiking trails Ecuador has to offer on this inclusive hiking itinerary. As you travel across the spine of the Andean nation, you will encounter towering volcanos, tropical jungle treks, wildlife watching opportunities aplenty, and a unique connection with the age-old traditions, cultures and pathways of the Inca and their modern-day descendants.
Experience the cultural heritage and natural beauty of Ecuador over the course of two weeks. From the urban sprawl of Quito to the serene shores of the Galapagos and everything in between, this tour will span several diverse regions and truly open your eyes to one of South America's most fascinating countries.
An 8-day adventure in Ecuador, starting and ending in Quito. During this trip, you'll get to explore Quito, the Otavalo indigenous market, and the beautiful Galapagos Islands, possibly the best-preserved national park in the world.
The Avenue of the Volcanoes. The Roof of the World. For centuries, natives and travelers alike have found inspiration in the chain of immense volcanoes that form the Ecuadorian Andes. With rich Andean culture and awe-inspiring views, you’ll learn what is so special about mountain life along the equator.
If you’re looking to experience the Amazon and have 3-5 days to spare, this is the perfect retreat only half a day’s drive from Quito. The Yacuma Ecolodge is a sustainable, community-run lodge located on a tributary of the Amazon next to 275 hectares of protected rainforest.
Explore the best of Ecuador in this 16-day tour through the Amazon, Andes, and Coastal regions. You'll visit beautiful colonial towns, indigenous communities, and experience ways of life both ancient and modern in this diverse country.
This 10-day tour will take you up into the highlands of the Ecuadorian Andes and deep into the Amazon jungle by canoe. You'll spend the night in an eco lodge, relax in hot springs, and explore the cultural diversity of Quito.