Ecuador is a small country located in South America. It is right on the equator and is bordered by the Pacific Ocean, Colombia and Peru. You will mostly find very many climbers, adventure seekers, nature lovers and trekkers visiting this country. Ecuador is known for its large ecological forests, the world-famous Galápagos islands, and the pristine tropical beaches, that are perfected by the sunny climate. You will also find a rich traditional culture in Ecuador and a splendid colonial architecture located in the capital city of Quito.
Other than all that, here are a few other reasons why you should include Ecuador in your 2018 holiday plans.
Backpacking Ecuador Itinerary:
Built on the foundations of the ancient city of Inca, Quito is Ecuador’s capital city, and it stands at 2743 m above the sea level, making it one of the highest capital cities in the whole world. Now, that is enough to get you excited about touring this town. Your first night in Ecuador will see you land in the Mariscal Sucre International Airport for your holiday trip. From here you can check into your hotel, and have a few hours of rest, to get rid of the jetlag, and be ready to begin your tourist duties the next day.
La Mitad del Mundo, also known as the middle of the world, is perhaps one of Ecuador’s biggest claims to fame. It attracts thousands upon thousands of tourists each year, to have a look at the monuments that were built to mark the Equator. The word Ecuador in Spanish actually means the Equator, and that is why this is a famous archeological location that will clearly show you how the country came to be known as Ecuador. This is because it is located on the equator.
You will view the scientific feats that were used to charter the spot, and also the geographic oddities which sprung up around it. From your hotel, take a ride to the Ciudad Mitad del Mundo where you shall be able to see the monument to the equator, and also the plaza that divides the whole world into two. This is built to commemorate a French expedition in the 18-the Century that helped to determine the exact circumference of the Earth. This will be the perfect end to your holiday, and you can spend some time just relaxing, go to the spa and horse-back riding. You can also get a massage and a facial as you relax, awaiting your departure day to go back home.
This site will give you some insight into the legacy of one of the earliest scientific missions. While in the middle of the world, stop at the Intiñan Museum, where you can participate in some experiments, which can only be done on the equator.
Most people use the public bus to get to Otavalo, and the trip is about 2 hours long and costs approx USD $2.50. At the Carcelén bus terminal, take a Cooperativa Los Lagos or the Cooperativa Otavalo. This will get you to Otavalo which is 110 km, north of Quinto. This is the biggest artisan market in Latin America, and is open all days of the week, but, some days are busier than others. Saturday is the busiest market day, while Wednesday is the second busiest market day in Otavalo.
The Artisan Market in Otavalo is known as the largest indigenous market in the whole of South America and it is known as an “artisan” market because it specializes in selling the commercially made goods. Here, you will find handmade textiles, wood, ceramic, silver, metal products and leather artifacts. Put on some comfy shoes to tour this market, as you shall be spending all day walking up and down the streets where you are bound to find some interesting artifacts to purchase as souvenirs just so you can always remember your time in Ecuador.
By the time the sun comes up in the morning on most Saturdays, the animal market is usually well on its way. People come from all over the countryside to sell and also buy all types of animals, large and small as well. Everything is normally very well organized, with large animals such as cows being placed separately from the others such as chickens and guinea pigs. There are also many rows of vendors selling other stuff such as farming equipment and foods.
This is not a typical tourist market, as you will not even be noticed. Business is very serious, but you can be able to take some great photographs in this market.
Mindo is located just two hours from Quito, and it is a mountainous cloud forest town that is filled with many waterfalls. Now, that must sound like heaven to any tourist. There are also birds, orchids, and butterflies for you to see in this town. To get there, you can take a cable car that is above the trees and get to view the waterfalls while on top, or, you can go zip-lining, river tubing and hiking into the forest while you tour the chocolate farms in Mindo and have a taste of their cuisine. The climate and landscape in Mindo are perfect for over 450 bird species as well as numerous exotic butterflies and a wide variety of animals as well as reptiles that call this great forest their home. You will certainly have a lot of scenery in this forest.
The town is also quite compact and you shall find many hotels and restaurants running through the town.
The Galapagos Islands offers a diverse wildlife and the kind of landscapes that you shall not find anywhere else on earth. There are also soft, snow-white sandy beaches, sea lions, radiant and coloured fish, among many other sights you shall get to behold in this island. It’s no wonder that it is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Ecuador. There are three main islands that you shall be visiting during your time in Galapagos, i.e. Isla Isabela, San Cristobal and Santa Cruz. You will, therefore, need to plan your trip well, so you can be able to tour all of them during your stay. Book the trip with a reputable tour company so you can utilize your time well.
Before traveling to this famous location, you will first need to plan in advance for it. The best way to travel to Galapagos is by flying from Ecuador. All flights by either LATAM or Avianca are okay because these are extremely reliable and reputable South American Airlines.
Baltra; this is the closest airport to Santa Cruz Island and Puerto Ayora islands. There is a free shuttle to the ferry that will take many people from Baltra to Santa Cruz. Once you dock, take a bus to Puerto Ayora. San Cristóbal; this airport is right in the San Cristobal Island, so it is the best and fastest way to get to the Island.
A few traveling tips to the Galapagos Islands;
The check-in process; this takes a while. Whichever flight you use to get to the Island, you will be required to fill in some paperwork that will let you in. you will then go through extra security at each checkpoint for certain items which are not allowed in, e.g. any raw produce. This means you will be making lines for every check, and if there are many people visiting, you may be held up for a while.
Arrival at Galapagos Islands; Once you arrive, be prepared for more paperwork, and you will also be required to pay an entrance fee of $100. Well, this is steep, but the fee goes a long way in the conservation of the island, research, habitat protection, breeding of endangered species, and many other wonderful services that keep the island going.
This town is located on the Pan-American highway, and it is the location of the awe-inspiring “avenue of volcanoes.” This attracts many mountain climbers and hikers every year. It is surrounded by many peaks, including the active Cotopaxi volcano. Latacunga is the gateway to many rural areas in Ecuador and the friendly indigenous people. Getting there is quite easy, as it is a short two-hour bus ride from Quinto. The roads are good, and the buses leave every two minutes. The cost for this is $2.
This comprises of many indigenous Quechua communities that are located up in the Andes, and it is called the Quilotoa loop because most people do a loop around the towns which either begins at Quilotoa or ends at Quilotoa, where you shall find a great crater lake. To get to Quilotoa, you can either hike from town to town if you are fit and a good hiker, or you can take a transit from town to town. The hike may be a bit difficult but is the best option if you love to hike, and it takes a few days, where you shall sleep in the hostels every day. Now, once you get there, you will find many routes to choose from, you can start from Quilotoa and move clockwise or go anti-clockwise. You can use a guide who will guide you properly or get a map from your hotel and follow the trail.
The popular route, however, is the Sigchos > Isinliví > Chugchilan > Quilotoa and it will take you four days. Day 1 – Take a bus ride from Latacunga to Sigchos. This will take you at least 2 hours. The bus ride will cost you approx. $3.50, and the best bus to take is the 9:30 am a bus. Depending on the time of year you visit, there may be some rain, if you go later than 9:30, and also, the weather tends to be much better in the mornings. Once you get to Sigchos, it is now time to begin the hike. From Sigchos to Isinliví will take you 3-4 hours, so it is wise to start your day early, and hence the 9:30 am a suggestion.
You may have to spend the night in Isinliví, to take a rest, then continue with your hike the next day. You can stay at the Hostal Taita Cristobal, where the price per person is $15 which includes dinner for that day and breakfast the following morning.
Day 3 – Isinliví to Chugchilan: The next day, follow the stream you shall see at Isinliví, then cross the river and take the very steep climb that you shall find on your right, and keep following the paved road as it will lead you to Chugchilan. This will take around four to six hours. You will spend the night in Chugchilan, to rest for the day. The El Vaquero is a good place to stay, and you can find a private room for just $15 There is a great view of the valley, a full dinner and breakfast for the next morning, plus the staff are friendly.
Day 4 – Chugchilan to Quilotoa: On your last day, you will dip into the valley, then climb back up the other side to get back to Quilotoa. You will pass through a few towns and then zig-zag your way up the road to Laguna de Quilotoa.
This is Ecuador’s adventure town. Baños de Agua Santa which is its main name is known for two main things, its many adventure opportunities such as waterfalls, hot springs, mountains, rivers, etc., and it’s naturally heated steam baths. It is located a few hours away from Quito, in a valley that is at the base of the active volcano known as Tungurahua. Here’s how to get to Baños:
Being that Ecuador is a small country, getting around is pretty easy and cheap. You can get to Baños by using the bus. There are multiple locations all over for picking up a bus, plus the bus station is at the center of the city. From Latacunga, you will take a two-hour bus ride that will cost you $5 and will get you to Baños. A few of the things you can get up to here include; Swing on the tree at Casa del Arbol Casa de Arbol is one of the main reasons why people come to Baños. There are giant swings which are super fun, and there is a cable you can swing from like a low-flying zip line. The entrance fee is only $2 and it’s the perfect low-risk kind of fun.