Adventure in Ecuador appears in many forms for all shapes, ages, and sizes. Epic landscapes, cultural traditions, and four vastly different regions take you away from the ordinary and deep into a country that is on the move. The small Andean nation takes you off guard while shining a bold light on a people who are fiercely independent. Keep reading for six things I have learned from traveling in Ecuador.
While often used in articles meant to inspire travel for families, couples, and groups-the four regions of the country have much to offer for every size, shape, and age of the traveler. There is kite surfing, hang gliding, and kayaking on the coast, volcanoes to the summit in the Andes, bike paths along mountain trails, music and art in the cities of Quito, Guayaquil, and Cuenca. And then there are the Galapagos Islands that stun even the most well-traveled of visitors.
The people in Ecuador are proud of their heritage-having won their independence from Spain hundreds of years ago and radiating strength and freedom that shines alongside the warm South American sun. They are quick to start conversations about their country and are always happy to show you around.
At first, glance, traveling in Ecuador seems a bit disorganized. Busses of all shapes and colors are the main form of travel for most in the country-while short airline journeys reach the jungle, coast, and southern Ecuador daily.
Sometimes it seems like there is no rhyme or reason to it-a place that is open one day will be unexpectedly shut the next, buses change routes according to road conditions, and finding your way around the various tourist offices can be daunting.
After the confusion slowly subsides-small details start giving insight into the way things work here. The country has invested millions in a traveler’s infrastructure-with new airports, a subway in Quito due to open in the future, and an increased focus on making it easier for international travelers to explore the country.
While the Galapagos Islands, the jungle, and the coast have exciting discoveries that are well worth the journey, much of Ecuador’s population lives in small villages along winding mountain roads or in indigenous communities far away from major cities and the trodden trail.
Traveling to the Quilotoa Loop and hiking through beautiful quilted hills and valleys takes you high up to small towns, past farms, and into areas that were once used by the Inca as lookouts.
While making the trek, weekly markets and friendly locals set the stage-showing those who take the trip the immense beauty and vibrant faces of the people who make traveling in Ecuador inspiring.
When traveling to the different regions of the country there are special spots that attract visitors for their charm, their location, and the hospitality and helpfulness of the people who live there.
While the country has many places that require a journey to find many of Ecuador’s treasures start with a local hangout, a traveler’s hub at a local coffee shop, or a hostel whose owners have made a home for those on the road.
Traveling in Ecuador puts you in a culture where people in indigenous clothes walk the streets next to businessmen. Food carts and markets are busy selling tasty Ecuadorian staples, and parades and protests break out daily. The spontaneity is one of the best parts of travel here-an afternoon walk or day trip reveals surprises and new revelations about the people and startling areas of the country. For more about celebrations in Ecuador, see Ecuadorian New Year’s Celebrations – A Surprising and Fun Cultural Adventure.