When it comes to mixing wildlife, nature, and history, few countries beat the magic of Ecuador. Start your trip to Ecuador at almost 10,000 feet in the world’s second highest capital city, Quito. Discover the magical Galápagos Islands on the Pacific side of the country, which is home to giant tortoises, iguanas, and magnificent marine life. Enjoy a thrilling raft ride through Mindo Valley, a mountainous meeting point for two of the world’s most diverse ecosystems. Swing off the edge of the world and bungee jump from bridges above the town of Baños, Ecuador’s hub for extreme adventure sports.
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A trip to Ecuador is incomplete without visiting the Galapagos, a stretch of 19 islands about 560 miles west of the mainland that are truly out of this world. The biodiversity you can find here is simply unparalleled, with more than 80 percent of all birds and 97 percent of all reptiles and land mammals endemic to the islands. Hike, swim, and kayak your way through these epic landscapes, the same ones that inspired Charles Darwin's evolutionary findings. Speak to your Tourlane Travel Expert to organize your visit, as it is mandatory to be part of a tour group in order to visit.
Cotopaxi National Park was founded in 1975, and today is a protected nature reserve 31 miles southeast of capital Quito that is perfect for travelers who like to hike. The focal point is undoubtedly the snow-capped Cotopaxi Volcano, which rises to a marvelous 19,350 feet. On the hike up, discover diverse flora as you take in some of the astounding views to be admired here.
Mindo Valley is a birdwatcher’s paradise, with more than 500 species roaming the landscape. Set in a valley within the Ecuadorian Andes Mountains, subtropical plants such as orchids and bromeliads make for a blooming environment full of captivating flora. Hike up magnificent waterfalls before tubing back down the rapids to the village.
Quilotoa is the westernmost volcano of the Ecuadorian Andes, and this turquoise lake in a crater is truly an extraordinary sight. The lake’s distinctive colors come from the dissolved volcanic minerals of this inactive volcano. At the eastern edge, discover hot springs as you hike towards the center of this rock. For a true Andean experience, explore on horseback—you’ll see even more of this extraordinary landscape.
Nature lovers should head to Yasuni National Park. Imagine how much unique wildlife there is at a national park located smack-dab in the middle between the Equator, the Andes and the Amazon Rainforest. The Yasuni National Park hosts more than 200 mammalian species, 650 bird species, and 600 fish species. On top of that, its landscapes are epic and incredibly diverse. Take a walk on the wild side and see one of Ecuador’s finest parks. Less
On the west side of Ecuador lies the Pacific Ocean. The Ecuadorian coastline is a surfer’s paradise, and the reliable waves generated by the Pacific make it a great destination to learn to surf. One of the best beaches in Ecuador is Montañita, a lively and bohemian town a few hour’s drive from Guayaquil. Here, you’ll find miles of soft sand, excellent surf conditions, bars, restaurants, and endless accommodation options. Another great beach in Ecuador is Los Frailes Beach, located close to Puerto Lopez. This rustic, scenic beach is perfect for those looking for something peaceful and secluded. Whale watching tours and snorkeling are also offered nearby.
Ecuadorian cuisine is diverse and varies depending on where you choose to travel to in the country. Expect to find an impressive array of exotic fruits across the country, owing to Ecuador’s position on the equator and its favorable growing conditions. Beef, chicken, and seafood are particularly popular in coastal regions, while pork and guinea pig is more common in the mountainous regions. Be sure to taste the magic of a meaty Hornado. This popular street food dish involves slow roasted pork and potatoes, and is best enjoyed in the hilly streets of Quito. You’ll be impressed by the vibrant and colorful food markets in larger cities like Quito, Guayaquil and Cuenca.
Ecuador has some of the most beautiful cities in Latin America. Quito is the nation’s capital and is situated high up in the Andes. It wooes visitors with its colonial architecture, steep streets, interesting vistas, and fascinating churches. Located on the Pacific Ocean, Guayaquil is the economic capital of Ecuador. It has a vibrant, metropolitan vibe, and offers countless museums and other cultural activities, as well as a strong retail offering. Cuenca is the most beautiful city in Ecuador. Peruse quaint food markets and cobblestone streets in Cuenca’s colonial center, and admire the many beautiful church spires that rise above the city.
Ecuador is a country of microclimates and the best time to visit depends on the region. In the highlands, a drier season is common from June to September. The variation of altitude in the country also has a strong impact on climate: temperatures range from extremely hot and humid to icy cold. The central Sierra region has a more consistent climate whereas the western coast and lowlands attract a wetter equatorial climate. The further north you travel, the colder it becomes. The Galápagos Islands have a yearly temperature that ranges from an average low of 72 ºF to 86 ºF. The warmest weather can be found in December and lasts through May.
The official currency of Ecuador is the US Dollar ($).
The official language of Ecuador is Spanish.
Ecuador has two official timezones: Ecuador Time (UTC-5) and Galapagos Time (UTC-6).
There are direct flights to the USA from Guayaquil Airport (GYE) and Quito Airport (UIO).
As a U.S. citizen, you do not need a visa for stays of up to 90 days. More information is available here.
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