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Exploring Ecuador - No Shortage of Activities!

Apr 04, 2013

Exploring Ecuador - No Shortage of Activities!

As far as landscape diversity goes, Ecuador has things pretty well handled. Sun-drenched beaches, verdant Amazon jungle and snow-tipped mountains are all wrapped up in a nice, compact country, ready for you to unwrap and explore. 

Whether you’re vacationing, living or enjoying a vacation while you scout out a place to live, Ecuador is not short on activities to keep you occupied. Regardless of whether you’re of the adventurous nature or not; this list includes a variety of options to explore Ecuador…

Explore the Amazon Jungle 

Ecuador is only one of 9 countries that the Amazon Jungle resides in. That being said, it might just be the cheapest country to explore this incredible forest in. For a 3-day trip, heading out of Ecuador’s capital, Quito, it will only set you back approx. $100. 

You’ll have an opportunity to see the exotic flora and fauna only found in the rainforest and have a chance to learn about the indigenous people who live in the Amazon.

Take a Cruise to the Galapagos Islands 

The Galapagos Islands are rich in history - Charles Darwin developed his theories of evolution here – and natural beauty. Take a dip with the sea lions, learn about (and maybe even experience!) the mating habits of the Blue Footed Boobie (that’s a bird native to only the Galapagos) and discover the geology of how the islands came to be. 

Mountain Bike Down Cotopaxi Volcano 

Chances are you won’t want to do the 5897-meter climb to the top of Cotopaxi, Ecuador’s 2nd largest (and active!) volcano. So, instead, mountain bike down it! 

There are a couple of companies, located in Quito, that will drive you up to a parking lot at 4500-meters above sea level, provide mountain bikes, and guide you down the volcano. As ‘extreme’ as this may sound, it’s suitable for anyone, regardless of age, and an easy day trip from Ecuador’s capital.

Discover the Adventure in Banos 

Banos is the self-proclaimed adventure capital of Ecuador. They claim this stake because of the plethora of activities available here.

Banos is a small mountain town, tucked right in the centre of Ecuador. Activities here include:  

-       Hiking the canyons
-       Whitewater rafting
-       Paragliding
-       Mountain biking
-       Bridge swinging (similar to bungee jumping)
-       Indulge in the hot springs
-       Tour the many waterfalls
-       Climb the Tungurahua Volcano

Straddle the Equator 

The equator is known as the ‘Middle of the World’ in Ecuador, and you can experience this easy adventure right in the capital city of Quito. Just make sure you visit BOTH locations… the real equator is marked with various interesting experiments, and about 100 meters away, there is a large monument marking the equator… it’s just built in the wrong location. 

Shop at Otavalo Market

Located about 3 hours north of Quito, you’ll find Otavalo; home to the largest marketplace in all of South America. 

It’s certainly a good place to practice your haggling skills, and you’ll have no trouble finding authentic keepsakes. Saturday’s are definitely the best day to visit, as vendors flood in from all surrounding areas. 

Take a Surfing Lesson in Montanita 

Montanita has long been known as a popular surfing town. It’s experienced a bit of a boom in the past few years as locals, tourists and expats have learned of its charm and laid-back vibe. 

Weekends are definitely the busiest time, as vacationing Ecuadorians from nearby cities (especially Guayaquil) head to Montanita to relax and surf at the beach and enjoy the active nightlife. 

Tour the Historic City Center of Cuenca

As Ecuador’s 3rd largest city, Cuenca has a beautifully charming downtown to walk and explore. Just keep in mind… at 2500-meters in elevation, the weather can change without warning. It may be downright cold in the morning, but turn into a hot, sunny afternoon. 

Abundant in churches, historic buildings and cobblestone roads, it’s easy to spend a day wandering Cuenca. It’s also listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site thanks to the preservation of its historic buildings. 

Visit Vilcabamba – Ecuador’s Blue Zone 

Located in Ecuador’s south, approximately 45 minutes from Loja, you will find Vilcabamba. Referred to as the ‘Valley of Longevity’, this area is considered a Blue Zone – an area where people live full, happy, healthy lives until age 100 and beyond. Legend even has it that some residents have lived to 120 years old in Vilcabamba!  

This area is wonderful for hiking in the mountains, and is often used as access to cross over to Peru. 

Clearly, Ecuador offers many options for entertainment and relaxation, regardless of your energy levels. The best thing we can recommend is to go and check it out for yourself! Affordable real estate and lots to keep busy at? Sounds like a winning combination.

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