DISCOVERING ECUADOR

Ecuador is a small country that has diverse landscapes. Ecuador could be divided into four provinces: the Amazon provine, the Andean province, the coast province and Galápagos islands. This section will be an overview of places you should visit. It is just an idea. There are plenty more of places to visit.

 

In the Amazon province, it is recommended to visit the places below.

 

- Puyo: is an ordinary city, but it has its attractive. You could take a bus to go to several waterfalls. The most famous waterfall is called Hola vida. You have to pay a $2 fee and you have to walk for half an hour. It is better to go with your group of friends instead of booking a tour because it is more likely to enjoy the waterfall just for you and your group. If you go to the road again, you find closely an artisanal chocolate factory. It is highly interesting to see and to participate in the process of making chocolate. A bit further away, you find a touristic place knows as Indichurris swing. There is an impressive view of Pastaza river, there are confortable hammocks and there is a swing/liana if you are enough adventurous. Moreover, there are many indigenous communities where you could spend a day with them, experience their customs and food, kayak in the river, sleep in their houses… 

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- Tena and Misahuallí: in the city center of Tena, river Tena and river Napo find each other. You should visit Tena viewpoint. It is a free entrance tower, where you could see the mountain peaks of the jungle. Lineal park is the perfect spot to work out or to walk. In the Amazon Mision path, you find a couple of beaches and places to swim. And in Mishahuallí, you have the opportunity to navigate in a motorized canoe along Napo river to the Animal Rescue Center AmaZOOnico. It is a great time to look for endemic animals, that otherwise it could be quite difficult to find. It is also recommended to walk in the local forest to enjoy the monkeys and other animal and to practice rafting, kayak or tubing.

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- National Reserve of Cuyabeno: is considered one of the areas of greatest biodiversity in the world. You could have a real experience because it is an adventure. You could explore many breathtaking landscapes, forests, lakes, flora and fauna of the Ecuatorian Amazonas. 

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In the Andean province, it is recommended to visit the places below.

 

- Quito: is the capital of Ecuador, and it is located in the Equator line. That’s why one of the tourist attractions is to visit Mitad del Mundo. Other popular activities include going up to the Panecillo viewpoint, where you find the Virgen Alada silver statue; walking through the historical center, where you find most of the architectural heritage of Quito like squares or churches; enjoy the fantastic view from the cable car and if you have an adventurous spirit, you could try to get to the peak of Pichincha.

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- Otavalo and Cuicocha lake: in Plaza de Ponchos takes place the bigger handicrafts market of Southamerica. Sellers and artisans are indigenous. The best day to go is on Saturday. There is also an animal market, where local people buy and sell animals like cows, bulls, hens and roosters, but you are likely to see others such as guinea pigs, rabbits, ducks, pigs, horses, sheep, goats and llamas. The Condor park is a foundation where they rescue injured birds of prey. They heal them and if it is possible they release them. Cuicocha lake is located in Cotacachi volcano’s caldera and the lake has two islands in the middle. It recommended to do the loop, which takes between five and six hours. However, if you do not have such time, you could just go to the “Tati viewpoint”, which is considered the better viewpoint because you are able to see the lake, Cotacachi volcano and the two islands.

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- Mindo: is a painteresque village, that has two butterfly parks. People usually go to waterfalls, they go by terabita and they go birding.

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- Quilotoa lake: is a volcanic crater that has a diameter of 3 km, it is located about 4000 meters above the sea level, the lake is more than 240 meters deep and from the viewpoint to the crater there are 300 meters. Activities that you can practice are going down to the lake, where you could go camping and kayaking. Furthermore, you could do the loop in the upper part so that you could have marvellous views of the lake.

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- Ambato:  is the capital of Tungurahua. In the city center, you could visit local markets and try the typical food like llapingachos, hornado, or come y bebe. The cathedral and Montalvo park are beautiful places full of people. In Atocha, you should try colada morada and different types of empanadas. Moreover, there is a lovely botanical garden.

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- Patate: is a village 45 minutes from Salasaca. It is situated in a valley and there are plenty of avocado trees. It is known because of its unique arepas de calabaza. Furthremore, you should go to Mundog waterfall. You have to walk for 30 minutes and the waterfall is stunning.

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- Baños: is considered as the door to the Ecuatorian Amazon and it is known as the capital of adventure in Ecuador. You should go by terabita, go to the end of the world swing, visit Pailon del Diablo, take a termal bath and practice an extreme sport such as canyoning or rafting.

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- Cuenca and Cajas National park: is considered as one of the most beautiful cities in Ecuador because it boasts of enormous historical, architectural and cultural wealth. You should visit Abdon square and the cathedrals (new and old) that were the heart of the colonial city; the Pumapungo museum and archaeological site allows you to appreciate the ruins of the ancient city of Tomebamba, that was the administrative city of the North Inca Empire; go along el Barranco, that is a nice walk full of trees, old bridges and painteresque colonial buildings; and Turi viewpoint. Cajas National park is a touristic attraction for adventures people because you find idyllic scenarios of the countryside and some peaks of the Andean mountains. Its features include 232 lakes between the valleys and a rich biodiversity of fauna.

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- And if you like trekking, you have the opportunity to hit the summit of volcanoes. If you want to hit the summit of Tungurahua volcano, you do not need a guide while if you want to hit the summit of Cotopaxi or Chimborazo, it is required to book a tour. Chimborazo is the closest point of the Earth to the sun.

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In the coast province, it is recommended to visit the places below.

 

- Mompiche: is a small fishing village in the province of Esmerladas. There are extraordinary beaches with fine sand, big waves and and it is surrounded by tropical forests. Surfing is a popular activity. Some other activities that are recommended are as follows. Swimming with plancton, going camping in Portete visiting the huge manglar known as La Punta, going up to the cemetery viewpoint, visiting Estéreo de Plátano village as well as Sua and Same beaches.

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- Montañita: is a well known destination in Ecuador due to its waves, its parties and its atmosphere. You should walk, enjoy the beach and the terrific sunsets. Moreover, there are close villages that you should visit like Olón.

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- Puerto Lopez: there is a season where you could easily search of humpback whales, particularly in the months between June and September. If you wake up very early in the morning, you will be likely to enjoy sea birds and pangas - a type of boat - full of heavy fish loads coming back to the coast. From the village, there are organized tours to visit the attractions listed below. 

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- Isla de la Plata or “Poor Galápagos”: it is a place where sea birds nest. For example, blue-footed boobies, red-footed boobies, frigate birds, tropical birds, albatross and sea lions. There are two touristic trails of 3 kilometres that take 3 hours walking and it is mandatory to visit them with an authorized guide. Other activity is snorkelling between the coral reefs and many different types of fishes.

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- Natural Reserve of Frailes: is considered to be the best beach in natural state within Ecuador. There are a set of beaches including Los Frailes that has crystalline water and white sand, La Tortuguita that has breathtaking landscapes and rocky formations, La Playita that has black sand due to the high concentration of iron and it has a tropical dry forest around the coast. You should go up to the viewpoint because there are amazing views of Machalilla National Park.

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- Guayaquil: is a multifaceted city where there are plenty of activities to do. For instance, you could go on a guided boat trip along Guayas river, you could observe flora and fauna in the botanical garden, you could walk along the malecón, you could buy souvenirs at the artisanal market or you could have a great encebollado.

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In Galápagos islands, there are two airports. Book you flights having an itinerary in mind. There are four inhabited islands: San Cristobal, Santa Cruz, Isabela and Floreana. Inter-island transportations are small boats and there are two timetables every day. The rest of the islands could be visited in tours. You could visit Galápagos in a cruise too.

 

- San Cristobal: Cerro Tijerita viewpoint takes to Baquerizo beach and it is the bay where Darwin docked for the first time. Other areas of interest include Punta Pitt, that is the island's eastern tip and it has a beach full of single sea lions and a path that gets you to see red-footed boobies nests; there are plenty of places to practice snorkelling; Cerro Brujo is formed by huge lava cliffs and close to the cliff you could find one of the most beautiful beaches of Galápagos.

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- Santa Cruz: its capital is Puerto Ayora and it is the biggest city of Galápagos with 30.000 inhabitants. It is not the most special island, but it has some unique places. There is a breeding centre for huge Galápagos turtles. It is close to Charles Darwin Scientific Station. Furthermore, there are a couple of ranches that allow you to visit lava tubes. The best beaches are Tortuga Bay and el Garrapatero. It is recommended to go snorkelling in Las Grietas.

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- Floreana: is a great island if you are looking for snorkelling and scuba diving. There are amazing volcanic landscapes. In the summit there is a lake and a flamingo’s colony. Life is calm and quiet because there is only 200 inhabitants and there are no more than four accommodations.

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- Isabela: is the biggest island, it has astonishing landscapes, and population lives at Puerto Villamil. Isabela is a young island that has shield volcanoes (Hawaiian type). Moreover, you find the biggest community of penguins in Galápagos. You should visit the wall of tears, snorkel in Concha Perla or book a tour.

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