Ecuador, as the name gives away, is situated on the Equator. This South American county has a very diverse landscape, with the high Andes Mountains, beautiful coastlines, the impenetrable Amazon rainforest and a has the World’s most amazing islands. Let me share my top 5 things to do in Ecuador which you certainly should not miss!
1. Galapagos: A must visit destination during your lifetime
The Galapagos Islands are one of the most amazing places in the World that I have visited. And although these top 5 items do not come in any order, this is by far the number 1 item to add to your Ecuador itinerary list or your lifetime bucket list for that matter!
The remoteness of the islands, as well as good preservation efforts, make this biosphere one of the purest in the world! You really feel like Darwin exploring the islands and interact with nature as you have never done before! Due to the lack of human influence, the animals are not instinctively afraid of you. Moreover, the islands are prohibited for large cruise ships, which keeps this volcanic island group well preserved.
As this destination is so stunning, I have dedicated a full post on this. But I warn you! After reading you are likely to pack your bags instantly!… Click here for 15 reasons to visit the Galapagos Islands.
2. Quito: City of the heavens
Located 2.850 meters up in the Andes, it is not surprising that this capital has received the nickname Ciudad de Los Cielos (City of the heavens). On our trip through South America, Quito was our first stop and you instantly experience the thin air when leaving the airplane. My advice is to take it easy, especially when you still have to adjust to the high life of the Andes! Slowing down your pace is anyway a good idea to enjoy the well preserved colonial architecture of this city!
3. Enjoy the hot water springs in sleepy Banos
Where better to try Ecuador’s hot water pools than in Banos de Agua Santa, where the latter stands for sacred water. This often misty, sleepy town has lots to offer! As said, it has mineral-rich hot water pools, beautiful waterfalls, hiking trails in the surrounding nature, and is ideally located as a starting point to explore the Amazon basin.
4. Guayaquil’s public lizard park
Guayaquil is the largest city of Ecuador. It has its fair share of colonial architecture, a nice walking promenade along the river, and it is a good place from which to explore the Pacific beaches. However, there is one highlight of the city which I certainly would recommend you visit: Parque de las Iguanas. This is a public park, which we stumbled on by coincidence. We liked it so much that we event went on a return visit to this special place the next day!
At first sight, this park just looks like any other ordinary city park. A green city block in front of a church, in between busy roads. It has trees, benches, a few fountains, walkways, some statues. However, what makes this park special are the giant lizards that roam around freely! And when I say giant, I mean massive! So large even that I even wonder how they stay confined to this small city park and not pose any risk for the traffic nearby.
Trust me when in Ecuador, visit this park, you will not regret it! Interact with the lizards yourself or watch others interact! It will be fun!
5. Eat Cuy when in Ecuador
A popular dish in Ecuador and Peru is Cuy or Guinea Pig. Walking the streets in these countries you cannot miss the many barbecues on which these rodents are being prepared. They are considered a delicacy and why not try the local cuisine when you visit Ecuador!?
We tried a quarter piece for the experience. As with many exotic dishes, it tastes like chicken, so nothing to worry about! However, given the low quantity of meat and the relatively high price. We fail to see why anyone (especially the local population) would choose to order this dish and not go for a cheaper priced grilled chicken.