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Things to do in Ecuador

Things to do in  Ecuador

Welcome to Ecuador

Ecuador, though one of the continent's smallest countries, is a microcosm of South America: Andean peaks, dense Amazon rain forest, sandy beaches, smoking volcanoes, big cities, and diverse wildlife showcase the region's allure. The jewels in Ecuador's urban crown are Quito, the capital, and Cuenca, about 285 miles (460 kilometers) apart and each home to their own colonial architecture, charming plazas, and outstanding food joints. In the former, ride the Teleferico (cable car) up a mountain to see the city from above and enjoy a hike or horseback tour at the top; meanwhile, in the latter, make the most of nearby small artisan villages such as Gualaceo and Chordeleg. The isolated and volcanic Galapagos Islands sit 885 miles (1423 kilometers) from shore, meaning multi-day island-hopping cruises are pretty much the only way to experience the archipelago's biodiversity. Back on the mainland, natural wonders range from the greenery of Mindo Nambillo Cloud Forest to the high mountain browns and whites of Cotopaxi National Park, both accessible on day-trips from Quito. Otavalo Market and The Middle of the World Monument (Mitad del Mundo) provide a cultural introduction the country. If you want to surf on the crashing waves of the Pacific Ocean, cosmopolitan Guayaquil serves as an excellent base, while the small town of Baños—named for its thermal hot springs—lures thrill-seekers looking to go white-water rafting, ziplining, or canyoning; and offers proximity to both Ecuador's Amazon rain forests and the snow-capped peaks of the Andes.

Top 10 attractions in Ecuador

#1
Mindo Butterfly Farm (Mariposas de Mindo)

Mindo Butterfly Farm (Mariposas de Mindo)

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At Mindo Butterfly Farm (Mariposas de Mindo)—tucked in the ethereal Ecuadorian cloud forest region—get up close and personal with more than 1,000 species of butterflies at all stages of the life cycle. Even travelers not crazy about butterflies will be charmed by the small koi pond, fluttering hummingbirds, and picturesque surroundings.More
#2
Casa del Arbol Swing

Casa del Arbol Swing

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In the Ecuadorian wilderness just outside Baños, Casa del Arbol Swing is a seismic monitoring station that has capitalized on its perfect mountaintop location next to the Tungurahua Volcano by installing a treehouse with a rope swing. The Swing at the End of the World, as it’s often called, offers thrills with an unobstructed view of the volcano.More
#3
Cotopaxi National Park

Cotopaxi National Park

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With sweeping plains, rocky mountain trails, and glassy lagoons, Ecuador’s largest and most-visited national park is a spectacular setting for an outdoor adventure. Located along the Pacific Ring of Fire, Cotopaxi National Park is most famous for the much-photographed Cotopaxi volcano, the highest active volcano in South America.More
#4
San Francisco Church (Iglesia de San Francisco)

San Francisco Church (Iglesia de San Francisco)

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Nestled in the historic downtown area of Quito, visitors find the first Catholic Church built in the city, the San Francisco Church (Iglesia de San Francisco). The amazing architecture of this Baroque church blends different styles that were incorporated over the more than 100 years of construction.The church stands on the open San Francisco Plaza, where the city once drew its water, held weekly food markets and general meetings and where military and political demonstrations took place.Construction of the church started in the 1530s, shortly after the Spaniards arrived in Ecuador. Although much of the church has been rebuilt due to earthquake damage, some of it is original, and it constitutes the largest colonial structure in the city.The churches and cloisters stand on almost two whole blocks and include an atrium, a courtyard and a convent. The atrium runs along the length of the public square, with access to the plaza by means of a fan-shaped staircase. Franciscan fathers still live here and work to help the poor.The entrance is adorned with images of the sun, decorations that were used to attract indigenous communities to the Catholic Church. Combinations of indigenous and Catholic symbols are repeated throughout the church. The interior of the church shows a Moorish influence on the walls and columns, which are covered in gold leafing. Of the 3,500 works of art, many are from the Quito School of art.More
#5
Bartolomé Island (Isla Bartolomé)

Bartolomé Island (Isla Bartolomé)

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Bartolomé Island, located off the east shore of Sullivan Bay, is a small but beautiful spot most famous for its iconic Pinnacle Rock, which is arguably one of the most recognizable landmarks in the Galapagos. The staggering rock face is an eroded lava formation that was originally created by an underwater volcano.More
#6
El Cajas National Park

El Cajas National Park

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With its rolling lakelands, ancient quinua woods and sprawling cloud forest set against a jagged skyline of rocky peaks, the El Cajas National Park is a natural playground for adventurous travelers. Famous for its array of native wildlife, the park plays host to white-tailed deer, pumas, tapirs, llamas, Andean gulls and Violet-tailed Metaltail, as well as rare species like Andean condor and cougar, and colorful flora like wild orchids and rare bromeliads.The 29,000-hectare reserve is dotted with some 230 lakes and a vast network of walking trails, making it a prime spot for hiking, fly-fishing, horseback riding and camping. Notable highlights include the Tres Cruces and Avilahuyco viewpoints, Lake Toreadora, the Taitachungo Lagoon and Lagartococha.More
#7
Mindo's Cable Car (Tarabita de Mindo)

Mindo's Cable Car (Tarabita de Mindo)

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Reach Mindo’s Nambillo Cloud Forest Reserve and numerous waterfalls with ease, thanks to a thrilling, open-air cable car ride above the rain forest. Avoid having to hike all the way across the Nambillo River, and take in panoramic views while enjoying an experience available in few parts of the world.More
#8
León Dormido (Kicker Rock)

León Dormido (Kicker Rock)

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The translation of León Dormido, a giant rock formation rising sharply out of the ocean, is 'sleeping lion.' The remains of a lava cone split into two parts, in English it is also known as 'Kicker Rock.' The formations have eroded due to hundreds of years of weather and sea and now tower 500 feet above the water below.Located off the coast of San Cristobal Island, boats that visit the rocks can navigate through the narrow channel between the two formations. Much marine wildlife does the same, and this is one of the most common places to see Galapagos sharks as well as turtles, rays and sea lions. It's an excellent spot for diving and snorkeling, as the mild current sweeping between the two rocks often means diverse groups of reef fish. Frigate birds are also common, and many other species can be seen above the water. Whether you conclude that the rocks resemble a lion or a boot, Leon Dormido is a Galapagos icon for a reason.More
#9
Las Tintoreras

Las Tintoreras

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Las Tintoreras is a small group of islands where lava formations have created several different natural habitats, thus enabling a wide range of Galapagos wildlife to inhabit the area.There is a lagoon that reef sharks come to rest in, mangroves that make for marine iguana breeding grounds and a beach where sea lions and other marine life flourish. The turquoise waters of the bay lead to a shallow crevice, which at low tide makes it easy to spot wildlife even without getting in the water. While visitors are not allowed to swim in these waters, the nearby beach area grants the opportunity to see the sea life from below.Perhaps the most unique sight of Las Tintoreras are the Galapagos penguins. Whether it’s penguins and sea lions playing or marine iguanas perched on lava rock, Las Tintoreras is a unique spot to see much of the Galapagos wildlife in one place.More
#10
Middle of the World Monument (La Mitad del Mundo)

Middle of the World Monument (La Mitad del Mundo)

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The Middle of the World Monument (La Mitad del Mundo) commemorates the site where the 18th-century French explorer Charles Marie de la Condamine once calculated the globe's equatorial line. A trapezoidal monument in the center of the park houses a viewing platform; a small museum on the equator pays tributes to local indigenous cultures.More

Frequently Asked Questions

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