Five reasons you should linger longer on Ecuador’s mainland
Reasons to visit Ecuador
Nabila Richardson shares the beauty of an extended stay in this Latin American gem
Ecuador is famous for giving its name to earth’s equatorial line as well as being one of the countries with the most volcanoes in the world, at some 60 of them, the majority of which are still active. Most travellers pass through Ecuador on their way to the Galápagos Islands, however, there’s so much to see on the mainland, that it’s worthy to travel to Ecuador in its own right. Read on to discover five reasons to visit Ecuador – why an exploration of Ecuador is not to be missed.
1. The biodiversity
Ecuador is home to many unique and endangered species found nowhere else in the world, with more than 20,000 species of plants and over 1,600 species of birds, as well as a wide range of mammals, reptiles, and amphibians. This diverse range of flora and fauna is due in part to the country’s location along the equator, which provides a wide and rich variety of climates and habitats. This biodiversity can be seen in abundance in Ecuador’s Amazon rainforest, which covers more than a third of the country. Among the many species that inhabit the rainforest are jaguars, monkeys, parrots, and anacondas. Leaving the country too soon means you miss out on the opportunity to see some of these fascinating animals and plants, as well as the chance to learn about the rainforest’s important role in global ecosystems.
2. The culture
Ecuador has a rich and diverse culture, with a mix of indigenous, Spanish, and African influences. The indigenous population, which makes up around a quarter of the country’s total population, has a long and storied history dating back thousands of years. Today, many indigenous groups continue to preserve their traditions and cultural practices, including traditional music and dance, craft-making and religious rituals.
In addition to the indigenous culture, Ecuador has been influenced by the Spanish, who arrived in the country in the 16th century. This is most evident in the country’s architecture, with many buildings featuring Spanish colonial styles. Spend time in the capital Quito, and you can admire the architecture in the historical centre – it’s one of best preserved in Latin America.
Taking your time to explore the country allows you to fully immerse yourself in the culture and learn more about the people who call Ecuador home. From visiting indigenous markets and attending local festivals to learning about the country’s history and cultural traditions, there is always something new and interesting to discover.
3. The food
Ecuadorian cuisine is delicious and varied, with influences from both the coast and the mountains. Coastal dishes often feature seafood, such as ceviche and fish empanadas, while mountain dishes tend to be heavier and feature potatoes and other root vegetables. A must try is lorco de pape, an Andean potato soup served with fresh avocado and cheese. One of the most famous dishes in Ecuador is cuy, or guinea pig, which is typically roasted and served with a variety of side dishes.
In addition to traditional dishes, Ecuador has a thriving coffee culture, with many local coffee shops and roasters producing high-quality beans. The country is also known for its chocolate, with a number of artisanal chocolate makers producing some of the best chocolate in the world.
4. The landscapes
Ecuador is full of stunning landscapes, including the must-see Avenue of the Volcanoes, located in the Andes mountains. Lined by eight impossibly high, snow-capped mountains leading from Cayambe, north of Quito, down the Andean spine to Sangay, this avenue is home to several active and dormant volcanoes, as well as beautiful lakes and forests. The area is also home to many indigenous communities, which have lived in the region for thousands of years. We recommend visiting the city of Otavalo; its local market is a treasure trove of crafts and exciting insight into rural life.
You’ll also find a menu of magnificent trekking trails, ranging from easy to challenging, and lasting anything from hours to days. Explore by foot, bicycle or saddle up for a taste of life as a chagra – a cowboy of the Andes. The choice is yours.
Taking your time to explore these areas allows you to fully appreciate the beauty and majesty of Ecuador. Whether you are hiking through the rainforest, riding the cable car in Quito, or exploring the Avenue of the Volcanoes, you will be able to immerse yourself in the breath-taking landscapes of Ecuador.
5. The adventures
Ecuador is a wonderful place for adventure, with opportunities for hiking, rafting, mountain biking, and so much more. The country has several national parks and protected areas, including the Cotopaxi National Park, which is home to the highest active volcano in the world. The park is a popular destination for hikers and climbers, with a wide range of trails to try. The altitudes can vary so we always recommend starting with an hour-long walk around the lake at around 3,000m above sea level to help acclimatise.
In addition to hiking, Ecuador is also a great place for rafting, river tubing and kayaking, with a number of rivers and streams running through the country. Whether you are rafting down a raging river or surfing some of the best waves in South America, there is something for everyone in Ecuador.
From the incredible biodiversity and culture to the delicious food and stunning landscapes, there is so much to see and do. Speak with our Latin American Destination Experts to create your very own tailor-made itinerary – taking your time and fully immersing yourself in all that Ecuador’s remarkable mainland has to offer.