The little-known places in Ecuador
Ecuador is one of the smaller countries in South America but offers the most diverse geography on our planet. The country has a coast, mountains that are over 6300 meters, rain forest, cloud forest, temperate pine forest, and prairies. The country also includes the beautiful national park of Galapagos. On top of it all, Ecuador is home to the world’s highest active volcano, the Cotopaxi.
Cajas National Park
Cajas national park covers over 70,000 acres and shelter everything from cloud forest to rocky lunar landscapes. The park is especially known for its lakes (more than 200 of them) scattered among jagged peaks that characterize the reserve best. Most of El Cajas lies above 3,000 meters, with páramo covering most of the rugged terrain. Here you stand a good chance of seeing the wild llamas that were reintroduced to the park in the late 1990s. The parks also has other animal inhabitants, such as the spectacled bear, puma, and tigrillo. A long bird list counts hummingbirds, toucans, and Andean condors.
Community visit in the Amazon
Experience life in the indigenous community way by visiting the Amazon. When visiting an Amazon Lodge you get the opportunity to visit a nearby community where they share their lifestyle and you get to know more about their daily life. The community is surrounded by a great variety of medicinal plants and fruit trees. The Quichua are known for their pottery skills. They will also learn you more about the process of making the typical drink which is called ‘Chicha de Yuca’. Last but not least they will demonstrate how to pan for gold in the Napo River and learn some fishing techniques. This is an interesting visit with lots of involvement with the community to get an insight into their life.
Devil’s Nose Train in Alausi
The town of Alausí is quite small and best known as the starting place of the Devil’s Nose, the train that zigzags its way through the barren landscape full of cacti to arrive at an oddly shaped mountain, the Devil’s Nose. On this section, you will admire those who have built this track under severe conditions. Enjoy the beautiful view.
Museum Guayasamín in Quito
Guayasamín is the legendary painter which used to live in Quito. Nowadays his former home is turned into a wonderful museum which shows a complete collection of his work. The museum is located on top of a hill which creates an amazing view over the city. The museum is divided into two buildings, his house, and a museum. In the museum, you will find a collection of paintings from Guayasamín. In his former house, you will also find a collection of paintings and ceramics of other artists which inspired Guayasamín, which all is impressive.
Hiking and hot springs in Papallacta
Papallacta is the town where the hummingbirds and hot springs are meeting each other. The surroundings of Papallacta are great for hiking. Surrounded by plush grass, red-orange blossoms, quaint interconnecting bridges, and beyond, mountains laced by tempestuous clouds you will find your way through the incredible landscape. After a hike, you can relax in two sets of pools in the Balneario and in the Spa. Together they number over a dozen pools with temperatures varying from cool to 40°C.
Saquisilí Market by the Cotopaxi
When visiting the prized volcano with its beautiful national park, Cotopaxi, you should not forget to visit the market in Saquilí on Thursday. The small town offers one of the most colorful indigenous markets in Ecuador. The market will fill the whole town and is known for shopping and handicrafts products of all kinds. Which also includes an animal market that attracts many visitors.
Gualaceo near Cuenca
Just a day trip away from Cuenca you will visit the small town of Gualaceo. In the province of Azuay, you will find many pretty little towns like Gualaceo. When traveling from Cuenca to Gualaceo you will pass through the town of Chordeleg which is known for its silver jewelry. When arriving at Gualaceo you will meet a warmer climate than in Cuenca. In Gualaceo, you could visit the park which is full of fountains and great on a sunny day. Besides the nice park, you will visit the open air market which offers a great variety of fresh fruits. A visit to the park near the river for a walk is also recommended.
Hidden surroundings of Otavalo
Around Otavalo, which is the large indigenous town in the Imbabura Province of Ecuador, in this province, many little-known places can be found. The impressive Peguche waterfall of 18 meters high is formed by the Peguche river and is easily accessible and surrounded by a unique landscape. The Peguche river flows from the lake San Pablo, which is one of the most beautiful areas in the province. Here you can find many species such as ducks, herons, and aquatic plants.
The Andean condor park has a lot to offer. You can spot eagles, owls, falcons, and hawks. The park is owned by a Dutch foundation which rehabilitates these birds of prey. There is a bird show twice a day and the park is located only two kilometers from Otavalo.
At the Cuicocha Lake, you will enjoy the biodiversity of the area, the views of the picturesque Cuicocha Lake and the two islands in its middle, as well as the panorama of Cotacachi, Imbabura and Cayambe mountains.
Cotacachi is a small artisan city located near Otavalo. Which is known for its leather good and handicraft products, it has over 50 leather shops which sell leather all over Ecuador. The city is also known for its local dishes. Carne colorado which is filet of pork cooked in red achiote sauce and queso de hoja which is soft cheese wrapped in a plant leaf which is delicious.
Mountain bike route in Baños
Baños (de Agua Santa) is a small city in the Andean highlands of Ecuador and is known as the adventure capital. The streets are lined with hotels, restaurants, and souvenir shops. Although it seems a bit touristy, lots of people love it, and it’s definitely worth a visit. Baños offers one of the most impressive mountain bike routes. The downhill waterfall route will lead you to the famous Pailon del Diablo (devil’s throat) waterfall. On the way, you will pass a series of waterfalls and at several places there are activities available such as zip lining, cable cars, buggy riding, and bungee jumping.