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Things To Do in Ecuador Outside of Quito
#Ecuador is a small country with a lot to offer. Thrill seekers have a place, with a visit to the Amazon or a climp up an #active volcano. If it's #relaxation you're after, try Banos, for cheap spa days. If you want the cheesy tourist photos, try laying across the Equator.
Apart from the Galapagos Islands and the attractions in Quito, there are plenty of things to do in Ecuador. This amazing country is often overlooked and people forget that there are plenty of fun things to do there. Here are my top recommendations!
1. Stand On The Middle Of The World
Located just half an hour away from Quito’s downtown, you can find the exact middle of the world – the Equator. While the monument and the line passing underneath it is a tourist trap, the real equator (at least the one that shows on your GPS) is located 5 minutes away from there, in a museum. There are some llamas running around, but don’t be fooled – the moment you try to approach them they run away.
Of course the museum charges a few extra dollars to enter, but if you’re there already, there’s no way you can refuse to pay a small amount to get a guided tour where you get to try balancing an egg and various other sorts of “experiments” relating to the equator.
It was a lot of fun and we even got to learn a bit more about Ecuadorian culture and history. If you bring your passport you can even get some stamps that prove you’ve visited the middle of the world!
2. Stay At The Eco-Lodge In The Mindo Cloud Forest
At the Mindo Cloud Forest, you can experience a huge variety of plants, birds and mammals. You can even volunteer at the eco-lodge.
3. Visit The Amazon
Visiting the Amazon from Ecuador is way cheaper than doing it from Brazil or Peru, although it won’t be as ‘luxurious’. You can’t go to the Amazon on your own, so your only option is a tour. You can choose if you want to take a 3, 4, or 5-day trip and how far in the jungle you would like to go to. I did a 4-day deep jungle tour and I definitely wouldn’t do it again, as my group got lost in the jungle, but I know that others weren’t as unlucky.
4. Otavalo Animal Market
You can’t miss the Otavalo market when visiting Ecuador because it’s an outstanding shopping opportunity and cultural experience all at once. The market is open every day but the best time to visit is on a Saturday before 6am (it might sound crazy, but trust me it’s worth it!), so most travelers go there a day before and stay the night. You can buy absolutely everything at this market, including clothing made out of llama fur as well as local food. Why visit on Saturday? It’s the only day you can see the animal market! The animal market is a truly amazing experience, but it might seem a bit surreal. There are sounds of squealing pigs and guinea pigs reluctantly being taken home by their new owners.
5. Climb Cotopaxi Volcano
Cotopaxi Volcano is one of the highest active volcanoes in the world. This 5897 m high mountain has erupted more than 50 times since the 18th century. Don’t worry, the volcano hasn’t erupted since WW2, so the chances it’ll erupt during your trip are small.
Don’t worry, the volcano hasn’t erupted since WW2, so the chances it’ll erupt during your trip are small.
The best way to get there is by booking a tour. Don’t book it before you get to Ecuador because in the Mariscal area of Quito there are plenty of agencies offering tours for much cheaper than you’d pay from your home country. The tour will take you up to the base of the mountain from where you can start hiking up. Although you only get to hike for 500m, it’s not an easy walk. The altitude is pretty high already so you need to walk slowly not to get sick. A simple tour won’t let you hike all the way up to the summit because it requires a lot of preparation and hiking experience. Apparently only 50% of the people who attempt to climb all the way up actually make it.
Guided Tour in Cotopaxi
Quito City Tour by bus
Guided Biking Tour in Bogota
At the end of the tour you’ll be served lunch which might be an Ecuadorian tomato soup with popcorn.
6. Visit Banos
Banos is 175km from Quito, but I still think it’s worth mentioning, especially because travelers love the place. This small town in the south of Ecuador attracts all kinds of travelers from luxury lovers to cheap backpackers, simply because it has everything.
As the name indicates (banos means bathrooms) Banos offers plenty of cheap spas (a massage costs approx. $25) with hot springs and you can find them in pretty much in every corner of the city.
7. Chill On The Beach In Montanita
If you’d like to visit some of the most beautiful beaches in South America, Ecuador should definitely be your choice! Most expats here live in quiet little Olón, but as a visitor you should go to nearby Montañita for the nightlife, restaurants, Spanish schools and surfing classes. A lot of my friends went for a few days and ended up staying for a whole month!
8. See The Galapagitos
Before I spontaneously decided to visit the Galapagos I was researching if I could see some of the wildlife on the mainland. To my surprise I found a place to spot blue footed boobies (don’t ask why are they called boobies!) and iguanas. Isla de la Plata, often called the Poor Man’s Galapagos, is easily accessible from Puerto Lopez by boat.
It’s a great place to hike for a few hours and spot some wildlife if you’re on a budget.