Ecuador is most famous for the Galapagos islands. However there is a lot more to experience there: Cotopaxi Volcano, Otavalo market, Cuenca, Inca Trail, Quilotoa Loop etc. I spent a couple of weeks on the main land and about 10 days in Galapagos. Unfortunately I haven’t covered the main land much. I intend to cover a lot more in the future.
On the main land, I spent some time in Quito, Banos, Tena and Cuenca. In Quito, I spend some time around the historic centre. The basillica there is absolutely amazing and a must see. It costs a few dollars extra (In Ecuador they use US Dollars) to go to the roof top and the tower – it is worth every penny to do that. From Quito one can go to the Middle of the World (The Equator), Mindo Cloud Forest and the Otavalo market. Unfortunately I didnt do any of that as I didnt have any time. Something for the future.
In Tena, we stayed in an Amazon jungle lodge (quite basic) and it was a wonderful experience. We spend 3 wonderful days in the middle of a jungle, with no access to modern facilities such as wifi/mobile, and then used our time to explore the nearby forest, swimming and repelling along the waterfalls. Absolutely wonderful. In Banos, also known as the adventure capital of Ecuador, I spent my time doing some hikes while my fellow travellers went about rafting, repelling etc. There are some wonderful hikes (day hikes) in Banos where one can reach at the top of the mountain and get some wonderful views. In Cuenca, I did one of those hop off hop on bus tours. It was quite good. We spent the time getting to know the city well (they have a beautiful square) and got a stunning view of the city from above. There are some day trips to do such as the Inca ruins but I chose not to do that since I had the Inca Trail coming up (in Peru). I chose to go to the local ruins of a pre-Inca tribe right there in the city.
The highlight of my trip in Ecuador are the islands of Galapagos. I chose a G Adventures tour to experience the islands.
There were some wonderful moments on the Galapagos especially experiencing the marine life and the volcanic landscape formations. We spent part of the day snokerlling and the other part exploring the different islands detailed in the link above.
Some of the amazing marine life I experienced were the large tortoises, marine iguanas, ghost crabs, turtles, eagle rays, galapagos penguins, pelicans, galapagos seals etc. It was quite an experience swimming with the turtles and having an inquisitive seal playing with us in the water. Sadly I dont have any footage since I didnt have any underwater camera. On land, we experienced some of the most stunning volcanic formations I have seen. The landscape was sharp and the cooled magma lay there for miles and miles. We did a hike around a volcanic crater and got close to some of these lava formations. I would recommend heading to the Galapagos and experiencing the beauty there. I would go back just because I would like to dive there but first I need to get a diving license someday.
Some highlights from the Galapagos are as follows: