There’s no denying it: there’s an adrenaline junkie hidden deep inside each and every one of us. But there are a number of reasons why we’ve suppressed this side of ourselves. Maybe it’s our sedentary office lifestyle or maybe family obligations pressure us to…stay alive. Whatever it may be, Ecuador is the place to go if you want to tap into this ulterior persona we each have. Are you ready?
Reasons why Ecuador is such a great adventure destination
Among many international travel destinations, Ecuador is easily one of the best for those seeking the thrill of adventure.
Generally speaking, Ecuador offers something for everyone. It appeals to a diversity of travelers with varying budgets, interests and preferences. And when it comes to adventure, you’ll find it all in Ecuador, from horseback riding in the shadow of active volcanos to hiking the Quilotoa loop to gliding through the Pacific with eagle rays.
Another perk to adventuring through Ecuador is cost. Apart from scuba diving and other activities that require expensive equipment, most activities here are beyond cheap. Furthermore, if you’re travelling by bus (around $1.00 per transport hour) and eating like a local ($2.00 lunch including soup, main course, juice and dessert), you’ll have a lot more to spend on outdoor adventure activities.
There are four main regions you can explore in Ecuador, including: the Galapagos Islands, the Coast, the Andes and the Amazon. Compared to its neighboring countries, Ecuador is relatively small, yet singularly diverse. For example, you can literally travel between the Coast, Andes and Amazon in just one day, although I wouldn’t necessarily recommend that. The best approach is to spread your visits out over the course of a few days and see the best that each region has to offer. If you’re planning a 2-3 week long vacation, you’ll definitely be able to visit and make the most of each of these regions.
In the Amazon, plan on spending four days deep within the rainforest. Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve and Yasuní National Park are biodiversity hotspots where you can trek through the jungle or explore by canoe with a local guide. You’ll likely spot wild boar, venomous snakes, caiman, anaconda and river dolphins, not to mention hundreds of tropical bird species and thousands of insects.
In the Andes, you might decide on downhill mountain biking from Cotopaxi, one of the world’s tallest active volcanoes. Alternatively, you can go on a multi-day horseback adventure across the high-altitude paramos, Andean alpine tundra ecosystem. If you prefer to explore on foot, make sure to visit the Quilotoa loop or summit one of the country’s +16,000 ft (5,000 m) summits (many of which are volcanic peaks).
Along the coast and on the Galapagos Islands, plan on observing schools of hammerhead sharks, dolphins and rays while scuba diving or snorkeling. If surfing is more your thing, there are plenty of surf spots dotting the Islands and Ecuadorian coast. There are also a number of other adventure activities to do, like paragliding and ocean kayaking.
Best adventure activities in Ecuador
Though Ecuador offers innumerable adventure activities, a few make the top three. These are:
Living it up in Baños – This picturesque town at the base of Volcano Tungurahua is a mecca for adventure lovers. Here, you can surf the rapids through gorgeous gorges that wind through the lush surroundings. Starting at only $30 for half-day river raft and kayak trips, you simply can’t be disappointed with the experience. The end your day in relaxation, head to the local thermal baths or visit Luna Volcán, Adventure SPA.
Summiting Cotopaxi – Cotopaxi Volcano is located an hour south from Quito, Ecuador’s capital. After acclimatizing to the altitude on various nearby peaks and a crash course in the use of ice picks, you can hire a local guide to take you up one of the world’s tallest active volcanoes.
Scuba diving in the Galapagos Islands – The natural diversity of the Galapagos Islands spills into the Pacific Ocean and, if you’re a diver, you simply can’t miss the opportunity to swim among whale sharks, eagle rays, hammerheads, mola mola, dolphins, sea lions, marine turtles and frogfish.
What do you think? Ready for that much-needed injection of adrenaline? Get off your swivel chair and book your next trip to Ecuador!