Located on the west coast of South America, Ecuador is one of the smallest countries in the territory. It includes varied landscapes, from the Andean high plateaus to the Amazon jungle and the wonderful Galapagos Islands. Lovers of beautiful nature, fauna and flora are served, and the country offers many possibilities for hiking, in natural areas of great beauty. Nor should we forget its attractive cities, proudly represented by its gentle capital with colonial architecture Quito, the generous cuisine and a population always happy to talk about the riches of its country. In short, Ecuador is a destination that should be widely considered when you want to go to South America. Here are the essentials.
A stopover in Quito
The capital of Ecuador is located at 2850 meters above sea level and is a must in the country. If only for the pleasure of strolling through its colourful historic centre, one of the best preserved in South America, which is full of convents, monasteries, beautiful colonial buildings, palaces and churches. Since 1978, it has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Among the places of worship not to be missed: the Church of San Francisco and the Church of the Company, which are as beautiful outside as they are inside. In the Plaza Grande, it is the government palace that catches the eye, as does the Metropolitan Cathedral. Quito is also a city where you shouldn't be afraid to take the high ground. You can go to the foot of the Virgen de Quito, on the Panecillo hill or take the cable car. One then realizes his very particular situation, in the heart of the Andes. In the evenings, at weekends, La Ronda, Quito's oldest street, is the place to enjoy cafés, shops and festive entertainment. Another area not to be missed is the Floresta, for its murals and bohemian atmosphere.
The Chimborazo Volcano, splendour of nature
The Chimborazo volcano is 6,310 meters high and is the highest in Ecuador. He is asleep and two of his refuges, located at 4,800 metres and 5,000 metres, are accessible, first by car and then on foot. On the other hand, to reach the summit, you need to be an experienced mountaineer or hiker, as the long hours of walking and the lack of oxygen require optimal physical conditions. Visitors can in any case enjoy a few hours of hiking or mountain biking, other beautiful ways to enjoy this splendour. At the foot of the volcano, you must also discover the Chimborazo reserve, where vicuñas and llamas live. The area is protected to allow their reintroduction to the site. With its atypical vegetation, canyons and volcanic strata, the Chimborazo volcano offers a grandiose landscape to all nature lovers.
An expedition to Yasuni National Park
A true sanctuary of biodiversity, Yasuni National Park is another great place to hike in Ecuador. A wide variety of plants, amphibians, mammals and birds can be found here. It is there, in the heart of a primary forest, that one discovers a luxuriant vegetation, lakes, rivers, lagoons and that one has the opportunity to stop in authentic villages. Simply put, this national park is the most important protected area in Ecuador, and visitors can walk for hours and be surprised by the discovery of the fauna and flora, just like canoeing and kayaking, letting themselves be lulled by the sounds of the surrounding life. Lovers of ecotourism find this area a great adventure playground
Fly to the Galapagos Islands
The Galapagos Islands are a volcanic archipelago located about 1,000 km off the coast of Ecuador. It is made up of islands and islets where it is pleasant to observe the fauna on splendid white sand beaches. Darwin made the place famous with his famous "Theory of the Evolution of Species". Travellers from all over the world like to go there to observe animals, especially those endemic to the archipelago. Among the species present are turtles, iguanas, a wide range of birds, sea lions and sharks. Each island has its own peculiarities, among the most visited are San Cristobal, Isabela and Santa Cruz. A great way to discover all the richness of the islands is to take a cruise, notice to the amateurs.
The Quilotoa Lagoon, an experience unlike any other
The Quilotoa Lagoon is a large volcanic crater filled with beautiful turquoise water where clouds are also reflected. The crater formed 800 years ago following the eruption of the Quilotoa volcano. To soak up the beauty of the place, it is advisable to do the 12 kilometres of hiking along the ridges that surround this natural beauty. This makes it possible to escape the main viewpoint where many visitors are located and enjoy other breathtaking view bridges in a quiet environment. In some places, gas escapes and forms bubbles on the surface of the water, a sign of the volcanic activity of the area. Those who wish can also reach the beach, from where there is the possibility of renting canoes to stroll on the lake.
A detour to Vilcabamba
Vilcabamba is a small town in the Longevity Valley, south of the Loja River. The City was made famous by being home to many centenarians in the 1970s. The inhabitants are convinced that the clean air, mountain water and organic food culture make it a land of good living, longer. On your way to the church square, you should take the time to stop at a restaurant table or in a café where locals and tourists from all over the world meet. The city is a real melting pot. To vary the pleasures, beautiful hikes await the walkers, in sublime and green surrounding landscapes, where the ridge lines overlook a fertile, sunny valley with a climate always very mild.
A trek in El Cajas National Park
For those addicted to natural landscapes, El Cajas National Park is a real nugget, located an hour's bus ride from the beautiful city of Cuenca. The atmosphere is very special because this region, at an altitude of about 4,000 metres, is foggy and humid, which gives it a mysterious appearance. There are no less than 250 lakes and lagoons and small forests form in the shade of rock faces. Along the various hiking trails that are offered to visitors, one must take the time to marvel at the tundra-type vegetation, and also open one's eyes, as it is not uncommon to come across llamas along the way who live here and there in their natural environment
A tour of the Otavalo market
Otavalo is a town in the Sierra del Norte, and is particularly famous for hosting a superb market. What makes it special is that it is considered to be the most varied, largest and cheapest market on the South American continent. You have to get there on a Saturday, and early enough, the best way to see the Indians arriving on donkeys and others dragging their little black pigs on leashes on their way to the cattle markets. The Otavalo market is made up of three distinct markets: the livestock fair, the fruit and vegetable market where you can taste some specialities and buy beautiful pottery, and the ancient Indian market, ideal for leaving with superb local handicrafts, sweaters, carpets, blankets, jewellery bags and other knick-knacks
Cuenca, pearl of the Andes
The city of Cuenca is an unmissable stopover when heading towards the Sierra of southern Ecuador. We begin by discovering the historic centre of the city, where beautiful buildings of colonial architecture stand side by side with superb churches, the most imposing of which is the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, which dates from the 19th century. At another time, we take the direction of the banks of the Rio Tomebamba, for a pedestrian stroll along the river where we admire the beautiful houses of the Barranco district. There are also the typical Andean market stalls with fruit, vegetables, flowers and handicrafts at any time of the week. To get into the green, we reach the Parque San Blas for a picnic, before climbing up to the Turi viewpoint and enjoying a breathtaking panorama of the whole city.
A stay in Ecuador also allows you to treat yourself to unforgettable moments in the heart of the Amazonian forest. For example, starting from the village of Puerto Misahualli, one can reach the heart of the forest and the communities that live there for a few days at the rhythm of the forest. The most authentic thing is to stay with the locals, and to enjoy beautiful moments of exchange around meals that are always hearty. Then the men of the villages are happy to accompany the visitors for a walk in the rainforest or a tour in a dugout canoe. You can observe the diversity of the fauna and flora and everything that makes the charm of this lung of the world