I went to Ecuador for a month last year and it was a great experience. I managed to see not all of the country but a wide range of what the country has to offer, from the coast (Manta and Isla de Plata), to the mountains (Quito, Cotopaxi, Otavalo) and the jungle (Tena/Mishualli, Banos). Here is a selection of the places that I stayed at or ate or or went to and that I liked. If you ever plan a trip to Ecuador, maybe this will be a great place for you to get some ideas.
Manta, Ecuador – www.hotelbalandra.com
This hotel was incredible, I only paid about $85 per night, which is probably about 1/3 of the amount that you’d pay in another country like the USA. The room was positively gorgeous, there was a really nice restaurant called Fero (I think), and it was in walking distance to the beach, a museum and local businesses.
The Secret Garden, Cotopaxi, Ecuador – www.secretgardencotopaxi.com
Never have I liked a hostel so much before coming to The Secret Garden in Cotopaxi. There is an unbelievably gorgeous view of the Cotopaxi volcano over gorgeous farmers fields. The place is owned by an Australian couple and there were a pile of really cool people to meet there.
Things to do at Cotopaxi:
- HIKE UP THE COTOPAXI VOLCANO TO THE SUMMIT
- HIKE IN THE NEARBY FORESTED AREA
The Secret Garden, Quito, Ecuador – www.secretgardenquito.com
The Secret Garden in Quito is in the Old City and is in walking distance of the old Cathedrals, government buildings and so forth. You can rent a private room or a bunk room.
Otavalo Market – Trip Advisor page
The Otavalo Market is this massive, famous market in Otavalo, which is about an hour outside of Quito. While fairly commercialized, I enjoyed the market. You can get a lot of artsy stuff, blankets, purses etc. Be sure to bargain and don’t buy from the first person you see. And make sure you go up the adjacent streets and check out some of the other stores in the area.
Giant Swing & Zip Lining – Banos Ecuador – Imagine Ecuador
Zip lining in Banos was so much fun. Banos also has a really cute old cathedral that’s been converted, at least partially, into a museum. You can also go mountain biking, horse back riding, rafting, and so on.
Cathedrals – Quito, Ecuador – Quito Adventure
I loved the cathedrals in Quito. A number of them are a few hundred years old, have lovely Spanish architecture with a nice local touch on them. They let in tourists and share the history of the cathedral.
Middle of the Earth – somewhere near Quito, Ecuador – Mitado de Mundo
Ecuador literally means Equator in English, so therefore it makes sense that one needs to see the Equator. If you go to this place, you learn a lot about the tribes living in Ecuador, how they understood the stars, and you get to stand on the equator. You can even get your passport stamped with a special little stamp.
Other things to do in Ecuador that I never got to do that I’d love to go back for:
- See the Galapagos Islands
- Surfing on the coast
Ecuador is an amazing country to visit with a lot of fun adventurous stuff to do and a lot of rich history to learn about. Very much worth the vacation time. I can’t wait to visit again someday. There is always the option of booking tours, which you definitely need to do to go to the Galapagos Islands last I checked, but if you want to travel solo, hopefully this will be a fantastic starting point for you.