Ecuador is a small country, but with a lot to offer, from endemic wildlife and pristine beaches to historical and natural sites in the Andean region. Read on to find out the top 6 places in Ecuador you can’t miss, from the Andes to the coast.
Quito and the Middle of the World
In Ecuador’s capital, wind through the narrow streets of the historical center, visiting some of America’s oldest and most beautiful churches, such as El Sagrario and La Compañía, before passing through the famous plazas of Santo Domingo, La Merced, and San Francisco on your way.
Still have more energy? From the historical center, you can take a taxi up to El Panecillo hill, where you will not only find Quito’s emblematic winged Virgin, but also enjoy awe-inspiring views of Quito.
Or why not take a half day excursion to the Middle of the World monument, located in an arid valley on the outskirts of Quito, and put your foot in both hemispheres at the same time.
Cotopaxi and the rose plantations
The Cotopaxi National Park, named for its magical volcano that is the second tallest in Ecuador, is a great place to discover diverse flora and fauna in and around the volcano, and the Limpiopungo lagoon, located at an altitude of 3800 meters.
Nearby Cotopaxi National Park, there are some rose plantations, which are definitely worth a visit. You can experience the world-famous Ecuadorian rose production while snapping some colorful pictures.
Pailon del Diablo (Devil´s Cauldron)
Baños, with its stunning landscapes, is one of the most important touristic areas in Ecuador, a perfect spot for adventure and nature lovers. While in Baños, don’t miss the Waterfall Route, running along the Pastaza Canyon where you can walk through the cloud forest at Rio Verde to reach the thundering-80m- tall waterfall, known as El Pailón del Diablo (Devil’s Cauldron).
Just about 100 km from Baños is also the highest volcano in Ecuador, Chimborazo (6,310 m). On the ascent can find a desert-like landscape and herds of shy vicunas, before stopping at the Edward Whymper Refuge. Here you can have a coffee from an altitude of 5,000 meters above sea level, while enjoying incredible views.
Nariz del Diablo Train and Ingapirca Ruins
The Devil’s Nose train, known for its vertigo-inducing drops, winding through waterfalls, rivers and gorges, and spectacular scenery, takes you from the town of Alausi on a forty-five minute ride down to Sibambe. The train makes switchbacks to get down the once though impassable, hillside. This incredible feat, along with its breathtaking views, makes the Devil’s Nose one of the most famous trains in Ecuador.
For those not so keen on heights, check out the Ingapirca ruins, the largest Inca site in Ecuador, complete with beautiful temples and fortifications where you can learn about the Inca and their ancestors, the Cañari.
The colonial city of Cuenca, declared a World Cultural Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1999, is one of the most beautiful in all of Ecuador. Promenading along the Rio Tomebamba, visiting the imposing new cathedral, and the daily flower market are among the musts when in Cuenca. You can also do a workshop with locals to learn more about the famous Panama Hats, typical from this region.
La Danesa Hacienda
Heading north from Cuenca, lies Hacienda La Danesa, a historical, fully operational dairy farm nestled between the Ecuadorian coast and highlands. Explore La Danesa’s cacao plantation lead by one of the hacienda’s chocolatiers, and take part in the chocolate making process from bean to bar.
From the Andes to the coast, Ecuador has something for everyone, don’t miss out on these top six places!
Carlos Beate is the Commercial Manager at Andando Tours. Andando Tours offers exclusive traveling experiences, specializing in sailing around the Galapagos Islands and overland along the magnificent Avenue of Volcanoes on the Ecuadorian Andes.