Looking to plan an epic South American travel story? Don’t know where to start? Ecuador may be the perfect example of a country with everything.
The travel story potential is unreal: trudge through the snow-capped Andes mountains, layout on sundrenched tropical beaches (with volcanoes!), or machete overgrown branches out of your way as you trek through the heart of the Amazon rainforest. On top of Ecuador’s breathtaking and diverse scenery, Ecuadorians are also known to be some of the warmest people you’ll ever come across. Smile as the laidback locals do--it will be hard not to!
The Travel Chica lived in Quito for a month--she’s got a considerably large compilation of what to do and where to go. She also includes some helpful tips to cheaply get around (which, in my opinion, the cheaper the transportation, generally, the more culturally interesting it is.)
Molly on the Road has a spot-on approach to enjoying Quito--go at a leisurely pace and slowly take-in the history and warmth of it’s people.
Two Hungry Backpackers have a completely different take on Quito--here’s what to do if you want to squeeze every bit of Quito’s travel juices in only 24 hours. I strongly suggest going slower than this break-neck speed, but, wow, did they cover a lot of ground.
Have Pack supplies all the necessary street knowledge to get by without being a huge target for mugging or other bad karma no-no’s. It’s childish to ignore the dangers of certain places in the world when you’re traveling but it doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the good times to their fullest, as well.
Backpacker Banter has an extensive write-up of this sleepy surfer town in the mountains. If you happen to surf, or would like to learn, this is a must-see place for you. However, even if you don’t surf, Montanita’s laidback atmosphere should appeal to the vast majority of travelers looking to relax in a “tranquilo” beach town.
Vilcabamba was not Jasmine Wanders’ cup of tea. She doles out some truth in this post about her visit to the town famous for it’s population of extraordinarily old people. You may have a different experience than her take on Vilcabamba, but I can certainly understand where she’s coming from. Sometimes, places just get too damn crowded with tourists.
Thrill-seekers rejoice, Alex in Wanderland's has some colorful photos and insider tips into reveling in the “palpable energy” of Banos. This was her highlight of the entirety of Ecuador, and it shows in her well-written blog post.
Super endearing, Two Wandering Soles is a blog run by a married couple that quit their 9 to 5’s to see the world--they also happen to have a killer write-up of their Banos experience. Impressive photos of their numerous adventures! (Adventures that end in eating a, surprisingly tasty, guinea pig?!)
The Adventure Junkies killed it in Banos--rappelling, zip-lining, and canyoning, to name a few of their adrenaline gushing activities. Sound info on places to stay, as well.
Even mom’s get the travel bug! Wander Mom’s got a peaceful and enjoyable take on walkable, family oriented activities. If you’re traveling all alone, this is still a solid start to what Cuenca has to offer. A very down to earth perspective.
Alex in Wanderland takes damn good photos--she had a blast in Cuenca. Straight from her mouth: “Our time in Cuenca was unintentional. And it was amazing.” Honestly, the “unintentional” travel stories are the best-- low expectations = only awesomeness.
Isla Santa Cruz:
Two Hungry Backpackers’s gives a write-up on the budget friendly housing accommodations of the Galapagos Island--look into it if you’re trying to save money, but are also, seeking to best Darwin’s scientific discoveries.
Bunch of Backpackers has a “down and dirty” budgeting article about Ecuador. Give it a look and compare your own budget expenditures. Just as an aside, pledging not to drink for a month might save you a few hundred dollars while traveling.
You can’t go wrong with an extended stay in the Amazon rainforest. The Adventure Junkies chose to do so in an Eco Lodge called “La Selva.” Check out that link--truly amazing pictures of what it’s like to live amidst a jungle.
The Volcano, Cotopaxi:
This active, snow-capped volcano is a must-see destination for the vast majority of people traveling through Ecuador. The Adventure Junkies tell you to bring warm clothes and expect impressive views. Go here.
El Altar Trek:
Check out The Adventure Junkies mud-filled and awesome El Altar trek. Their pictures speak volumes--super dirty, totally worth it. They give complete and meaningful advice on the trek--they went through a company and basically reviewed every aspect of their experience, pros and cons.
Cajas National Park hike:
Mani Amor, a talented writer at Matador Network, created a stunning photo essay during his trek through the Cajas National Park. He perfectly captures the vast expansiveness and beauty his surroundings. Follow the blue rocks on your way to peace of mind.
If the cost doesn’t first dissuade you, So Many Places has a few informative posts (parts 1-3) on their Galapagos trip. Dolphins swam directly in front of their boat, paradisical beaches, 200 year old creatures slowly lumbering through the greenery--what more do you want whilst wanderlusting (say that three times fast)?
The summary of Two Hungry Backpackers journey through the Galapagos Islands? “The Galapagos Islands are quite simply remarkable.” Their photo blogpost is a strong introduction to what you may experience when you get there.
General Activities List
World Nomads check it all off--this is the quintessential “I want to have an adventure” list of the top few activities to do in Ecuador. If you want stories, check out their post as a guide!
The Adventure Junkies are on here a lot--and for good reason. They’ve done everything! Hiking, scuba diving, trekking, rock climbing, etc. and have impressive write-ups on how to go about doing it yourself. They seem to have organization (as in their posts) and a penchant for excitement down pat.
Ever in Transit experienced Ecuador’s Dia de los Muertos, or the Day of the Dead, complete with little edible kid pastries! The Day of the Dead is celebrated all over Latin America, but each country has their own unique spin on it--Ecuador definitely included.
Atlas Obscura’s got a blog post that utterly embodies why I like to travel. On New Years, all around the country, effigies of superheroes, politicians, and even Sponge Bobs, are burned. Jump through the flames 12 times for good luck! Of course!
Gone With the Backpack has some amazing photos of her travel--really gives you a down-to-earth perspective on her traveling adventures. Not pretentious, just her life. There are also a surprisingly huge amount of photos to comb through.
Ulrich Lichtenegger has a collection of absolutely stunning photos he took while traveling Ecuador--perfectly illustrating Ecuador’s diverse settings. Mountain, cities, and forests with everything in between.
The Adventure Junkies have a killer amazon rainforest photo gallery. Fishing with meat to catch piranhas--how is that not interesting.
Epicure and Culture has an extensive overview on the dishes you’ll find in Ecuador.
Less Quito and more Cuenta, Flora the Explorer also has some pork loaded, delicious meals on display.
Go Backpacking also has an extensive overview of the tastes of Ecuador. It goes into a little more depth and shows off the classic “Cuy” dish, which is guinea pig. Cute!
Volunteer HQ’s volunteer travel program seems to do everything right-- teach youngins who don’t have many opportunities English and help better their lives. Check out their promotional video which covers all of your basic questions.
The Ecuador Eco Volunteer program looks absolutely awesome--choose from the Andes, to the Amazon, to the Galapagos islands.
Go Overseas actually has a compilation of more than 90 volunteer programs in Ecuador--pick what you want to do!
What to Pack
Wow, is there a man-version of this? Her Packing List is pretty much as in-depth as you can get in terms of preparing your rucksack to explore everything outside of your house. Tailored to girls but, come on, 90 percent of these things can be packed by a guy as well.
The Budget Minded Traveler has an Ecuador-specific guide to packing. It basically takes into consideration all the cool activities you might do when you’re there--amazon trekking, camping, horseback riding… etc,. Even if you’re already packed, I’d look into it so you don’t forget something.
We’re absolutely honored if you’ve enjoyed this everything Ecuador piece. We want to inspire! If you haven’t been to Ecuador go! If you’ve already gone to Ecuador we hope you remember how awesome it was!
Check out some of our other pages if you’re interested in what we’re interested in:
Creative communities. Immersing ourselves in travel. Burning Spongebobs. ; )
Also, we at Landmass Goods would love some of your feedback! Of course we couldn’t have covered every last amazing piece of Ecuadorian awesomeness. Help us!
Please tell us in the comments below what juicy Ecuadorian gems we may have missed!
We love you like getting a decent, complimentary breakfast from a hostel.