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What to see in Ecuador: cities and attractions not to be missed

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Lluis Enric Mayans
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In recent years, the Ecuador it is making space among the most dreamed and desired destinations for a trip. This is mainly due to its Galapagos archipelago, considered one of the most precious treasures in natural history. Visiting them is not cheap at all, but it is one of those trips to do at least once in a lifetime. But, in addition to these small paradisiacal islands, in Ecuador there is much more: the many indigenous cultures, the architecture, the volcanic landscapes and the rainforest. A country of many contrasts in a very small territory, but one that will make you fall in love.



Index

  1. Quito
  2. Tour in TelefériQo and Pichincha volcano
  3. Cotopaxi National Park
  4. Cuenca
  5. Quilotoa
  6. Papallacta
  7. Galapagos Islands
  8. Pailon del Diablo
  9. Half of the world
  10. Whale watching off the Isla de la Plata
  11. User questions and comments

1 - Quito

Quito it is the capital of Ecuador and a real jewel of Spanish colonial architecture.
It rises about 2850 meters in a Sierra valley surrounded by volcanic cones. The name derives from the tribe that inhabited the valley in the pre Inca period, the Quitu tribe. The city was founded in 1534 by the Spanish conquistador Sebastian de Belalcazar.
Il Old Town, UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1978, it is lively, colorful, full of colonial-era buildings, many churches, old monasteries, bell towers and squares where the life of the city is concentrated.
Among the attractions not to be missed, you must definitely mark: Plaza Grande, the heart of the Old City; the Cathedral of Quito, a magnificent example of Spanish architecture in South America; La Ronda, the most picturesque district of the city.



2 - Tour in TelefériQo and Pichincha volcano

One of the things that you absolutely cannot miss while in Quito is a ride in TeleferiQo, a spectacular cable car that, from the city center, will take you to the top of the Pichincha volcano.
The cable car goes up to a height of 4.100 meters and, from the top of the volcano, you can enjoy a spectacular view over the entire Ecuadorian capital. If you want to try to climb even higher, you will find a path that will take you up to the top of Rucu Pinchaha, at almost 5000 meters above sea level. This path is not particularly difficult, on the contrary, but the thing that could put you in difficulty is the altitude, so we advise you to walk this stretch only if you are fit. And don't worry, the effort will be rewarded by the incredible view.
We absolutely recommend you to take the cable car, you will live a unique experience.

3 - Parque Nacional Cotopaxi

In Cotopaxi National Park, just 80 kilometers from Quito, you will find the Cotopaxi volcano, the most famous volcano in Ecuador.
For the more experienced and adventurous, you can climb the volcano and its 5.897 meters of height, a truly unique experience.
Obviously, to be able to climb it, you will already have to be skilled and trained, it is not an experience for everyone.
But this does not preclude the possibility of experiencing unique moments: for those who have never climbed, there are many excursions on foot, on horseback or by bike both at high altitude, around the Andean lakes, and on the slopes of the surrounding volcanoes.
In any case, a vitista at Paeque Nacional Cotopaxi is a must during your trip to Ecuador.



4 - Cuenca

Cuenca, like Quinto, is a beautiful city, an example of Spanish colonialism, UNESCO World Heritage Site. University center, it hosts students from all over the world, as well as many tourists who come to see its beauty.
City on a human scale, very easy to get around on foot, the historic center is full of buildings from the colonial era, it almost seems to be in Europe.
Here you will breathe an international air, but also traditional. During the day you can visit the numerous markets, get lost in the streets and squares. You will come across women who dress in traditional clothes and markets with local products. At night, however, the bars and clubs along the road come alive, offering both local and international cuisine.
The core of the city is the Parque Abdon Calderon, the square that separates two of the most important cathedrals in the city, one dating back to 1557 and the second to 1880. On Sunday, after the religious service, this square comes to life and becomes a meeting place for all the inhabitants of Cuenca.

5 - Quilotoa

Quilitoa it is a volcanic lake located in the Cotopaxi province, 170 kilometers away from the capital Quito.
We are about 3.000 meters above sea level and you can do a long one excursion all around the lake. To do it without too much difficulty, you must be trained and at least a little experienced in alpine trekking. Beware of the wind, which can be very strong in some places. In any case, the course can be adapted to your needs and physical abilities.
Along the way there are several small ones indigenous villages.



6 - Papallacta

Papallacta is a small village in the province of Napo, about 70 kilometers from Quito, located at 3.300 meters above sea level in the Andes. You can easily organize a one-day excursion.
This place is known above all for the beautiful spa, one of the best known and most fascinating natural beauties of Ecuador, located at the gates of the Andean village.
Ideal for relaxing after a jungle hike, enjoying one of the most beautiful views ever. Their height makes them the tallest spa in the world. Just think that the highest in Europe, in Switzerland, are located at an altitude of "only" 1.400 meters, very little compared to those of Papallacta. There are many tanks of different shapes and temperatures, all in a beautiful natural setting.

7 - Galapagos Islands

If you are in this part of the world, you absolutely cannot forget the magnificent ones Galapagos Islands!
This is an archipelago made up of 13 volcanic islands which lies about 1.000 kilometers off the west coast of South America. Like Ecuador, these islands also straddle the equator.
The oldest date back to about 4 million years ago, while the younger islands are still in the process of being formed. This, in fact, is one of the most active volcanic areas in the world.
Thanks to tropical climate, are perfect to be visited throughout the year, and some months are better than others for sightings of some species: in April the sea turtle eggs hatch, July and August are the ideal months for birdwatchers, to in September you will find penguins, in December you can easily spot sea lions and albatrosses.

8 - Pailon del Diablo

On your trip to Ecuador you cannot skip the Pailon del Diablo, or the Devil's Cauldron, a 30-meter waterfall. There are various types of routes, for the more adventurous it is possible to get close by walking through the narrow passages that will make you feel inside an Indiana Jones movie.
To reach the waterfall you will have to go up a staircase set in the mountain and walk about a kilometer made up of stairs only. Once you reach the top, you can admire the immense waterfall on the Pastaza River from the other. For tourists, a suspended bridge, to make the experience even more adrenaline. Pay attention to the route, however, especially on rainy days, as it is very slippery, so equip yourself with comfortable shoes and a waterproof windbreaker to avoid the risk of getting wet due to the water of the waterfall.

9 - Mitad del Mundo

That's right, with Half of the world it means its Half of the world. Just 30 kilometers from Quito, in an attraction park, you can have an experience that should definitely be added to the list of things to do before you die: being simultaneously in the two hemispheres of the world. At this point passes the line of the Equator, which divides the earth into two hemispheres. With a single step, astride the latitude 0, you can find yourself in the Southern Hemisphere or the Boreal one.
The monument stands where, in 1736, an explorer marked the line of the equator. Here, moreover, you can find out how the trajectory was drawn and all the studies that have been done, and then enjoy a walk along the entire line of the park. You will also find numerous clubs and restaurants, where you can relax for a moment, and where, during the weekend, they offer lots of shows and live music.

10 - Whale watching off the Isla de la Plata

For all lovers of nature and marine animals, you should know that Ecuador is a perfect country for Whale watching. In fact, every year, from June to September, thousands of specimens of humpback whales arrive in the waters off the Isla de Plata.
One of the best locations for a whale watching tour is the fishing village of Puerto Lopez, close to Parque Nacional Machalilla, but many tours also depart from Salinas. In addition to the whales, during the trip you can admire many other specimens that live in Ecuadorian waters, such as dolphins, killer whales, pilot whales and borards.
This is, without a shadow of a doubt, one of those experiences to live at least once in a lifetime, and Ecuador is a perfect scenario to do so.

Travel informed: useful information and necessary documents

  • Inhabitants: about 16 million
  • Capital: Quito
  • Languages: Spanish
  • Local currency: US dollar (€ 1,00 = $ 1,12)
  • Weather: Ecuador is crossed by the Equator, so you will find mainly days with more than 12 hours of light, with heat and humidity and constant rains throughout the year. In the center of the country, however, where the Andes are located, temperatures drop by many degrees and the higher you climb the lower they drop.
  • Time zone: 6 hours behind Italy; 7 hours behind when it's daylight saving time
  • vaccinations: A yellow fever vaccination certificate is required for travelers who have been in transit for more than 12 hours at the airport of a country where yellow fever is endemic, so double check where you will stop on your flight.
  • Entry requirements: passport with residual validity of at least 6 months at the time of entry; a tourist visa is not required if you stay in the country for a maximum of 90 days.
  • Travel / health insurance: recommended.

    Where it is


    L'Ecuador it is located on the west coast of South America, straddling the equator. Bathed by the Pacific Ocean, it borders with Colombia and Peru. Its territory includes the Amazon jungle, the highlands of the Andes and the Galàpagos Islands, located about 1.000 kilometers from the coast.

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