There are numerous tourist attractions in Ecuador that are unmissable for anyone when you travel South America. Here are some of the ones we enjoyed most on our trip.
Ecuador is one of only 13 countries in the world that offer the chance for you to stand on the exact point of the equator and la Mitad del Mundo is a must for anyone that visits the country. You can reach it by taking a bus from Ophelia station in Quito. At the site there are a number of things to keep you busy including a museum about the history and traditions of Ecuador as well as an alternative site called Intinan Solar Museum that challenges the official point of the equator. It attempts to prove this by offering you to try various tests including balancing an egg its end and demonstrating water flowing both counter-clockwise and clockwise down a drain.
The Galapagos Islands are truly unique . This was the site of Darwin’s realisation that life in fact evolved slowly and steadily over billions of years and so the islands have incredible significance to the Earth’s history. Do not expect to find golden beaches and lush rainforest here though as the Islands are in fact largely a rocky landscape bereft of plantation but then that is not the reason you come here. There is truly nowhere quite like this astounding archipelago.
Banos is situated in Central Ecuador and is one of those hidden gems that you discover when you travel South America. It wasn’t a place I had heard of prior to the trip but the town sits in the Andean hills and is set in the shadow of the majestic snow-capped Tungurahua volcano. There are plenty of things to keep you busy here including thermal baths, hiking, quad biking and a stunning waterfall to visit. It is just a fantastic place to relax for a few days before embarking north to the more frantic capital!
Best started from the town of Latacunga the Quilitoa Loop is a relatively untouched attraction within Ecuador and consists of a four day trek across stunning Andean landscapes. Not many travellers seem to be particularly aware of it and so the beauty of it is that it has not become remotely commercial. Along the way make sure you see the breathtaking Quilitoa crater lake which is up there with any of the sites you visit when you travel South America.
Huge sprawling markets are characteristic of Latin American culture but Otavalo is worth visiting for this feature alone. You can visit Otavalo as a day trip when staying in Quito and there are plenty of bargains to be found on some of the local merchandise, including panama hats which despite their confusing name, are actually made in Ecuador!