Summary of some of the most important sites to visit in Ecuador
Few regions in the world can you boast such a vast and rich biodiversity as South America, endless landscapes of natural beauty and diversity as the majestic Andes Mountains and the pristine Amazon region, within this large territory there is a unique and magical place, a true compendium of all the natural wonders of the great South American region we would like to present a brief summary of the most emblematic sites, Ecuador is known for its diversity and contrasts within a relatively small area, from the snowcapped mountains to the rainforest and the coast, a large area of the country is protected in natural national parks.
Cotopaxi National Park and the Cotopaxi volcano
Departing from Quito through to the south, you will encounter the impressive Cotopaxi National Park and the Cotopaxi volcano which at 5,900 meters is the world’s highest active volcano, when erupting the lava flows into the rainforest and ash rains reach the Pacific. The Cotopaxi rises majestically in the sky, not surprisingly, it was revered by local cultures as a deity. You can get there from Quito in two hours. An SUV can take you up to 4,500 meters to the “parking lot”. From there, you have to walk 400 meters to the first refuge, don’t think it is as easy as it sounds because at that altitude every step counts.
Village of Papallacta
On the way from Quito to the town of Lago Agrio in the rain forest at 4,300 meters above sea level you will reach the village of Papallacta, this place is famous for offering its visitors numerous hot springs to relax.
Antisana National Park
Based on the volcano with the same name Antisana national park is a unique experience from a biological point of view and is one of the most valuable areas of Ecuador. The volcano rises to 5,700 meters above sea level, the fourth highest of Ecuador. Because of its huge masses of ice and deep cracks in the summit is a place frequented by highly experienced mountaineers. A particularly nice view from the Antisana are species of rare birds like the condor. Around the many lakes and ponds you can explore glaciers and see numerous examples of Andean fauna.
Mindo Forest Reserve
Mindo forest reserve is a cloud forest, which rises from 1,400 m to 4,700 m on the western flank of Pichincha volcano. In this biological region with deep forests, misty hillsides and sub-tropical rivers crystal waterfalls are abundant. Visitors will find an immense diversity of bird species still unknown and waiting to be discovered, in the higher elevations the ‘’oso de anteojos’’ is a very special inhabitant. There are many hostelries from which you can explore this beautiful natural site.
City of Otavalo
The beautiful city of Otavalo with 22,000 inhabitants, is located north of Quito, in an Andean valley between the extinct volcanoes Imbabura, Mojanda and Cotacachi. Otavalos are natives that differ from other Andean indigenous groups not only by their dress but also by the fact that they are more open and friendly to tourists. Otavalo is famous for its Saturday market, as it is considered the largest handicrafts market in South America. There are numerous products on the Indian market as wall hangings or ponchos, wood carvings, clothing, musical instruments and many other “crafts”. According to the Ecuadorian tradition to bargain in the market is a must to get the best prices. The city is surrounded by breathtaking scenery, with many lakes.
Very close to Otavalo is the mystical Cuicocha lake. This stunning crater lake is one of the most beautiful and frequently visited in Ecuador. On the second day of the Inti Raymi (Festival of the Sun) the summer solstice, indigenous shamans take a ritual purification bath in Cuicocha. Take a walk around the lake and try a delicious trout in one of the cozy restaurants overlooking the lake.
Cuyabeno National Park
In the northeast of Ecuador lies the Cuyabeno National Park which offers ideal conditions to explore the jungle and find many different animals. in this national park shrieks of the monkeys will be heard in the mix with loud jungle noises, admire from a safe distance tarantulas or snakes. Check the leisurely life of sloth bear, enjoy evening walks and admire the reflections of the alligators eyes, in the Cuyabeno is possible to escape civilization for a few days and immerse yourself in another world.
Yasuni National Park
Deep in the east of the Ecuadorian jungle is the Yasuni National Park, between the Napo and Curaray rivers, here admire several species of animals and plants. Yasuní is reputed to be the world’s most biologically diverse place on the planet. This is one of the last places in the world where uncontacted human tribes, who reject all contact with civilization, still live.
The Ruins of Ingapirca
The ruins of Ingapirca, the most important pre-Columbian ruins of Ecuador. Originally built by the Canaris, the Canaris were conquered by the Incas and punished for their stubborn resistance. The Incas built Ingapirca where you can find the temple of the sun and the observatory to observe the course of the sun and the moon.
Machalilla National Park
The Machalilla National Park is the only protected park near the coast and is the main tourist attraction in the province of Manabi. You will visit Puerto Lopez a picturesque bay which is ideal to start exploring the national park. The reserve is about 55,000 hectares and includes two small islands, one of the few tropical dry forests in the world and the beach of Los Frailes, one of the most beautiful beaches of Ecuador. An important feature of the park is the variety of birds, especially nice is to see on the small ‘’Isla de la Plata’’ some species that also inhabit the Galapagos Islands. Between June and September, you can see humpback whales in their breeding courtship.
In the last century the railway line was built which in its time was considered a masterpiece of engineering. Today the train is a tourist attraction. One of the many routes to discover is the route from Riobamba to Alausí. After a short stop you continue towards the ‘’Devil’s Nose’’, a striking sculpture of rock on the mountain that rises above the river Chanchán.