Planning a vacation in Ecuador? You might be drawn to the awesome ecosystems of the Galápagos or the rich culture of Quito. No matter your reason for wanting to visit Ecuador, you'll find a number of wonderful destinations here. There are places for every type of traveler — including adventure seekers, nature lovers, and cultural enthusiasts. If you're hoping to combine activity with indulgence, how about a luxurious cruise through the Galápagos archipelago whilst aboard an elegant yacht? Perhaps you'd rather feel like an artist from a bygone era as you wander historical streets, taking breaks to sketch architecture and sip fine coffee? That can be arranged too.
Your vacation in Ecuador can, and should, be anything you want it to be. Use these travel categories to help you discover the many exciting cities awaiting you, and the types of activities that will be just outside of your door. If you're like most travelers, you'll plan on visiting three to four destinations over a 7-10 day period, so don't feel limited to having to choose between Teno in the Amazon when you go off the beaten path, or Vilcabamba when you're in need of rest and relaxation. Anywhere will help you make your Ecuador vacation all that you want it to be, and more, as you check off your travel to-do list!
Frequently asked questions
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- Can I expect To See Wildlife in Ecuador?
You can expect to see a huge variety of exotic species of wildlife in Ecuador. What type of wildlife you see depends on where in Ecuador you visit. There are four different zones of wildlife in Ecuador: the Andes, the Amazon, the Galápagos islands, and the Pacific coast.Ecuador is home to the Galápagos island chain, an area best known for its diversity of rare species. Some of the most famous examples of wildlife from Ecuador include the giant tortoises that live only in the Galápagos. Snorkeling is a popular activity in the Galápagos, as well as along the Pacific coast. Bring your goggles to admire the stingrays, nurse sharks, sea lions, and colorful fish that make their home off Ecuador’s coast.
In the lowlands, Ecuador has a tropical climate, in the rainforest and along the coast. Visitors to Ecuador’s Amazon rainforest should keep an eye out for caimans, howler monkeys, tapirs, and sloths.
In the Andes of the Northern Sierra you can visit a cloud forest. Cloud forests are humid, high-elevation environments that provide the perfect atmopshere for coffee cultivation. Take a tour of a coffee plantation to see the country’s most lucrative plants. This is an environment where you can also find delicate orchids, and moisture-loving epiphytes.
Ecuador is a popular destination for birders. Popular species to spot in the tropics include tanagers and quetzals. Visitors to the Galápagos can also look for Humboldt penguins, cormorants, and boobies. In the Andes, scour the sky for condors, and visit a cloud forest to find different species of hummingbird.
You have the opportunity to see rare species in Ecuador. No matter where you visit, bring a camera so you can document your finds.
- What Should I Wear or Bring To a National Park in Ecuador?
Ecuador's hiking trails can be muddy, rocky, and rough. If you plan to visit a national park, plan on having good hiking shoes. Wear long pants and a long-sleeved shirt to protect yourself from insects and UV rays. The weather in Ecuador can change rapidly, so be sure to bring something for warmth and wetness (like a rain jacket).Bring a small daypack for carrying a water bottle, sunscreen, insect repellent, camera, snacks, and a guide book. If you have binoculars, this is a good place to use them, as you'll likely have opportunities to spot birds and other animals.
- Where Are Ecuador's National Parks & Reserves?
There are national parks and nature reserves located in every region of Ecuador. Some parks are, however, more accessible than others.Needless to say, the Galápagos National Park is the best known park in Ecuador. Expect to see a range of animals here, including blue-footed boobies, marine iguanas, and sea lions.
The Machalilla National Park is located along Ecuador's coast. This park has great whale watching and impressive white-sand beaches.
The Sangay National Park is situated in Ecuador's Central Sierra. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is home to three volcanoes and a wide range of plants and animals.
The Cayambe Ecological Reserve, located in the Northern Sierra, is one of Ecuador's most geographically diverse areas. Travelers can explore rainforests, alpine tundras, and lakes within this reserve.
Finally, in the Amazon, travelers can visit the Yasuní National Park or Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve, both of which offer access to dense rainforests and wild jungles.
- I Want a Nature Vacation. Where Should I Go in Ecuador?
Each of Ecuador’s regions has destinations that would make for a superior nature vacation. The environments you find will depend on your elevation, and which part of Ecuador you choose.Go for breathtaking hikes in Ecuador’s “Avenue of the Volcanos,” the nickname for the cluster of volcanoes found in the Central Sierra. You can get to these formations at the Chimborazo Ecological Reserve and Cotopaxi National Park.
The chain of islands that make up the Galápagos is a famously singular sight – the naturalist Charles Darwin described the Galápagos as “a little world within itself.” On Santa Cruz Island, you can see giant Galápagos tortoises. Visit San Cristobál Island to see an island formed from volcanic rock. Isabela Island might have the largest variety of animals, with tortoises, boobies, pelicans, cormorants, and bright orange Sally Lightfoot crabs. To get the most out of your visit to the Galápagos, consider signing up for a cruise.
Ecuador is home to tracts of Amazon rainforest. Visitors can make a trip to the Amazon in an ecologically sustainable manner. Yasuní National Park and Cuyabeno National Park both have eco-lodges that can serve as a home base for your Amazon adventure.
Take a nature vacation on Ecuador’s coast, and spend your trip on one of the most breathtaking shorelines in South America. In the Manabí province, make a trip to the beach at Bahía de Caráquez, as well as the local mangroves and tropical dry forests. Hike through Manabí’s Machalilla National Park to see its imposing cliffs and delightfully isolated beaches.
- Are Ecuador's Parks and Reserves Well Developed?
Many of Ecuador’s parks and reserves are well developed, and highly visited. Ecuador has around 30 parks and reserves, including the Galápagos, Machalilla National Park, and Cajas National Park. Visiting a park or a reserve in Ecuador is one of the top reasons to travel to the country.Ecuador’s government has not always had the money to maintain their parks. For instance, the Cayapas-Mataje and Manglares-Churute reserves were developed to protect the diminishing mangroves, but they were initially poorly marked. Moreover, the locals didn’t know of their existence.
Parks and reserves you visit in Ecuador will have maps, a visitor’s center, and restrooms. Depending on how much the federal and local governments have been able to budget for conservation, each park has varying levels of upkeep.
We recommend you travel to Ecuador's national parks with an experienced guide. In addition to helping you navigate, they can provide you with useful information about what you see.
- How Much Does It Cost To Visit a National Park or Reserve in Ecuador?
It depends on the park or reserve, but most cost $10-20. The Galápagos National Park, however, costs $100 to visit.
- Where are Ecuador's Airports?
Ecuador's two international airports are located in Quito and Guayaquil. A variety of airlines fly into both of these airports.There are domestic airports scattered around the country in places like Cuenca, Baltra Island in the Galápagos, Salinas, Loja, Ibarra, and Latacunga. Flights often leave from Quito and Guayaquil to these destinations. Air travel within Ecuador is convenient and fairly inexpensive.