Tourist Spots in Ecuador
Ecuador, a country that rises from the sea to the peaks of the Andes, is the smallest country in the Andean nations, but its active tourism industry means travelers can find many ways to enjoy the country. Whether you are interested in climbing to the roof of South America, finding evidence of ancient peoples, or you want to leisurely browse the unique villages unchanged over many generations, you will find it in Ecuador. Some spots within Ecuador’s borders, which are considered highlights of this small country, are places that tourists flock to year after year.
If you want to escape to a mellow area in the middle of Ecuador’s natural wonders, go to Banos. Tourists come to this valley to see its massive waterfalls and hot springs and to relax. The small town, which has good weather much of the year, is an excellent place for trail riding on horseback, hiking, rafting, mountain biking and mountain climbing. Nearby, you will find access to a steep downhill train ride off an area known as Devil’s Nose (exploringecuador.com). At the bottom by the coast you can find one of the access points to the Amazon.
Cotopaxi National Park
Add the experience of standing atop the icy peak of an active volcano in the Andes to your travel journal by visiting Cotopaxi National Park (frommers.com/destinations/cotopaxinationalpark). Cotopaxi is a volcano with an active and recent eruption history, yet climbers still break out the crampons and ice axes to try to reach the 16,404-foot summit. Many make it — others are forced to turn back by adverse weather conditions or altitude sickness. But the park offers more than this extreme climbing challenge; you can find a museum and visitor center where you can learn about the area. And you can still go hiking in the thin mountain air and see spectacular views of the volcano.
With hundreds of vendors and hundreds of thousands of products to search through, visitors can easily spend all day at the Otavalo Market (otavalomarket-ecuador.co) in the Plaza de Ponchos. This bright and lively open-air market features everything from locally made crafts to food items to hand-woven blankets and household goods. Visitors can find a rich mixture of wares all over the square and beyond; in fact, the market often swells well beyond the plaza and stretches into five or more side streets each Saturday. Expect crowds in the thousands each and every weekend at this traditional event.
Ingapirca Incan Ruins
Ingapirca (ecuador.us) is an area in southern Ecuador where evidence exists of the ancient Canari and Inca peoples. The excavated ruins have been restored to resemble how some of the remaining buildings and interesting architecture looked in ancient times. Several other Incan ruins are scattered about Ecuador, including LaTolita, Santa Elena and Machalilla National Park, where you can find the oldest-known cemetery in the world, which dates to 5000 B.C.
Nearly 600 miles west of Ecuador’s coast, the Galapagos Islands (ecuadortouristboard.com) are often considered the greatest wildlife sanctuary on earth. A place so untouched by man that the many animal species here have no fear, these Pacific Ocean islands straddling the equator are the home of various species of birds, fish, sharks, penguins, seals, iguanas, rays, turtles, tortoises and much more. This island was the inspiration for Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution. Wildlife encounters and diving are as good as it gets here, and many tourists come for these activities.
Credits: USA TODAYTags: blog, travel