Curious about life in Ecuador and what you can’t miss? I was doing an internship in Ecuador for 3 months so I can give you some insights about how to make the best of your time in this beautiful country.
Do you have some time to travel? Make sure to visit the Galapagos Islands. I know it’s expensive but believe me, it’s definitely worth it! I did a land-based tour of 6 days. During these 6 days, I visited both Santa Cruz and Isabela. You can take a speedboat from Santa Cruz to Isabela for $30. On both islands, you will spot sea lions, giant tortoises, sharks, iguanas, different species of birds and if you’re lucky you can spot whales or penguins. In Santa Cruz the must-sees are Las Grietas, Tortuga Bay, Laguna de las Ninfas, El Chato and the research center of Charles Darwin. In Isabela, I did a tour to Los Tuneles, which I can really recommend. I also rented a bike to go to the Wall of Tears and I did an artisanal fishing tour. The budget for my whole trip was $1200 with flights, all meals and accommodation included.
A Trip to the Amazon
Lots of people go to the Amazon while traveling to Ecuador. You can go to Cuyabeno or to Yasuni. I chose Cuyabeno because of the location and budget. You can go by flight, public bus or private bus. For my trip, I took the private bus and paid $20/way. It departs at 11 pm and you arrive at 6 am in the morning in Lago Agrio. Depending how much time you have, there are options for 4 or 5 days. I did the 4-day tour to Nicky lodge but you can also go to Dolphin Lodge or other lodges.
Trips from Quito
There are lots of agencies that are offering tours during the weekend, that’s when I mostly traveled and it’s a good way to get to know new people. Do a day tour to Quilotoa and visit one of the most beautiful crystal blue crater lakes in the Andes. During a tour to Otavalo you will visit the largest outdoor market in South America. Do you love nature? Take the tour to the cloud forest in Mindo and try out the ziplining! I really enjoyed flying through the forest. The most popular tour, however, is to the Cotopaxi volcano. Hike up the glacier on 5000m but make sure to take gloves, a scarf, rain jacket and a sweater.
During the weekend I also went to Baños de agua de Santa. You can take the bus from the Quitumbe terminal. It only takes 3-3h30 to arrive there. I went on a chiva waterfalls tour, visited the ‘Casa de Arbol’ with the famous giant swing and also did some rafting and bridge jumping. Baños was definitely one of the places I liked the most in Ecuador.
Furthermore, I went to Canoa with some friends. Canoa is located at the coast. Keep in mind that it’s 8 to 9 hours by bus. But it’s a perfect getaway for when it’s cold in Quito. Make sure to read our blog about Canoa for more information.
Try local food
Also, a good way to experience Ecuador is by eating the local food. Make sure to try the following dishes:
- Locro de papa: it’s a cheesy Ecuadorian potato soup typically for the highlands in the Andes mountains. It’s normally served as the first course (foto on the left).
- Cuy: one of the most famous types of meat in the Andean region. Cuy is guinea pig and is mostly barbecued entirely.
- Tigrillo:served for breakfast and most popular at the coast. It’s a casserole style dish of mashed green plantains, eggs and cheese (foto on the right).
There are also some traditional drinks like canelazo. It’s an alcoholic shooter made of aguardiente (a clear, anise flavored liquor), cinnamon, lemon, sugar and water. It’s popular in the Sierra and served warm. Furthermore, you have lots of options regarding fresh fruit juices. The most popular options are orange, blackberry (mora) or Guanabana. Try them all because they are really cheap, just remember to tell if you would like it without sugar, as it is usually added.
Nightlife & Spanish classes
If you are really into music, take some salsa lessons or go to listen to some live music in Café Democratico in Quito. The locals will be happy to teach you some basic salsa steps.
If you really want to experience the local lifestyle, try to engage with locals! Usually, Ecuadorians are friendly and are always open to help. If you want to learn Spanish or improve your language skills, there are tons of Spanish schools, especially in the Mariscal area (new town).
Another way to discover the country is to do some volunteering. You can check on Workaway for the best working options in Ecuador. Just make an account and you’re ready to go!
If you visited all these amazing places, learned some Spanish or Salsa and met some nice locals you know you made the best of your time in this amazing country. Discover our day tours or travel packages on our website https://www.ecuatraveling.com/ and start making the best out of your time 🙂