Ecuador has a lot more going for it than the Galapagos Islands, teeming with wildlife though they may be. The famous islands 1,000 kilometers from Ecuador’s Pacific coastline are just one of Ecuador’s four geographical zones to visit on your Ecuador trip. The other three – the volcano-dotted sierra, wildlife-dense Oriente, and surf-worthy coast – are just as deserving of your attention while exploring Ecuador. Here’s why.
With terms attached to it like “Avenue of the Volcanoes” and “world’s highest capital city,” there’s a lot to reel you in to Ecuador’s Sierra region. Stretching from north to south, right down to the center of the country, and spanning two mountain ranges that together create a scenic and far-reaching valley, this region is laced with nine peaks over 5,000 meters above sea level and patches of the Inca’s Qhapaq Ñan. Spanish Colonial visages remain in many of the cities while indigenous culture is as present as the ever-visible mountains that meet your gaze east and west. Adventure travelers, culture enthusiasts, and architecture aficionados will all find plenty to keep them busy when visiting Ecuador’s Sierra region.
Things to Do in Ecuador’s Sierra:
- Straddle the Equator in Quito
- Shop for local crafts at the Otavalo Market
- Trek the Quilatoa Loop
The Oriente (East)
Top Cities to Visit: El Coca, Puyo, Tena, Baños
Beginning at the edges of the Sierra’s eastern slopes rests the Oriente, Ecuador’s Amazon region. As dense with wildlife and vegetation as any jungle you’ll find in Brazil, Peru, Bolivia, or Colombia, Ecuador’s slice of Amazon is home to the most diverse biosphere on earth – Yasuni National Park and Biosphere Reserve. Jaguars, pumas, tapirs, and more than 600 bird species call it home, as do a plethora of jungle tribes who have left their doors wide open to curious travelers like yourselves. For a few thrills, there are rafting adventures, canopy walks, and jungle treks to explore. The Oriente is a must-do on any trip to Ecuador.
Things to Do in Ecuador’s Oriente:
- Experience the adventure capital of Ecuador in Baños
- Visit an indigenous Amazon community
- Explore jungle trails alongside an expert indigenous guide
Top Cities to Visit: Guayaquil, Montanita, Salinas, Puerto Lopez
Riddled with resort towns and small fishing villages, lush mangroves and fluffy, white sand beaches, Ecuador’s Pacific coast is worth exploring all 2,237 km of. Not to mention it’s home to plenty of tasty seafood cuisine, including Ecuador’s version of ceviche. From late July through early October, your beachfront view even comes with humpback whale sightings, as they make their migration north to warmer waters. This is a stretch of Ecuador that should not be overlooked when planning your personalized Ecuador travel itinerary. Trust us.
Things to Do on Ecuador’s Coast:
- Learn to surf in Montanita
- Go whale watching in Puerto Lopez
- Stroll Guayaquil’s malecon