I haven’t done a lot of traveling this year but this does not stop me from researching and planning future adventures like… Ecuador! I always look for the little-known experiences a country offers, so let’s take a look together.
Ecuador is widely considered one of the wildest countries in the world. The high Andean kingdom was separated from the rest of South America for hundreds of years because of the landscape and the sheer distances involved in traveling from one place to another.
Today, the destination is a haunt for the most adventurous travelers – people looking for a location that takes them away from their regular, hum-drum lives and allows them to really explore the region and get a sense of the wild. As I get older, I actually prefer wild nature to busy big cities, for instance.
While people new to the area can do fine by themselves, seasoned travelers tend to have the best experience of the country. It’s a rugged and wild place – the perfect location to make you feel alive.
So what’s a person to do once they arrive in Ecuador, besides visiting the obvious tourist hotspots of Macchu Picchu and the Galapagos islands?
Visit The Mitad del Mundo
Ecuador straddles the equator. But because most of the country is at such elevation, it doesn’t always seem like a tropical country. Once a person gets above 1,500 meters (5,000 feet), the air starts to thin out, and the temperatures drop. And above 3000 meters (10,000 feet), one can begin to feel dizzy and experience shortness of breath.
The Mitad del Mundo is the Ecuadorian name for the equatorial line that runs through the country. Translated literally, it means “the middle of the world.”
Many of the best hotels in Ecuador are close to this line, making it relatively easy to get to. A popular strategy is to travel to La Mariscal and then visit the equator from there, backing through the countryside.
Cotopaxi Volcano Mountain Biking
The Cotopaxi Volcano is a huge mountain set in the Pacific rim’s Ring of Fire. Fortunately, the 5000-meter/15,000-foot monster is now dormant. And that means that locals have turned it into something of a mountain biking hotspot.
The location encourages you to drive up to the parking lot at 4,500 meters in elevation and then cycle down more than 3000 meters/10,000 feet to the foot of the volcano. If you’re an experienced rider, it offers some of the most thrilling and challenging descending in the whole of South America. It’s not one to miss.
Visit The Otavalo Market
The Otavalo Market is a little bit out of the way. Located more than three hours north of Quito, it takes some getting to. However, it is South America’s biggest marketplace and a great location for finding traditional foods.
If you happen to be in the region at the weekend, my research shows it is best to visit on Sunday. This day sellers from the entire region flock to the area in an attempt to sell their products.
There are plenty of nearby hotels from which to choose, which is always helpful. And there’s easy access to the rainforest – great for people who want to pit their skills against the bush.
Ecuador is a great location for seasoned travelers because of the challenging environment. A holiday there will be very different compared to most other countries. None of the experiences is sanitized.
Would you like to visit Ecuador?
I know I do!