Why should you add Ecuador to your travel list?
Diversity: Totaling at 283,561 sq km (109,483 square miles) in land area, Ecuador is roughly the size of Nevada. It’s one of the smallest countries in South America, yet one of the most diverse countries in the world. Within the Ecuadorian territory, you’ll find three geographic regions: the Amazon, Andes and Coast, not to mention the Galapagos Islands, located 1,369 km (850 miles) from the mainland.
Due to their different climates and resources, each of these regions hosts different species of flora and fauna, many of which are endemic to Ecuador. That is, what you see here, you won’t find anywhere else on the globe (that sounds pretty unique to me!). Belonging to this category is Yasuní National Park and Biosphere Reserve, which is located in the Ecuadorian Amazon and is considered one of the most biodiverse places on Earth.
Accessibility: In this day and age, where we can barely watch a two-minute video before we lose interest, Ecuador has a significant advantage over its larger neighbors. Due to its relatively small size, you can expect to see and experience many different sights within the span of your trip. In other words, you can’t get bored!
Tired of spotting 8-meter long anacondas in the Amazon? No problem, you’ll reach the cool, comfortable high-altitude city of Cuenca in only a few hours. Oh, I’m sorry, did you prefer to eat fresh ceviche and whale watch from a beach chair? Just jump on a bus and explore Ecuador’s coast before heading back to Quito.
There’s literally an endless number of places and things to do in Ecuador, and they’re all within reach because of short travel distance between destinations!
There’s one more reason why Ecuador needs to be on your bucket list: it won’t be around forever. I suppose that could be said about the world in general, but a few spots in Ecuador, in particular, are facing real threats. Among these is the Amazon rainforest and the Galapagos Islands.
As hard as the Ecuadorian government may try to protect its treasured Galapagos Islands, tourism to the area as well as global warming (which affects more than just sea level) are threatening to alter the Islands in an irreversible way. Access to the Islands is already highly exclusive, and may become more so with more time. Get on board before it’s too late!
Underrated Locations in Ecuador You Should Visit
While the Galapagos Islands and the Amazon will likely make it onto your Ecuador travel itinerary, don’t forget to leave room for the lesser-known underrated locations in Ecuador that deserve your time and attention. Among these:
Pululahua Geobotanical Reserve – Less than an hour north of Quito, Pululahua is essentially a collapsed volcano. Hike down from the rim of the crater to explore quaint village life on horseback.
Vilcabamba – Located in the province of Loja, Vilcabamba has become somewhat of a destination for expats and is known for the longevity of its local inhabitants (a legend that has since been disproven). The beautiful surrounding mountainside can be explored on foot and if you like yoga or spiritual retreats, expect to find them here!
Puerto Cayo – Located in the province of Manabí, Puerto Cayo is really just another fisherman village among the hundreds that dot the Ecuadorian coastline, which is exactly why you should visit. This little beach town is an excellent getaway destination with easy access to nearby sights in Machalilla National Park like los Frailes beach, Isla de la Plata (also known as the Poor Man’s Galapagos) and Agua Blanca.
In terms of bucket list requirements, Ecuador fits the bill: it’s unique and affordable. However, Ecuador offers so much more than that – definitely more than can be squeezed in this single blog. I suppose there’s really only one way to find out…book your trip to Ecuador today!