Ecuador’s perfect coastlines, stunning mountains and lush jungles all await travelers. Here’s why:
Ecuador made world news in 2019 for protests highly focused on locals and government officials, and while some tourists experienced flight delays and hold-ups, the entire process was largely peaceful. Similar events are carrying throughout Latin America with major protests currently active in Chile and Colombia. Such is the nature of things, and although these events can affect travel, they are rare, short lived, and overly hyped as it pertains to basic tourism.
Is Ecuador Safe to Travel?
After the roadblocks came down, Ecuador jumped right back into business but the lingering news stories have left potential travelers questioning if they should visit Ecuador. This presents an excellent opportunity for those ready to book a flight and experience the incredible scenery, culture, and hospitality right now.
Abby Dent, operator of Abby’s Hideaway in Banos and vice president of the Ecuador Kayak Club says, “Things are starting to pick up, but compared to most years, town is definitely on the quiet side. Businesses are open and operating normally, however, and it’s a good year to experience the prime season without the crowds.”
Here’s a sample itinerary to experience the best of Ecuador in a single visit. Considering the variety in terrain and ecosystems, bring packs built to handle everything. The Global Companion is aptly named, with bulk storage, laptop sleeve, and multiple accessory pockets all built on a durable and comfortable design. The 40L is perfect for most travelers but stepping up to the 65L is nice on longer excursions.
Enjoy Mountains & Volcanoes From Quito to Baños
Fly into the capital city of Quito and enjoy walking the tranquil streets for a day or two. Built over an Incan city, the colonial architecture, cathedrals, history, and local crafts draw visitors from around the world. Next, hop a bus or arrange private transport to Baños where you can hike waterfall routes alongside a towering volcano. Make time to visit the city bathhouses and spas, where massages and steam treatments will leave you feeling completely relaxed. You can make a side trip to Chimborazo as well if climbing the highest peak in Ecuador sounds appealing. Cotopaxi is another that you will see from the road, a stand alone volcano that dominates the landscape. The view alone is well worth the trip to either of these locations.
Get Adventurous in Tena + The Jungle
From Baños, it’s a short hop over to Tena, where the mountains give way to lush jungles. The area is a hot spot for whitewater rafting, kayaking, and jungle tours. You can access Puerto Napo near Tena to experience one of the Amazon’s largest tributaries or move northeast a ways to access the deep jungle at Puerto Coca. The river corridors function as highways where you can view large varieties of birds, cayman, anacondas and primates all living in a truly wild place. The Wayfinder Mini is perfect for the jungle during the rainy season so easily store wet gear between rain showers and use the side mesh pocket store a water bottle and stay hydrated during your hike.
Discover Even More Mountainous Adventure
After soaking up the jungle and exploring alongside native villagers, the highway loops back toward Quito, climbing through Baeza and offering travelers more great rafting rivers and cool weather climates, world class rock climbing, hot springs, and stunning mountain passes. This drive is fantastic and is one of few in the world where you can experience lowland jungle and high alpine environments in the same day, without traveling long distances.
Hit the Otavalo Market
Before completing the loop to Quito, make a quick stop at the Otavalo market to really see a wide arrangement of local crafts—don’t forget your lightweight daypack so you can pack away any gifts. Saturday is the big event here, but you can find vendors open on any other day of the week. Weekdays are often less crowded, and you might barter a better deal for alpaca goods and native crafts.
Explore the Galapagos Islands
The Galapagos Islands are always a good reason to visit Ecuador and flights service the islands no matter the political situation. The Galapagos are unlike anything on earth, and their reputation as a haven for unique wildlife, clear waters, and perfect sunsets are well earned. This can function as an extension of a greater Ecuador trip itinerary, or as the sole focus of your visit. The islands are a very specific and sought after destination where snorkeling alongside sea lions and the northernmost penguins in the world is a normal event.
You can have a great time in Ecuador year-round, but visiting between October and March is ideal as the dry season means little rain in the mountains and less flooding in the jungle, so you can likely pack less gear. That said, the rainy season does mean non-stop showers and many days are misty, cool, and pleasant.
Ecuador is back in action after the short cycle of protests and this is a great year to get ahead of the curve and enjoy prime attractions without heavy crowds as you find your unknown.
Related Links (from Eagle Creek blog):
Video: How and What to Pack for Ecuador
By Zach Lazzari on December 30, 2019
Zach Lazzari is a freelance writer, fly fisherman and explorer. He is currently driving the Pan American highway in an old Astro Van with his dog Shale. Follow his journey at bustedoarlock.com and @zachlazzari on Instagram.