1. Galapagos Islands
The Galapagos Islands are famous for Darwin’s trip there that led to the theory of evolution. Nowadays, it’s home to the endangered giant tortoises and Darwin’s finches, along with so many other fascinating species. My week in the Galapagos was one of the best weeks of my life. I swam with sharks, rays, and so many fishes! For things to do on land, I recommend the island of Santa Cruz. The town of Puerto Ayora is best for shopping and eating out at restaurants. There is also a conservation site for giant tortoises where you can walk amongst them. There is so much to do on these islands and if you ever have the chance, I highly recommend you visit them.
To read more about my trip to the Galapagos, check out my blog post on it.
2. Cloud Forest
There are many cloud forests in Ecuador. I visited the one near the volcano, El Reventador (a volcano that erupts every half hour!). This photo shows the San Rafael waterfall, and with a height of 150 meters, it is one of the largest waterfalls in South America. Another waterfall close by is the one from El Río Malo. You can walk to the base of this waterfall and feel the magnitude of its force. It’s a thrilling experience!
My time in the cloud forest was so magical. I saw some of the prettiest animals and insects and, of course, saw the greatest waterfalls of my life. I definitely recommend visiting a cloud forest if you have any interest in nature. If El Reventador is too far away, many people also visit the Mindo cloud forest and say there are also many exciting activities to do there.
3. Amazon Rainforest
There is so much nature and beauty contained within the Amazon Rainforest; it’s impossible to see it all (probably ever). Nature and animal lovers will love it here. Bring your binoculars to spot toucans, monkeys, parrots, snakes, caiman, and hopefully, some sloths! Your time in the Amazon will make you feel like a true adventurer. I definitely felt like Indiana Jones when I was walking through the jungle.
Check out my Beginner’s Guide to the Amazon Rainforest to learn more about this beautiful destination.
One of the lesser-known ecosystems in the world is the páramo. These are high-altitude and colder sites, so you’ll need to dress accordingly. However, if you’re a fan of hiking and love to challenge yourself, this is the perfect place to do so. I visited the páramo near the Antisana volcano and hiked seven kilometers in this mountainous terrain, and trust me, that bunch grass is not forgiving. Either way, I really enjoyed my time with these breathtaking views of mountains and canyons and left feeling accomplished. The páramo is, also, one of the few places to spot the largest flying bird in the world: the Andean condor, so don’t forget your binoculars!
5. Quito’s Historical Center
Named as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Quito’s historical center has some of the best-preserved architecture in all of South America. You can find the colonial architecture brought here from the Spaniards and see some Gothic-inspired churches and basilicas. This photo is of La Basilica del Voto Nacional, which provides a mesmerizing view of the entire city of Quito. This is my favorite part of Quito, so I definitely recommend that you give it a visit.
On the outskirt of the city of Quito, you can find this magical location on top of Pichincha Mountain. There are breathtaking views of the entire city and this huge swing that provides a great photo-op. It’s definitely a little bit of a trip to get to here, but I think anyone visiting Quito should definitely make their way over to El TeleferiQo. Plus, you’ll get the chance to ride up on a gondola, which makes it even more fun.
To read more about Quito and El TeleferiQo, check out my blog post on it.
7. Continental Divide
This photo shows the Cayambe volcano from a distance. This marks a section of the continental divide that runs down South America. A continental divide marks the spot where water that falls on either side of it will ultimately end up in either the Atlantic or the Pacific Ocean. Even without knowing this cool information, seeing the Cayambe volcano is mesmerizing on its own. We got to this site by driving on the highway on our way to El Reventador and stopping to take pictures of this stunning view. Being able to see such breathtaking views reminds you of how truly beautiful our world is, and Ecuador definitely provides you with plenty of opportunities to remember that.