Do you plan on travelling to Ecuador? If so, then you must make sure you do all the adventure activities mentioned below! I personally did not know anything about Ecuador besides the Swing at the End of the World. And only because “the Swing” is always mentioned as one of those top 50 or top 100 things you must see and do before you die.
I ended up joining a tour group that took us to several key places in Ecuador. However, you don’t need to join a tour group as I have met many individuals who traveled to these key places themselves. Of course, to make it easier for you, I have outlined the big 10 activities you can do while you’re in this exciting country!
1) Mountain biking in Llangates National Park
This is one of the most scenic places I have ever seen in my life! Biking through the Andean fields, and farmlands in Llanganates National Park is a MUST if you are in Ecuador. Located near the city of Baños, you will be rewarded with a unique experience of mountain biking through the local farmlands while surrounded by mountains and a volcano . You will also experience an intense adrenaline rush, as you speed down the mountains!
Some things to watch out for are dogs. They like chasing bikers and they ambush you out of nowhere. Just think of the dogs chasing you as part of the adventure biking in Llangates National Park!
You can book this mountain biking adventure through your hostel or any tour operators located in the city of Baños.
2) Hiking the Cotopaxi Volcano
Have you ever hiked up a volcano? If not, here is your chance! The hike up Cotopaxi isn’t easy, especially with the altitude reaching up to 16,000 FT during the hike. However, your resilience will pay off as you experience hiking up this beautiful landscape and the amazing view of the volcano right in front of you.
Just make sure to take your time as you ascend up the mountain. I actually got a mild altitude sickness when I got back in our tour bus. Thankfully, it went away when we drove off to lower elevation throughout the day.
You can book a trip to Cotopaxi through your accommodation or tour operator located in Quito.
3) Zip lining near Banos
If you have been itching to cross off zip lining in your to-do list, now is the time to do so! With a waterfall serving as a backdrop, you get the best view of the canyon as you zip to the other side like superman. The $15 USD option will allow you to take a cable car back to start, or if you’re feeling adventurous, you can zip back for $20 USD. You’ll never see prices this low for zip lining in most countries!
To reach this place, simply tell your taxi driver or local tour operator in the Baños area you want to zip line and mention the waterfall back drop. They should be able to take you to this specific zip line (there are tons in Ecuador).
4) Bungee swinging on the bridge in Banos
If “bungee jumping” is on your bucket list, now is a good time to cross it off. Imagine jumping off a bridge, only to be flipped over then swung in mid air. And with a crowd of tourists and local spectators cheering you on! And the best part is this can be done for only $20 USD!
To do the “bungee swing”, simply go to the bridge in Baños and pay the operator the money and you’re good to go!
5) River rafting in the Jatunyacu River
The Jatunyacu River is the perfect river to get you started on river rafting. If you’ve never done it before or have some intermediate experience, this is the perfect river for you! From class 1-4 rapids, you get to challenge yourself as you paddle your way through wild waves while trying to stay in the raft!
During the slower periods, you will be rewarded with a nice view of the river allowing you to get some nice pictures.
If you’re scared of falling off the boat, our guide actually challenged us to jump off the boat during a class 2 rapid section. Thanks to that, many people got over their fear of drowning or falling off the boat. We were all equipped with life jackets which kept us afloat in the water when we dared to jump in.
We joined this river rafting expedition through our tour; but again, many tour operators all over Ecuador including Quito and Baños will offer this activity as part of their package.
6) Trekking and Experiencing Homestay in the Amazon Rainforest
Trekking through the Amazon Rainforest is definitely an adventure you don’t want to miss. There is no better day to spend the afternoon than traversing through the dense jungle and up waterfalls. With diverse plant and animal life, the amazon rainforest definitely lives up to being one of the seven wonders of nature.
When you’re finished, your homestay family will show you how to make chocolate from scratch! From roasting, to grinding and finally cooking, you will learn the steps to turning cocoa beans into a delicious dessert. Finally, you end the evening with a home cooked meal prepared by your homestay and if you still have energy, you can sit around a fire pit to socialize with other tourists. This is truly an authentic experience that cannot be missed!
You can book this trip individually through Rolando’s family on their Facebook page or through a tour operator in Quito or Baños.
7) Hiking and boating around the Cuicocha Crater Lake
Hiking the Cuicocha Crater Lake is a unique experience. When will you ever get a chance to hike around a like that is actually a live volcano? This experience will take you on a loop around the crater lake. The hike is challenging and will leave you breathless for 4-5 hours, literally!
Afterwards (or beforehand), you can take a boat tour around the lake and see some bubbles coming out of the water. Why is the bubbles coming out of the water? Because the volcano is still live and there is volcanic activities happening in the depths of this lake!
You don’t need to book to hike Cuicocha; though, you may have to pay the national park office located in the volcano a fee to enter the area. From there, you can also book the boat tour that takes you around the volcanic lake.
8) Shopping in the Otavalo Market
A trip to the Otavalo Indigenous Market may not get your adrenaline going, but it’s still a fun adventure on its own. Now is the time to put your Spanish to good use, as you attempt to bargain for a good deal on beautiful handicrafts and textiles. Brightly colored rugs, ponchos, bags and hand crafted wooden bowls are a some of the many things you will see. Even if you don’t end up purchasing anything (which probably won’t happen), have a chat with the locals. They are very welcoming and not aggressive when trying to sell you their wares.
9) Eating delicacies in Ecuador
During our week in Ecuador, we got a chance to learn about Ecuador through their cuisine. Besides discovering that a spicy sauce is eaten with virtually anything (Chips, soup, entrees, bread…etc), we also tried foods like roasted guinea pig, or “cuy”, which tasted like the Chinese food “roast pork” and the skin is a similar texture as roast duck.
We also tried Ecuadorian biscotti, or “bizcocho”. A buttery, flakey pastry, that is pretty bland if you eat it by itself. However, it is instantly transformed once you slather a generous amount of dulce de leche on top of it. The coolest part is you pair the bizcocho with a piece of cheese, to balance out the sweetness of the caramel spread.
We tried so many delicious foods, but perhaps our favourite is their helados de salcedo, a four flavored ice cream treat in the shape of an upside down cup. The sweetness of the vanilla and jam is balanced out the the tart, fruity flavors at the bottom. It’s the perfect treat to have during long bus rides!
These food are all over Ecuador so simply ask your accommodation where you can find them and they will point you to the right direction.
10) Swing at the End of the World
And of course, you absolutely cannot leave Ecuador without visiting the Swing at the End of the World! This is a must see for all lovers of adventure. Did you know that the treehouse is actually an observation tower for Tungurahua, a volcano that is still active? If you are lucky, you will be able to see Tungurahua as you take epic photos of yourself on the world famous swing. Your friends will be jealous of your adventure as they see you ticking one item after another on your bucket list.
The Swing at the End of the World is located in Baños. You simply catch a taxi or an arranged transportation from your accommodation or a tour operator and they will take you here. There is a fee to enter the park that has the swing. Keep in mind, the original swing is the one on the right side of the treehouse.
Ecuador is an adventure filled country that is sure to deliver that adrenaline rush you are looking for. Oh and one last thing, make sure you do not leave this country without eating the multi-coloured Ecuadorian ice cream. It is one of the best ice cream I have ever eaten in my life. Definitely you won’t regret treating your taste buds to such a delicious treat.
Enjoy your time in this country and just practice common sense to prevent theft or any sort of danger from coming your way. (Don’t be flashy and show off valuables and try to dress down)