Best Places to visit in Ecuador
6 Unexplored Places to Visit in Ecuador
Located in western corner at top of South American continent, Ecuador is smallest country named after equator. Blessed with highest biological diversity in the world, this country is most fascinating nations and best place to visit in South America. With colonial architecture, indigenous cultures, dense rainforests and scenic landscapes, this country attracts trekkers, climbers, adventurers, nature lovers to its forests, wildlife watchers to its famous Galapagos Islands and sun seekers to its beaches. Bordered by Peru, Pacific Ocean and Colombia, the nation was once part of both Inca and Spanish Empires and it still showcases many influences from both groups, and most of colonial architecture of this city has been declared as UNESCO World Heritage Site. Despite being small in size, this country has dazzling array of wonders and some of them are given below:
Located high in Andes, Quito is capital of Ecuador which is packed with colonial architecture and is largest historic center. Preserved as UNESCO World Heritage site with beautiful public squares, old churches and world-class museums, this city has been favorite place among artisans and great place to shop local art and crafts, from wood carvings and ceramics to colorful clothing. The most famous attraction in this city is historic center of San Francisco Church. It is famous for its Convent Museum of San Francisco and Baroque interior with its carvings, sculptures, textiles, religious paintings, porcelain and handcrafted furniture.
- Boardwalks of Guayaquil
Largest city in terms of population, Guayaquil is well known gateway to Galapagos Islands. In addition to its various historic sites, Guayaquil has various entertainment and shopping venues in its picturesque plazas and squares. The amazing Malecon 2000 is highlight for those who enjoy exploring on foot, which is 2.5 kilometer long boardwalk adjacent to Guayas River. Other highlights include Museo Antropológico y de Arte Contemporaneo and Guayaquil Metropolitan Cathedral.
Officially known as Santa Ana de los cuatro ríos de Cuenca, Cuenca is beautiful and delightful city to explore on foot. Designated as UNESCO World Heritage Site, the city has architectural treasures and colonial influences spanning 400 years encompassing both Indian and Spanish elements. Its major historic center is Old Cathedral of Cuenca, which was built in 1567 from stones taken from nearby Inca buildings. The other major highlight is New Cathedral of Cuenca, which has three beautiful blue-tiled domes, and is cheapest place to visit in South America.
- Cotopaxi and Cajas National Parks
Two of Ecuador’s most famous national parks, Cotopaxi and Cajas, are within few minutes driving distance from cities of Quito and Cuenca. Cotopaxi National Park is just 50 kilometers south of Quito and is best known for its massive volcano dominating area. About 30 kilometers from Cuenca, Cajas National Park offers a different experience due to its plenty of valleys and hills. This place is heaven for water sports enthusiasts, particularly canoeists and kayakers. Additionally, Podocarpus National Park is often referred to as “Botanical Garden of America” which offers diverse range of fauna and flora. Its humid forests are home to more than 4,000 species of trees and plants.
- Hot Springs of Baños
Due to its numerous hot springs and lovely surroundings, the small town of Banos de Agua Santa is famous tourist destination in central Ecuador. It is nestled among dense jungle-like forests and provides various recreational opportunities including mountain biking and hiking. The main highlight here is mineral-rich hot springs and various waterfalls. Some of these waterfalls are accessible from town via various fun trails incorporating rope bridges with amazing views. Adventure sports such as kayaking and whitewater rafting is also popular here.
- Galápagos Islands
Discovered in 16th century and best place to visit in April, Galapagos Islands have inspired visitors from around the globe. Named after giant tortoises found on islands, this UNESCO World heritage Site is home to unique ecosystem and offers opportunity for wildlife viewing. It remains one of the most active volcanic regions in the world, and formation of islands is still in progress. Its 13 large islands, 42 islets and 6 smaller islands that make up Galapagos were announced as part of Galapagos National Park in 1950. Additionally, the main highlight here is bird species of which 28 are unique to islands including waved albatross, Galápagos penguin and flightless cormorant, and 13 species of Darwin’s famous finches.