Ecuador offers a spectacular variety of landscapes in a very small territory. You can find bustling beaches, tropical forests, active volcanoes, colonial cities, traditional markets and even the famous Galapagos Islands.
It’s a country of contrasts, with a strong Andean culture. In some rural areas, people still make beautiful hats, buy food in colorful markets, wear traditional dresses and speak Quichua.
Mountains rise over the horizon, kids smile at you and huge volcanoes show green lagoons and smoking craters … Welcome to Ecuador!!!
The best things to do while backpacking Ecuador
1. VISIT THE CITY OF QUITO
The beautiful city of Quito embodies the essence of the country. Markets, colorful streets, colonial churches and cathedrals are found along a valley surrounded by active volcanoes. Do not miss the climb to Rucu Pichincha so you can enjoy the best views of the city, with the great Cotopaxi in the background.
2. CLIMB ILINIZA NORTE
Complete the two-day hike up to the Iliniza Norte, at 5,126 meters high. This route is perfect as acclimatization for the climb to the Cotopaxi volcano; at dawn it offers great views of the nearby mountains.
3. VISIT COTOPAXI NATIONAL PARK
Go up to the Refuge at 4,800 meters and visit this legendary perfect cone volcano. The more adventurous can climb to the summit of Cotopaxi (almost 6,000 meters), which is completed in two days. The experience and the views are priceless!
4. TAKE THE QUILOTOA LOOP
The Quilotoa loop trek has become one of the most popular hikes among backpackers. The route takes you through villages and rural areas before you reach the crater of a volcano where a large green lagoon formed.
The best part of this experience is the contact with the local people, who are very friendly. You can sleep in small mountain lodges and eat cuy or other homemade specialties.
5. VISIT BAÑOS
The city of Baños, known as the gateway to the Amazonian region, offers a wide range of adventure activities. Domintaed by the great Tungurahua volcano, Baños and its lush mountains offer bungee jumping, zip lines, rafting, canyoning and much more.
I recommend that you rent a bike and explore the surroundings, visit waterfalls and get lost in the woods!
6. VISIT CUENCA
Cuenca has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1999, with amazing architecture and 52 beautiful churches scattered throughout the streets. They built one for every Sunday of the year!
Although the streets are full of colonial history, this was one of the largest pre-Hispanic settlements of the Incas. Cuenca Museum exhibits a wide variety of Inca and Cañari objects that you can admire.
7. PUERTO LOPEZ
Visit the tropical coast of Ecuador to spot the huge humpback whales. With a little luck you will see how some of the big ones jump over the water! Whale season in Puerto Lopez runs from June to September.
8. THE GALAPAGOS ISLANDS
The famous islands of Darwin’s theory of evolution are a dream destination for biologists, travelers, divers and nature lovers.
Keep in mind that it’s not a cheap destination since you can get there only by plane and you have to pay an expensive conservation fee. There are local boats between some islands that may be an alternative to the expensive cruises.
Travel budget for backpacking Ecuador
In general, you can visit the country for less than $ 15 per day, but if you take any tour or hike to the mountains, the budget may increase up to $ 25 per day.
PLAN YOUR TRIP TO ECUADOR
Most hostels will cost you 5$-10$ for a single, double or dormitory.
These are some options that I loved:
Quito: Discovery Quito. Simple, economic and well located.
Baños: Great Hostels. Great common areas, breakfast and views.
Cuenca: Hotel Check In. Affordable single, double rooms and dorms.
ACCOMMODATION IN AIRBNB
A good option for couples and groups, with rooms and apartments at great prices. You can get now $35 of Airbnb credit if you sign up through my link!
FLYING TO AND WITHIN ECUADOR
I use Skyscanner to find the best prices, comparing the cheapest flights across each month. If you want to save some money, you can download the free App now.
If you are traveling in Ecuador, even on a short trip, I highly recommend that you get a good travel insurance. Trusted by thousand of adventurers, World Nomads is one of the best and more reliable options.
It’s pretty easy to find breakfast and lunch menus for around $ 1 – $ 2.50 in local restaurants.
The guinea pig or “cuy” is a typical specialty of the country and it’s pretty good!
WEATHER. BACKPACKING ECUADOR
It is possible to travel the country at any time of the year. From June to September and November to February are the best seasons for the mountain.
If you plan to travel to the Amazon, keep in mind that the heaviest rainy season runs from December to March.
TRAVEL TIPS FOR BACKPACKING ECUADOR
Visiting Puerto Lopez during the whale season can be very interesting, but in my opinion Ecuador is not a country of great beaches. I personally wouldn’t devote much time to the coast.
BUY A LOCAL HAT
The famous white Panama hats are actually from Ecuador! The original ones were first tailored here and Panama copied them later. You can find a variety of these stylish hats in many shops all over Ecuador.
Next Read: Hiking Las Torres del Paine in Chile
Do you have any question about Backpacking Ecuador? Please conctact me!
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Hi, I’m Mokel; Adventure traveler, scuba diver and hiking lover. I have been traveling the world for the last 7 years and I hope my experiences, photos and hiking routes inspire you to travel the world too.