Parque Nacional Cajas, Ecuador.

24 Days in Ecuador

About Ecuador:

There is a saying I heard here a few times: that in Ecuador, you can eat breakfast on the beach, lunch in the Andes, and dinner in the Amazon. And that saying is not at all an exaggeration. Despite being such a small country, Ecuador manages to contain so many different things. Warm beaches, high Andean peaks, the Galapagos Islands, beautiful cities, and the Amazon, just to name a few. 

In addition, the tourist infrastructure in most of Ecuador is quite well-established, with nice roads, an efficient bus system, and many great hostels that give great advice throughout the country. As with Colombia, I also only managed to visit a fraction of the places recommended to me, and I would go back again in a heartbeat. And since Ecuador has more tourist infrastructure than Colombia, it also has a lot more tourists. Many of these tourists were quite outgoing, and I found traveling through Ecuador to be a much more social experience than Colombia. 

Getting There:

I entered Ecuador via bus on October 9, 2022 through the land bridge between Ipiales, Colombia and Tulcan, Ecuador. There was a long line of people at the border, so crossing took a few hours.

What We Did:

A map of the places I visited in Ecuador. Quilotoa is the unlabeled point to the left of Latacunga.

Map of the places I visited in Ecuador in October 2022.

After entering through Tulcan, we took a bus to Quito. We stayed in the historic center for a few days. We spent those days exploring the city and climbing Rucu Pichincha, an active volcano right next to the city.

The summit of Rucu Pichincha with a friend we made on the mountain.

From Quito, we took a bus to Guagua Sumaco. From there we entered Parque Nacional Sumaco Napo-Galeras, where we spent four days trekking to the top of Sumaco Volcano, one of the highest peaks in the Amazon. You can read more about this awesome adventure here.

Near the summit of Sumaco Volcano.

From Guagua Sumaco, we went back to Quito, where we spent a few days recovering from the hike. After that, we took a bus to the town of Latacunga. From Latacunga, we took a bus to the tiny town of Sigchos and spent three days hiking the famous Quilotoa Loop to the Quilotoa Crater, formed by the collapse of an ancient volcano.

Quilotoa Crater.

Quilotoa Crater.

From the Quilotoa Crater, we went to Latacunga, then to the town of Baños, formally named Los Baños de Agua Santa. We spent a few days in Baños hiking, biking, and partying, with the best part being doing a 20 kilometer bike ride that visits about half a dozen waterfalls. 

La Cascada de Manchay near Baños.

Cascada de Manchay near Baños, Ecuador.

From Banos, we took another bus to the city of Cuenca. In Cuenca, we explored the city and spent a day at Parque Nacional Cajas, a park high in the mountains that protects both the páramo ecosystem and a river that supplies much of Cuenca’s water. Preserving páramos to protect a city’s water supply is a common practice; I wrote about it while visiting the Sumapaz Páramo near Bogotá. You can read more about it here.

View of the Páramo in Parque Nacional Cajas.

Parque Nacional Cajas, Ecuador.

From Cuenca, I will leave tonight via bus and arrive in the Peruvian beach town of Máncora tomorrow morning. I will miss you, Ecuador, but I am also excited to see what adventures Peru will bring.

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