Natural attractions in Ecuador
The nature of Ecuador is diverse and beautiful, it surprises and fascinates all the time.
The most famous attraction of the country are volcanoes, of which there are several dozen. The highest of them is Chimborazo, whose peak is the most distant from the center of the planet surface point. The most active is Reventador, in its crater has been bustling with life for centuries.
Cotopaxi Volcano, whose regular cone is especially beautiful in the rays of the rising sun, is also a popular tourist attraction. There are three fire-breathing mountains – Sangai, Tungurahua, and El Altar – in the Sangai National Park.
The water beauty of Ecuador also often owes its life to powerful volcanoes. These include the volcanic lakes of Mohanda, surrounded by hills with pale green vegetation; Lake Cuicocha, located in the crater of an ancient volcano; and the dead reservoir Quilotoa, also located in the crater and striking with the unreal color of the lake surface. Equally amazing are the water resources of Cuyabeno National Park, where snow-white mountain rivers meet the black waters of the lagoons.
Ecuador’s Yasuní National Park is home to a wild tribe of Indians who stubbornly refuse to make contact with civilization. The Choco Forest is famous for the world’s highest rainfall and incredible biodiversity. But Ecuador’s most striking natural wonder is the Galapagos Islands, where animals are completely unafraid of humans.
Sangay National Park
The vast territory of Sangay National Park is home to three of Ecuador’s main volcanoes at once: the active Sangay and Tungurahua and the extinct El Altar. The territory of the park is characterized by an amazing variety of contrasting landscapes, from piedmont humid tropical forests to snow-capped peaks and glaciers. A stunning collection of rare flora and fauna, isolated by nature itself, is protected here. The park gives shelter to about 500 species of birds and 3,000 species of plants. The eastern slopes of the mountains are home to rare animals, including the spectacled bear, mountain tapir, cougar, ocelot and porcupine.
The Galapagos Islands is an archipelago of 19 islands located in the Pacific Ocean. It strikes the imagination with pristine nature, which everyone can touch. Only here, the volcanic landscape is presented in all its slightly frightening and at the same time fascinating beauty. Most of the animals living on the islands are not found anywhere else, and some are found only on some islands of the archipelago. All the islands differ from each other by their natural conditions and the species composition of flora and fauna. The Living Museum of Evolution offers the opportunity to observe wildlife. Despite active volcanoes and harsh terrain, animals have adapted quite well to the local landscape and climate. This is what inspired Charles Darwin, after visiting the archipelago in 1835, to create his famous study “The Origin of Species”.
At an incomprehensible whim of nature, large carnivores have stopped evolving, and as a result, they have lost all caution. The animals that live here are not afraid of people at all. Blue-footed boobies do a touching clumsy dance right in front of the tourists, not paying any attention to the turned on camera. Mockingbirds sit on their shoes, and sea lions try to attract attention by doing ballet pas and boasting of their swimming abilities. Local penguins are quite indifferent to people and can even use them during underwater expeditions as a shield in an attempt to grab a gaping fish. In Galapagos, there is no need to hide in order to observe the fauna. However, you must be careful not to step on a sea lion sleeping on the beach.
Lake Quilotoa is often called the emerald eye of the Andes because of the unusual color of the water. This is due to its high content of carbon dioxide and hydrogen sulfide. Sometimes, because of the excess of these components, the lake seems to boil, and yellow sludge rises to the surface from the bottom, diluting the emerald surface with new bright colors. Because of the large amount of impurities, the water in the lake is dead, you can’t drink it or swim in it, but nothing prevents you from admiring it from the outside.
In fact, Kilotoa is not only a lake, but a volcano, in the crater of which it is located. The last time it erupted in the XIII century, but traces of that event in the form of ash and frozen lava in the neighborhood can be found today. For hikers around the lake are laid out landscaped trails, and for those who are not confident in their abilities, there are excursions on mullahs. However, the tour around Lake Kilotoa is not exhausting: only about 3 km. In translation from the language of local Indians Kilotoa means “king’s tooth”. No one has yet been able to explain such an unusual name.
Yasuni National Park
“Yasuni” is a reserve where you can meet not only wild animals, but also wild people. It is home to several Indian tribes who lead a primitive way of life and refuse contact with the messengers of civilization. The Ecuadorian government allows them to hunt in the national park, although all anthropological activities in the region are forbidden. But not all aborigines are so unfriendly, some of their representatives take tours of the park and tell about its flora and fauna, of which they know literally everything.
The national park “Yasuni” occupies an area of about 10 thousand km2 , or 3% of the territory of the country. The entire vast space is overgrown with difficult and impassable jungle, cut through by numerous rivers. Yasuni is very humid and it rains all year round, but less intensely from January to March. The flora of the national park is amazingly diverse: about 500 plant species per hectare are found here, which is recognized as the world record of biodiversity.
“Guinea pig lake” is how the name Cuicocha translates. No, there are no guinea pigs here, but there are two small islands in the middle of the lake that resemble these funny animals. The islands are recognized as protected areas and are closed to the public.
Lake Cuicochea, located at an altitude of about 3200 m, is of volcanic origin. Once upon a time there was a volcano at this point of the planet, the most powerful eruption of which was recorded more than 3,000 years ago. As a result, the neighborhoods were covered with a layer of ash about 20 cm thick, which turned them into fertile land, and the volcano itself fell inward, and in its place was formed a beautiful lake. By the way, the islands in its center are debris from the volcano’s dome.
Lake Kuikocha is about 3 km in diameter and 200 m deep. Its water is alkaline, so there is almost no life here. By high-altitude standards, Kuikocha is quite warm – the water temperature reaches +16 ° C. This is because the volcano is still active and heats the water like a stove. Sometimes small bubbles appear on the water surface – this is an ancient volcano reminding about itself by gas emissions.
The height of mountains can be measured in different ways: above sea level, from the base to the top, and even from the center of the Earth to the highest point. The record holders in each measurement method will be different, and in the latter case the palm will be won by Ecuador’s Chimborazo Volcano (6310 m). It is located almost at the equator, and as the Earth is slightly flattened from the poles, near the zero parallel its radius is maximal. It is no coincidence that until the beginning of the 19th century Chimborazo was considered the greatest peak on the planet.
The volcano is very old: according to scientists, its last eruption was in the I millennium BC Since then it has not been active, so it is classified as extinct. The summit of Chimborazo is covered by glaciers all year round. In 1880, the English artist and climber Edward Wimper was the first to conquer this extraordinary mountain, inspiring many climbers to follow in his footsteps. It usually takes two to three days to climb the peak of the volcano, and the appropriate tours are offered by all the travel agencies of the towns nearest to Chimborazo.
San Rafael Falls
The beauty of nature, the magic of heights and the power of the water stream have all combined harmoniously in the San Rafael waterfall, making it one of the most striking natural landmarks of Ecuador. The waters of the Napo River fall in two cascades from a height of 150 meters, forming a cloud of splashing water, illuminated by a bright rainbow. The waterfall is surrounded by dense tropical forests inhabited by exotic birds, which form a worthy setting for this natural diamond.
No photo can fully convey the beauty and grandeur of San Rafael. When choosing the best angle for a photo, you need to be careful, as the cross at the top of the waterfall reminds you of this. It appeared here in memory of a French photographer who paid with his life for the opportunity to take the best shot.
To see this beautiful waterfall in all its glory, you must hurry. A large hydroelectric power plant is under construction 20 km upstream of Napo, which can significantly reduce the spectacle of San Rafael.
The Reventador volcano (3,562 m) constantly reminds explorers and residents of Ecuador, who constantly feel its activity. It manifests itself now in puffs of ash and steam eruptions, now in flashes of fire above the crater, now in explosions and the rumble of magma stirring inside the volcano. Despite such formidable warnings about the danger and incessant demonstrations of steep temper, the volcano attracts many climbers. It usually takes two days to conquer this wilful mountain.
Reventador is one of the most active of Ecuador’s 50 volcanoes and has been erupting for several centuries, but it peaked in the 20th century. In 2002, after nearly 30 years of silence, Reventador erupted a ash column 17 km high. This spectacular spectacle was perfectly visible from the capital of Ecuador, Quito, although it is separated from the volcano by nearly 100 km. Millions of tons of ash erupted by Reventador covered the nearest surroundings with a thick layer of volcanic dust.
Cotopaxi can be seen from various parts of the country, but you can only appreciate the captivating beauty of its cone-shaped peak and its astonishing size if you are close by, in the national park named after it. The volcano is covered by a glacial tablecloth, from beneath which go down treeless areas that have become home to wild horses, llamas, and other South American animals. Everyone who finds themselves in the park plans to stay here to greet the sunrise, because nothing beats climbing a volcano in the early morning hours when you can truly enjoy the contours of the glacier and the beauty of the surrounding plain.
Cuyabeno National Park
“Cuyabeno, one of Amazonia’s most unusual reserves, is located directly on the equator. It occupies a unique area resembling a huge bowl in which marshy plains intersperse with periodically flooded forests. The park is cut through by a multitude of rivers, lakes, and streams of all colors. The rushing water streams descending from the slopes of the Andes and carrying dissolved sediment are easily recognized by their rich white color. On the Cuyabeno River, the situation is exactly the opposite: in the 14 lagoons, the water tends to a piercing black.
The flora and fauna of the park are extremely diverse. Freshwater pink dolphins, predatory piranhas and mysterious manatees can be found in its waters. Several species of primates, armadillos, anteaters, cougars and fruit-eating bats live on land. Of the 12,000 members of the park’s flora, most are recognized as medicinal. Wild roses, regal orchids, exotic palms, and water-loving bromeliads grow here.
Devil’s Nose Gorge
At the heart of the extensive transport system linking the coast and the highlands is the town of Riobamba, famous for its festival, Sunday fairs and for being the departure point for the train to Devil’s Nose Gorge. Along the way, the wagon window offers delightful scenery, chief among which is a view of the perilous gorge. At the beginning of the last century, a special zigzag route was laid out cutting through the mountainside. The train has been running along it ever since, slowly ascending and descending. On the approaches to the gorge the train inevitably goes off the rails. But no need to worry: experienced conductors ask to temporarily leave the carriages to put the iron horse in its place. Before the train reaches the gorge, tourists will encounter a chain of volcanoes, see magnificent peaks, lakes and local settlements located on both sides of the railroad.
Mohanda Volcanic Lakes
Walking through the green, squared-off farmland that fills the steep slopes of the mountains surrounding Otavalo is ideal for those who like to combine physical activity with contemplation of the scenery. Rare travelers here will encounter a major natural treasure, the magnificent Mohanda Volcanic Lakes. The beaten paved road leading to the reserve ends at the lakes, revealing stunning views of the emerald waters of the three bodies of water. The exquisite beauty of the lakes is set off by the pale green grass of the hills and the majestic Fuya Fuya volcano.
Ecuador is a small country with a huge number of natural and architectural sights located in South America. Every tourist will get unforgettable experience of mountain lakes, volcanoes, waterfalls, and of course the famous Galapagos Islands. Here you can stroll through the cozy streets, enjoy the local colorful atmosphere, visit historical sites, visit the local beaches and much more.
Top 5 Budget Hotels
Quito, Luis Cordero E2-19 y Ulpiano Páez
Free Wi-Fi; Pets allowed; Free parking; Kids room; Shared kitchen.
Hump Day Hostel.
Quito, Calle Venezuela S128 y Rocafuerte
Free Wi-Fi; Secured Parking; Bar; Children’s playroom; Laundry.
From 459 rubles per night
Guayaquil, Alborada Doceava Etapa Manzana 02, Villa 21 | Calle Juan Sixto Bernal
Free Wi-Fi; Air Conditioning; Breakfast; Family Rooms; Outdoor Pool.
Manso Boutique Guesthouse.
Guayaquil, Malecon 1406 y Aguirre.
Free Wi-Fi; Breakfast; Restaurant; Air conditioning; Airport shuttle.
Hotel Las Penas.
Guayaquil, Escobedo 1215 | entre Velez y Av. 9 de Octubre
Free Wi-Fi; Air conditioning; Breakfast included; Family rooms; Shuttle service.
Sangay National Park.
The journey to the top of Sangay Volcano can take up to 10 days.
The park attracts tourists with its wildlife, where you can see active volcanoes, lakes, and mountain rivers. Visitors are offered horseback riding, climbing the mountain with an experienced guide (suitable for the real extreme). You can also go on a bicycle ride on a specially paved route. Sangay Park is not far from the capital of Ecuador, Quito.
Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception
There are interesting fairs, a flower market, and souvenirs for sale not far from the cathedral.
The Catholic Cathedral is located in the heart of Cuenca. It is notable for its unusual architecture, combining Gothic and Romanesque styles. There are also elements of Renaissance style decorations. The construction of the church began in 1882. Inside you can see beautiful stained glass windows, tall twisted columns, many gilded elements. For the construction, special marble was used, which was brought from Italy.
Monday 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Tuesday to Friday 8:30 am to 4:30 pm
Saturday 10:00am – 5:30pm
Sunday 7:00 am – 1:30 pm
The capital of Ecuador is Quito.
The city has an elongated shape and is 2,850 meters above sea level.
In Quito, life goes on full swing day and night. The capital of Ecuador is the cultural, economic and historical center of the country and attracts tourists from various countries. The city has various museums, architectural attractions, an observatory and more. As darkness falls, tourists should refrain from walking around. This will help avoid being mugged in the street.
Middle of the World Monument
In fact, the Equator line runs 240 meters farther from the monument.
A popular place among tourists visiting Ecuador. The “Middle of the World” is located 26 kilometers from the city of Quito. The 30-meter high monument with a huge 4-meter high ball on top was built in the 19th century. However, a mistake was made during construction. Every tourist can take part in the experiment. For example, walk along the line of the Equator and do not fall, flush the water in the sink without forming a funnel, put an egg on the head of a nail and it will not fall.
The City of Tena
It is also called the “Cinnamon Capital”.
An exotic city that is surrounded by tropical forests. Once the inhabitants found a place to mine cinnamon, and began to sell this spice. Since then, the city has flourished. It also has everything for water sports, rafting and kayaking.
A dormant volcano that last erupted around the first millennium AD.
A favorite place for all extreme climbers. Anyone can climb the volcano, but before you should assess your capabilities. Extreme excursion requires physical preparation. Travel time can take up to 15 hours.
El Cajas National Park
The highest point in the park is Mount Arquitectos. Its altitude is 4450 meters above sea level.
The national park is located 30 minutes from the city of Cuenca. The main attraction are the Andean lakes, of which there are more than 275 pieces. In addition, the park is home to a variety of birds and animals. Ecuador’s most beautiful park covers 28,000 hectares.
The trip down can take about 40 minutes
In the extinct crater of the volcano, which erupted more than 800 years ago, over time an unusual lake was formed, which is popular with all tourists. The water in the lake is unusual, on sunny days it has a bright turquoise color. This is due to the splitting of volcanic minerals. In cloudy weather, the water may even seem black. Any traveler can go down to the lake.
In the Galapagos Islands, animals cannot be touched and it is forbidden to move shells and rocks from one place to another.
The islands were discovered in 1535, but became part of Ecuador in 1832. The archipelago is considered a national park. Tourists come here to see a variety of mammals, unique animals and birds. Perhaps the main calling card of the Galapagos Islands are considered to be the giant turtles, which can not be touched. In general, there is a law in the Galapagos, which does not allow you to touch the animals. Violation of the rules faces immediate deportation and fines.
San Francisco Cathedral
It is strictly forbidden to take photos or videos on the church grounds.
One of the most beautiful architectural sights of the capital of Ecuador. The church was built in the 16th century. The complex attracts visitors to Quito not only by its unusual design but also by the fact that in addition to the church there is a wine cellar, refectory, garden, and surprisingly even a prison.
Opening hours :
Monday – Saturday 9:00 am to 5:30 pm
Sunday 9:00 to 12:00
Basilica del Voto Nacional
The interior of the basilica depicts biblical scenes as well as floral ornaments.
A very unusual Roman Catholic cathedral that is located in the old part of Quito. The building is built in the Gothic style, but it is decorated with figures of turtles, monkeys and other animals found in Ecuador. Visitors can climb the main tower, which offers a beautiful view of the city and surrounding area.
Hours of operation:
Daily 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
One of the best restaurants in Quito where the service and cooking is top notch.
While in Quito you can visit one of the best restaurants. The service is top notch. Here you can taste a variety of dishes of traditional cuisine, which are prepared by true professionals.
Important: The restaurant always has a lot of visitors. It is difficult to find a free table after 8 pm. It is recommended to reserve a place in advance.
Monday – Friday 12:00 – 23:30.
Saturday 6:30 pm – 11:30 pm
Devil’s Nose Railway
Many construction workers died during the construction of the railroad. Dangerous terrain, poisonous snakes and malaria were to blame.
An amazing and dangerous railroad whose construction killed more than 2,000 workers. Previously, tourists were allowed to be on top of the wagons, but now it is strictly forbidden. Despite the dangerous route, tourists are attracted to this place by its unusual and breathtaking scenery.
Train traffic :
Tuesday – Sunday 8:00 – 10:30
Thursday and Friday 6:30am-1:30pm
San Pablo Lake
Tourists can visit the village where the Indians live. They are usually happy to welcome guests and treat them to traditional food.
This is the largest and most beautiful lake of Ecuador in the province of Imbabura. This quiet and tranquil place is perfect for tourists who decided to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city and reconnect with nature. The water in the lake is smooth as it reflects the volcano Imbabura.
There is an opportunity for visitors to go water-skiing and boating. A local restaurant offers guinea pig delicacies.
TermasdePapallacta Thermal Springs
The hotel is located high in the mountains at the thermal springs.
Ecuadorian nature can be not only admired but also treated. In the province of Papallacta is a resort hotel with thermal healing springs. It takes about 1.5 hours to get here from the capital. The hotel has a restaurant with international cuisine, spa services, and free Wi-Fi.
City of Guayaquil
It has a population of about 3 million people.
The port city is located on the Pacific coast. It is the economic, political and cultural center of Ecuador. The population of Guayaquil is ahead of the capital. The city has a lot of attractions. For example, you can walk along the beautiful Malecon Boulevard, which stretches along the coast for 2.5 kilometers.
In addition to photographs, from Ecuador, you can bring exclusive souvenirs.
In the town of Otavalo is located souvenir market, which will be of interest to visitors of Ecuador. Locals sell many handmade souvenirs here. Almost all products are written “Ecuador.
Central City Museum in Quito
The museum exhibits will tell you how the capital of Ecuador appeared and developed at different times.
A historical museum that will tell its visitors about the origins of the city of Quito. There are five rooms in the building where you can see paintings depicting all the events that took place in the capital. In addition, there are other interesting exhibits as well.
Hours of operation:
Tuesday – Sunday 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Capilla del Hombre Museum
An unusual-looking museum that will tell you about the work of the famous Latin American artist.
A kind of museum dedicated to the famous Latin American artist Oswaldo Guayasamin. The structure looks unusual and is divided into two rooms. There is a gallery and home of the artist, where you can see masterpiece paintings and interesting sculptures.
Falls “Veil of the Bride”.
A great place for the extreme sportsman to enjoy the incredible scenery from the ropes course.
The amazing waterfall “Manto de la Novia” (Veil of the Bride) really looks like a famous wedding accessory. They are two beautiful waterfalls that flow from a height of 40 meters. You can get to the top by cable car or suspension bridge.
La Compagnia Church
It took about 7 tons of gold to make the decorative elements for the interior.
The church was built at the beginning of the 17th century, and since then its appearance has changed several times. The last time it was restored was in the early 2000s. The luxurious interior decoration will impress any visitor. The temple is considered one of the richest in all of South America.
Hours of operation:
Monday – Thursday 9:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.
Friday 9:30am to 5:30pm
Saturday 9:30 am to 4:00 pm
Sunday 12:30 to 4:00 p.m.
The presidential palace is currently open to the public.
In the city of Quito on Independence Square is the Palace of Carondelet, which is also a landmark. The building attracts attention with its unusual architecture. It is now the seat of the government residence.
Monday 7:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
Tuesday – Wednesday 8:00 am – 7:00 pm
Thursday 7:00 am – 6:00 pm
Saturday – Sunday 10:00 am – 6:00 pm
El Panecillo Hill
From almost anywhere in Quito you can see this landmark.
The hill is located in the central part of the capital of Ecuador. It is known primarily for a huge 41-meter monument to the Virgin Mary. The statue is in the form of an angel with wings, who crushes a snake with his feet. The place is loved by all tourists who come to the country. In addition, at the very top of the monument is an observation deck that offers an amazing view of Quito.
Cotopaxi is located about 50 kilometers from Quito.
Cotopaxi is an active volcano in Ecuador, the height of which is 6 thousand meters. The area attracts tourists with its stunning landscapes and exotic nature. There is an opportunity for all comers to conquer the top of the mountain with an experienced guide. Also at the foot of the mountain you can make a tent camp, ride horses or mountain bikes.
Archaeological excavations are still taking place here today.
Not far from the city of Cuenca there is an archaeological complex, a monument to the ancient Inca civilization. In ancient times, Ingapirca was a small town, but it suffered a lot during the Spanish conquests. Only in the 20th century began to restore the ancient ruins. Everyone can walk through the territory and feel the atmosphere of the ancient spirit.
Going to Ecuador, you should remember that in fact the seasons do not change. But the climate in different parts of the country may be different. The rainy season lasts from January to April.
Do I need a visa to Ecuador?
For citizens of the Russian Federation a visa-free regime is provided for up to 90 days. If this period is not enough, you can easily extend it with the migration service for six months. But you have to do it a month before your arrival term ends.
Is there a direct flight from Moscow to Ecuador?
There is no direct flight to Ecuador. You must change planes in Amsterdam.
Ecuador attracts with its exotic nature and numerous attractions. Once you’ve been here, you will want to return again and again. Locals are polite and very nice to tourists, but vigilance should not be lost. Many tourists wear backpacks in the front, fearing pocket thieves. Upon arrival in Ecuador, you can use public transport, take a cab or rent a car. You can also use the services of a Russian guide.