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Planning for the future: Great activities to do in Ecuador

Ecuador boasts a vast biodiversity within its territory, allowing travelers to enjoy a wide variety of activities in its different regions which vary from serene beaches, snow capped mountains and volcanoes and the wild ecosystem of the Amazon basin. Here are some recommendations for a future visit to Ecuador, we are sure you will enjoy it! Visit a cacao plantation – Guayaquil Ecuador´s cacao is considered one of the finest of the world because of its deep aroma and flavor. At the plantation, you will see how this famous fruit is grown and processed for shipping to all corners of the world, where it then is transformed into delicious chocolate. Visit the Ingapirca ruins – Cuenca Ingapirca is Ecuador’s most important archeological complex. Its structures were built from perfectly carved stones that fit together seamlessly. In the main ruin is the Temple of the Sun, an elliptic structure used for the ceremonies and rituals of the Cañari and Inca cultures. Additionally, among the remaining buildings, you can find a cemetery, a solar observatory, paths, priests´ chambers, and an indigenous plaza.   Visit Gualaceo and Chordeleg – Cuenca During a tour in Gualaceo, it is possible to visit a local family, who will gladly share their life experiences over herbal tea and sweets. From there, you can head to a local guitar workshop and see the secrets behind the creation of these beautiful guitars, which are 100% handmade. Chordeleg is a town famous for its ceramics and gold and silver jewelry and whose name means ‘stream of gold.’ There it is possible to visit a local jewelry workshop to learn about the creative process to continue to the town center and visit local stores that specialize in pottery and jewelry. Gualaceo is known as “The garden of Azuay” due to its beautiful orchids. Once there, you can visit the local market and a workshop specializing in pedal looms used to create the beautiful shawls famous in this region. Visit a community – Saraguros Saraguro is a small county in the Azuay province with beautiful landscapes, many small communities, and a capital town, also named Saraguro. The name Saraguro comes from the indigenous nation which historically populated this area. The Saraguros where one of the very few indigenous nations that preserved their culture and lands throughout the Incan empire and the Spanish conquest, enabling them to maintain most of their way of life and culture. Learn about these communities’ daily life, which is mostly dedicated to agriculture, but is now diversifying their economy with community tourism. Visit Vilcabamba This beautiful valley is known for its mild weather, amazing landscapes, and the longevity of its inhabitants, who usually live beyond their 100th birthday. This area is also referred to as the “Inca’s playground” because of its use as a retreat by the Incan royal family. The landscape of Vilcabamba is dominated by “Mandango” or “the Sleeping Inca,” the mountain that overlooks the valley and supposedly protects it from earthquakes and other natural catastrophes. If you enjoy outdoors and nature, then Vilcabamba is the perfect option for you. Podocarpus National Park – Loja The name Podocarpus refers to the only species of coniferous tree native to Ecuador and located mainly in the area of the National Park. Podocarpus has a vast extension, and the altitude within the park borders ranges from 900 meters to 3600 meters above sea level, giving way to one of the highest diversity of plant and animal life of the world. In the Park, it is possible to hike and observe wildlife and unique plants, which include spectacled bears, spider monkeys, mountain tapirs, jaguars, and hundreds of bird species. The length of the hike and the areas that you will visit can be chosen according to how much you want to walk and what animals and ecosystems interest you the most. After we visit the Park, we will return to Hotel Descanso del Toro to enjoy dinner and a well-earned rest. El Cajas National Park – Cuenca El Cajas National Park is one of the largest wetland reserves in Ecuador and has an extension of 30,000 hectares of forest and moorland, with more than 230 lakes spread across the protected area. Because of the different altitudes and humidity on this irregular terrain, this reserve has many different microclimates and ecosystems, making for an ideal home for a variety of animals, especially birds and amphibians. Go for a short walk in the Park to appreciate the surroundings and its magical ecosystem.   Churute mangroves – Guayaquil This reserve is one of the most important on the Ecuadorian coast, as it has five different ecosystems: mangroves, estuaries, tropical dry forests, humid tropical forests, and interconnected lakes, each with different flora and fauna. On the way to the reserve, you will see rice, sugarcane and cacao plantations, which are typical in this region. There are many routes to choose from in the reserve according to your preferences. Within the reserve, one can find many different species of land and lagoon birds, howler monkeys, squirrels, red and blue crabs, seven different mangrove species, Guayacanes, and Tagua trees, among other flora and fauna.   Carlos Beate is the Commercial Manager at Andando Tours. Andando Tours offers exclusive traveling experiences, specializing in sailing around the Galapagos Islands and overland along the magnificent Avenue of Volcanoes on the Ecuadorian Andes. If you would like to be a guest blogger on A Luxury Travel Blog in order to raise your profile, please contact us.

Carlos Beate

Carlos Beate is the Commercial Manager at Andando Tours. Andando Tours offers exclusive traveling experiences, specializing in sailing around the Galapagos Islands and overland along the magnificent Avenue of Volcanoes on the Ecuadorian Andes. With over 40 years of experience, we blend family traditions with unique expertise and knowledge to create those special once in a lifetime moments. An excellent and sustainable operation is for us the most important aspect of our business; our travel programs are designed to let all travelers enjoy Ecuador´s indescribable natural treasures while adapting each trip to match the needs and wishes of every client.

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  1. I think of the nature, cacao and different species in Ecuador, but I hadn’t ever really associated the country with ruins. I hadn’t even heard of the Ingapirca complex but that’s the kind of place I’d enjoy exploring, ever since I was little and my dad would take me to old Castles I think I got the bug for exploring history like this. It’s impressive that so many living in Vilcabamba live so long. I wonder if they’ve done any research into the residents to see the reasoning for it, like a better diet, more fresh air, less stress maybe. There are lots of beautiful parts of Ecuador, it’s lovely to learn a bit more about it :)

    1. Hi Elizabeth,

      The Ecuadorian Andes is filled with ruins and legends of over 23 indigenous nations that inhabited this land. Since the Inca Empire did not conquer all of what is now Ecuador, we find many regions where the Inca culture and ruins merge with that of the conquered nation, like the case of Ingapirca, the biggest and best preserve archeological site of our country. But we can find more archeological places like Tupile, Rumipamba, La Florida and more.

    2. Before reading this piece I had never heard of either Gualaceo or Chordleg and now I feel that they would be brilliant places to call in on. Visiting a local family really appeals to me. I think you would got a much better feel for the region – how the people live, how they spend those time and what they eat than going on the more usual type of organised tour. Over herbal tea you could get a sense of what was going on in the family’s mind, what they felt about their home and how it was changing, for better or worse.

      It would be brilliant to visit a guitar workshop too. Often nowadays with so much automated mass-production going on we have forgotten the skills of the craftsman and the hours that go into making objects that really are works of art. I don’t play the guitar but that’s the sort of place that would inspire me to buy one and try to learn to play it.

    3. Very thoughtful comment – I had never heard of those places either. I’ve heard of some good stories though of people visiting South America to do just that, living with a local family. Really absorbing the culture is one of my favorite things about traveling around the world.

  2. For a lot of us who are addicted to travel it’s probably only the planning of future travels that’s keeping us sane. I visited Ecuador a long-time ago but probably didn’t make the most of what was on offer. This piece has given everyone a lot of great ideas on what they can do.

    1. Oh how true that is. I’ve been dying to start traveling again. I had a Chinese girlfriend and I know that Ecuador is one of the few places in South America where Chinese citizens can visit without a visa. Would love to have the chance to go there with her sometime in the future. I know it’s pretty rough there now though.

  3. Reading this has been a real eye-opener for me. Ecuador had never been on my radar, to be honest I probably couldn’t even have told you where it was on a map. I’m really amazed at how much there is to do there. It’s a place I’d love to visit once travel gets back to somewhere near normal.

    1. Ha! It’s actually in a really great location in the north of the continent. Plus you can see from a map the location of the Galapagos Islands … I’d actually recommend checking out a map of South America. There are some really great islands down there that most people don’t know about.

  4. I have heard of mangroves forests at many places that I’ve been to throughout the world. I can remember talk of Mangroves in both Abu Dhabi and Mauritius but I’ve never actually got round to visiting.

    The Churute mangroves at Guayaquil sounds to be a particularly exciting Mangroves location with a lot of impressive biodiversity. That would be a great place to see my first mangroves Forest.

    1. Churute reserve is one of the most important ecological reserves on the Ecuadorian coast, as it has five different ecosystems: mangroves, estuaries, tropical dry forests, tropical humid forests, and interconnected lakes, each with
      different flora and fauna.

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