5 adventures awaiting you as the Ecuadorian mainland re-opens
5 adventures awaiting you as the Ecuadorian mainland re-opens
Ecuador and its legendary Galapagos Islands have been gradually – but cautiously – opening their doors to international travelers since this summer, when the first international flights started arriving in the country with passengers. Cautiously applied protocols ensure that anyone who wishes to travel to Ecuador to do so in a fairly safe environment, as the country’s most popular attractions are reserved for small groups and individual travelers who seek direct contact with nature.
For adventurous travelers, the Ecuadorian mainland is more than the mandatory departure point of the country’s famous Galapagos Islands. On mainland Ecuador itself, you can experience a wonderland of must-see adventure activities and wildlife safaris, only five of which we highlight here:
1. Jungle Safari in the Ecuadorian Amazon
When you plan to visit the mighty Amazon – the world’s largest tropical jungle on the planet – what usually comes to mind is Brazil or Peru as the places to experience this rainforest region. However, Ecuador enjoys a vast expanse of this magnificent jungle itself (in fact, six of the country’s provinces are in the Amazon), and there are many different reserves and national parks in the country offering something different. Everytime.
In the Yasuni National Reserve in Ecuador, for example, you can find a greater variety of living organisms in just two acres of rainforest than in all of Europe! Then there is the Cuyabeno Reserve, a lesser-known corner of the Amazon whose rainy season lasts about two-thirds of the year, meaning its rivers, lakes and lagoons become abundant and attract fascinating species. like pink river dolphins, manatees, herons, caimans and more. So expect plenty of canoe safaris.
2. Mountain biking: Antisana, Mindo and Pichincha
The rolling landscapes that surround Quito are the perfect playground for true mountain biking adventures in Ecuador. Making it even more appealing is the fact that you can spend a half or a full day descending a volcano and then returning to your luxury hotel in Quito! The journey usually starts at a high altitude and can range from one of these downhill slopes to more difficult climbs. On the Antisana Volcano Bike Trail, the terrain is a combination of the two, plus an easy hike through the Andean highlands and Lake La Mica.
On the other hand, a bike tour from Pichincha Volcano from Quito to the Mindo Cloud Forest will take you through scenic highland towns like Nono, as well as the Cloud Forest of Bellavista, before setting off on reach Mindo himself. Not only will you come across herds of grazing sheep and maybe even llamas, but you will enter the world of the cloud forest populated by brightly colored birds such as hummingbirds, parrots, toucans and caciques.
3. Horseback ride through the pristine highlands
Cotopaxi and Antisana National Parks are amazing areas of natural beauty that add to the portfolio of adventures on the Ecuadorian mainland. Such awe-inspiring splendor of these and other Ecuadorian parks makes them total delights to explore on horseback; and rather than undertaking this in the western style, the practice here is to don traditional ponchos and leggings, just like the original Andean chagras (Ecuadorian cowhands). This makes the experience all the more fun, authentic and exciting! The scenery of the pristine highlands is simply stunning, as your mountain horse wanders, trots, or gallops through these national parks, accompanied by the dramatic backdrop of ice cones and rocky buttresses.
This is not all, however; Antisana and Cotopaxi are also great for hiking and mountain biking, surrounded by jagged peaks, narrow canyons and glacial lakes. Plus, you can also enjoy a wildlife viewing spot with resident birds floating around, including the endangered Black-faced Ibis, Brow-speckled Teal, and Andean Lapwing.
4. Hike and zip line in the cloud forest of Mindo
Simply stunning, Mindo Cloud Forest is just an hour and a half drive from Quito, making it all too easy to swap bustling city life for breathtaking natural treasures – and Mindo has such a wealth. shovel. The reserve is home to bewildering biodiversity, so gentle hikes through the cloud forest can spot all manner of brightly colored birds – in particular, a multitude of hummingbird species. Plus, you can take the Cascada Nambillo Trail if exploring Mindo Waterfalls is on your must-see list!
If you’re looking for even more adventure on the Ecuadorian mainland, Mindo is ideal, with opportunities for biking, whitewater rafting, and ziplining above the forest canopy – another breathtaking experience.
5. Trekking on Quilotoa crater lake
The effervescent Quilotoa crater lake is an astonishing sight to behold, sparkling like a jewel in the middle of the western Andes. Hiking here is a privilege, with snow-capped volcanoes towering over the sky as you hike for about two hours before stopping at the expansive shores of the lake – the perfect place to reward yourself with a delicious picnic.
This hike in particular is a great way to break up the trip as you travel from Cotopaxi National Park south to Riobamba and shows how Ecuador is full of immense natural landscapes. Do not forget your camera!
In short, vacations with wildlife and nature in Ecuador are some of the best in South America – if not the world. With its fascinating mix of lowland jungle, highland forests, and pristine coastline, all condensed into one small but amazing country, a trip to mainland Ecuador should not be overlooked, bringing with it the chance to come close. an astonishing array of exotics. breathtaking creatures, landscapes and exhilarating adventure activities you won’t soon forget.
Alfonso Tandazo is President and CEO of Surtrek Tour Operator. Surtrek Tour Operator is a well established company specializing in bespoke luxury tours in Ecuador, the Galapagos and the rest of South America.
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