Ecuador is a treasure trove for backpackers – small, volcanic and rich in adventures. The country is also one of the cheapest to visit in South America. You can find secret beaches, tropical forests, volcanoes, colonial cities, and even visit the famous Galapagos Islands.
Quito is the Ecuadorian capital and sits high in the Andean mountains. It’s 2,800 metres above sea level and is enormously popular with adventure backpackers.
You don’t need much money to visit Ecuador and here’s a list of things to do while exploring this beautiful little country.
Stay overnight in Quito
Ecuador’s capital is an extraordinary experience for backpackers. Surrounded by bubbling volcanoes, you’ll get a true flavour of Ecuadorian life here. Make sure to climb up Rucu Pichincha to enjoy the best views of the city and drink lots of coca tea.
This natural substance helps fend off headaches some may experience in high altitudes. Coca leaves – sold in local neighbourhood stalls – are a cheap quick fix too.
Visit Cotopaxi National Park
At Cotoxpaxi, you can experience the country’s highest active volcano that soars over the surrounding valleys and lagoons. The views at the Cotopaxi’s summit are breathtaking and it takes about two days to hike. The Incas called it the ‘Neck of the Moon’, and it’s the most volatile volcano in South America. But it hasn’t exploded since 1877 so chances are you’ll be safe.
Eat roasted guinea pig…
After a long day hiking at high altitude, you’ll probably want to try a local Ecuadorian delicacy. Roasted guinea pig or ‘cuy’ is not going to be for everyone, especially if you had one as a pet back home! But if you like to go local on holiday, then the furry animals are flattened and roasted whole, over an open fire with corn and potatoes.
Visit Baños – the gateway to the Amazon
The Amazonian city of Baños is dominated by the legendary Tungurahua volcano. It’s a remarkable place blessed with thermal waters, which alongside its tropical forests, has made it a popular spa town for travellers. More than 60 waterfalls cascade from the slopes of the volcano into the surrounding forests. Adventure travellers can enjoy a variety of activities, including bungee jumping, rafting, canyoning, and much more.
Go whale watching in Puerto Lopez
Situated off the Ecuadorian cost, Puerto Lopez is the best place in the country to spot humpback whales. Go on a boat tour and make sure to have your camera ready! The whale season in Puerto Lopez runs from June to September.
Sleep cheap in budget hostels
Most Ecuadorian hostels charge about €8 – €10 per person for a dorm or private room, making it one of the cheapest place to stay in South America. Book your hostel today and explore the natural wonders of Ecuador on a backpacker’s budget.
*Header image by Kevin Labianco (Flickr/Creative Commons)