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This article was written on 16 Aug 2017.

Five places you should not miss in Ecuador

Ecuador is a wildly diverse country, and thanks to its compact size, a lot can be seen and experienced in a very short period.

Adventurers will enjoy opportunities to mountain bike and climb snow-capped volcanoes, while those seeking a more relaxing experience can cruise around the Galapagos Islands, or go shopping in Otavalo Market, South America’s largest.

As you’ll see below, there’s no shortage of amazing things to do in Ecuador.

  1. Cruise the Galapagos Islands


Tour the historic islands where Charles Darwin developed his theories of evolution.

Go swimming with sea lions, discover the mating habits of Blue Footed Boobies, and learn the geology behind how this volcanic island chain was formed.

If you’ve got time to spare, you can book a last minute cruise to the Galapagos once you reach Quito or Guayaquil, and save hundreds of dollars in the process.

  1. Straddle the Equator in Quito


Visiting the Equator, known in Ecuador as the Mitad del Mundo (Middle of the World), is as easy as a few bus rides, or a faster but costlier taxi ride, from the backpacker neighborhood of La Mariscal.

Be sure to visit both the real Equator, which is marked with a series of interesting experiments, as well as the larger monument built in the wrong place about 100 meters away.

  1. Downhill Mountain Biking on Cotopaxi Volcano


If you’re not ready to climb 5,897-meter Cotopaxi, Ecuador’s 2nd tallest volcano, and one of the world’s tallest active ones, go downhill mountain biking down it instead!

Mountain Biking Cotopaxi Volcano is an adventure activity fit for most people, regardless of age. And it’s an easy day trip from Quito.

You’ll drive up to the parking lot at an elevation of 4,500 meters above sea level and jump on mountain bikes for a fun and fast ride back down to 3,300 meters.

  1. Shop at Otavalo Market


Otavalo Market, located about a 3-hour bus ride north of Quito, is South America’s largest marketplace.

It’s the perfect place to practice your haggling skills while picking up a few authentic souvenirs for your family and friends at home.

The best day to go is Saturday when the market swells to its largest with vendors from the surrounding region.

  1. Explore the Amazon Jungle


Ecuador is perhaps the cheapest place in South America to visit the Amazon.

Get up close and personal with the exotic wildlife only found in the rainforest, and learn about the indigenous people who call the region home.

3-day trips departing from Quito start around just $100.