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Ecuador Travel Safety

‘Small is beautiful’. It’s a well-worn cliché, but one that could have been written for Ecuador, which is fast becoming an utterly unmissable stop on any South American tour. It’s the diversity of this undersized haven that draws the crowds: there are mountains and jungles, modern cities and almost-untouched villages, glacier-covered volcanoes and an island that changed the course of natural history forever. Best of all, with everything so close together (the Galapagos aside, at least), you probably won't have to pick between them.

Colonial old-town Quito nestles between soaring volcanic peaks, and has the street-side feel a city that knows what it's about, and is proud of its progress. Recent renovations mean this world heritage site sparkles, both people and places bright with upbeat colors. Striking Cuenca hosts whitewashed houses galore, spread around impressive open plazas that host fashionable restaurants. It’s all very mellow, with a taste of the past dangling in the air.

For a frantic adventure, white water rafting in Tena – down a choice of two hefty rivers and countless rapids – takes you into the heart of the Amazon Basin, and can be combined with an exploration of the local indigenous communities. The Quilotoa Loop is an Andean odyssey, taking in mountain passes and stupendous views, while the Parque Nacional Machalilla is the place to go and spy whales flopping across the water. At the top of the imposing Volcan Chimborazo you’ll be as close to the sun as anyone on earth.

Ecuador’s most famous site, of course, lies off the coast. The Galapagos Islands outstanding abundance of wildlife prompted Darwin to change human thought forever, and the islands still draw endless queues of tourists photographing lizards lounging in the sun, or posing with colossal lumbering turtles. Cruises from the mainland are a common (yet pricey) option; be aware of the environmental problems increasing numbers of visitors bring.

It’s difficult to choose between the ample attractions Ecuador offers up, so much so that plenty of South American travelers turn up here and never get around to leaving. If you’re on a time threshold though, you’ll find the proximity of varied sites in this thrilling and compact nation a major draw.

Often sitting under an almost unrealistically blue sky, flanked by soaring volcanoes and home to a heady mix of developing-world modernism and lively history, Quito is part UNESCO World Herit…

297travelers 130reviews 149blogs

Guayaquil and the South Coast Many visitors to Ecuador are surprised to learn that the seaport of Guayaquil is the country's largest city. But size is not only surprise in this commercial …

97travelers 38reviews 29blogs

Baños Situated in a valley of waterfalls and hotsprings, Baños has become a mecca for international travelers seeking year-round temperate weather, a small town atmosphere, and a base fo…

9travelers 33reviews 48blogs

Cuenca Cuenca; the capital of Azuay Province. Most Ecuadorians consider Cuenca to be their country's most beautiful city and it's hard to find anyone who would argue. Cuenca means river b…

43travelers 14reviews 37blogs

One of the most remote destinations on the planet, and famous for being the primary inspiration for Charles Darwin’s Theory of Natural Selection, the Galapagos Islands are a small archipela…

994travelers 16reviews 59blogs

Otavalo Otavalo is a largely indigenous town in Imbabura Province, Ecuador, well known for its huge Saturday market. This market days is touted to be the largest inb South America. The tow…

8travelers 13reviews 26blogs

Montañita is a small village on Ecuador's Pacific coast. It is known as one of the best surfing locales in the country. The village is located about 180 kilometers northwest of Guayaquil.…

19travelers 19reviews 9blogs

Mindo Situated northwest of Quito, Mindo is a hidden paradise 1, 300 m (4, 300 ft.) above sea level. Over the past few years, it has become a favorite place for birdwatching and the observin…

3travelers 11reviews 9blogs

Puerto Ayora is the largest town on the Galapagos Islands and hub for most tourists since it has most of the required facilities (hotels, internet cafes, etc). Saying that, it's still pretty…

2travelers 5reviews 26blogs

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5travelers 2reviews 18blogs

Puerto Lopez is a small fisher-town in the south of Manabi-Province and it is very near to the Machalilla National Park, which might be its main attraction. Puerto Lopez is the perfect pla…

1travelers 18reviews 9blogs

Canoa is a small beach / surf town. It's not as big and crowded as Montanita, so it's more laid back. But Canoa is not just about surfing, you can also go horse riding, trekking in the nea…

5travelers 15reviews 4blogs

Great little town and transportation center in Ecuador Amazon region. It is the perfect spot to explore national parks and native territories in surrounding area.

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