Exploring Ecuador - The Chocolate Country
Ecuador is a country that offers myriads of exciting adventures, picturesque landscapes, and fascinating dining options - something that is surprisingly distinctive from its South American neighbors. Lying adjacent to the equator, Ecuador decorates the western coast of South America. Although the country is quite small in terms of landmass, it compensates for that by its excellent tourism infrastructure, the well-endowed beauty of encompassing verdant jungles, glorious beaches, and of course, the Andes. But above all, Ecuador is famous across the world for its excellent coffee plantations (more about it later). Without further ado, let us take a look some of the highlights of this amazing South American nation. Let’s go.
Perched at an elevation 2,850m, at the foothills of the Andes, the capital city is known for its well-preserved Spanish colonial center. You can find a number of 16th and 17th-century religious sites and ornate palaces, including the ornate Campania de Jesus Church, here in Quito.
Guayaquil is the largest city in Ecuador, with an estimated population of 2.7 million people. The city was found by the Spanish conquistador Francisco de Orellana. It is located on the banks of the Guayas River that leads to the Pacific Ocean and the Galapagos Islands. The Parque Historico Guayaquil features a mesmerizing curation of colonial buildings, native animals, and lush gardens; Las Penas is an old neighborhood where colorful houses stand proudly along the river, stairs that are open into cafés and art galleries eventually leading to Santa Ana Hill.
Mindo provides a variety of outdoor activities ranging such as bird-watching, rafting, mountain biking, hiking, and horse riding. It is one of the most popular tourist destinations; here you can see farmlands, cloud forests, hundreds of streams and three major rivers.
El Quetzal is the ultimate destination for cacao and culinary enthusiasts. If you prefer less strenuous activities, you can enjoy learning the chocolate-making from scratch, starting with the cocoa bean to the finished product, here at El Quetzal De Mindo, a chocolatier.
La Compania, the church of the Society of Jesus, is located in the heart of Quito and is one of the best-known Cathedrals in the country. The church design is a premier example of Baroque architecture in the New World and it is built in the early 1600s.
Salinas is the most popular beach resort city. Because of the high-rise condominiums, it is known as little Miami. It is a beach where turtles lay their eggs so you need to take permission prior to enter here. December and early January are the best months to enjoy Salinas
You will enjoy the Quilotoa Loop, if you love trekking through the remote area, hiking can take four days, and a trail takes you through several of Ecuador’s remote Andean villages. If you take a bus in between points, hiking can be done in less time.
Riobamba, near to Mount Chimborazo (it’s the highest peak in Ecuador, standing at an amazing height of 6,268 meters or 20,564 feet.) In order to watch the sunrise, avid hikers and nature enthusiasts begin the trek even as early as at 1 a.m. nevertheless, the place also boasts a spectacular train ride to the nearby Nariz del Diablo (Devil’s Nose) tunnel, which passes through both mountains and cloud forests.
Banos is one of the most popular places to visit in Ecuador. It lies at the foot of the Tungurahua, which is an active volcano. Moreover, Banos receives its name from the hot springs of the volcano. It is a favorite departure point for jungle tours and is popularly referred to as the “Gateway to the Amazon”. The most impressive sight here are the waterfalls that cascade thousands of feet down forming deep river gorges.
Other Places of Interest
Ecuador is every nature lover’s dream place, because of its rich biodiversity and pristine natural beauty. There are a number of prominent wildlife reserves and national parks here, including the Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve, and the Yasuni National Park. to explore these parks and Ecuador as a whole, you will need to befriend the indigenous communities of Ecuador and meet a local shaman. You may be surprised to know. But each year, Ecuador’s biodiversity attracts visitors and several eminent personalities have visited the country including Charles Darwin.
You can find both modern-day amenities at the small native villages. These villages not only feature colorful markets but also lead to popular tourist attractions such as Cotopaxi, Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve, Nariz del Diablo, Tena, Catedral Nueva, Montanita, Cuenca, and Otavalo Market. You will also get very inexpensive hotel accommodations, great food, and friendly people. So make sure to buy your last minute flights to Ecuador.