Unique Places in Ecuador

  • Macaws
    Macaws
    by grandmaR
  • Hiking Rucu Pichinch
    Hiking Rucu Pichinch
    by MalenaN
  • Hiking Rucu Pichinch
    Hiking Rucu Pichinch
    by MalenaN

Most Viewed Off The Beaten Path in Ecuador

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    Pinchincha Volcano

    by traveldave Updated Oct 30, 2009

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    Pinchincha Volcano is one of the most active volanoes in Ecuador. It last erupted in 2007, accompanied by a 4.1 magnitude earthquake. In 1999, an eruption covered the nearby city of Quito with several inches of ash. Although the volcano has erupted numerous times over the past few decades, its last truly major eruption was in 1660.

    Pinchincha Volcano consists of two peaks: the 15,696-foot (4,784-meter) Guagua Pinchincha, which is active and contains the caldera; and the 15,413-foot (4,698-meter) Rucu Pinchincha, which is dormant. The volcano is located only eight miles (13 kilometers) to the west of the center of Quito, and many of the city's western suburbs are built on the lower slopes of the mountain.

    Pinchincha Volcano also towers over the Yanacocha Reserve, where I spent a morning birdwatching. Members of my group and I were able to observe through binoculars that the summit of the mountain consists of bare rock and ash, and we saw several large avalanches of ash that cascaded down from the cliffs.

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    Papallacta Pass

    by traveldave Updated Oct 27, 2009

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    Papallacta Pass is not a tourist destination in itself, but anyone taking the main highway from Quito to the eastern slope of the Andes Mountains will cross the pass. The highway follows the "Cinnamon Trail" which is the route taken by Spanish conquistador Francisco de Orellana in 1542 as he crossed the Andes Mountains searching for gold and spices.

    The pass is around 14,000 feet (4,267 meters) in elevation, so visitors not accustomed to high altitudes will experience difficulty breathing, and could even suffer the effects of altitude sickness. The weather can also present some problems to the visitor, including clouds and mist, rain or snow, and extremely strong winds.

    Papallacta Pass is popular among birdwatchers who visit the Quito area. The Cayambe Reserve, which protects high páramo grassland and wetland habitats, is one of the best places in the Andes region to find the difficult-to-see chestnut-bellied seedsnipe, as well as other high-altitude species of birds, including ducks, condors, hawks, falcons, cinclodes, canasteros, antpittas, and tapaculos.

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  • Playa Escondida

    by gakyi Updated Jul 19, 2008

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    Playa Escondida is a stunning Swiss Family Robinson style eco-retreat on the northeast coast of Ecuador at Punta Galera.

    though there is a website ( http://www.playaescondida.com.ec/ ), it is not up-to-date, and does not nearly do justice to the unusual beauty of this place and the wonderful structures and environments the owner has created here. the grounds are lush and tropical, overlooking a beautiful, craggy beach with intriguing rock formations, and good swimming at high tide. there is one tropical-style "hotel", and several more cabanas and residences on the ground - - all built in a tropical artisanal rustic style with local hardwoods and objects. there is also an excellent open-air restaurant that serves meals based on local fare, primarily seafood. the lodging prices are extremely affordable - perfect for travellers who have student budgets but refined and adventurous tastes.

    as an eco-sustainable retreat, all the toliets are simple outdoor, composting style. there is also an area for camping for those who want even more adventure...

    the best way to get there is to fly to Esmeraldas airport and hook up with one of the shuttles going to the resorts a few miles up the beach from Punta Galera, and then take a cab. but there are other options as well.

    the best thing to do is to contact the owner, Judith, by e-mail and get her suggestion. it's her creation, this edenic place.

    Related to:
    • Budget Travel
    • Eco-Tourism
    • Beaches

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    Just try and get close to Chimborazo

    by richiecdisc Updated Feb 20, 2008

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    It’s hard to call Chimborazo off the beaten path. After all, it is Ecuador’s highest peak at nearly 21,000 feet and is easy to arrange climbs even on short notice but the average tourist is unlikely to see more than a fleeting glimpse of the great extinct volcano from either the plane or bus if they are lucky. If you really want to get close to the massive peak, please check out the details on my Chimborazo page.

    Urbina: highest point on now defunct Andes Railway
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    • National/State Park
    • Backpacking
    • Hiking and Walking

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  • Farmstays on western side of the Andes in Ecuador

    by GreenGringa Written Sep 1, 2007

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    To get right off the beaten track in Ecuador, you can stay with a local family on their farm in Bolivar Province. This is between the Andes mountains and the coast - lovely scenery and warm weather in the foothills of the mountains, but hardly any tourists go there. It's run by a reforestation charity, so you have to plant a tree for each day you stay there (they help you) - take only photos, leave only footprints - and trees! ;-)

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    Hike to a waterfall outside Salvias

    by StephanB Written Jun 9, 2007

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    I don't even know if this is the correct spelling of Salvias, but it is a small little town outside of Zaruma. If you go to the tourism office in Zaruma, they can tell you about a hike to this waterfall. You take a chiva from Zaruma and pass a few towns until you reach Salvias. Then, and it really is this vague, you ask around for Francisco. He will find a ride to the trail head for you, and take you to the falls. Negotiate for the ride, $5 or more round trip (it's 35 minutes up the mountain) and you can give Francisco whatever you think is appropriate. The hike was really nice, at times we had to hack through some brush to get through, and the waterfall was beautiful.

    My guide Francisco The waterfall The scenery along the way. The church in Salvias
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    Zaruma, small mountain town

    by StephanB Written Jun 9, 2007

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    After a few locals mentioned that Zaruma was one of their favorite places to visit in Ecuador, I knew I had to go. It is a small town in the mountains east of Machala. From Cuenca, take a bus to Machala, but get off at a big round-a-bout and catch another bus to Zaruma. The guys on the bus will help you, but in the bus office they will say that it is impossible and that you have to go all the way to Machala. That would add about 2 hours to the trip.
    The town itself is a beautifull colonial city with great hiking and a great place to catch a little of the "local" feel for Ecuador. I spent a few days there, and other than the 2 peace core guys I met, i was the only tourist in town. Very cool place to hang out. There are number of hotels in town that all look about the same. I don't think you would ever need reservations.
    The town has a nice tourism office where you can get good information about the surrounding small towns and some nice hikes. There is a nice hike to a waterfall in the town of Salvias (40 minute chiva ride from Zaruma).

    Zaruma Zaruma's Plaza
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    Take a bus trip through the Andes

    by HawaiianTed Updated Oct 28, 2006

    One of the more interesting and exciting things you can do in Ecuador is to take a local bus, most of them are very nice, through the Andes into Northern Peru. It's a long and beautiful trip and some of the most spectacular scenery you can imagine. Stop in the little towns and eat great food.

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    language, culture and food

    by bartlese Written Mar 11, 2006

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    If youre interested in learning spanish, ecuador is a great place to do. They speak slowly and clearly. i went to a language school called Simon Bolivar and they provided one on one lessons for me (although group lessons are avaliable as well) they also offered host families, apartments to rent and hostels/hotels near by to stay in. after the class times were over, there was optional lessons such as cooking, cocktail making, history lessons, school parties and city tours. and the class times werent just for sitting around, my teacher and i would often go off and explore the city or grab lunch or go clothes/grocery shopping. its a great way to learn the culture and to get to know the city. I highly recomend this school!

    School party Cocktail night Culture night Fun games between students

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    Always, more animals...

    by thrpy Written Nov 20, 2005

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    We had a tremendous time watching and photographing the animals throughout the islands. I am what I call an "odds photographer", i.e. odds are, if you take enough pictures, some of them will come out the way you want them. A good versitle camera and knowing how to use it will make the trip great.
    Underwater is the same thing, it was fantastic. Always different and always wonderful.

    Related to:
    • Diving and Snorkeling
    • Photography
    • Cruise

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    Dureno

    by mickybleck Written Jul 23, 2005

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    It was an "off the beaten path"-tip in the Lonely Planet 1997 edition so it might be not off the beaten track anymore...
    Dureno is a litte Cofan village in the oriente (lowland-jungle) of Ecuador. Getting there is a little tricky because You have to get off the Lago Agrio -Tarapoa bus at the Dureno turnoff about 20 km from Lago Agrio, walk down the road to the river and hope that someone on the other side hears Your yells and comes over with a dugout canoe to get You there. (I waited more than an hour, felt ridiculous yelling all the time and was just on my way back to the main road when I met the community-priest who took me over).
    Bring Your own food, a hammock and a sheet and You will be given a space to sleep.
    Walk around and watch the lokals, buy some necklaces made of seeds and see lokal home that way or take a guide to show You the jungle. If things have not changed, You will be the only tourist there at the time.

    Local woman preparing dinner
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    Zaruma

    by mickybleck Written Jul 23, 2005

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    If You are on Your way to/from the Peruvian border, the old gold-mining town of Zaruma is a nice place to stop by. It used to be the capital of the province of El Oro and has the typical architecture of gold-mining towns that reminds of the "wild west". Visits to the old mine can be arranged at the town hall.
    There are some little plantations in the area.
    I liked the place most because I stayed at the house of a teacher I met on the bus and got some insight into to the life of the lokals.

    Zarum architecture
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  • Alausi - going back in time

    by Julia007 Written Apr 12, 2005

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    Alausi is a small village about 1 or 2 hours away from Riobamba. The people very nice, humble, the landscape is beautiful, there is a train ride that takes you to "La Nariz Del Diablo" this train takes up up to a mountain peak and comes back in reverse, the senic view is out of this world, you can ride the train on the top of the train. This is a must do, if yu like adventure and nature. If you need more help do not hesitiate to contact me I will help you.
    happy travels,
    Julia :)

    Related to:
    • Hiking and Walking
    • Trains

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    Try to avoid toursit site!!!!

    by inesbonheiden Written Feb 5, 2005

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    Avoid places like :Banos
    Go to Cuenca , Ambato, and we know a smart place (unspoiled) at the Pacific : the isle Muisné.
    We slept there in "our private hotel" at the beach for 3 dollar , drinking a caiperinia for 1 dollar with our feet in the sands!!!!!!

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    • Adventure Travel
    • Backpacking
    • Budget Travel

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    Other sites

    by swinny Written Aug 25, 2004

    Don't forget to visit Otavalo and a bus trip to Banos is worth it as well. Banos is where Ecuadorians go for vacation and it is truly a beautiful place. Take a horse riding trip or rent a mountain bike.

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Ecuador Off The Beaten Path

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