Even though Ecuador is relatively small, it is a South American nation that has been able to compensate for that with its thick rainforests, old buildings, breathtaking sceneries, and a lot more. It shares borders with Peru, Colombia, and the Pacific Ocean. Ecuador might not be bigger than most states in the United States, the country is a magnet for trekkers, voyagers, nature lovers, climbers, and all kinds of adventurers. They are attracted by the unspoiled tropical beaches, endless wildlife, and the well-known Galapagos Islands.
Ecuador was once a part of the Inca and Spanish Empires and that explains why remnants of these empires are still very visible, especially in the cultures of the people and the magnificent colonial buildings dominating Quito, the capital city. This is so impressive that it has been announced as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Here are some of the most outstanding attractions in this amazing nation:
- The Galapagos Islands
Ever since they became prominent in the 1700s, the Galapagos Islands have grabbed the attention of countless visitors from various parts of the world. The name is derived from the massive tortoises found on the islands and the islands are also a UNESCO World Heritage Site and it is known for its very outstanding ecosystem that has evolved in isolation.
The Galapagos Islands is one of the most volcanically active areas on the planet and that means islands are still growing. Much of the 13 big islands, six tinier ones and around 42 islets collectively make up the Galapagos Islands and form part of the Galapagos National Park.
This is a capital city like no other. Perched high up in the Andes, it is home to countless colonial structures, and it is known as the most massive center on the continent. It is immortalized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and this is because of its countless ancient churches, first-class museums, and vast public squares. The city has 1.6 million residents, and it is a beloved hub for artisans and those interested in local crafts and arts work.
Quito has a lot of attractions but the most visited will be the San Francisco Church located on the San Francisco Plaza. This is a historic center that was built in the 16th century and tourists cannot get enough of its majestic architecture.
There are other wonderful sites like the La Compania de Jesus Church which was built in the 1800s and it is also so outstanding that it has been listed as one of the most striking structures on earth. Whenever you are in Quito, also find time to explore the Plaza Grande.
The resplendent city of Cuenca which is home to about 300,000 people is perched in southern Ecuador and is an unforgettable place for anyone interested in trekking. It is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the city is teeming with amazing colonial influences and buildings that are as old as four centuries with a blend of Indian and Spanish features.
- Cajas and Cotopaxi National Parks
Cajas and Cotopaxi are two of the best-known national parks in Ecuador and can be reached easily from Quito and Cuenca and are lovely for day trips. Of course, the Cotopaxi National Park is about 50km to the south of Quito and is known mainly because of its huge and active Cotopaxi volcano which dominates the entire area. There are also some other smaller volcanoes in the area like the Sincholagua and Ruminawi volcanos.
Then there is the Cajas National Park located in the breathtaking highlands of Ecuador. This Park offers an incredibly unique experience, and this is possible because of its various valleys and hills. These physical features make it the ideal place for hiking and biking. The countless glacier-fed lakes and lagoons also mean it is a hub for canoeists and kayakers.