Ecuador offers a wide range of beautiful landscapes which are famous for excellent trekking and mountain climbing. The wild mountain scenery with the majestic and partly still active volcanoes, little Indian villages and the typical paramo vegetation is just spectacular and should not be missed.
Baños, further south, is a good base for short walks and ambitious climbs, and has the added attraction of thermal springs. Area Nacional de Recreación Las Cajas, near Cuenca, is rugged hiking country in bleak terrain scattered with beautiful lakes. The 6310-metre Chimborazo is Ecuador’s highest peak and is for experienced climbers only. The area around the mountain, however, is suitable for less strenuous treks.
On the Chimborazo-¬Carihuairazo circuit you will have magnificent views of gigantic volcanoes and get a taste of traditional lifestyle of the Andean highlands. You will see Indians dressed in colorful ponchos doing field work, you can contemplate the paramo vegetation and see herds of llamas. The three Mojanda lakes of glacial origin are surrounded by paramos and Andean scenery.
On the Antizana trip you will get into contact with several lakes, hot water springs to get a relaxing soak, mysterious cloud forest and old haciendas. LLanganatis attracts several treasure- seekers who are looking for the famous Inca treasure that is supposed to be hidden there. But the paramo countryside is also well worth seeing.
The central valley is part of the Royal Inca Road that connects Quito to Santiago de Chile on a length of 2023 miles. The valley is known for its beautiful scenery and picturesque agricultural villages where time seems to pass by a little slower. One of the regions touristy highlights is the Inca ruin of Ingapirca, the most important archaeological site of Ecuador.
Horseback riding, what better way to get a taste of Ecuador than from the saddle of a horse? From the beginner to the experienced rider you will find a tour that suits your taste. Explore the rugged mountains far off the beaten track, pass through tropical vegetations or enjoy a picture-like sunset riding at the beach. Introduced by the Spanish Conquistadores horses are still a principal means of transport for a large part of the rural population.
The Galapagos Islands are famous for scuba diving and an abundant underwater life. In the clear waters you can spot schools of hammerhead sharks, colorful fish and huge turtles. You can even swim with the playful sea lions – an unforgettable experience. The currents can be strong so you should be quite an experienced diver. Even on the mainland you will find diving schools. Snorkeling in the archipelago you will also see lots of the inhabitants of the sea and will be fascinated by all those beautiful sights. It is advisable to bring your own snorkeling gear.
Ecuador is not only famous for its volcanoes and the fascinating Galapagos Islands. A visit to the jungle should also be on your list. The Amazon region is known for its still intact and dense rainforest with awesome vegetation and beautiful, very colorful animals of which some are endemic. You can see herds of parrots, toucans, monkeys, alligators, tapirs, river dolphins and also with a bit of luck the shy jaguar can be seen.
The Cuyabeno National park with its system of rivers and lagoons is a haven for animal-lovers and the rainforest around Coca offers a breathtaking flora and fauna. Learn about the use of medicinal plants of get to know the tribes that have only come into contact with civilization a short time ago.
With easy access and just a few hours away from the capital you can visit Puyo, Tena and Misahualli. The vegetation is less dense there because of deforesting for agricultural use but still attractive. Birdwatchers will be impressed by the innumerous species of birds that can be seen in the jungle: hoatzins, kites, hawks, hawk¬eagles, antbirds, manakins, toucans, curassows, parrots and macaws. Notable species what can be seen are Lycaste ciliata, Maxilaria camaridii, Maxilaria chacoensis, Rodrigueria lanceolata, Scaphyglotis amythystina, Pleurothallis species.
Fishing is abundant in almost all of the rivers and lagoons, especially when it is not raining too much. The best rivers are the Napo, Aguarico, Tiputini, Jivino and Tivacuno. The best lakes are Limoncoha, Yuturi, Lagarto and Zancudococha. Most notable species are catfish, piranhas, raspabalsas, bocachico, paco, electric eels and many more.
Bird-watchers In the coast the major diverse areas are Santo Domingo, Rio Palenque, Atacames, Muisne, Guayaquil Gulf, Cerro Blanco, Salinas, Punta Carnero, Machala and Arenillas. The region’s important species are the pale¬mandibled aragari, grey¬backed hawk, Guayaquil woodpecker, blue tailed trogon, Esmeraldas antbird, white¬tailed jay, pale brown tinamou. Peruvian tick¬knee, red¬masked and grey cheeked parakeets and gulls.
The most accessible sites in the Sierra are El Angel Paramo, El Placer, San Lorenzo (railroad), Quito, Nono, Mindo, Chiriboga, Papallacta, Baeza and San Rafael. The following species are notable: condor, carunculate caracara, Andean lapwing, Andean gull, black¬faced ibis, Ecuadorian hill star, canasteros and thistletails. And of course you should take a jungle tour, and visit Area Nacional de Recreación Las Cajas, Parque Nacional Cotopaxi or the Galápagos Islands.
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