Discover the wonders of South America with a trip to Ecuador. From studying Spanish in Quito to exploring the Amazon rainforest and embarking on day trips to stunning destinations like the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador offers a rich tapestry of experiences. Immerse yourself in vibrant markets, witness breathtaking volcanoes, encounter unique wildlife, and indulge in the flavors of local cuisine. Whether you seek adventure, cultural immersion, or natural marvels, Ecuador has something extraordinary to offer every traveler.
Study Spanish in Ecuador
Many individuals travel to South America, specifically Ecuador, primarily to learn Spanish. The language is spoken clearly, usually with good pronunciation and minimal accent. There is a wide availability of schools throughout the country, and the instructors are required to have received university-level training and education in teaching Spanish to non-native speakers. However, while in Ecuador, there are several must-have experiences that one should not overlook. This article will present five recommended activities to engage in while visiting Ecuador.
Mitad del Mundo
At the exact location where the Earth is divided into the northern and southern hemispheres by the Equator, known as “Mitad del Mundo” in Spanish, lies a prominent attraction. Located just five kilometers north of Quito, the capital of Ecuador, this monument serves as a marker for the Equator. It is highly recommended not to miss visiting this site. The premises include an ethnographic museum, a scale model of Colonial Quito, and a variety of stores, restaurants, and souvenir shops. Additionally, when you step on a scale there, you will notice that your weight is slightly lower due to the increased centrifugal force at the Equator. Take the opportunity to learn about the intriguing anomalies that can be observed at this location. Interestingly, the country’s name, “Ecuador,” is derived from “Equator.” In close proximity, you will also find the Pululahua Volcano, which features a thousand-foot-deep crater and hosts a unique microclimate and operational farms on its floor.
The Amazon rainforest, an awe-inspiring natural wonder, spans the northern and central regions of the South American continent. It extends across multiple countries including Brazil, Peru, Colombia, Ecuador, Venezuela, French Guiana, Suriname, Bolivia, and Guyana. This vast region encompasses 20% of the world’s freshwater reserves and boasts unparalleled biodiversity. With a staggering 40,000 known plant species, many of which have contributed to the development of modern medicines, and a mind-boggling 2,500,000 species of insects, including armies of carnivorous ants, the Amazon rainforest continues to unveil new discoveries each year. Moreover, it is home to over 1,300 bird species, more than 400 documented mammal species, over 400 reptile species (including the ubiquitous crocodile), and a similarly abundant array of amphibian species. And that’s just scratching the surface of the incredible marvels that await visitors to the Amazon. Not to forget, the region also boasts over 3,000 species of fish, including the infamous and feared piranha.
Quito, Capitol of Ecuador
If you choose Quito as your base for exploring the region, you’ll have the opportunity to embark on various day trips. Heading north from Quito, you can visit Otavalo, renowned for its vibrant Indian market, as well as Cotacachi, known for its skilled leather craftsmen. Another noteworthy destination is Ibarra, a charming colonial city often referred to as the “white city” of Ecuador.
To the south of Quito lies Cotopaxi National Park, where you can marvel at the majestic Cotopaxi Volcano. Nearby, you can visit Quilotoa Volcano, famous for its crater filled with a captivating lake. Don’t miss the Saquisili and Pujili Indian markets in the vicinity, where you can immerse yourself in the local culture, sample traditional foods, and purchase unique crafts.
Further south, you’ll encounter Tungurahua Volcano, Ecuador’s most active volcano, which last erupted in December 2012. The town of Baños, situated at the base of the volcano, is a popular destination known for its rejuvenating thermal baths.
Quito itself is a captivating city that offers a plethora of sensory experiences. Explore the historic “Old Town” of Colonial Quito, which houses notable landmarks such as the Presidential Palace and Independence Plaza. Indulge in the diverse flavors of typical Ecuadorian cuisine at the numerous restaurants, and satisfy your shopping desires with a wide array of stores, shops, and commercial centers. Quito is also home to several language schools, offering Spanish study programs ranging from one week to six months.
The Galapagos Islands
The Galapagos Islands, unparalleled in their uniqueness, are an absolute must-visit if you have the time and resources during your trip to Ecuador. This collection of around twelve islands offers an extraordinary opportunity to witness a diverse array of wildlife found exclusively in this specific region of the world. All tours in the Galapagos Islands are carefully regulated, guided, and subject to stringent government controls, ensuring a one-of-a-kind experience that cannot be replicated elsewhere on the planet. Here, you can observe, capture photographs of, and sometimes even interact with remarkable creatures such as Marine Iguanas, Blue-footed Boobies, Giant Tortoises, sea lions, fur seals, and Galapagos Penguins, among others.
Whether you’re visiting Ecuador to study Spanish in Quito or exploring the natural wonders of this scenic country, be sure to include these five activities on your itinerary.