10 days in Ecuador: an experience to remember

Colonial architecture Cuenca

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Sometimes 10 days seems like a lot and sometimes not enough. It is curious because they are still 10 days, but of course it is not the same to be 10 days working than to be 10 days in Ecuador. In the latter case we want time to stop, but it doesn’t happen. We cannot stop time from passing, but we can make it pass in the best possible way.

There are many things to see in Ecuador, you could spend a month, two or three and keep discovering magic places. The itinerary we bring you today is adapted to the adventurous spirit that characterizes us. If you prefer to combine nature landscapes with Ecuadorian cities, we recommend Guayaquil, Montañitas and Otavalo, which you can visit in one day each.

We start by warning you that in 10 days we have not included in the tour the Galapagos Islands, we do not do miracles! It is such an impressive destination that to see the Galapagos Islands in full you would need between 5 to 7 days. If you love the idea of seeing iguanas, tortoises, seals and penguins as much as we do, then try to take out a few more days, you won’t regret it!

Day 1: Quito

How could it be otherwise, our 10 days in Ecuador proposal begins in the capital of Ecuador. Quito is the largest and most populous city in the country – there’s plenty to do! For the day visit its historic center, declared a World Heritage Site by Unesco. It is incredibly beautiful! No visit to the historic center is complete without a stop at Quito’s cathedral and its impressive viewpoint. You deserve to rest and Plaza Grande also called Plaza de la Independencia is the best option.

Quito cathedral towers in Ecuador

At lunchtime you can try an agachadito in the Floresta neighborhood, but don’t order it in a restaurant! It’s street food that you eat ‘agachadito’ (squatting). You can also climb the hill El Panecillo where the statue of the Virgin of Quito is located and from where you can enjoy a panoramic view of the city and a good bake. Bravo for the gastronomy of Ecuador!

If your legs no longer respond you can opt for a plan in the Quito cable car. The trip lasts 20 minutes each with a different landscape. The final destination is Cruz de Loma, next to the top of the Pichincha volcano of more than 4.700 meters high. The first of the 10 days in Ecuador is complete!

Panoramic view of Quito with the Pichincha volcano

Day 2: Baños de Agua Santa

Without further ado, we confess that this is a paradise destination with warm temperatures all year round. High, lush green mountains give access to the Amazon Region of Ecuador. Long live nature! But there can be no Baños without water, and for the moment we have not mentioned it. Well, there is water and in abundance, in the form of rivers, waterfalls, and other forms you can imagine.

Rafting on the Pastaza River, kayaking for experts in complicated waters, canyoning, bungee jumping, bicycle routes, or zip-lining. It will be for options! And although all this sounds very interesting, the first thing you should do is visit the Pailon del Diablo waterfall and take a picture on the ‘Swing at the End of the World’.

Pailon del Diablo photographed from above

Days 3 and 4: Riobamba

Chimborazo

It is the capital of the province of Chimborazo and is known as ‘The Sultan of the Andes’. The center of Riobamba has colonial architecture that runs through a labyrinth of churches and cobblestone streets. What will make you fall in love with this charming city is its indigenous population, no doubt about it.

If you have come this far, you have the clear idea of climbing Chimborazo in a 2-day expedition. It is 6.263 meters above sea level and you can’t climb it as if it were a steep slope. The Chimborazo volcano for years was considered the highest mountain in the world, but today it is known to be Everest. It is the point farthest from the center of the Earth and closest to the sun, and nobody takes that away from it.

Chimborazo volcano seen from far away

Cotopaxi

From Riobamba you also have the option of climbing Cotopaxi and discovering the snow-capped volcano. This impressive volcano, located in the heart of Cotopaxi National Park in Latacunga, is the second highest in Ecuador, second only to the majestic Chimborazo. Near the Cotopaxi volcano you can also visit the Quilotoa Lagoon. Either option is a guarantee of 2 days in Ecuador to remember.

Days 5 and 6: Cajas National Park

Located in southern Ecuador and 33 kilometers from Cuenca, is the Cajas National Park. It is the part of the Andean mountain range older and with less volcanic activity, so its peaks are less elevated than in the northern part of the country.

This natural reserve, formed by extensive plateaus of great beauty, accumulates water in large quantities. More than 160 large lagoons and 600 smaller ones have been counted. Incredible! No wonder that, with so much virgin paradise, El Cajas is home to animal species such as condors, hawks, tapirs, llamas and the extraordinary spectacled bear, among others.

Lagoon in Cajas National Park

Before or after spending 2 great days in Cajas National Park, don’t say goodbye to Cuenca without visiting it. It is the most beautiful city in Ecuador for its cobblestone streets, ancient cathedrals and colonial parks. And how could it be otherwise, was named by UNESCO as a Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

Days 7, 8, 9 and 10

Yasuni National Park

Yasuni National Park is a park of jungle origin, and extends over an area of approximately 10.000 square kilometers between the provinces of Napo and Orellana. It is the largest protected area in continental Ecuador and was declared a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO.

Studies show a diversity of 173 species of mammals, 567 species of birds, 83 species of reptiles, 97 species of amphibians and 249 species of fish. Don’t you think it’s a spectacle? You can start looking now!

For an unforgettable experience in which enjoy the luxury of the jungle for 4 days in Ecuador, we recommend you to stay in a Napo Wildlife Center lodge, one of the best eco-hotels in the world created by the Kichwa Añangu Community in the heart of Yasuni National Park. You deserve this exclusive experience in this unique environment.

Napo Wildlife Center Yasuni National Park

Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve

We offer you an option B, it is called Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve and it is one of the most impressive areas of the Ecuadorian Amazon. If you decide not to miss this natural spectacle, you will enjoy its varied and unique wildlife. Here are some tips that we are sure you’ll thank us for:

  • Light colors attract bugs, better dress dark and avoid them.
  • The climate is hot and humid and synthetic materials are not breathable and are not recommended, better cotton clothing.
  • There are swampy areas, bugs and branches. Sandals are cool, but for another occasion it’s almost better. The same goes for the rest of the body, the less visible, the more security.
  • It is more comfortable to travel with little luggage and therefore it is preferable to carry some quick-drying clothes.

And this is the end of our proposal for 10 days in Ecuador. From Lago Agrio, where the Cuyabeno Reserve is located, you can take a plane to Lima, Cali or Bogota and continue your tour of South America. We’d take the farthest destination so you can sleep on the plane and try to take in all the magical sights seen in the last week. Are you convinced?

Paula

Journalist, nomad and adventurer. Paula would never say no to a camping trip and is an expert in setting up a tent in less than 10 seconds.

Besides that, she loves to dance and maybe that's why she loves Latin America so much. One of her best trips was to Argentina, but she has many more destinations behind her, which she talks about in this blog.

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