Outdoor enthusiasts will find plenty to get excited about in Ecuador. Climb up (or hike round) one of 10 active volcanoes towering over 5000 metres, including the snow-capped Cotopaxi. Head to Baños, the self-proclaimed adventure capital of the country – walk to waterfalls, try kayaking or rafting in the rivers, bungee jump, paraglide or simple relax in the thermal hot pools. Practice yoru haggling skills in the Otavalo market, snapping up traditional handicrafts and textiles, or take a tour into the Amazon rainforest for spotting toucans, sloths and (if you’re lucky) jaguars.
Carb lovers will be in food heaven with the potato, rice and bean-heavy cuisine of Ecuador. While differences exist between the coast, where seafood reigns supreme, and inland, focusing on meat dishes, snack foods are ubiquitous. Empanadas (deep-fried pastries with meat and potatoes) and llapingachos (potato-and-cheese cakes) are popular everywhere you go. You cannot leave the country without sampling cuy, or guinea pig, considered a delicacy. Fresh jugos, or fruit juices, are staples at most meals; if you’re looking for something stronger, sip aguardiente a strong, sugar-cane spirit translating as ‘fire water’.
First on everyone’s bucket list when travelling to Ecuador, is a visit to the Galapagos Islands. The unique ecosystem of this archipelago of volcanic islands led to Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution; here you can swim with sea lions and get up close to giant tortoises and marine iguanas. Walk the streets and visit the cathedrals of the UNESCO World Heritage cities of Cuenca and Quito; legend says that if the currently incomplete Basílica del Voto Nacional in Quito is finished, the world will end!
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