Ecuador is a small country in South America, while some other countries in the continent get more attention, Ecuador is underrated, although Ecuador is small, it is a destination that has it all! This Incredible country has a vast cultural heritage, fine food, and tons of incredible places to explore like the Amazon jungle, the Andean highlands, and the Galapagos Islands.
In this blog, we have asked our sales experts to tells us about some of the hidden gems and experiences in the country.
If you like the beach and eating the greatest food, there is no better place than Manabí – Ecuador, while there you can visit two of my favorite places in the world:
El Arco del Amor near Jama, legend says that the tribe leaders used to get married there around 6 pm so the sun would bless the union, from there if you pass with your loved one under the arc you will have a wonderful bond and have the happy ever after we all want. Sunsets there are way amazing, like nowhere else.
Los Frailes in Puerto Lopez, it’s a natural reserve around a couple of hours away from Manta, clean water and sand will allow you to enjoy a book or just getting a nice tan, closes at 4 make sure you get there early in the morning!
If there is anything that I love above all other things in Ecuador, it has to be its cuisine. Ecuador has so much variety in traditional dishes, which is all thanks to the different regions we have in Ecuador.
Now, if things couldn’t get better – in recent years I have been able to find and try most of Ecuador´s traditional dishes prepared in a vegan-friendly manner – this has been quite a refreshing experience. I have tried amazing dishes like ” fritada ” which is composed of fried plantain, cooked corn, potatoes and on top of that piece of seitan to substitute the deep-fried pork.
There are now so many options available in the main touristic points of Quito where you can find dishes like; “mote con chicharron ” which is cooked corn mixed with deep-fried wheat meat, “bolon de verde ” which is composed of green plantain with a vegan cheese filling, “encebollado” which is the most popular soup in Ecuador – it is made with a concentrated onion broth with yuca and pieces of boiled mushrooms to substitute the fish. One of my favorite experiences trying vegan traditional dishes was trying a local liquor from the province of Manabi which is very sweet, it is typically made with battered eggs but for a vegan experience, it is prepared with chickpeas milk. I would just like to say that I am very happy that such great local cooks have now adapted their traditional dishes for every diet imaginable.
My favorite place in Ecuador is deep in the south, in the province of Loja, close to the border with Peru. This area of the Andes has green mountains and colorful valleys that are very fertile and productive due to the great climate and different altitudes.
Approximately one hour from the city of Loja there is a magical town, Vilcabamba, with cute colonial architecture houses, a town square, and church. This is one of those towns that seems in the middle of nowhere, but at the same time has so much to do and see. Here people live a very simple life and I especially love the peaceful environment which is very relaxing.
Vilcabamba has a famous reputation for the elderly inhabitants who commonly live into their 100s. There are many theories for this, one of that is that it can be because of the combination of a healthy diet, aerobic exercise that people practice in daily life, natural mineral waters, and contamination-free environment, and lots of locally produced fruits and vegetables. For this reason, the town has become a popular place to retire, especially for foreigners.
During my visit to Vilcabamba, I enjoyed some great activities, like horseback riding, trekking in Podocarpus National park and around the mountains that surround the town. My favorite experience was the trek to Cerro El Mandango, which was a medium-difficulty trek, with some precarious footings at times, but once we made it up onto the ridge the views were amazing! El Mandango composes two giant mountains, that look like two huge cabins for giant people, but when we continued trekking to the other side, the hills suddenly appeared a magnificent view of the mountains that looks like many gorilla heads sleeping. It felt like walking into a land of giants! I also really liked that so few tourists do this trek, so it felt like a very personal experience in nature, away from the beaten paths.
Did you know that the native communities from the Ecuadorian Andes celebrate the beginning of the Andean new year on March 21st? They call it Mushuk Nina (Kichwa language) which means new fire. This is a very special date when the first Winter equinox takes place and people related to the Andean philosophy celebrate the time of harvest of tender grains and fruits; and the opportunity to start with a new fire in the spirit.
Tulipe is a very special place where the Yumbos community used to live. Yumbos were people stretchy related with the nature and adoration to the mother moon and father sun, way of thinking that is part of the Andean Philosophy. Nowadays there are several people that maintain their Yumbo traditions and continue the celebration of the Mushuk Nina every year. Tulipe is located in the northwest of Pichincha province and offers to the visitors an awesome In-Situ Museum where they’ll find ancient sacred rocky fields, petroglyphs and a lot of history!
After living 3 months in Isabela I decided to bike to “Wall Of Tears” and then spent my afternoon in “Concha y Perla Beach” to try some snorkeling. The tide was low that afternoon, this way it is better to see more marine wildlife.
My morning started with a really nice riding with the sunrise and the sound of the Galapagos’ Seagulls ahead. After 1 hour of biking and stopping in each spot to take a look at the mangroves and big turtles in my way, I finally got to the wall of tears. The wall literally cries! It has little drops of salt accumulated with the shape of tears all around each stone that composes it. It is an amazing and interesting thing to watch. History says that it was built by prisoners of a penal colony in really precarious conditions and then those who built it were left behind the wall abandoned. If you follow the mountainous path ahead then you arrive at the viewpoint. There you can enjoy the beautiful landscape of Isabella. If you have your binoculars with you then the spectacle will be outstanding. This spot is perfect to be connected with nature and enjoy the natural sound of the surroundings or have a little picnic.
On my way back to the little town of Isabella you should be careful if you are biking because it is a rocky way and is just getting down all the time! After having lunch in The Tree House I continued my day trip to Concha y Perla Beach. It was the first time I snorkeled in my life and I must say that I was really lucky to do it in a place like Galapagos. I was lucky enough to watch marine lions, rays, baby sharks, green turtles, fishes of all kind and even penguins doing the catch of the day!
You just need to take at least 2 liters of water, rent a bike with all the security devices (if you want to bike) and take your snorkeling equipment with you.
A must-see destination for any adventure traveler, Ecuador is the perfect place, if you are looking for incredible adventures, fantastic food, unique wildlife, vast culture and amazing of the beaten path places.
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