Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands is one of the most interesting destinations in the world. Of course, we are biased, but the country really has a lot to offer, whether it is nature, culture, history, getting active or whatever it is you like to do. We frequently get asked about the hippest destinations to visit, and what are the “must see” spots in mainland Ecuador, as well as in the Galapagos archipelago. We’ve compiled this list of some of the trendy destinations that we think you shouldn’t miss in the summer of 2020.
In the Galapagos Islands, the most trendy destination to visit in Ecuador in the summer of 2020 is Isabela Island. As well as being accessible to visitors on Galapagos Islands cruises to the Western Isles, it is also increasingly offered as a destination for visitors on land-based Galapagos packages. There are plenty of reasons why Isabela Island is so fabulous to visit, but one of the most important is the amazing array of wildlife that can be seen at Galapagos visitor sites on the island. From flightless cormorants to Galapagos penguins, blue footed boobies, giant tortoises and lazy sea lions, this island packs a punch. There are also some amazing day trips to be had from Puerto Villamil, the largest settlement on the island (and where you’ll probably be staying if on a land-based trip here). Some of the best include hiking on the Sierra Negra volcano, snorkeling at Las Tintoreras, and Darwin finch spotting at Mirador de Mango, but there is plenty more to see besides.
If city visits and history is your thing, a hip Ecuadorian destination for you this summer is the city of Cuenca located in the Southern Andean region of the country. The city can be reached by plane or bus, or better, via a road trip to see fascinating sights along the way. The city’s center is steeped in history, with plenty of interesting relics to see. There are also stunning churches and cultural delights such as the flower market and the local food market to explore. Out and about around Cuenca there are some great day trips too, such as to the Inca ruins at Ingapirca for history buffs, or for lovers of the great outdoors, the Cajas National Park.
No trip to Ecuador is complete without a visit to the deep rainforest. Part of the Amazon region of South America, heading far into the jungle affords visitors the opportunity to see the array of wildlife, birds and plants that call this area their home. A stay in the rainforest is very peaceful and you may have the chance to observe caiman, pink river dolphin, anaconda, sloths and an amazing range of monkeys, frogs, insects and birdlife. In fact, the rainforest is a birdwatcher’s dream, and should be on the bucket list. Typically, such a visit to the Amazon region includes wildlife excursions in canoes on the waterways, as well as jungle walks, and visits to local villages, to get a better idea of how people live in this type of environment. There are some truly fabulous lodges to stay at which offer superb packages. Examples include Sacha Lodge and Napo Wildlife Center, but there are also plenty more. Visiting these usually involves a short flight from Quito, followed by a transfer along the river up to the lodge. The transfer can be an experience in itself, with plenty of chances to spot the weird and wonderful creatures that live here along the way.
A visit to Quilotoa Lake in the Central Andean region of Ecuador should be on your radar as a trendy destination to visit in Ecuador in the summer of 2020. If you love local culture and the outdoors, this is a spot you must not miss. Accessible from Quito, the lake itself is a water filled volcano caldera, though the volcano has not erupted since 1280 AD. The crater itself is two miles wide (three kilometers) and is a sight to behold. On a clear day you can get some fantastic pictures. For hikers, circumnavigating the lake can be fun, or alternatively hiking the whole Quilotoa Loop. For the less active, simply lapping up the amazing culture and spectacular scenery in the region is well worth it. Visits to the local indigenous villages are well worthwhile, to get a sense of how the local people live, and to observe folks going about their day to day lives. It is worth spending a few days in this area to really get a good sense of it.
On your trip to Ecuador you’ll most likely fly into and out of the nation’s capital of Quito, which is handy as it is one of our top recommended trendiest destinations to visit during the summer of 2020. You’ll not want to miss a trip to Quito’s historic center, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. On visiting, you’ll quickly see why. The colonial architecture takes you back in time, and there are plenty of interesting churches and museums to explore. At night, Calle de la Ronda comes to life. Here you can grab a coffee in one of the delightful coffeeshops or head into one of the packed quaint little bars that line the street. Try out local treats such as a canelazo (a spicy, warm alcoholic drink) or a piping hot empanada (a pastry that is filled with meat or cheese. There are plenty of opportunities here to pick up hand-crafted souvenirs, or some delicious Ecuadorian chocolate, or some coffee.
At Ecuador and Galapagos Insiders we are Ecuadorian with local offices and have our finger on the pulse of everything that is hip and trendy to do across the country. Our Insider Recommendation for visiting Ecuador is to have a think about exactly what it is you enjoy most about your vacation, and to tailor a trip with that in mind. Whether it is history, culture, the outdoors, photography or a mixture of all of these, we can offer customized tours that take in all of the recommended destinations and much more besides. Contact us today to find out what we can do to help, and to get started planning your Ecuador and Galapagos trip of a lifetime.