La Casa del Arbol, Baños


Best time to travel: Sept-Nov
Ease of travel: Hard
Cost ($-$$-$$$): $

  • Deep within the Ecuadorian wilderness is a seismic monitoring station in a tree, known as Casa del Arbol, whose purpose is to observe Mt. Tungurahua, the nearby active volcano
  • 8530 feet above sea level is a swing hanging from one of the station tree’s skinny branches
  • It is unclear where the swing came from
  • The swing is part of a small park at Casa de Arbol, complete with three swings and a small zip line
  • Though the swing used to be completely unmonitored, today there are guides to help you buckle in and push you as you swing
  • It looks like the swing hangs over a cliff, it actually hangs over a steep slope so the experience is not as scary as it seems

Quilotoa, Pujilí Canton


Best time to travel: June-Sept
Walk difficulty: Moderate
Ease of travel: Hard
Cost ($-$$-$$$): $$

  • Water-filled caldera with a 2 miles wide caldera which was formed by the collapse of this volcano following a catastrophic eruption about 600 years ago
  • This last eruption followed a dormancy period of 14,000 years, a Crater lake was already present at that time
  • The lake has a greenish color as a result of dissolved minerals
  • There are a number of hostels in the immediate area offering services such as mules and guides
  • Activities include a four to five-hour hike around the caldera, otherwise the hike is sandy and steep in places and can be quite taxing, particularly if there is fog
  • According to local inhabitants, the lake level has been slowly declining over the last 10 years

South Plaza Island, Galápagos National Park

Best time to travel: Jan-May, Dec
Walk difficulty: Moderate
Ease of travel: Hard
Cost ($-$$-$$$): $$

  • Small island off coast of Santa Cruz in the Galápagos Islands
  • South Plaza was formed by lava up streaming from the bottom of the ocean
  • Despite its small size, it is home to a large number of species and known for its extraordinary flora
  • The prickly pear cactus trees are noteworthy, as is the large colony of Galápagos land iguanas
  • Depending on the season, the Sesuvium ground vegetation changes its color from green in the rainy season to orange and purple in the dry season

Cotopaxi, Latacunga

Best time to travel: June-Aug
Walk difficulty: Hard
Ease of travel: Hard
Cost ($-$$-$$$): $

  • Active stratovolcano in the Andes Mountains, located in Latacunga
  • It is the second highest summit in Ecuador, reaching a height 19,347 ft
  • Cotopaxi is among the highest active volcanoes in the world
  • Its most recent eruption began on August 2015, and ended on January 2016
  • Since 1738, Cotopaxi has erupted more than 50 times, resulting in the creation of numerous valleys formed by lahars (mudflows) around the volcano


Best time to travel: May-Dec
Walk difficulty: Hard
Ease of travel: Hard
Cost ($-$$-$$$): $

  • Currently inactive stratovolcano in the Andes
  • Its last known eruption is believed to have occurred around 550 A.D.
  • Chimborazo’s summit is the farthest point on the Earth’s surface from the Earth’s center given that it is located along the planet’s equatorial bulge
  • Chimborazo’s summit, however, is not higher than the summit of Mount Everest, as elevation is measured from sea level
  • With a peak elevation of 20,548 ft, Chimborazo is the highest mountain in Ecuador
  • Like Everest, Chimborazo is also known for climbing; its climb demands skill and is often on black ice, so crampons and other high-tech climbing equipment are required

Bartolomé Island, Galápagos Islands

Best time to travel: Jan-May, Dec
Walk difficulty: Moderate
Ease of travel: Hard
Cost ($-$$-$$$): $$

  • Volcanic islet in the Galápagos Islands group, just off the coast of Santiago Island
  • With a total land area of just 0.5 square miles, the island consists of an extinct volcano and a variety of red, orange, green, and glistening black volcanic formations
  • Snorkelers are in the water with the penguins, marine turtles, white-tipped reef sharks, and other tropical fish
  • Galápagos penguins are frequently seen, and a small cave behind Pinnacle Rock houses a breeding colony
  • Seasonally, Bartolomé is the mating and nesting site for the green turtles
  • The Galápagos lava cacti colonize the new lava fields

Ciudad Mitad del Mundo, Quito

Best time to travel: March, Sept
Ease of travel: Moderate
Cost ($-$$-$$$): $

  • Grounds that contain the Monument to the Equator, which highlights the exact location of the Equator (from which the country takes its name) and commemorates the eighteenth century Franco-Spanish Geodesic Mission which fixed its approximate location
  • The grounds also contain the Museo Etnográfico Mitad del Mundo, a museum about the indigenous people ethnography of Ecuador
  • There are only two points of interest positioned exactly on the equator: the Catequilla archaeological site, and the Quitsato Sundial

North Seymour Island, Galápagos Islands

Best time to travel: Jan-May, Dec
Walk difficulty: Easy
Ease of travel: Hard
Cost ($-$$-$$$): $

  • Small island near Baltra Island in the Galápagos Islands
  • It was formed by uplift of a lava formation
  • The whole island is covered with low, bushy vegetation
  • The island is home to a large population of blue-footed boobies and swallow-tailed gulls