While there are famous touristic spots along Ecuador that are definite musts, there are other less popular, or hidden spots, that will undoubtedly make your trips around the country special.
1.El Arco del Amor or The Arc of Love – Jama.
A peculiar rock formation, known as the “Arc of Love” is said to be magical, as it unites lovers who cross beneath it ( holding hands) with an unbreakable bond. It is also one of our favorite spots to enjoy the sunset! Located a few kilometers from Jama, we recommend you visit the arc and spend the afternoon in the beautiful beaches nearby.
How to get there? The Arch of Love is approximately 16.5 km from Jama. Once you get to Jama, ask locals for the entrance.. You can access this place by land or sea.
2. Agua Blanca- Machalilla National Park.
A community nestled within Machalilla National Park is the ideal destination for those interested in nature, history and ancestral knowledge. The inhabitants of Agua Blanca are dedicated to community tourism and traditional activities, and their territories are full of natural wonders.
How to get there? Take Los Frailes highway vía Puerto López and take the exit at km 5.
3.Cunuyacu Waterfall – Los Ilinizas Ecological Reserve.
Cunuyacu waterfall is special because of its yellowish color! The high iron and sulfur concentration of the earth in the area give the water its special tone. It is located within the Ecological Reserve los Ilinizas.
How to get there? You must take the road to El Milagro neighborhood, in the Pastocalle region. (Canton Pujilí).
4. Cubilche Lagoon – Imbabura.
Located next to the Imbabura volcano in the community of Paniquinrra – La Esperanza, Cubilche lagoon is accessible by car (a 4X4 is much better because it can get pretty muddy). The peaceful lagoon rests in the paramos surrounded by Cayambe, the valley of Zuleta, Yaguarcocha, and Mojanda. Besides, its circular shape makes it truly distinguished.
How to get there? You must arrive to the city of Ibarra, approximately 2 and a half hours away from Quito. Then head to the Paniquinrra community where you climb the ascent to the mountain. The walk takes approximately 1 hour of ascent and 1 of descent.
5. Mirador de Olón – Santa Elena.
The Olón viewpoint, built in 1984 stands 100 meters above sea level. It is one of the musts when travelling the Spondylus Route because from up there, you can observe the entire beach.
How to get there? The viewpoint is located west of Santa Elena, 195 kilometers from the city of Guayaquil.
6. La Belleza Waterfall – Orellana.
This fascinating natural waterfall is 4 meters high and 22 meters wide! And on top of its overwhelming and revitalizing presence, you will be surrounded by a biodiverse paradise, where you will probably find several endemic species of flora and fauna.
How to get there? Access is easy. The waterfall is located in Orellana more specifically in La Belleza, just at km 54 via “Los Zorros”. The journey takes about an hour and a half by car and then you must walk along a path for about 10 minutes.
7. Balneario del Inca – Mangahurco, Loja.
This hidden tourist attraction is formed by a set of seven natural pools. Besides its remoteness and beauty (especially when Guayacanes bloom), you can swim in the pools and enjoy nature at its best.
How to get? It is located in Mangahurco, approximately two hours from the Zapotillo canton in the province of Loja.
8. La Chorrera (The Cliff) San Juan – Riobamba.
La Chorrera in San Juan is undoubtedly the mecca for climbers. It currently has 100 routes equipped to perform this beloved adventure sport. And if you are not a lover of climbing, you can still enjoy the beautiful view that this valley has to offer.
How to get there? If you’re driving from Quito you must take the Panamericana Sur towards the city of Riobamba. Upon arriving in Riobamba you’ll take the road to Guaranda. Follow the route that leads to Chimborazo Reserve. Pass through the town of San Juan, and you will find a sign that says “La Chorrera” where the parking lot and camp site stands 500m away.
9. Waterfall El Gran Cañon- Napo.
The “Grand Canyon” of Napo is one of the best hidden spots in the Ecuadorian Amazon. An impressive rock formation of about 10 m tall, has a 6 m waterfall and a natural pool where you can swim below.
How to get there? The Grand Canyon is located at kilometer 10 via Baeza-Quito, to get there from Tena you must take a bus or a car that goes through this route and get off at Mondayacu. To reach the waterfall you have to walk 45 minutes along jungle trails.
10. Nabón- Cuenca.
This small town of charming valleys is located an hour and a half from the city of Cuenca. Nabón is a canton in the province of Azuay, in southern Ecuador. During your journey across the valleys you will appreciate the graceful outskirts of Cuenca, scenic and picturesque.
How to get there? Head on the Pan-American highway that goes from Cuenca to Loja. At km 69 you will find the neighborhood of Nabón.
11. Casa Humboldt – Antisana.
On the foothills of Antisana Volcano, you can find the house where world famous naturalist Alexander Von Humboldt stayed during his visit to Ecuador. The small adobe house is a testimony of his journey that often goes unnoticed because of its random location and humble setting.
How to get there? There are two ways to reach the Antisana Ecological Reserve. The first is on the Quito-Pintag road, where it is necessary to walk 25 km. The other access to reach the Antisana Ecological Reserve is on the Quito-Baeza road.
12. Yanayacu- Archidona.
Yanayacu is the place for those who love rivers and waterfalls. It has eight waterfalls in only 3 km! When you get there, not only will you want to swim in the natural pools of freshwater, but you’ll walk through trails that will inspire the adventurer in you, taking you past caverns and majestic flora.
How to get there? To get to Yanayacu waterfalls you must take ka via Quito-Tena, 3 km from Archidona. The entrance to the waterfalls is on the left, follow the sign that says “Yanayacu” for 10 minutes by car. The value to enter the waterfalls is $ 1.
13. Bartolomé Island- Galápagos.
Bartolome Island is an extinct volcano in the Galapagos Island, and the properties of rock and soil, make its grounds red, orange and green. But that is not all: Bartolome has beautiful beaches, the emblematic Pinnacle Rock (where penguins migrate!), and a viewpoint from where you can observe up to 10 islands on a good day.
How to get there? The only way to get to Bartolome Island is by boat or cruise from Santiago Island.
14. Cascada del Silencio – Baños.
30 meters tall, the waterfall is part of a group of seven waterfalls formed by the Chamana River. Around Cascada del Silencio or “Waterfall of Silence” there are several ecological trails for trekking and birdwatching.
How to get there? Located 2 km from the Chaman sector, 15 minutes from the city of Baños de Agua Santa.
15. El Chorro de Girón- Cuenca.
A double waterfall which is approximately 60 meters high, flows into a natural pool and a 4m wide river. In the province of Azuay, this natural landscape accompanied by the enveloping sounds of the jungle, will leave you ecstatic.
How to get there? El Gorro de Girón is located 45 kilometers from the city of Cuenca. This place can be reached by walking along the road or by renting a van.
16. Santay Island – Guayas.
Across the Guayas River you will find lush Santay Island, full of vegetation and migratory birds. Its diverse coastal fauna and flora includes mammals, reptiles, tropical birds, and species such as the black mangrove, guachapelí and samán trees (endemic trees). Santay also has ecological trails and a community restaurant where you can have lunch.
How to get there? Santay Island can be reached in two ways, the first is by waterway- taking a boat at the Yacht Club and the second is crossing the Guayaquil-Santay pedestrian bridge.
17. Cultural Passage Santa Ana- Cuenca.
The Santa Ana passage is located in the city of Cuenca, next to the Immaculate Conception Cathedral. This cultural space aims to provide spaces for the exhibition and commercialization of art, design and gastronomy products.
How to get there? To get to the Santa Ana passage you must go to the City of Cuenca and go to Calderón Park, next to the Cathedral you will find it.
18. Culuncos Route – (Yunguilla) Chocó Andino.
The emblematic Culuncos that cross the Yunguilla Valley are indigenous ruins that mark the paths the Yumbos (an ancestral indigenous culture) traveled. Yumbos had to exchange products from the coast to the sierra and they had to cross the Choco cloudforest to do so.
How to get there? Yunguilla is 2 hours and 20 minutes from Quito. To get to this valley you must take the route to Calacalí.
19. La Poderosa Waterfall- Zamora Chinchipe.
Within Podocarpus National Park, La Poderosa waterfall is full of life and energy! Located inside a protected area, the lush vegetation and refreshing natural pools, make a visit to La Poderosa a delightful day trip.
How to get there? The waterfall can be found 7km from the city of Zamora. You must enter Podocarpus National Park in order to have access to it.
20. El Junco Lagoon- San Cristóbal.
El Junco is the only freshwater lagoon in the Galapagos archipelago! Nestled in the crater of an extinct volcano, it is vital for the existence and survival of the island. You will be impressed by views as you climb up to the main viewpoint!
How to get there? El Junco is located 19 km from Puerto Baquerizo Moreno.
Sometimes the most special places aren’t the most popular ones! We hope you will find these hidden spots as charming as we have and appreciate Ecuador from a different perspective.