The diverse topography of Ecuador within a small territory makes the country an ideal setting for outdoor activities: mountain climbing, trekking, rafting, biking, horseback riding, paragliding, diving – among others.
Ecuador has a mosaic of terrains: snow-capped volcanoes in the Andes, cloud forests in the slopes of the mountains, rainforests at the “Oriente,” beaches and tropical forests in the Coast. And the climate in all of these environments is favorable for almost year-round excursions!
Trekking is one of the most popular activities; and there are several tropical forests and places in the Andes to explore. In these trails one feels a connection with nature in pristine and remote settings. Many of the national parks within the highland region of Ecuador are especially popular with trekkers because of the ease or accessibility, established trail systems and marvelous scenery. Such is the case of Cotopaxi, Cajas and Podocarpus National Parks in the Andes. Some of these terrains are also available for horseback and mountain bikes!
For mountaineers, Ecuador comprises one of the largest concentrations of volcanoes in the world. It is possible to reach high altitudes on moderate routes that do not require technical ice climbing skill. Huts or “refugios” have been built on many of the higher and more popular climbs. High altitude acclimatization is an important factor that is often underestimated due to the short length of many climbs. Good climbing weather is possible almost year-round, but normally the best months are June through September and during a short dry spell in December and January.
The massive Andean mountain range also gives birth to impressive rivers. These rivers make their way through spectacular gorges, canyons, valleys and jungles, and leave behind hundreds of miles of breathtaking world-class whitewater that feeds into the mighty Amazon River. Ecuadorian rivers, especially those in the east, have warm, tropical waters and accessibility for rafting, kayaking, tubing and more. There are a variety of rivers to choose from, with varying grades of difficulty.
If you’re looking for surf, Montañita beach is full of surfers, hostels, good vibes and many international and local visitors. As for kitesurfing, Santa Marianita is the ideal destination! A wide beach offers the perfect setting to learn or practice kitesurfing and several operators in the area provide lodging and kitesurfing lessons.
Another adventure sport that is becoming increasingly popular is Scuba Diving, especially in Galápagos and Machalilla National Parks, where you encounter incredible underwater wildlife. Between June and October, in both of these sites, the temperature of the water drops due to the influence of the Humboldt cold current, giving place to a better visibility.
During this time, you can witness the migration of Giant Manta Rays in Puerto López and go whale-watching in Esmeraldas, where the the massive humpback whales swim near the coast.
Adventure travel has significantly grown in the country with the development of specialized agencies. We have carefully selected highly qualified agencies that offer the highest standards in outdoor adventure, for you to enjoy the natural beauty of Ecuador!