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Ecuador; Glaciers, Class V, Killer Waves & Guinea Pigs?

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Ecuador

Extreme Adventure Sports, Ecuador, Travel

Ecuador provides a brilliant backdrop of geography, culture and ecology for those travelers looking to get off the well trodden tourist path and explore a country still considered a virgin on the tourism front. Not yet mollified by the Cancun-esque pollution that accompanies exploited tourism destinations, this ecological wonder is considered a megadiversity hot spot. If its culture you seek, you will have your hands full. From the coastal fisherwomen of the Mangroves, the indigenous tribes of the Amazon such as the Shuar and Huaorani, to the ancient Quechua peoples of the Andes, Ecuador is comprised of a stunning diversity of cultures. All this wrapped up in a country the size of Colorado, sandwiched between Columbia and Peru, which makes it possible to explore the Amazon Jungle by morning and be sitting beachside by evening, passing through the breath taking volcano views as you head west over the Andes.

Not only is this a country rich in natural resources but it is never short on international distinction capturing the eye of environmental research and controversy alike over topics such as: oil in the amazon, mining in Andean bear country, deforestation, climate change phenomena of melting glaciers in the Andes, ecologically sensitive Andean paramo grasslands, the struggle of indigenous peoples, desertification, medicinal research in the Amazon, and key biologically sensitive niche habitats- home to many threatened and endangered species. The draw to this country on the tourism front is growing by leaps and bounds as many flock to be a part of these ever important issues and witness first hand the beauty and uniqueness of this yet unspoiled international travel destination.

Adventure sports enthusiasts eagerly venture into Ecuador for the extreme mountaineering, climbing, kayaking and, of course, surfing! An ever present enticement as a mountaineering destination, the country’s Andean range serves as a hard earned training grounds for those who are able to top off the killer peak of the world’s highest active volcano, Cotopaxi, within the enchanting Cotopaxi National Park. Just a short hour and half drive from the capitol city of Quito means you can be strapping on your crampons and ice axe shortly after touching down on the tarmac. Other sought after peaks are Ilinizas North and South and the behemoth of Chimborazo topping out at 20,702 feet.

The Andean range is considered a head waters to the Amazon Rivier. The holding grounds for this precious water is a unique ecological wonder known as the paramo. These are the equivalent of giant sponges covered in 10 foot tall grasses, which feed the hungry souls of kayakers seeking out the class 4 and 5 river running that Ecuador has to offer.
Climbers are never short on supply and easy access to back country rock. With a geologic history based in this land of volcanoes the stunning views of columnar jointing apparent in San Juan Canyon would make any hard core trad climber drop their rack on the spot. These classic trad routes are juxtaposed by the developed sport climbing oasis of Sigsipamapa, agains just a short 45 minutes outside of Quito.

The Andean Culture is a photographer’s dream with their calliope of colored traditional garb, the Quechua people in their festive wear are sprinkled into the commons of Quito which makes for a colorful and nice surprise when touring the capitol city. One of the largest outdoor markets is located in the high mountains of Otavalo, which explodes on the weekends with booths and tables selling locally grown and made wares. Here you may find alpaca sweaters, paintings, carved masks and hand woven hammocks.

Recently featured on National Geographic’s No Reservations with Anthony Bordaine, the country’s cuisine is highlighted on the Travel Channel’s documentary which doesn’t skimp on the skewered guinea pigs roasted as a delicacy and readily available in the open markets or roadside restaurants.

Ecuador receives 5 gold stars as a travel destination due to its easily accessible transportation. Local bus transportation can get you to the most remote areas of this tiny country in any given direction at any given time. Airports provide daily commuter flights between the major airports of Quito, Guayaquil, Cuenca and Manta. This country is still considered to be at its inception on the tourism scene which means you reap the benefits along with a few down turns. However, booking a package tour, where all the kinks have been worked out of the logistics planning translates as a timely schedule at a decent price.

The benefits are exceedingly obvious when you the hit the coastal zone where you will NOT find: Resorts, high rise buildings and traffic congestion. What you WILL find is: an expressive flamboyant culture, caiparinas (the local cane sugar cocktail), friendly locals, great prices, excellent sea food including cebiche and encocados (made from a coconut sauce), empty beaches as far as the eye can see and a consistent beach break which is just dawning on the surf scene. Novices and moderate surfers alike are discovering the friendly breaks without rock, reef and plenty of space for everyone to ride some waves.






Further Information

Travel tips:

Bring your own traditional climbing gear and head to Banos to pick up a guide for the San Juan Canyons. Check at Geo tours their guides are amazing climbers and all have safety training and climbing guide courses under their belts.


Must see/do at this place:

Surf the coast of Ecuador, Hike an amazing glacier covered peak and shop at the andean market in Otavalo.


You should avoid here:

Quito is a nice day trip to the old town district but other than that it is all about night life.




Did you like this article? Then you'll like these: Bahia De Caraquez Rocks!, Quito Banks, Vilcabamba, Couriers, Laguna del Altar, Otavalo Market, Bellavista, Cost of Food, Quito Homestay and Galapagos Islands Wildlife.








By Patricia White
I am quickly becoming mistaken for an Ecuadorian. Having traveled, lived and worked in Ecuador for 5 years I can now say I love my job! Betty...
01 Jul 2011


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