6 Things You Can Only Experience in Ecuador Dhinesh Manuel December 7, 2018 South America, Travel Guide This blog post was updated on September 14, 2021. While its larger neighbors like Colombia and Brazil are often in the news when it comes to travel in South America, the country of Ecuador in the northwestern part of the continent may pass under most travelers’ radars. However, with its ancient Indian history, colorful Spanish colonial architecture, interesting cuisine, and captivating nature and wildlife, there’s so much more to Ecuador than meets the eye. Here are 6 experiences that you can have only when you hop cheap flights to this magical land. Visit the Galapagos Islands The inspirational backdrop for Charles Darwin’s Theory of Evolution, the Galapagos Islands make up a wild and untamed environment that’s home to a variety of wildlife. A visit here will let you share in the living space of its iconic giant tortoises, turtles, marine iguanas, penguins, and sea lions. It also offers a great opportunity to go snorkeling or scuba diving, opening up a portal into the vibrant marine life that populates the seas around it. For nature lovers, this unique archipelago is simply a must-visit. Stand at the Equator…Both of Them! The first marker for the location of the equator in Quito, Ecuador’s capital city, was laid in the 1700s. Unfortunately, as it was in an era where the technology didn’t exist to correctly pinpoint locations, it was not accurate. However, a large monument (Mitad del Mundo) and a small museum still reside on this location and they are popular attractions for tourists who can take pictures with one foot in either hemisphere. About 240 meters north of this monument lies the GPS-proven real equator — a location that houses the Museo Intinan, which provides guided tours where you’ll be surely amused by a few special equator tricks such as balancing an egg on the head of a nail (apparently easier) and attempting to walk across a straight line (apparently impossible). Climb up and Touch the Sun at Chimborazo Once you’ve had your fun standing at the middle of the earth, why not do a bit of climbing to stand at the closest point to the sun? Chimborazo is an inactive volcano and Ecuador’s highest peak. Thanks to the equatorial bulge (the odd shape of the earth around the equator), this volcano beats out Mount Everest by 2km to be the closest point to the sun. Even though it is a challenging trek, you’ll be rewarded by the view from the snow-capped top, and might even encounter the last “iceman” who still picks ice from atop the volcano to sell in town — the last practitioner of an age-old profession. Shop in South America’s Largest Marketplace You can’t miss out on all the hustle and bustle of what is one of South America’s oldest and largest outdoor markets! Otavalo Market is about a 2-hour bus ride from Quito that you can make into a colorful, eye-opening day trip. In addition to a number of beautiful old churches, the city is also home to Parque Cóndor, where you can get up close to South America’s most revered birds of prey. Don’t forget to visit on a Saturday when the buzz of the market is in full force, offering you the perfect chance to grab a bargain on souvenirs and indigenous arts and crafts! You may also like: 12 Places Crazy Enough for Perfect Adventure Vacations Get Your Adrenaline Fix by Swinging off the End of the World Baños is famous for many things. This little town nestled in a picturesque valley offers ziplining, rock climbing, bungee jumping, biking, hiking, Amazon jungle treks, and loads of other adventures. But the main reason travelers from all over the world come here is to use the giant swings at Casa de Arbol. While they may not be too high off from the ground, you’ll still get a pretty neat picture out of the experience and the chance to relive childhood thrills. And that’s not all you can get up to when in town; the Ruta de las Cascadas trek will take you past seven jaw-droppingly beautiful waterfalls and you can soak away your stress in its popular thermal baths. Journey on One of the Steepest Train Rides in the World La Nariz del Diablo (The Devil’s Nose) offers up the chance to take a once-in-a-lifetime train ride that’s also an engineering marvel. Acting as the link between the coast and the Andean highlands, this epic journey is famous for having one of the steepest climbs/descents around, at one point ascending/plunging 500 meters over just 12 km of track! The zig-zagging route is considered one of the most beautiful in the world and its sharp incline will take you from the mountains to the lowlands (and vice versa) in dramatic fashion. With all these experiences in store for you, it’s never too late to start searching for book-now-pay-later flights to Ecuador and join all the fun! Have you been to Ecuador recently? What special experiences did you have? Share them with us in the comments.