Compared to other countries in South America, Ecuador is a small nation. From the Amazon up to the Andes and down to the Pacific Coast is only a few hundred kilometers in some places. Depending on public transport you can cover some serious distances and completely change environments in less than 12 hours. I remember waking up in a remote mountain town freezing cold with all my warm clothes on, ready for an eight-hour bus ride, and then, as the trip progressed, peeling off layer by layer until I was back in shorts and a t-shirt.
That’s what Ecuador does; it takes you from one state of being to another. And whether you’re on or in the sea, on the top or side of a mountain, or simply in the jungle, adrenaline is everywhere.
Gordon Rocks in Ecuador is a dive site that’s famous worldwide for its consistent chances of spotting hammerhead sharks. I was about to jump in one morning, and from what I remember, the water was cold and choppy. It looked like it was going to be a rough dive. After a gear check and a breath, I rolled in.
Within the first 20 minutes I spotted a giant green sea turtle, a darting sea lion resembling a torpedo, a manta ray gliding effortlessly through the tormented water, and what I thought was the silhouette of a hammerhead far below. Enter one of the most electrifying dive experiences of my life, as shortly after, a school of a dozen hammerhead sharks drifted by, seemingly unfazed by the human presence in their environment. This is but one of many adrenaline-fuelled experiences I had while travelling in Ecuador – one of the most versatile destinations in all South America.
Montañita (“little mountain”) on the coast is probably the most famous surf spot in Ecuador. It’s a bohemian spot and draws crowds from all corners of the world. Montañita is a very cool place to spend a few lazy beach days with lots of great exploring to be done. It also has a vibrant party scene and the surf is fantastic when it’s on. Don’t worry about bringing your own gear though,as there are a ton of small shops chomping at the bit to rent you a board and get you into one of their surf lessons down at the beach.
From the coast you can move inland to the Andes. There are a number of amazing activities on offer throughout the mountains including high altitude hikes, paragliding, rock climbing, rafting, multi-day treks, etc. The one I want to focus on is mountain biking Cotopaxi volcano. There aren’t many places in the world you can start biking at 4500m (14,763ft) above sea level, let alone on an active volcano. This is one of those must do adrenaline experiences and something you will always remember. The views are stunning, the track is long with options for all skill levels. The gear is top quality and the local guides have a wealth of knowledge and information. Check out Ecuador Multisport for additional info and trip details.
Cotopaxi at sunset. Photo by M. von Koeller.
The Amazon basin is a fantastic place to explore the jungle and a great spot for some sweet adrenaline activities. From hiking and wildlife spotting, to canopy walks and ziplining, to river canoeing and white water rafting, there is something for everyone. And with such a lush and inviting atmosphere, it’s one of the most visited parts of the country.
If you’ve never been in a raft on a rushing river, white water rafting on the Jatunyacu river is a great place to start. It’s a perfect combination of exciting rapids, calm pools, and incredible jungle scenery around every bend. The expedition starts at the head of the river, which eventually flows into the mighty Amazon. It’s an amazing rafting adventure with class-three rapids, as well as some fours and fives, (depending on the water levels). It’s a diverse and fun-fuelled rafting adventure and there’s no prior experience needed.
Rafters getting ready on the Jatunyacu river. Photo by Barefoot Expeditions.
From scuba diving to high altitude climbing, surfing to river rafting and mountain biking, these are just a taste of what can be found in this part of the world. So hit up Latin America, get outside in three uniquely diverse ecosystems, and indulge in some heart-racing experiences. Ecuador awaits.
Don’t keep it waiting. Let the adrenaline rush through you on our Active trips to Ecuador. And, as G Adventures has a number of departures on offer, you can choose when travelling suits you the best. Stoked to see you there!