Mainland Ecuador Tours – Beyond the Galapagos
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Mainland Ecuador Tours – Beyond the Galapagos

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Jun 13, 2011


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Last updated on March 26th, 2021 at 02:35 pm

Mainland Ecuador Tours – Beyond the Galapagos

How to Visit Ecuador

Many who travel to Ecuador spend the majority of their vacation time in the Galapagos Islands. The islands are the highlight indeed but mainland Ecuador tours also deserve their attention. First, mainland Ecuador boasts fair share of natural beauty, then, it’s a treasury of rich tradition and cultural history. Learn what you can do during mainland Ecuador tours in this informative blog written by an Ecuador travel expert.

Quito – the UNESCO heritage capital

It’s almost sure that wherever you plan to reach Ecuador from, you will land at the Quito airport. Quito, the capital of Ecuador, was a prominent Inca city, second only to Lima and Cusco in Peru. And during the colonial period, the conquistador Pizarro continued to use Quito as an important center of trade. Quito was named the first UNESCO World Heritage Site. It’s the second highest capital of South America with an altitude over 9,350.4 ft above see level. What is more, it’s known as the Middle of the World. “Ecuador” means “equator” in Spanish, and Quito is located right on the equatorial line. At the Middle of the World Museum, you can straddle your feet over the equatorial line. Quito should be the first site you visit during your mainland Ecuador tour.

How to Visit Ecuador

Road to the Otavalo market

Continue your mainland Ecuador tour with a visit to the famous landmarks outside of Quito, ending in the must-see Otavalo market. First, after leaving Quito, you’ll see the San Pablo Lagoon, where small fishing villages make their living. Take a boat ride around the lagoon, admiring the glistening water and the peaks of the nearby Mount Imbabura. Continue on to the town of Ibarra, nicknamed the White City because of its whitewashed houses. Walk down the cobblestone streets and go shopping for local products. Then catch the Chaski Antawa train to the valley of Salinas, dotted with sugar cane plantations and farms. Visit the Salt Museum and enjoy lunch. Spend some time browsing the rows of textiles, paintings, ceramics, hats, and food in the world-famous indigenous Otavalo market. You can take home some of the finest textiles and crafts in Ecuador.

Avenue of Volcanoes – mainland Ecuador tours

The Avenue of the Volcanoes is one of the highlights of mainland Ecuador tours. During this unique journey you will see the magnificent volcanos Chimborazo, Antisana Cayambe, Tungurahua and Cotopaxi. The “avenue” is a 200-mile long row of snow-capped peaks, some of which rise up to 16,000 feet. Visit Cotopaxi National Park, a haven for hikers, mountain bikers, horseback riders, and Ecuador adventure-seekers. See the beautiful Limpiopungo Lagoon, a pristine lake that many birds, rabbits, llamas, and horses call home.


Continue your tour of central Ecuador to the hot springs haven of Baños. The town is located in a mountainous region near the beginning of the Ecuador Amazon Rainforest. You can go hiking, horseback riding, canopying, and mountain biking in this area, or just relax and enjoy a good soak in the mineral waters of the hot springs. This mainland Ecuador tour is for sure a must for nature lovers!

Baños is also famous for the swing at the end of the world experience where you can enjoy swinging in Casa del Arbol park over the huge canyon. Quite an adventure with truly remarkable landscapes that spread from the top of the mountain where a set of swings is located.

Riobamba, Devil’s Nose Train and Inca ruins

Next destination worth visiting during mainland Ecuador tours is Riobamba, located in the foothills of Chimborazo volcano. This small town is an ideal starting point of all kinds of adventurous day trips into the Andes.  What is more, from Riobamba you can arrange famous Devil’s Nose Train that starts from Alausí train station end ends in Cuenca. The train tracks cross over a sharp rock wall called the Devil’s Nose. This mainland Ecuador tour includes a stop at the Inca Cañari Ingapirca Ruins. There,  you will have the chance to explore Ecuador’s most important archaeological site. The ruins were built by the Incas over a site that once belonged to the Cañari culture.

Cuenca – mainland Ecuador tours

After you’ve explored these fascinating Inca ruins, you can continue on to Cuenca. How to Visit EcuadorThe city of Cuenca, a beautiful UNESCO World Heritage Site represents old-world colonial charm. Walk down the cobblestone streets, admire the wrought-iron balconies, and rest in a flower-filled plaza. Here you can go shopping for Panama hats, one of Ecuador’s most famous exports. What is more, Cuenca is considered one of the best places in South America for expats to retire.

Another spot to visit during your mainland Ecuador tour would be a day tour from Cuenca to nearby Cajas National Park with over 70,000 acres of natural beauty, including lagoons, forests, and lakes.

Guayaquil – mainland Ecuador tours

You can either start or end your mainland Ecuador tours in Guayaquil – Ecuador’s largest city, and an important port city. Stroll down the beautiful Malecon, or boardwalk, enjoying the views of the Pacific ocean. Guayaquil airport is much bigger than Quito airport and offers many direct international flights to the US.


As you can see, Ecuador is not all about Galapagos Islands. It’s a country of countless possibilities of various mainland Ecuador tours from which you can choose what bests suites your preferences. It’s a real paradise for nature, adventure and architecture lovers.


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Last updated on March 26th, 2021 at 02:35 pm

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