There’s something majestic about volcanoes, the way they rise steeply up from the ground and culminate in deep craters at the summit. One of the greatest adventures you can have in Ecuador, in fact, is looking down into one of these craters on a ski touring and mountaineering expedition. But if you want to ski there, you’d better be in shape. Unlike other regions where the battle is fought with technical skills, the Andes are all about endurance and altitude experience. Thanks to the equatorial bulge, all three of Ecuador’s skiable volcanoes – Chimborazo (20,550 ft), Cotopaxi (19,400 ft), and Cayambe (19,000 ft) – are farther from the center of the earth than Mount Everest, despite being 10,000 feet shorter. Take on all three peaks and you’ll complete ‘Ecuador’s Triple Crown’, which can be done in around two weeks with good conditions.
If you’re the sort of climber who enjoys adventurous destinations, why not try summiting one of the world’s highest active volcanos? Between its varied terrain and imposing, conical shape that can be seen from faraway Quito, Cotopaxi (19,348 feet) is a climber’s dream. It’s the perfect place to raise intermediate climbing skills up a notch, though you should be comfortable with roped travel, crampon and ice axe use, and steep slopes before attempting it. You’ll cross glaciers, fields of crevasses, snow bridges, and steep patches of snow until you reach the awe-inspiring volcanic rim overlooking a 1,000-foot crater.
It’s no exaggeration to say the Galapagos Islands are home to some of the best dive sites in the world. Between its natural biodiversity and the protections Ecuador has put in place around tourism, you’d be hard-pressed to find a greater collection of marine species. At one of the most famous dive sites in the Galapagos, Darwin’s Arch, it’s common to see dolphins, sea turtles, manta rays, and a wide array of sharks. Then at Gordon Rocks, you can get up close and personal with hammerheads, before heading over to Shark Point to dive alongside whale sharks.
The Quijos Valley is known as the ‘Door to the Amazon’, as it links the Andes with the Amazon rainforest. It’s also home to the best white water rafting in Ecuador, where you can take on rapids from Class III to Class IV+ over 28 navigable miles of river. In the surrounding region, you can go horseback riding, practice yoga, and hike up waterfalls. It’s the perfect place to get out and enjoy nature, while having access to as much adventure as you can handle.
Montañita is a small coastal town in Ecuador, but it packs a big punch when it comes to lifestyle. People in Montañita like to chill and surf during the daytime, but party like they’re in Vegas in the evenings. In reality, it’s more like partying in Thailand, as many of the best clubs are right on the beach.
Carnival is celebrated throughout Ecuador, but nowhere quite as earnestly as Riobamba. From the weekend before Lent to ‘Fat Tuesday’, you’ll find frequent parades, banquets, dance parties, and more.
The Huairasinchi Adventure Race is a multi-sport race requiring teams to run, trek, kayak, and mountain bike 250 miles over 4 days, orienteering all the way. It’s a wild journey that also serves as a qualifier for the Adventure Racing World Series (ARWS).