Adventure Tourism in Ecuador

05/Octubre/2011 | 20:54

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When tourists visit Cotopaxi Volcano they can do one of two things:  Look at it, or climb it.  When they reach the Rio Blanco Bridge near Latacungo they can cross it, or jump off of it. And when they reach the San Jorge waterfall near Baños, they may take a picture, or repel alongside of it.

There is an intrinsic beauty in all of the natural attractions of Ecuador, but for many there is also an invitation to tackle them.  Certain activities are not for everyone.  If you don't  like to climb, then trek.  Don't want to trek?  Jump.  Afraid to jump? Then ride or glide.

The following are some suggestions for unforgettable experiences in adventure tourism in Ecuador.

Mountain Climbing

Ecuador has nine volcanoes with elevations of 5000 meters or higher and many more at lower elevations.  Antisana, Illiniza South, and Chimborazo are recommended only for experienced climbers, while Cotopaxi, Tungurahua, and Carihuayaso can be attempted by non-experience climbers with professional guides.  For more information about climbing and recommended guides and agencies contact:

Chimborazo Volcano & El Altar:   Unidad de Turismo de Riobamba, 03-294-7389

Cotopaxi Volcano, Corazon, & Los Illinizas:   Unidad de Turismo de Latacunga, 03-280-8494

Tungurahua Volcano:   Unidad de Turismo de Baños, 03-274-0483

Carihuayrazo Volcano:   Municipio de Mocha, 03-277-9008


For casual or vigorous day hikes that do not require special equipment or guides, Ecuador offers limitless opportunities for trekking the countryside.  Here are a few invigorating treks:

Tungurahua Refuge:   Though a guide is not required, it is a hike with a high degree of difficulty.  Elevation reaches  3,800 meters.  Call the Unidad de Turismo de Baños, 03-274-0483

Quilotoa Crater:    One of the most unique treks in Ecuador is around the crater which sits at 3,700-3,900 meters.  Plan on five hours around the crater with a low level of difficulty.  As an alternative, hike down into the crater and take a mule ride back up. Unidad de Turismo de Latacunga, 03-280-8494.

Rumiñahui Volcano:    Located in Cotopaxi National Park, this volcano has three peaks (central, north, and south), the easiest of which is the central peak.  Start on the east side of the mountain and plan 6-7 hours.  Unidad de Turismo de Latacunga, 03-280-8494

Inca Trail:    For a multi-day, overnight trekking excursion consider the Ecuadorian Inca Trail.  From the town of Alausi (south of Riobamba), make your way to the Achupallas community.  From here, the trail crosses the cordillera, arriving at the Ingapirca ruins near Cuenca.  Plan 3-4 days.   For more information: Municipio de Alausi, 03-293-0153.  Municipio de Chunchi, 03-293-6013.


The central sierra of Ecuador offers numerous opportunities for braving the rapids.   Here are five options:

Patate River:   30 minutes east of Ambato along the turn-off to Pelileo it has a level of difficulty between 3-4. Unidad de Turismo de Patate, 03-287-0214.

Chimbo River:   Marking the boundary between the Guayas Province and Chimborazo, Chimbo River has a level of difficulty between 3 and 3+.  Dirección de Turismo Guaranda, 03-298-5877.

The Baños area has three great options (contact Unidad de Turismo de Baños, 03-274-0483, for details):

Verde Chico:   Three hours from Quito along the via Baños-Puyo.  Difficulty varies from 5-7. 

Topo River:   From Baños take via Puyo until arriving at the Rio Negro Parish.  Difficulty varies from 5-7.

Pastaza River:   44km from Baños along the via Baños-Puyo.  Level of difficulty between 3-4.


If you prefer land-based activities but want to move a little faster than a trek or a climb, consider cycling.  This is not just for the experienced and you do not need your own bike, as biking agencies will provide them.  Here are some common biking routes:

Chimborazo Route:   A 32km descent from the Whymper Refuge at 5,000 meters to San Juan at 3,200 meters with 24km paved. Technical level is easy. Allow 5-6 hours.

Biking Spirit Route:    A 35km route   exclusive to Biking Spirit ( Mostly downhill (2km of climbing).  Technical difficulty is intermediary, only 9km are paved.

Pisayambo Lake:    A 35km ride with a low level of technical difficulty. 70 percent is asphalt.  The uphill climb is 22km . Plan 3 ½ hours if in good physical condition.  Municipio de Salcedo, 03-272-6001.

Sigchos-Alluriquin Route:   82km, none of it paved.  Difficulty is low except for 5km of pronounced descent.  Plan 6 hours, but must be in good physical shape.  Municipio de Sigchos, 03-271-4242.

Repelling & Bungee Jumping

Baños, Ecuador is known as the adventure sport capital of Ecuador.  Located near Tungurahua and Sangay, Baños offers  the widest array of activities including repelling and bungee jumping.  There are more than enough agencies in the area to guide you, but for local recommendations contact the Unidad de Turismo de Baños, 03-274-0483.

For repelling:

Chamana Waterfall:   Located 7km from Baños

San Jorge Waterfall:    Located at Km 12 in the via Baños-Puyo near the pueblo of La Escudilla

Cashuarco Waterfall:   Located 4km from Rio Negro along the via Baños-Puyo

For bungee Jumping:

San Francisco Bridge of Baños:   Directly across from the Baños Bus Station

Rio Blanco Bridge:   Along the via Puyo, 2km past the Agoyan Waterfall.


A  form of parachuting from a hillside. this activity offers a number of opportunities  in central Ecuador.  In all instances first-time gliders or experienced gliders in the area for the first time should contact local gliders.  Some popular sites:

Niton Hillside:   Along the via Ambato-Baños near Pelileo look for the sign: PAC (Parapente Ambato Club). Municipio de Pelileo:  03-287-1125.

Palama Hillside:   East of Ambato near Quisapincha.  Unidad de Turismo de Ambato, 03.242-4702

Tunshi Hillside:   25 minutes from Riobamba.  Unidad de Turismo Riobamba, 03-294-7389

Pallatanga:   136km along  via Bucay-Pallatanga, near Ecovita Hosteria. Municipio de Pallatanga, 03-291-9128.

Tablon Hill:   Located 30km along the via Guaranda.  Contact PAC or Unidad de Turismo Guaranda, 03-298-5877.

Note:  All information courtesy of the Tourism Ministry of Ecuador.

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