Top 16 Things to Do in Ecuador: Andes Mountains

It is impossible to climb and explore every mountain in the world. Some mountains are not meant to be climbed, some are just meant to be left alone; however, this does not include Andes Mountains. Andes is too grand and too beautiful to not be explored. 

Andes Mountains are the world’s longest continental mountain range that encompasses seven South American countries- Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Chile, and Argentina. With this enormous size, you can imagine that there are thousands of things to do here. If you want to explore Andes Mountains but are overwhelmed and do not know where to start, we can narrow it down for you: start in Ecuador! 

Here are the top 16 things to do in Andes Mountains, Ecuador

1) Visit Cotopaxi National Park

One of the best things to do in Ecuador is to visit and marvel the beauty of Volcan Cotopaxi located in Cotopaxi National Park. This volcano is one of the world’s highest most active volcanoes which is why attempts to climb the summit has been prohibited since 2015.

Cotopaxi Volcano - Things to Do in Ecuador

Even if you cannot climb this one, you can still climb the neighboring dormant volcanoes such as Ruminawi volcano and Pasochoa. There are horse tours that are being offered to tourists who would like to explore the national park and so you can certainly take advantage of this on your trip to this part of the world. 

2) Climb the Basilica of National Vow

This exceptional landmark in Ecuador Andes Mountain is located in the old town of Quito. While the locals come here regularly to worship, this place has been opened to tourists who would like to check out the basilica’s architecture as well. You can climb up both towers right up to the face of the clock.

Basilica, Quito Ecuador - Things to Do in Ecuador

The basilica may seem unfinished and that is because of the local myth that the world will come to an end upon the completion of the basilica. Whether you believe this myth or not, the architectural beauty of this structure is worth checking out. And please, don’t try to complete the basilica. There is more of the world to be seen before it comes to an end. 

3) Hike around Cuicocha Lake

Hiking around Cuicocha Lake in Andes Mountains Ecuador is one of the best outdoorsy Ecuador activities. While there is no shortage of lakes in the whole Otavalo region, the Cuicocha crater lake is one of the most scenic and accessible lakes.

Cuicocha Lake - Things to Do in Ecuador

There is a lookout area from the information center of the lake which is a perfect place to take photos and take in the picturesque view. For visitors who are up to putting their lungs and legs to work, hiking around the lake is also a popular activity and it takes about four hours to complete. 

4) Fall in love with Peguche Waterfalls

You will never run out of things to do in Ecuador. If you find yourself wandering around Otavalo region, get a local guide and ask to be taken to Peguche Waterfalls. This massive waterfall is one of nature’s best work of art. This is only a 45-minute walk from the town, but if you prefer, you can get a cab to make your life easier.

Peguche Waterfall - Things to Do in Ecuador

There’s just something about the grand water fall contrasting with the lush green surroundings:  you will fall in love with these falls. The best way to cool down from the hike up to the falls is to dip into the water. As you can imagine, swimming in waterfalls is one of the cool Ecuador activities you can do here. 

5) Ride a cable car to Pichincha Volcano

Quito old town is a great place to wander around. Seeing it on top of Pichincha Volcano is one of the best things to do in Ecuador Andes. Locally known as the TeleferiQo (a combination of teleferico and Quito), this cable car runs up the slopes of Pichincha Volcano. The one-way ride lasts eight minutes and travels over 2,000 meters.

Cable Car to Pichincha Volcano - Things to Do in Ecuador
Credits: Wikimedia Commons

If you want more Ecuador activities, you can continue hiking up the summit of the volcano once getting off the cable car at the stop point at the top. Skirts and dresses are discouraged since it is pretty cold and windy at the top, but you certainly wear whatever makes you happy. The view is usually clear during the morning, so it is recommended that you come here early in the day. 

6) Bathe in thermal hot springs in Papallacta

Bathing in the thermal springs in Papallacta is one activity that you should not miss in Andes Mountains in Ecuador. Papallacta is a small town in the Andes Mountains that is famous for its thermal hot springs.

papallacta hot springs - Things to Do in Ecuador
Credits: Christophe ALARY, Flickr

There are a lot of resorts that offer vacation and holiday packages including thermal hot spring baths, spas, and accommodation. The hot springs are known for its health benefits such as improve blood circulation, reduce stress, and heal common skin problems. Plus, soaking in a thermal hot spring is a perfect activity after spending so much time hiking and exploring the great Ecuador Andes. 

7) Swing at the End of the World

One of the top things to do in Ecuador is to swing at the end of the world. Yes, this can be done at Casa del Arbol which is located at 2,600 meters above sea level. The  Casa has a small park where you can have a picnic and hop on the swing fronting the magnificent Mt. Tungurahua.

Swing at the End of the World - Things to Do in Ecuador

You may have seen photos of this swing all over the internet since its popularity has increased over the years. Although it may look like you would be swinging over a cliff, the swing is actually built just over a steep slope. This is definitely a must-try Ecuador activity during your trip to the Andes of Ecuador. 

8) Go white water rafting

The best place in Ecuador Andes to go white water rafting is on Rio Pastaza. The whole activity takes about five hours to complete.

White Water Rafting - Things to Do in Ecuador

If you are looking for adrenaline pumping adventure, Rio Pastaza’s white-water rafting activity is a must for you. Make sure to only bring waterproof gadgets with you because the rapids are quite challenging. 

9) Try zip lining through trees

Zip lining through trees while upside down seems to be one of the popular fun activities amongst tourist in Banos.

Zip Lining - Things to Do in Ecuador

The locals also call this canopying simply because you will fly through a canopy of trees. There are different packages and levels of the zip lining activity in Banos which takes about two hours to complete at $20 per person. 

10) Join a canyoning tour

Another popular thing to do in Ecuador is to go on a canyoning tour in Banos. This extreme outdoorsy Ecuador activity involves a lot of things that has to do with a waterfall canyon.

canyoning - Things to Do in Ecuador

If you want to do waterfall rappelling, cliff jumping, swimming, and zip-lining, then you must sign up for a canyon tour during your trip in these South American mountains. 

11) Go on a food trip

Something to look forward to in every trip to here is going on a food trip. South America is known for its good food and Ecuador is a food haven. Some of the best dishes to try are choclo, llapingachos, melcocha, and espumillas.

Choclo - Things to Do in Ecuador

Also, don’t miss out on trying a fresh sugar cane juice. It’s a perfect drink to quench your thirst after spending so much time under the Ecuador Andes sun and hot weather. 

12) Visit the largest Incan Ruins

You can find the largest Incan Ruins in Ingapirca. The best way to explore the ruins is by hiring a local guide.

Incan Ruins - Things to Do in Ecuador

You will be treated to trivial facts of the ruins and how the Incan lived in the past. This would be a great day trip and a good break from all the adrenaline pumping activities that most tourists came here for. 

13) Buy some pretty hats at Azogues

Azogues is a small town that is known for its local shops that makes beautiful hats. Exporting these hats is one of the major sources of income of some locals.

Azogues - Things to Do in Ecuador
Credits: Wikimedia Commons

If you have already bought your loot, walking around the city and checking local cafes is also a great way to spend an afternoon in the area. 

14) Have a picnic at Cajas National Park

One of the best things to see in Ecuador is the beauty of Cajas National Park. Pack a picnic basket and drive to the national park which takes about 20 minutes from Cuenca.

Cajas National Park - Things to Do in Ecuador
Credits: Wikimedia Commons

This is a great place for bird watching and photo taking. Lake Llaviucu is one of the top attractions in this national park. 

15) Step on the middle of the world

Locally known as Mitad del Mundo, this equator landmark can be found in South America, specifically Quito,  and is one of the best things to see in Ecuador.

Mitad del Mundo - Things to Do in Ecuador
Credits: Wikimedia Commons

Not a lot of people can claim they have stepped on the equator, but you definitely can after visiting this landmark. You can step on both the northern and southern hemisphere while standing on the equator land mark. 

16) Witness the sea of clouds at Yunguilla Valley

Witnessing the sea of clouds at Yunguilla Valley is one of the most surreal experience you can have on your trip here.

Hiking - Things to Do in Ecuador

The hike won’t be that easy, but the view from up above is worth it. The best route to take to get the view is by driving to Santa Isabel very early in the morning. 

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