5 Reasons to Not Skip Ecuador

The Galapagos Islands gets a lot of press extolling its beauty — and it is all true. But do you know the Galapagos is part of Ecuador? Honestly, it’s a shame the mainland is often reduced to an airport code and a necessary overnight before heading to the islands. Here are 5 special tastes of Ecuador you simply cannot find if you only go to the islands.


A keen eye can tell where a person is from just by their traditional dress; you’ll see the often colorful ponchos, shawls, embroidery and jewelry in both cities and rural areas. The fedora is practically a national icon; Panama hats originated in Ecuador and are still made here today. Mainland Ecuador teems with local villages, tiny schools, grand haciendas and traditional festivals not found in the islands.

Indigenous Markets

Ecuador is famous for its markets, bustling with vegetables, flowers, medicinal herbs and textiles.  Because the markets are aimed at serving local families, it’s an opportunity to taste local life. The variety of fruits and vegetables is stunning — there are 500 varieties of potato alone! Look for traditional embroidery, woven textiles, leather goods, and colorful Tigua paintings. And don’t skip the chocolate!


Ecuador has abundant and delicious dining options, completely different from the islands. Adventurous eaters can try the cuy (guinea pig) or seco de chivo (goat stew), while those who prefer something simpler can try churrasco, a thin steak topped with fried egg and served with rice, plantains, fries, avocado and salad. Or llapinggachos, a fried potato omelette filled with cheese. Or one of the luscious soups served to stave off the chill of the highlands, like locro, with potato, cheese and avocado. No matter your taste, Ecuador’s cuisine has something to offer.

The Vast Outdoors

With lush hills and valleys rolling against a backdrop of mountains, Ecuador straddles the equator allowing you to stand with a foot on either side. This creates an ideal climate for spending time outdoors, perfect for hiking, rock climbing, horseback riding, biking, or simply strolling. Keep your eye out for minor Inca ruins, spectacled bear, pumas, tapir, hummingbirds and the great Andean condor soaring overhead; you won’t find any of these in the islands.

The Amazon

Yes, Ecuador has the Amazon! It’s a vast, thick jungle full of exotic wildlife and perfect for canoeing dark water creeks and hiking under towering kapok trees. Come seek out stealthy cats, slithery reptiles and creepy crawly insects!


We haven’t even addressed the cloud forest full of birds and orchids, or the volcano-heated hot springs. There are so many reasons travelers love it here; why not come see for yourself?