After solo traveling for one month in Central America, I was keen to explore Ecuador in South America next. So if you are looking for 7 days backpacking in Ecuador itinerary, read on as I cover highlights at each stop, where to stay, recommend food/drinks to try, and more.
Ecuador is a country located on the west coast of South America. It shares borders with Colombia to the north and Peru to the east and south. The country has a diverse landscape that includes the Andes Mountains, the Amazon Rainforest, and a long coastline on the Pacific Ocean. Ecuador is home to a rich variety of flora and fauna, including many species that are unique to the country.
Ecuador has a population of over 17 million people and is a multicultural and multilingual country, with Spanish being the official language. The country has a rich history and is home to many indigenous communities that have preserved their traditions and cultures for centuries.
Ecuador’s economy is largely dependent on exports of oil, bananas, flowers, and seafood. Tourism is also an important industry, as the country offers a range of natural and cultural attractions, including the Galapagos Islands, the Amazon Rainforest, and historic colonial cities.
The capital city of Ecuador is Quito, which is situated at an altitude of 2,850 meters, making it one of the highest capital cities in the world. It is known for its beautiful colonial architecture and vibrant culture and other major cities in Ecuador include Guayaquil, Cuenca, and Santo Domingo.
Highlights of Quito, Cotopaxi national park, Quitota lake, Banos, and more are below.
Is Ecuador safe for solo travellers?
- Is Ecuador safe for solo travellers?
- Which hostels to stay in Quito, Ecuador?
- Highlights in Quito, Ecuador?
- Which hostels to book in Cotopaxi National Park?
- Highlights in Latacunga, Ecuador?
- Quilotoa lake
- Which hostels to stay in Quilotoa lake?
- Highlights in Banos, Ecuador
- Here are some popular hikes in Banos. Personally did 1,2, 4 & 5.
- Which hostels to stay in Banos?
- What and Where to eat in Ecuador?
- What drinks to try in Ecuador?
- Let me know in the comments:
Ecuador can be a safe destination for solo travelers, but like any country, there are certain precautions you should take to ensure your safety. Here are some tips to help you stay safe while traveling solo in Ecuador.
- Research your destination: Before you travel to Ecuador, research the areas you plan to visit and learn about any potential safety concerns.
- Stay in safe areas: Stick to well-lit, busy areas and avoid walking alone at night. If you’re unsure about a certain area, ask locals or hotel staff for advice.
- Keep your belongings close: Be aware of your surroundings and keep your belongings close to you. Use a cross-body bag or backpack to keep your hands free.
- Use reputable transportation: Use reputable taxi companies or ride-sharing apps and avoid unmarked taxis.
- Be cautious with strangers: Be cautious when talking to strangers, and avoid sharing personal information.
- Learn basic Spanish: Learning some basic Spanish can be helpful in communicating with locals and navigating your way around the country.
- Check out more safety tips.
Which hostels to stay in Quito, Ecuador?
Quito, Ecuador has a variety of hostels to choose from, depending on your budget, location preference, and preferred amenities. Here are some popular hostels to consider:
- Selina Quito: This trendy hostel is located in the historic center of Quito and features a rooftop terrace with stunning views of the city. It offers private and shared rooms, a bar, a restaurant, and a coworking space.
- Community Hostel: This eco-friendly hostel is located in the bohemian neighborhood of La Floresta and features a garden, a terrace, a shared kitchen, and a lounge area. It offers private and shared rooms and is within walking distance of many cafes, bars, and restaurants.
- The Secret Garden: This quirky hostel is located in the heart of Quito’s historic center and features a rooftop terrace with panoramic views of the city. It offers private and shared rooms, a bar, a restaurant, and a communal kitchen.
- Colonial House Inn: This budget-friendly hostel features a garden, a terrace, and a shared kitchen. It offers private and shared rooms and is within walking distance of many bars and restaurants.
- Vibes Hostel Quito: This modern hostel is located in the La Carolina neighborhood and features a rooftop terrace, a shared kitchen, and a lounge area. It offers private and shared rooms and is within walking distance of many parks and shopping centers.
These are just a few of the many hostels available in Quito, Ecuador. Be sure to read recent reviews because things could have changed after writing this guide although these were the best ones I found with more stars and within the old town.
Highlights in Quito, Ecuador?
Quito, Ecuador is a beautiful and historic city that offers many attractions and activities for visitors to enjoy. Here are some of the top highlights to consider:
- Historic Center: Quito’s historic center is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and features beautiful colonial architecture, picturesque plazas, and many museums and churches to explore.
- Teleferico: Take a ride on the Teleferico, a cable car that takes you to the top of the Pichincha Volcano for stunning views of the city and surrounding mountains.
- La Ronda: This charming cobblestone street in the historic center is lined with art galleries, cafes, and restaurants, and is a great place to stroll and soak up the local culture.
- Basilica del Voto Nacional: This impressive Gothic-style church is one of the largest in South America and features stunning stained glass windows, intricate carvings, and panoramic views of the city from its towers.
- Mitad del Mundo (Middle of the world): Visit the Equator Monument and Museum, located just outside of Quito, to learn about the history and science of the equator, and take some fun photos with one foot in each hemisphere. Local buses go all the way from the old town or get a taxi. The entrance fee was $5 ($2.50 for seniors above 65 and under 12 yrs) The equator line was lots of fun even though it’s not the “real” line. If you’re set on seeing the legit one you can find it on the hill 30 mins away.
- Mercado Central: This bustling indoor market is a great place to sample traditional Ecuadorian food and drinks, buy souvenirs, and experience the local culture.
- El Panecillo: This hilltop statue of the Virgin Mary is a symbol of Quito and offers breathtaking views of the city from its perch.
These are just a few of the many highlights that Quito, Ecuador has to offer. Be sure to do some research and explore all that this vibrant city has to offer!
Note: If you are short of time than 7 days or want to stay longer in Quito for some reason, you could also easily book some day trips from Quito to Cotopaxi and Quilotoa but it was def more fun spending more time in each place.
Which hostels to book in Cotopaxi National Park?
Cotopaxi National Park is a popular destination for hikers and nature enthusiasts in Ecuador. There are several hostels and lodges located in or near the park that offer accommodation options for visitors. Here are some popular hostels to consider:
- The Secret Garden: This eco-friendly hostel is located just outside the park and offers private and shared rooms, a restaurant, a bar, and a variety of activities and tours for guests to enjoy. They also offer 2 Nights stay with a waterfall hike and all your food is included. Pretty good deal if you ask me.
- Latacunga Hostel: This budget-friendly hostel is located in the nearby town of Latacunga and offers private and shared rooms, a kitchen, and a lounge area. It’s a good option for those looking for a more affordable accommodation option but would require your own transport for ease of travel.
- Tambopaxi Lodge: This rustic lodge is located inside the park and offers private and shared rooms, a restaurant, and stunning views of Cotopaxi Volcano. It’s a great option for those looking to immerse themselves in the park’s natural beauty.
- Hosteria PapaGayo: This cozy lodge is located just outside the park and offers private and shared rooms, a restaurant, and a variety of activities, including horseback riding and hiking.
- Hotel Cotopaxi: This charming bed and breakfast is located near the park and offers comfortable rooms, a restaurant, and a beautiful garden. It’s a good option for those looking for a more relaxed and peaceful accommodation experience.
These are just a few of the many hostels and lodges available in and around Cotopaxi National Park. Be sure to do some research and read reviews before booking to find the best option for you!
Highlights in Latacunga, Ecuador?
Latacunga is a charming city located in the heart of the Andes mountains in Ecuador. It is known for its rich history, colorful festivals, and stunning natural beauty. Here are some of the top highlights to consider when visiting Latacunga:
- La Mama Negra Festival: This annual festival takes place in November and is one of the largest and most colorful festivals in Ecuador. It features colorful parades, traditional music, and dance performances, and celebrates the city’s cultural heritage.
- Cotopaxi National Park: Latacunga is located near Cotopaxi National Park, which offers breathtaking views of Cotopaxi Volcano and a variety of hiking and outdoor activities to enjoy.
- Calle de las Siete Cruces: This charming street in Latacunga’s historic center is lined with beautiful colonial buildings and seven crosses, each representing a different station of the cross.
- Mercado Central: Latacunga’s bustling central market is a great place to sample traditional Ecuadorian food and drinks, buy souvenirs, and experience the local culture.
- Museo Casa de la Cultura: This museum is housed in a beautiful colonial mansion and features exhibits on Latacunga’s history, art, and culture.
- Laguna de Limpiopungo: This beautiful lake is located inside Cotopaxi National Park and offers stunning views of the surrounding mountains and wildlife.
- Eat Empanadas: This was one city in Ecuador where I found legitimate good quality oven-baked empanadas with full filling for 40 cents! Can’t beat that. Check out the Pandaria around town.
These are just a few of the many highlights that Latacunga, Ecuador has to offer. Be sure to explore the city and its surroundings to discover all the hidden gems it has to offer!
After Quito, Cotopaxi, and Latacunga I travelled to Quilotoa lake, also known as Laguna de Quilotoa. It is a popular natural attraction in Ecuador located in the Cotopaxi Province, about 2 hours south of Quito.
The lake location is the caldera of the Quilotoa volcano, which last erupted about 800 years ago. The lake is about 3 kilometers wide and has a depth of approximately 250 meters. Its distinctive turquoise color is due to dissolved minerals in the water, such as sulfur and calcium carbonate. The lake is a popular tourist destination, known for its stunning views and hiking trails around the rim of the caldera.
You could do a day walk around the rim or multi-night loop hikes which could be good practice if you want to summit Cotopaxi or other Volcans in the country.
Anyway here are a few popular hostels to consider in Quilotoa lake
Which hostels to stay in Quilotoa lake?
Highlights in Banos, Ecuador
Banos is a popular tourist destination in Ecuador, known for its stunning natural beauty, hot springs, and outdoor activities. Here are some highlights of Banos that you may want to explore.
- La Casa del Arbol: This treehouse is located on a hill overlooking Banos and is a popular attraction for visitors. The treehouse is accessible by a short hike or by driving up the hill, and it offers stunning views of the Tungurahua volcano and the surrounding mountains. Visitors can also take a ride on the famous “Swing at the End of the World,” which is a swing that hangs from a tree branch and offers incredible views of the landscape below.
- The Basilica of Our Lady of the Holy Water: This beautiful church is located in the center of Banos and is a popular pilgrimage site for Ecuadorians. It is believed to have healing powers, and many visitors come to bathe in the holy water. The church is also known for its stunning architecture and beautiful stained glass windows.
- The Hot Springs: Banos is known for its hot springs, which are believed to have healing properties. There are several hot springs located in and around the town, including the popular Termas de la Virgen and the upscale Luna Runtun Spa. Visitors can relax in the warm pools and enjoy the beautiful views of the surrounding mountains.
- Waterfall Tour: Banos is surrounded by beautiful waterfalls, and visitors can take a guided tour to see some of the most stunning falls in the area. The tour usually includes visits to the Pailon del Diablo waterfall, the Manto de la Novia waterfall, and the Agoyan waterfall.
- Adventure Activities: Banos is a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts, and there are many adventure activities available in the area. Visitors can go hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, rafting, canyoning, or zip-lining, among other things. The town is also a popular starting point for climbing the nearby Tungurahua volcano.
Here are some popular hikes in Banos. Personally did 1,2, 4 & 5.
- Ruta de las Cascadas: This is a popular hiking and biking trail that takes visitors through the beautiful countryside around Banos. The trail passes by several stunning waterfalls, including the Manto de la Novia and the Pailon del Diablo. The trail is about 18 km long and can be done as a day trip from Banos.
- Bellavista: This hike takes visitors up to a scenic overlook that offers stunning views of the surrounding mountains and valleys. The hike is about 7 km round-trip and takes about 3-4 hours to complete. The trail is moderately difficult, with steep uphill sections and rocky terrain.
- Volcan Tungurahua: The nearby Tungurahua volcano offers several hiking routes for visitors. The hikes range from easy to difficult, depending on the route chosen. Visitors can hike to the base of the volcano or all the way to the summit, depending on their level of fitness and experience.
- Casa del Arbol: Visitors can hike up to the famous treehouse at Casa del Arbol, which offers incredible views of the surrounding mountains and valleys. The hike is about 5 km round-trip and takes about 2-3 hours to complete. The trail is moderately difficult, with some steep uphill sections.
- Sendero de la Virgen: This is a moderate hike that takes visitors up to the Virgen de Agua Santa statue, which overlooks Banos. The trail is about 2 km long and takes about 1-2 hours to complete. Along the way, visitors can enjoy beautiful views of the town and the surrounding countryside.
- El Altar: This is a challenging multi-day hike that takes visitors through the stunning El Altar National Park. The park is home to several towering volcanoes, lakes, and waterfalls, and the hike offers incredible views of the landscape. The hike is about 50 km long and takes 3-5 days to complete.
- El Manto de la Novia: This is a moderate hike that takes visitors to the base of the Manto de la Novia waterfall. The trail is about 1 km long and takes about 30 minutes to complete. Along the way, visitors can enjoy beautiful views of the waterfall and the surrounding landscape.
- Los Tucanes Trail: This is a moderate hike that takes visitors through the cloud forest near Banos. The trail is about 5 km long and takes about 2-3 hours to complete. Along the way, visitors can spot a variety of bird species, including toucans and hummingbirds.
- Chimborazo Volcano: Chimborazo is Ecuador’s highest mountain and is a popular hiking destination for those looking for a challenge. The hike to the summit takes 2-3 days and is a difficult climb, with steep inclines and high altitudes. However, for those who make it to the top, the views are breathtaking, and visitors can see as far as the Pacific Ocean on a clear day.
It’s important to note that hiking to the summit of Chimborazo is not for beginners, and it’s recommended to go with an experienced guide or tour company. There are also shorter hikes around the mountain that offer stunning views and are suitable for hikers of different skill levels. One popular hike is the Whymper Route, which takes visitors to a refuge at 5,000 meters and offers incredible views of the surrounding landscape.
Which hostels to stay in Banos?
- Hostal D’Mathias: This budget-friendly hostel is located just a few blocks from the city center and offers private and shared rooms, a communal kitchen, a lounge area, and a rooftop terrace with some views of the surrounding mountains.
- Erupcion Art Hotel & Hostel: This stylish hostel is located in a historic building just a few blocks from the city center and offers private and shared rooms, a communal kitchen, a rooftop terrace, and a variety of activities and tours.
- Hostal Chimenea: This cozy hostel is located just a few blocks from the hot springs and offers private and shared rooms, a communal kitchen, a lounge area, and a rooftop terrace with beautiful views of the city.
- Great Hostels: This friendly hostel is located in the heart of Banos and offers private and shared rooms, a communal kitchen, a rooftop terrace, and a variety of activities and tours.
- Montano Camping & Hostel: The hostel is about a 10min walk away from the busiest part of town which is perfect and is surrounded by greenery and mountains.
These are just a few of the many hostels available in Banos. Be sure to do some research and read reviews before booking to find the best option for you!
What and Where to eat in Ecuador?
Ecuador has a rich culinary tradition, with a diverse range of dishes that are influenced by its indigenous, Spanish, and African heritage. As you will be spending at least a week in Ecuador, here are some popular Ecuadorian dishes you should try.
- Ceviche: A seafood dish made with raw fish marinated in lime juice and served with onions, tomatoes, and cilantro.
- Locro: A hearty potato soup made with cheese, avocado, and corn.
- Hornado: Roast pork served with potatoes and corn.
- Encebollado: A fish soup made with onions, yuca, and spices.
- Arroz con Menestra y Carne Asada: Rice served with lentils and grilled steak.
- Llapingachos: Stuffed potato cakes filled with cheese and served with chorizo, avocado, and peanut sauce.
- Fanesca: A traditional soup made with beans, grains, and vegetables, served during Easter.
- Empanadas: A popular snack made with a pastry filled with meat, cheese, or vegetables.
- Churrasco: Grilled steak served with rice, beans, and fries.
- Choclo: A type of corn served with cheese and fresh herbs.
- Helado de Paila: A traditional Ecuadorian ice cream made in a large copper pot.
- Mote Pillo: A dish made with hominy corn and scrambled eggs.
Overall, Ecuador has a rich and diverse culinary tradition with many delicious dishes to try. Don’t be afraid to explore and try new things!
What drinks to try in Ecuador?
There are several popular drinks to try in Ecuador. Here are some of them:
- Chicha: A fermented corn drink that is commonly consumed in the Andes region of Ecuador. It can be made with purple or white corn and has a slightly sour taste.
- Canelazo: A hot drink made with cinnamon, panela (unrefined sugar), and aguardiente (sugar cane alcohol). It’s perfect for cold evenings in the Andes.
- Colada Morada: A sweet and spicy drink made with purple corn flour, fruits, spices, and panela. It’s traditionally served during the Day of the Dead festivities.
- Horchata: A refreshing drink made with ground almonds, rice, and cinnamon.
- Guayusa: A type of tea made with the leaves of the guayusa plant, which is native to the Amazon region of Ecuador. It has a smooth taste and is said to provide a natural energy boost.
- Mora: A juice made with blackberries, sugar, and water. It’s a refreshing drink to try on a hot day.
- Pilsener: A popular Ecuadorian beer that has a light and refreshing taste.
Overall, Ecuador has many delicious and unique drinks to try, so don’t be afraid to experiment and try new things!
I hope this Ecuador backpacking itinerary helped you plan your 7 days in Ecuador travel. If you have some more time, the Galapagos islands – the real one & the poor man’s one both come highly recommend too.
Let me know in the comments:
If you have any questions about this 7 days backpacking in Ecuador itinerary
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