Ecuador’s portion of the Amazon rainforest and access to the Andean foothills has gifted the country with 11 national parks including the world-renowned Galapagos Islands. Named the World’s Leading Green Destination more than once, Ecuador’s government and tourism bureau continue to cooperate to raise awareness and preserve the country’s environment and promote sustainable tourism. Visit eco-friendly Ecuador and enjoy a diverse range of enticing outdoor activities in stunning landscapes.
The Amazon rainforest cannot be missed on any South American venture, so while in Ecuador, embark on a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to experience a lush and green paradise of biodiversity. Explore Ecuador’s Amazon region on group excursions or with a private guide through local agencies. For a more immersive experience book through an eco-lodge and stay in environmentally friendly accommodations that provide many activities that leave a minimal impact like jungle hikes, boat rides, lake and waterfall tours, wildlife viewing or bird watching. Look for lodges that also offer spa and hot-tub treatments so you can properly relax after a long day of sightseeing and exploring.
Yasuni National Park
While each of Ecuador’s national parks has its own uniqueness, Yasuni National Park beats the rest when it comes to remoteness and virtually undisturbed grounds. Yasuni National Park is located where the Andes Mountains, the equator, and the Amazon meet and can only be reached by plane or boat. Plan your visit through an eco-lodge and while there observe the local species of exotic birds. You also have the opportunity to interact with indigenous tribes such as the Waorani and Kichwa at this remote park.
One of the simplest, but most impressive eco-activities to do in Ecuador is visiting its waterfalls. Peguche Waterfall is located near Otavalo, a local reserve run by an indigenous community. The falls are considered sacred by its native people and are used for purification rituals and celebrations. To reach the falls, hike through flourishing forests, around and over pools of waters and gushing streams. Follow the trail to a vista point high above, for some truly amazing views. Visit Peguche Waterfall in June for the Sun Festival and experience traditional Otavalo dance and music.
Visit Ecuador’s largest waterfall at the San Rafael Falls. Sitting at the foot of Volcano Reventador, the waterfall is 25 kilometers (16 miles) from Tena City. The water cascades from over 150 meters above, flowing down from the Coca River. The waterfall takes about a 30-minute hike to reach. Make sure to wear water-resistant shoes as the trail can get muddy.
About 600 hundred miles west of Ecuador lie the breathtaking, 13 island archipelago of the Galapagos. The majority of the area is a UNESCO national park, with stunning views and exotic species like the Galapagos tortoise, sea lions, penguins, and albatross to name a few. Hop between islands to see the most of what the Galapagos has to offer. Eco-friendly tour operators provide hikes through plant and animal habitats, swimming experiences with sea lions, diving, snorkeling, and land-based tours.
Local tour providers work closely with conservation and animal protection rights groups, so there are some definite dos and don’ts to ensure you are being a responsible tourist. Some of these include staying on approved paths, not feeding the animals, and not using flash on your camera while snapping pictures of animals in the wild.
Multi-Day Treks and Biking Adventure Tours
Active travelers will be happy to know that a large variety of tour suppliers offer intense multi-day trips that involve hiking, rafting, biking, and even horseback riding. From trekking across the Andes Mountains to rafting down Amazon rainforest rivers to climbing active volcanos, experience Ecuador’s biodiversity and rich geography while challenging yourself and staying green.
Lying on the equator between Colombia and Peru, Ecuador is an amalgam of mountains, forests, jungles, rivers, waterfalls, flora and fauna, and indigenous tribes to discover. Best of all, being a responsible visitor is made easier when working with locals and government agencies to reduce environmental impact.