Ecuador is a favorite international destination. Start with whitewater kayaking, rafting, biking, yoga retreats, bird watching and multi-sport adventures…and that is just the start of what you can do here.
The rivers of Ecuador are what initially brought us to this beautiful country, but it was the people. the scenery, the potential of this favored destination that have kept us here all these years. Ecuador consists of the towering Andes, snowcapped volcanoes, jungle birds and animals, expanses of Amazon jungle, the Pacific Coast and the Galapagos Islands. Visit just once and you will embrace the theme #allyouneedisecuador.
White Water Kayaking: The rivers of Ecuador are what brought us to this beautiful country and 20+ years later, there is no stopping our enthusiasm for sharing time here with our paddling community. We offer kayaking trips from Class III – Class IV+. Our main season is November – February, but we offer custom trips year-round. Our trips are based out of our lovely Rio Quijos Eco Lodge, located on the Quijos River. Ready to join us? Check out dates and trips that will work for you!
Whitewater Rafting: We love the rivers of the Oriente so much that it was only a matter of time before we added whitewater rafting to our itineraries. Single day, multi-day and multi-sport options are available. Our riverside lodge, the Rio Quijos Eco Lodge, provides the perfect ending to any day on the river.
Mountain Biking: There is no better way to explore the many cultures of Ecuador than on a mountain bike. Our itineraries span the Oriente of Ecuador with days of jungle scenery followed by days of snow-capped volcanoes as as our point of embarkation. Our trips range from one day to week long itineraries and multi-sport itineraries can be customized for you.
Yoga Retreats: The RioQuijos EcoLodge offers everything a yoga retreat could be: a yoga center on the beach of the Quijos River, private use of the lodge, custom menus that can accommodate vegetarian, vegan and ayurveda, as well as adventure options to enhance your yoga retreat.
Rio Quijos EcoLodge: the darling of the Quijos Valley. Our eco-lodge is nestled on the Quijos River. Surrounded by 40 acres of nature, you will go to sleep to the sound of the river and wake to the sound of a collection of extraordinary birds. Our private beach is the perfect launch spot for kayaking and rafting, as well as our yoga center.
Whether you need a break from the fast pace of Quito, or are looking to explore the Oriente of Ecuador during your visit, the lodge is a perfect destination for enjoying the beauty of the Quijos Valley.
THE COUNTRY OF ECUADOR
A country of immense cultural wealth and geographical diversity unmatched in the Americas, Ecuador is only half the size of France. The striking geographical and cultural contrasts found in this one small country are what make Ecuador such a fascinating place to visit. Ecuador consists of the towering Andes, snowcapped volcanoes, jungle birds and animals, expanses of Amazon jungle, the Pacific Coast and the Galapagos Islands. Ecuadorians include descendants of the Spanish conquistadors and original pre-Columbian inhabitants, many of whom still speak “Quicha” and maintain traditions from Inca times and before. The people are approachable and easy going and you will find them remarkably open to travelers.
Ecuador was one of the original Inca civilizations. The land that is now Ecuador was first brought under one rule when the Incas of Peru invaded in the middle of the 15th century. The republic of Ecuador took its name in the early 1800’s from the equatorial line that runs through its heart. Straddled across the Andes on the most westerly point of South America, it is the smallest of the Andean countries. The Andean mountain chain divides the country into three distinct regions: the coastal plain or “Costa”; the mountains or “Sierra”; and the eastern jungle or “Oriente”. The fourth region is the Galapagos Islands, 1000 kilometers due west in the Pacific Ocean.
The country is made up of virgin-forested canyons interspersed with small farming villages. Abundant tropical flora and fauna complete the picture. Ecuador is a bird watcher’s paradise as the wide variety of habitats from tropical rain forests to windswept highlands, mangrove swamps to cloud forests provide a birder with a wider range of species than any other country in the Americas. Over 1,500 bird species have been recorded here (which is two times as many as in the US and Canada combined).
Located directly on the equator, Ecuador’s climate is not a four-season climate. The seasons simply alternate between dry and rainy. Temperatures change little between seasons; however, each day runs the gamut of temperatures (i.e.: Quito’s daily range of temperature is between 56° – 70°F). Typically, days will start out warm. If clouds build up in the afternoon, temperatures will drop, and rain is likely in the late-afternoons. Evenings are cool.
THE CAPITAL: QUITO
Quito, the capital of Ecuador, is a beautiful city. At 9,400 ft., it is surrounded by snow-capped volcanoes just 24 kilometers from the equator. Although it was an important Indian City in Inca and pre-Inca times, its indigenous buildings have been erased, and today Quito is divided between the colonial architecture and sculpture of its Spanish conquest days-“old town”, and the clean line of its modern section- “new Quito.” This combination of well-preserved 16th century colonial churches and contemporary architecture makes it one of the most beautiful cities in the whole of Latin America. Ecuador is a well-traveled country for Europeans and staying in Quito will be one of the highlights of your trip.
THE PEOPLE AND THE CULTURE
Ecuadorians include descendants of the Spanish Conquistadors and original pre-Columbian inhabitants, many of whom still speak “Quichua” and maintain traditions from Inca times and before. The people are approachable and easy-going, and you will find them remarkably open to foreigners. Politically Ecuador has been under democratic rule since 1979. Oil has occupied a key place in recent Ecuadorian history, bringing Americans into the country in the early ’70s. The Lonely Planet describes Ecuador as one of the safest to travel in South America.
TRAVEL TIPS FOR ENJOYING ECUADOR
- Expect that the pace will be different than what you are used to in the States. Leave U.S. expectation at home and enjoy the cultural change. Life moves at a different pace in Ecuador. You will find that many times you will hurry up, just to end up waiting. Remember, you’re on vacation leave your watch behind!
- Make sure and get a travel guide ahead of time to read up on the country and all the options you have. We have copies of the Lonely Planet Travel Survival Kit book in stock in our store. We can send a copy to you.
- To visit as a tourist, all you need is a valid passport. The expiration date on your passport must be six months after your travel dates. You will get a T-3 tourist card from Immigration, which you should keep as it is needed to leave the country. Before leaving home, photocopy your passport and have it in a separate spot than your original.
- No vaccinations are required to enter the country. Diarrhea is the most common illness. We personally recommend Hepatitis, Tetanus and Flu Shots. Malaria is a small risk in the lower coastal regions. We strongly encourage you to consult your personal physician about what would be best for you.
- Bring strong sunscreen and a hat. Altitude sickness (soroche) can sometimes affect travelers arriving in Quito. Andean air is thin, so take it easy for the first day.
- Pull out your Spanish! Ecuadorians will be most helpful in trying to figure out what you are saying, especially when accompanied by a smile.
- Statistically Ecuador is safe, but travel wisely as you would in any big city. Avoid flashy jewelry and keep track of your purse, wallet, backpack or fanny pack. If you are in downtown Quito, watch out for pick- pocketers. Taxis are inexpensive and an easy solution to wandering around looking lost.
- Ecuador is on the US dollar. Plan on bringing your money in small bills ($5 and $10 bills). It is difficult to find change for large bills (a $20 is considered large on the street!). Major credit cards are accepted in larger hotels, restaurants and shops in Quito. Once outside Quito do not plan on finding any ATM machines
- Food and Water- Do not drink the tap water (bottled water is readily available). Stay clear of uncooked vegetables, salads not properly treated or unpeeled fruits, as well as food vendors on the street.
If you need to stay in touch with those at home, plan on the following: In Quito it is effortless. There are Internet Cafes providing inexpensive computer time and Internet phone calls, and wifi is available in probably 90% of the country. Cell phone service is remarkable throughout Ecuador, but do check with your provider about international rates before departing–including data plans. Take caution making a phone call from a hotel room or through a US phone service—both are very expensive, especially relative to the Internet or phone cards. Once out of Quito, internet cafes are found even in smaller towns, as well as internet phones.
WHAT TO DO WITH EXTRA DAYS
Ecuador offers such a great diversity that we cannot possibly acquaint you with it all in your days of paddling. We highly encourage you to spend some extra time touring Ecuador’s fascinating sites. And we highly recommend Altar Tours in Quito to help you with all your extra travel needs. Options to get you started include:
- Hang-out time in Quito with its churches and museums and great places to explore
- Galapagos Islands-how could you pass up the chance!
- Climbing Volcano Cotopaxi or Chimborazo
- Take a SUP trip in Cuyebeno
- Taking an Amazon Jungle Tour
- 1-day bike trips from Cotopaxi
- Otavalo Market.
- Shopping- there is no better place in all of Latin America to purchase hand crafted items! Saturday will provide you with the opportunity to wander through the many shops and boutiques of New Quito. Note: Haggling on prices is appropriate in the market areas but not in the shops. As a tourist you are a target for being charged more. ALWAYS ask the price before accepting it and do not be shy about haggling for a lower price. And make sure you have small bills (20’s are large in Ecuador). Exception: the finer stores. No haggling and credit cards are accepted.