Ecuador Travel Guide

Published at Suite101.com

There’s so Much Natural Diversity in this South American Country

Do you want to learn Spanish, work as a volunteer with children or in nature conservation and travel around one of South America’s most diverse countries? If so then visit Ecuador.

Those thinking of travelling to South America to learn Spanish, to volunteer or travel need look no further than Ecuador. Ecuador is one of the most diverse, beautiful countries in South America and offers all the above in an abundance.

Quito, Ecuador’s capital city, is the ideal place for those travelling to South America to begin their journey. The city is laden with opportunities to help with becoming immersed in South American culture and to get prepared for travelling onwards around South America.

Ecuador’s capital Quito

Learning Spanish and Choosing the Right Language School

When travelling around South America it is important to have at least a basic understanding of the Spanish language, as most Ecuadorians do not speak any English. This is also useful for those who is interested in doing volunteer work in Ecuador and for travelling onwards around Ecuador and South America.

Understanding Spanish and ultimately being able to communicate, even if only on a basic level, will help with gaining the most possible out of the experience and facilitate with making everything easier and generally more enjoyable.

There is a variety of language schools in Quito, which offer great opportunities to learn Spanish and meet fellow travellers. Here is a list of some of the Spanish courses in Quito:

Volunteer Work in Quito, Ecuador

Volunteering in Ecuador can be a very rewarding, positive experience. Quito is packed full of opportunities to volunteer teaching English in a children’s schools and to help out in orphanages. However if you are looking to volunteer in a nature conservation there are plenty of opportunities outside of Quito to do this.

Volunteer work with children in Quito

Some of the volunteer opportunities offer accommodation. A recommended accommodation option would be to live with a host family, as this is a fantastic way to get immersed into the Ecuadorian culture and seriously improve your Spanish, as this would most likely be the only way of communicating with the family.

Here are some volunteer options:

Volunteer Ecuador is a great option if you would like to work in a school teaching English. They have two accommodation options to: to stay with an Ecuadorian host family or to share an accommodation with other volunteers.

Greenheart Travel is a program offering volunteer opportunities in an orphanage in the centre of Quito. Help is greatly needed with after-school tutoring, organizing recreational activities, helping to work with the children in the garden, and general counselling support. Accommodation during the project is with a carefully screened host families in Quito.

JAMA is a beach conservation project on the Pacific Coast of Ecuador. The main objective of the project is to support sustainable development through the marine and coastal resources. The project focuses on the environment, research, conservation, education and recreation and includes 3 meals daily and the accommodation in the volunteers’ house.

Places To See In Ecuador

Being such a diverse country there are many places to see in Ecuador, from colonial cities, to tropical beaches, to volcanic mountains, to thick jungle.

Other than Quito another must see city in Ecuador is Cuenca. This beautiful colonial city is one of four United National World Heritage Sites in Ecuador. The picturesque main plaza is a very relaxing place to get your orientation of the city. It is possible and definitely recommended to organise going to the Canar Providence, a one hour drive from Cuenca, to do some down hill mountain biking. It’s a very good way to see more of the country and really fun too. There are lots of companies in Cuenca that organise this and one of them is Tours en Cuenca.

The Galapagos Islands

Otavalo, which is up in the Highlands, is famous for its Saturday market. In Otavalo you can find every type of local merchandise, food and even livestock for sale. The prices often double for foreigners so try and negotiate before buying.

The more active, adventurous traveller should explore Cotopaxi Volcano, which is still active and you can actually climb to the top (recommended with a guide) and repel down into the active crater.

In Ecuador there are some beautiful beaches. Amongst them is quiet fishing town Canoa, which is the best coastal destination for an Ecuadorian atmosphere. Canoa is very popular with the more adventurous traveller yet it isn’t as touristy as some of the bigger beach towns, such as Salinas.

Further a field are the Galapagos Islands, which are probably the most famous (and most expensive) part of the country. They are the islands where Darwin did his research on evolution and are a natural wonder of exotic wildlife and active volcanoes.

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