Written by Jenny McWhirter on 10 / 08 / 2017
Gap Year Advice
10 reasons why you should NEVER travel to Ecuador on your gap year
If you want to visit a country whose diversity combines everything a gap year traveller could ever want, then stay well clear of Ecuador!
Santa Ana de los Ríos de Cuenca sits in a valley surrounded by Andean mountains in the south of Ecuador. Its history dates back to its founding in 1557 and this can be seen all over the contemporary city – according to the inventory of construction, 5% of its buildings are of ‘monumental value’ and 60% are of ‘prime importance.’ It also still keeps the same orthogonal floor plan instigated 400 years ago!
Carnival is one of the main festivals celebrated in Ecuadorian tradition. Usually celebrated the week before lent, carnival aims to compensate for the following weeks of penance in remembrance of Christ’s crucifixion. It involves water fights, egg and flour chucking, parades, and people wearing fancy dress…a great thing to do in Ecuador on your gap year.
Every Saturday, one-third of the town of Otovalo becomes covered in market stalls, its inhabitants selling a wide range of textiles to sell to both tourists and fellow community members. Products include musical instruments, dream catchers, indigenous costumes, hand-painted platters and trays, purses, clothing, spices, raw foods and spools of wool. A great place to practice your haggling!
Built at the bottom of the active Tungurahua Volcano, Banos is adrenaline junky heaven! Activities such as canyoning, white-water rafting, paragliding, mountain biking, bridge swings, hot springs and waterfall tours are just some of the activities available - and fairly cheaply too! It is also rumoured to have a big nightlife…
Because of Ecuador’s extremely diverse landscape and environment, the list of animals you'll see in Ecuador on your gap year is vast. Ranging from those found in the Amazon rainforest such as river dolphins, jaguars, ocelots, monkeys, sloths and anteaters, to those found by the coast like large iguanas, colourful geckos, tortoises, lizards, and huge anacondas. You will never leave without seeing enough cool animals to last a lifetime
Not only can you take a cruise around the Galapagos seeing the most beautiful sights the islands have to offer but there are also places on the coast that you can actually swim with some of the animals you see…like sea lions!
Each of the numerous beaches in Ecuador provides a little slice of paradise for both tourists and locals. Ranging from secluded eco-lodges, to surfer haven, to simple fishing villages, there is something for everyone. One of the most popular for travellers is Motañita- a popular surfing destination with a great nightlife.
Whether you are standing on the beach at Montañita, or looking up at Cotopaxi Volcano you are sure to witness a sunset (or sunrise) that is simply sublime.
Just a few bus rides from the backpacker neighbourhood of La Mariscal is the chance to be in the ‘Mitad del Mundo’ (the middle of the world). Here you can check out the interesting experiments that have taken place as well as see the large monument built in commemoration of the geographical feature.
Ecuador is one of the cheapest places to visit the Amazon, and with the chance to learn all about the history of its indigenous inhabitants and get up close to extremely rare animals, why wouldn’t you grab the opportunity?
Okay as you can clearly see, going to Ecuador on your gap year will be the trip of a lifetime. There are so many places to see and things to do that it is sure to be an unforgettable experience!
If this has caught your eye have a look at our Ecuador page and the programmes we offer
on 10 / 08 / 2017