Cotopaxi - Ecuador

Adventures To Do in Ecuador Off the Beaten Path

Some adventurous travelers like to go where not many tourists go. They like to mingle with the locals, really get to know authentic Ecuador and make their vacation a true discovery. If you want to know what adventures there are to do off the beaten paths in Ecuador, then this article is written for you.

Explore Ecuador’s best Kayaking and rafting places together with the local pros.

The province of Napo is known as the river’s capital. Tena, its primary city, has become a frequent spot for international water sport competitions such as rafting and kayaking. However, not only athletes come to visit this off the beaten path in Ecuador. A great variety of rapids and lush jungle sceneries makes this a unique spot for anyone willing to have adventure at the gates of the Amazon.

While boarding the Napo River, thirty minutes away from the center of Tena, you will reach the small but lively town of Misahuallí. This town is an ideal stop to practice any kind of river sport. If you’re interested in classes, you may want to visit the surrounding area of the Jondachi River. Some local guides have become professional sportsmen, and will surely give you the perfect tips to improve your technique.

Misahuallí - Ecuador
Misahuallí - rafting on the Napo river in Ecuador

Find Ecuador’s off the beaten path hidden surf spots…

If you are looking forward to practicing ocean sports, you won’t want to miss the Ecuadorian coasts. The southern province of Santa Elena is filled with surfing beaches. One of the most popular is Olón, which is recognized as the first town where surfing began in Ecuador. A hundred meters above the steep coast, you will reach the hidden Mirador de Olón. It was built in the 1980s and still remains a little-known place along the popular Ruta del Spondylus, which runs along the coastal side of Ecuador.

As you leave Santa Elena behind, you may want to visit El Oro province. At the very bottom of it, near the Jambelí Island in Santa Rosa, you will reach the last beach of the Ecuadorian territory: Playa San Gregorio. Due to its proximity with the border of Peru, it’s a perfect boating gateway to the funky shore of Huaquillas.

Olón - Ecuador
Olón - an off the beaten path surf destination in Ecuador

Next, Manabí is always mentioned as the province with the most beautiful beaches in the country. Some of them are not commonly visited, but they can be cataloged as real oases. Playa El Rocío is one of them. It is located in the south of Puerto Cayo. This virgin coast with no surrounding communities is a peaceful place to camp after reaching it through the eco-tourist trail of El Rocío. To the north, at the cantón Jama, you can ask for the malecón of Don Juan. It is also a lovely place to spend the night. It has a tiny natural pool organically built by the surrounding rock formations, making it the perfect spot to rest after a long day.

…and all the off the beaten path coastal adventures that come along with it

Heading north to Portete, in Esmeraldas, you will find one of the most mysterious beaches of Ecuador. Nearby inhabitants call it the Jupiter Island. The only way to get there is by a 20 minutes boat drive from the Isla Portete, 3 hours away from the trendy Mompiche Beach, in the south of the province. Hundreds of wild and desolated hectares will invite you to explore the land. The legend says that the only resident of the isla is Dendé, is a ghost who tries to keep you there for eternity. If you dare, you are allowed to spend the night on the island. Otherwise, if you decide to play it safe and stay at Portete, you will surely enjoy swimming, fishing, and skiing on its large clear-water lagoon.

Mompiche Ecuador
The beach of Mompiche. From here, you can go to the hidden Jupiter Island

Climb and hike the hidden tracks to the tops of the Andes...

Back to the Andes region, in the province of Riobamba, the rock-climbing mecca will be waiting for you. La Chorrera, also known as El Acantilado de San Juan, has over a hundred equipped routes to reach the top of its valleys. It also has a perfect view of one of the most stunning landscapes of the central highlands. To get there, take the Guaranda highway and make your way to the Chimborazo Reservation Area. Pass by the San Juan community and talk with the locals to make sure you do not miss the entrance. 

Cotopaxi Volcano is also surrounded by hidden places, especially on the rarely-frequented entrada sur (south entrance). You can spend the night at the Cara Sur Refugee and head to Cerro Morurco early in the morning. Due to its spiky rock formations at the top, it is easy to recognize but hard to reach. Not many have done it, but you can be an exception. If so, you’ll be rewarded with one of the most astonishing views of the Ecuadorian heights, almost 5.000 meters above the sea level. 

Cotopaxi - Ecuador
The cotopaxi has multiple impressive hikes and climbs to the snow tops

…And let your mountain bike bring you down to the Amazon

There are also secret trails in Cotopaxi province that seems to be naturally designed for down-hill. On the way to Llanganates National Park, between the Salcedo town and the Yambo Lagoon, you can try to spot them. Some may want to take you away to the Amazon. If you don’t want to go that far, you can consider visiting the Laguna de Anteojos (Spectacled Bears Lagoon). A fifteen-kilometer path covered with bicycle wheel traces will show you the way.

Hike the unexplored ancient highlands

On the way back to Pichincha, in the surroundings of Quito, there are some quiet but adventurous activities. Quitoloma trekking trails are filled with ancient remains. These yet unexplored lands were the home of long-ago communities of Kitus, Kayambis, and Karankis. You will spot the ruins of these civilizations along the way. Maybe, if you stop by and look carefully, there will be archaeological remains that could be shown in the top museums of the capital.

Quitoloma - Ecuador
At hikes in Quitoloma, you'll encounter ancient remains

Catch waves 850 miles into the Pacific Ocean

If you are visiting the Galápagos Islands between december and march, you will be able to surf the best beaches located off the beaten path in Ecuador. Playa Carola, Tongo Reef and La Lobería, in San Cristobal, will offer you a surfing paradise. This rarely visited areas are getting quite popular because of what you can expect there: 3-meter tall waves! So, don’t miss out these spots for an authentic ocean sport experience.

Surfing Galapagos
Surf 3 meter waves at the remote Galapagos

Are you looking for more information about traveling to Ecuador?

At What To Do in Ecuador?, you’ll find an easy and inspirational summary of what to do in Ecuador.

In the Stories section, you’ll find more stories about travelers’ experiences. You’ll find articles comparing best places to visit and there are several articles giving you practical travel tips.

At Services, you’ll see how South Trips can help you during your trip. You can think of as little as an airport pick-up, the organization of a part of your trip, or as much as a complete day-to-day organized vacation. Any support is always completely personalized.

If you have any questions about Ecuador, traveling to Ecuador or something you did, or did not read at our website, don’t hesitate to contact us. We’re happy to answer all questions.

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