The Andes mountains line through the middle of Ecuador and this is where you’ll find much of the heart and soul of Ecuadorian food, music and culture.
Farmers markets such as Otavalo, traditional Quechua culture and dress, as well as great Ecuadorian coffee and chocolate come from this region. If you’re craving to eat some guinea pig, then you’ll be able get your opportunity in the Andes of Ecuador!
Quito is the main attraction for the Andes region, and well worth spending a few days exploring. The city once had a bad reputation for crime, pickpockets and robberies, but overall Ecuador is very safe. Be a smart traveler, and be extra cautious at night, and you’ll be fine. Be sure to take a city tour to the Old Town and visit some of the impressive churches and museums. Including a visit out the Mitad del Mundo (the Equator!) is also a lot of fun.
If you’re interested in doing day trips or weekend adventures to the National Parks of Ecuador, then Quito is a great place to start.
Banos is perhaps the most popular place to head to for a few days, after exploring Quito. It’s an adventure town with some hot springs, and an idyllic setting nestled in amongst the mountains. Hiking, biking, quad-biking, bungee jumping, rafting, zip lining and all sorts of activities are possible from here. We personally love exploring the many nearby waterfalls by bike!
Cuenca is a bit of an alter-ego type of town compared to Banos. It is more polished and offers up a richer experience for those who prefer culture and history over adventure. The Inca site of Ingapirca is close to Cuenca, which has plenty of churches and interesting architecture in town to keep your camera clicking. Both Ingapirca and Cuenca are UNESCO World Heritage Sites.