Backpacking in Ecuador
- Ingapirca – For just $6 you can tour the largest Inca ruins in Ecuador. A short hike will take you to the temple of the sun, a must-see for every amateur archeologist or Indiana Jones buff. Budget backpacking in Ecuador cant get much easier.
- Banos – Four hours away from Quitos is a veritable playground for travellers. Nestled in a valley of hot springs and waterfalls, Banos offers everything the outdoorsman (or woman) could hope for in terms of recreation. For just a little bit of money, you can tour this region by raft or horseback, but be sure you don’t leave until you’ve walked down the painted halls of the Basilica de Nuestra Señora del Rosario de Agua Santa.
- Otavalo Market – If you shied away from our description of Ipiales, then Otavalo might be the perfect place for you. It’s the country’s largest indigenous market, and features a variety of handcrafted items for sale, such as clothing, jewelry, and musical instruments.
- The Devil’s Nose – If you love roller-coasters and coming face to face with your own mortality atop cliffs, then this is the tourist attraction for you. The ride is short, but offers an unparalleled view of the Andes and some truly terrifying turns along the way.
Piazza di Quito in the valley of the Sierra
- Animal Refuge Center at Puyo – If voluncationing is more your speed, then for about $30/day you can spend 2 weeks working at the country’s largest animal refuge in Puyo. The cost covers boarding, food, and all the fluffy animals you can hold.
- Amazonian Rainforest – No list of attractions in Ecuador would be complete without mentioning the rainforest. There are a variety of guided tours in all price ranges, but for the very adventurous (or very broke), exploration of one of the most biologically diverse environments in the world only costs you the bus ticket out there.
- Lava Tubes – These are, as the name suggests, large caves made from hardened lava flows. Although those found at Santa Cruz (the Galapagos) are the most well-known, there are actually several sites along the coast of the mainland where you can take a self-guided tour of the lava tubes for the low, low price of free.
- Espanola Island – Getting to the galapagos requires a boat ride or flight, and although lodging on the island isn’t prohibitively expensive, it’s more than the $8/day average of the mainland. But if you’re going to drop a little money on a vacation hotspot, then this is the time to do so. And although tourists often shell out big bucks for guided tours of the area, there’s nothing to stop the seasoned backpacker from hiking around this island and its historic Gardner Bay for the cost of a boat ride over. From lava lizards to Darwin finches to Blue-Footed Boobies, this island has something to inspire awe in every nature lover. And if birds and blowholes aren’t your thing, then maybe you can just hang out and take some selfies with the hundreds of sea-lions that call Gardner Bay home.
A favorite place to stay is Hostel Nucapacha in Guayaquil. It’s full of common areas and a friendly, down-home atmosphere. You get the best of both worlds; it’s in a quiet area, but the bars and restaurants are just a few minutes away.
All of this in a country where $5 per day is a generous eating allowance. Budget backpacking South America has many beautiful countries to visit, but you’d be hard-pressed to find a better bang for your buck than Ecuador.