Backpacking Ecuador

You want to know what it feels like to be in the middle of the world? Then let's go to Ecuador! The country offers countless highlights for backpackers. Above all, it is the combination of compact and cheap that makes it unique in South America.



Have fun exploring our ideal backpacking route for Ecuador.


Important Basics

Official Language: Spanish, (Kichwa, Shuar)
EnglishSpanish
HelloHola
GoodbyeChau
Thank youGracias
Yes
NoNo
Capital city

Quito

Form of government

Presidential Republic

Best time to travel

April to December

Currency

Ecuadorian Sucre

Telephone area code

+593

Fun facts
  • Ecuador has four biosphere reserves, twelve national parks and many other protected areas.
  • The exterior walls of houses in Ecuador are usually not plastered, except for the façade.
  • There is an incredible number of animal and plant species to admire in Ecuador.

Cities

Miami

There could hardly be a better stopover on the way to South America than the iconic Miami Beach, also known as the American Riviera. Sunbathe during the day and go out and enjoy South Beach’s colourful nightlife in the evening. Little Havana and the Wynwood Art District, with its countless galleries and a booming street art scene, are especially worth seeing.

If you have time, take a tour of the nearby Everglades National Park. On a three-and-a-half-hour adventure tour you’ll see the best side of Florida’s paradisiacal wilderness. Enjoy a ride in an airboat through the park, see exotic animal species like alligators, and watch an entertaining and informative wildlife show. The tour costs only 39 euros, including pick-up/drop-off, transfer, and entrance fees.

Stay in Miami Beach for only 17 euros in an eight-bed dorm.

Quito

First stop in Ecuador is Quito, the second-highest capital in the world. Flights from Miami start at 200 euros.

The historic old town has traditional colonial buildings, over 100 churches and 55 monasteries. The equator runs just 20 kilometres north of the metropolis. Take a trip to the Mitad del Mundo monument and take the unique opportunity to walk along the equator. Quito is surrounded by 14 volcanoes, four of which are still active.

From the city, you have a magnificent view of the Cotopaxi National Park. The best way to explore it is on a tour. A drive along the Pan-American Highway gives you a spectacular view of the mountain landscape of the Andes. Experience the fascination of the mighty active Cotopaxi volcano. This day full of adventure costs only 55 euros per person including transfer, tour guide and equipment.

In Quito, you have the option of staying in a hostel for 19 euros in a two-bed room.

Lago Agrio

Continue your journey and head into the huge Amazon rainforest. You can get from Quito to Lago Agrio for only 12 euros.

At Lago Agrio, we recommend a four-day jungle tour. You’ll start your personal jungle adventure with a guide in the Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve. You’ll learn about the unique flora and fauna of the rainforest, take a boat trip on the Cuyabeno River, camp in the wilderness, discover hidden waterfalls, and hike through the legendary jungle landscape.

Including accommodation, transportation, food and all excursions, these four days in the Amazon will cost about 256 euros per person.

Baños

From Lago Agrio we take the bus to Baños.

The small valley town is surrounded by green mountains at the foot of the active volcano Tungurahua and is a paradise for outdoor sports enthusiasts and adventurers. Activities such as rafting, kayaking, trekking, mountain biking, canyoning or bungee jumping are available here at reasonable prices.

There are numerous viewing platforms and waterfalls to discover in the surrounding area - the impressive Pailon del Diablo is particularly worth seeing. The full name Baños de Agua Santa translates as "Baths of the Holy Water". Around the town there are numerous natural hot springs where you can relax after an exciting day. Baños also has a well-kept zoological garden.

For six euros a night, you can stay in a five-bed room in one of the hostels.

Cuenca

The next stop is Cuenca. From Baños, you can travel to Ecuador's third-largest city for about nine euros.

The Tomebamba River divides the city into two halves. To the north is the historic old town with its magnificent churches and colonial houses. On the southern side is the city centre with modern architecture. The landmarks of the former Inca city are two churches facing each other - the New Cathedral and the Old Cathedral.

There are numerous markets, such as the flower market and the farmers' market. At the popular handicraft market, you can see the impressive production of the traditional Panama hats, because of which Cuenca is also known as the city of the Panama hat. We also recommend a trip to the nearby El Cajas National Park, which impresses with picturesque mountain landscapes, idyllic lakes, lagoons and exotic animal species.

In Cuenca, an overnight stay in a hostel costs seven euros in a dorm room.

Montañita

From the mountain town, a bus takes you to Montañita for around 13 euros.

The coastal town attracts visitors with its relaxed hippie flair and white sandy beaches. Here, you can sunbathe, rent a surfboard or drink delicious cocktails in one of the numerous beach bars. If you have had enough of the serenity of the seaside resort, you can plunge into the legendary nightlife after sunset - Montañita is considered the party metropolis of Ecuador.

In the surroundings of Montañita, there are untouched nature reserves, mountain landscapes and dream beaches like Playa de Olón to discover. Near the beach, you can stay in one of the hostels for six euros per night in a 4-bed dorm.

Puerto López

Just north of Montañita is the coastal town of Puerto López. A bus ride to the small seaside town will cost you two euros.

Here, you’ll find the perfect mix of relaxation, action, and South American culture. Relax on the picturesque sandy beaches, visit traditional salsa bars, and enjoy fresh local specialities. We also recommend an excursion to Playa de los Frailes, the most beautiful beach in the area, and a boat trip to Isla de la Plata, where you can watch humpback whales, giant turtles, and blue-footed boobies.

Stay overnight in Puerto López in a seven-bed dorm for 15 euros per night.

From Puerto López, you’ll be driven back to Quito for 20 euros. Spend a few more days in the city to finish off your South America trip.

After three unforgettable weeks at the Navel of the World, fly from Quito via Miami back home.


Miami

Miami

There could hardly be a better stopover on the way to South America than the iconic Miami Beach, also known as the American Riviera. Sunbathe during the day and go out and enjoy South Beach’s colourful nightlife in the evening. Little Havana and the Wynwood Art District, with its countless galleries and a booming street art scene, are especially worth seeing.

If you have time, take a tour of the nearby Everglades National Park. On a three-and-a-half-hour adventure tour you’ll see the best side of Florida’s paradisiacal wilderness. Enjoy a ride in an airboat through the park, see exotic animal species like alligators, and watch an entertaining and informative wildlife show. The tour costs only 39 euros, including pick-up/drop-off, transfer, and entrance fees.

Stay in Miami Beach for only 17 euros in an eight-bed dorm.

Quito

Quito

First stop in Ecuador is Quito, the second-highest capital in the world. Flights from Miami start at 200 euros.

The historic old town has traditional colonial buildings, over 100 churches and 55 monasteries. The equator runs just 20 kilometres north of the metropolis. Take a trip to the Mitad del Mundo monument and take the unique opportunity to walk along the equator. Quito is surrounded by 14 volcanoes, four of which are still active.

From the city, you have a magnificent view of the Cotopaxi National Park. The best way to explore it is on a tour. A drive along the Pan-American Highway gives you a spectacular view of the mountain landscape of the Andes. Experience the fascination of the mighty active Cotopaxi volcano. This day full of adventure costs only 55 euros per person including transfer, tour guide and equipment.

In Quito, you have the option of staying in a hostel for 19 euros in a two-bed room.

Lago Agrio

Lago Agrio

Continue your journey and head into the huge Amazon rainforest. You can get from Quito to Lago Agrio for only 12 euros.

At Lago Agrio, we recommend a four-day jungle tour. You’ll start your personal jungle adventure with a guide in the Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve. You’ll learn about the unique flora and fauna of the rainforest, take a boat trip on the Cuyabeno River, camp in the wilderness, discover hidden waterfalls, and hike through the legendary jungle landscape.

Including accommodation, transportation, food and all excursions, these four days in the Amazon will cost about 256 euros per person.

Baños

Baños

From Lago Agrio we take the bus to Baños.

The small valley town is surrounded by green mountains at the foot of the active volcano Tungurahua and is a paradise for outdoor sports enthusiasts and adventurers. Activities such as rafting, kayaking, trekking, mountain biking, canyoning or bungee jumping are available here at reasonable prices.

There are numerous viewing platforms and waterfalls to discover in the surrounding area - the impressive Pailon del Diablo is particularly worth seeing. The full name Baños de Agua Santa translates as "Baths of the Holy Water". Around the town there are numerous natural hot springs where you can relax after an exciting day. Baños also has a well-kept zoological garden.

For six euros a night, you can stay in a five-bed room in one of the hostels.

Cuenca

Cuenca

The next stop is Cuenca. From Baños, you can travel to Ecuador's third-largest city for about nine euros.

The Tomebamba River divides the city into two halves. To the north is the historic old town with its magnificent churches and colonial houses. On the southern side is the city centre with modern architecture. The landmarks of the former Inca city are two churches facing each other - the New Cathedral and the Old Cathedral.

There are numerous markets, such as the flower market and the farmers' market. At the popular handicraft market, you can see the impressive production of the traditional Panama hats, because of which Cuenca is also known as the city of the Panama hat. We also recommend a trip to the nearby El Cajas National Park, which impresses with picturesque mountain landscapes, idyllic lakes, lagoons and exotic animal species.

In Cuenca, an overnight stay in a hostel costs seven euros in a dorm room.

Montañita

Montañita

From the mountain town, a bus takes you to Montañita for around 13 euros.

The coastal town attracts visitors with its relaxed hippie flair and white sandy beaches. Here, you can sunbathe, rent a surfboard or drink delicious cocktails in one of the numerous beach bars. If you have had enough of the serenity of the seaside resort, you can plunge into the legendary nightlife after sunset - Montañita is considered the party metropolis of Ecuador.

In the surroundings of Montañita, there are untouched nature reserves, mountain landscapes and dream beaches like Playa de Olón to discover. Near the beach, you can stay in one of the hostels for six euros per night in a 4-bed dorm.

Puerto López

Puerto López

Just north of Montañita is the coastal town of Puerto López. A bus ride to the small seaside town will cost you two euros.

Here, you’ll find the perfect mix of relaxation, action, and South American culture. Relax on the picturesque sandy beaches, visit traditional salsa bars, and enjoy fresh local specialities. We also recommend an excursion to Playa de los Frailes, the most beautiful beach in the area, and a boat trip to Isla de la Plata, where you can watch humpback whales, giant turtles, and blue-footed boobies.

Stay overnight in Puerto López in a seven-bed dorm for 15 euros per night.

From Puerto López, you’ll be driven back to Quito for 20 euros. Spend a few more days in the city to finish off your South America trip.

After three unforgettable weeks at the Navel of the World, fly from Quito via Miami back home.

Ecuador Route Map

Itinerary and Stops.

Tag
Route/Station
Transport
Unterkunft
1. Home - Miami
Home - Miami
Flight
200
eight-bed dorm
16
2. Miami
Miami
-
eight-bed dorm
16
3. Miami- Quito
Miami- Quito
Flight
200
four-bed dorm
8
4. Quito
Quito
-
four-bed dorm
8
5. Quito - Lago Agrio
Quito - Lago Agrio
Bus
12
private room
17
6. Lago Agrio
Lago Agrio
Tour
Tour Accommodation
7. Lago Agrio
Lago Agrio
-
Tour Accommodation
8. Lago Agrio
Lago Agrio
-
Tour Accommodation
9. Lago Agrio - Baños
Lago Agrio - Baños
Bus
12
five-bed dorm
9
10. Baños
Baños
-
five-bed dorm
9
11. Baños
Baños
-
five-bed dorm
9
12. Baños- Cuenca
Baños- Cuenca
Bus
9
four-bed dorm
8
13. Cuenca
Cuenca
-
four-bed dorm
8
14. Cuenca- Montanita
Cuenca- Montanita
Bus
13
seven-bed dorm
7
15. Montañita
Montañita
-
seven-bed dorm
7
16. Montañita - Puerto López
Montañita - Puerto López
Bus
2
seven-bed dorm
15
17. Puerto López - Quito
Puerto López - Quito
Night bus
20
Night bus
18. Quito
Quito
-
four-bed dorm
8
19. Quito
Quito
-
four-bed dorm
8
20. Quito - Miami
Quito - Miami
Flight
200
eight-bed dorm
16
21. Miami – Home
Miami – Home
Flight
200

Total price.

Flights 800,00
Transportation 68,00
Tours 343,00
Accommodation 169,00
Total1380,00

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Dos and Donts, Food & Drinks, Costs.

Breakfast

Mote pillo: A typical dish from Cuenca and the whole of the southern highlands, this breakfast dish is made with hominy and scrambled eggs.

Tigrillo: This traditional breakfast consists of plantains and scrambled eggs.

Soups

Ceviche: This dish is a soup in Ecuador made with spicy vegetable broth, shrimp or fish. This is a classic soup at the seaside and is even supposed to be a cure for hangovers.

Main courses

Cuy picante: Grilled guinea pig in a spicy sauce. There are various side dishes to round this popular and traditional dish off.

Fritada: Deep-fried pork; this dish is often sold by the roadside.

Hornado: This dish is slow-roasted pork served with various side dishes. It’s usually served with potato fritters and vegetables.

Maito: This dish consists of seasoned fish and vegetables wrapped in the leaves of the yaki-panga tree.

Rice and beans: This is the locals’ favourite breakfast. There is a lentil stew with egg and meat, often also fish.

Drinks

Canelazo: This drink comes from the Andes and is a strongly spiced alcoholic drink. Locals often enjoy it in the evening after dinner or offer it to guests upon their arrival.

Ecuador

Ecuador’s currency is the USD, thus the information below is given in USD. The current exchange rate for 1 USD is around 0.93 euros (as of March 2020). See prices for certain products and the cost of living below:

Cost of living 

Food

Free time

Personal hygiene

Dos

Take it slow with the food: Try to get used to the local food slowly and make sure to thoroughly wash and cook all produce to avoid possible stomach problems.

Keep your valuables at home: It's best to leave the most valuable things in the hostel for safekeeping.

Learn a few words of Spanish: Not everyone understands English, so you’ll find it easier to communicate by speaking the local language.

Don'ts

Don’t take a public bus during rush hour: At this time of the day, everything is really crowded, and you wouldn’t enjoy the ride.

Don't walk around alone at night: Always find someone to accompany you – it can be dangerous in the dark.

Be careful with taxis: There are many fake taxis in the big cities, so be careful what taxi you take.

Visa, Visa, Passport & Vaccinations

Passport

Yes

Temporary passport

Yes

National ID

No

Temporary national ID

No

Child’s pass

Yes

Visa

Not necessary 

Vaccine

Yes 

Additional Remarks.

Travel documents must be valid for at least six months upon entry. We recommend researching the travel document, visa and entry requirements for your home country before your departure. If you travel to Ecuador, consult a health care provider before you leave to discuss vaccination requirements

The team at Backpacker Trail wishes you lots of fun and an unforgettable trip!

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