Hidden Gems of Ecuador

My very first trip to Ecuador many, many years ago I saw only the airports of Quito and Guayaquil before being whisked away to the legendary Galápagos Islands. I had returned home satisfied to say I had been to Ecuador.

Quito, Ecuador

Quito, Ecuador

Years later I found myself back in Ecuador, the mainland this time, doing research and development for Purposeful Nomad. I uncovered a country that was so culturally rich and dynamic it nearly knocked me off my feet. Today, more than 15 years after my first visit, Ecuador continuously calls me and leaves me hungry to discover more.

While Ecuador is known mostly for the Galápagos Islands and Amazon jungles–and those are both not-to-be missed places–trust me, it’s only a tiny slice of what Ecuador has to offer.

This country is teeming with epic nature, colorful markets, and locals who are eager to welcome you into their homes and share their carefully preserved traditions. I fell in love with the Ecuadorians’ humble pride for their culture, and I was admittedly surprised by the sustainability movement already taking place. Ecuador is a country with many dedicated individuals invested in improving their country.

Owners of Mashpi Organic Chocolate Farm

Owners of Mashpi Organic Chocolate Farm

Market venders in Otavalo

Market venders in Otavalo

The more I veered off the beaten path and away from the typical tourist destinations, the more magic I discovered.

*****This is an excerpt from a guest post we wrote that was originally published on Roaming the AmericasCheck out the full story here to read more about the places Purposeful Nomad visits on their trip to Ecuador.*****


Located on the western corner of South America and nuzzled in between Colombia and Peru is Ecuador, a country that in our humble opinion, doesn't receive nearly as much hype as it should. There is so much more to Ecuador than the Galapagos and the Amazon!

Here's three reasons we think it should be on your bucket list:  

  1. Ecuador has the most biodiversity per square mile of any nation. From colonial towns to Amazonian rainforest, the Andes mountains and the Galápagos Islands, the country packs a lot into just over 100k square miles. 

Thousands of hummingbirds in the Cloud Forest region

Thousands of hummingbirds in the Cloud Forest region

Harvesting cocoa

Harvesting cocoa

Rich farming land in the Highlands

Rich farming land in the Highlands

2. Ecuador has the world’s very first and second UNESCO World Heritage Sites, a feat which means the country helped to shape the standards for some of our most coveted travel destinations. The country is also incredibly multi-lingual – there are 24 languages spoken there. 

paqocha kids

3. Ecuadorian dining is some of the best in South America. Thanks to the country's fertile soil, varied typography and climates, the cuisine is diverse and unique. Travelers can find traditional South American favorites such as empanadas and ceviche, as well as try Ecuadorian specialities like cuy (yes, that's roasted guinea pig). 

Shopping for fresh produce in the market

Shopping for fresh produce in the market

Soon to be chocolate!!

Soon to be chocolate!!

Hands-on cooking class

Hands-on cooking class


Join us for a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Ecuador.

Come with us for a 14-day trip that will take you to experience rich cultural traditions and natural beauty. Relax in the dense canopy jungles of the cloud forest and absorb the stillness of the highland plains.

  • When: June 27th-July 10th, 2019

  • Reg Price: $4200