sports, outdoor pursuits and adventure activities abound in Ecuador.
Choose your adventure
sport tour operator with care.
outdoor pursuits are
a key attraction for many visitors to Ecuador. The wide range
of beautiful landscapes in this compact country offer opportunities for
active adventures from hiking and mountain climbing
to diving and kayaking. Some outdoor activities require long,
tough treks in the wildnerness, other adventure sports may be just a
short trip from town. You can scale a snow-capped volcano
one day and snorkel off the beach the next. (Note:
don't try this the other way round - you need to acclimatise
to the altitude before climbing the higher peaks).
is a developing
country and tour operators for extreme sports are not as regulated as
you might be accustomed to at home. For any adventure
sporting activity tour, check that your guide is qualified and make
sure before setting off that the guide speaks enough English, or you
enough Spanish, to communicate
effectively in case of
Ask about first aid kits and weather forecasts - a
responsible adventure sports guide should have the answers.
Do some research and ask around to get recommendations from
experienced divers, climbers, kayakkers, trekkers or whatever your
Diving is a popular option for many tourists in Ecuador. Note
that diving in the Galapagos
is for experienced divers only as cold water and
unpredictable currents make for technically difficult dives.
If you are a qualified diver, the Galapagos offers the
opportunity to swim with whale sharks, manta rays, hammerhead sharks,
many tropical fish and Galapagos penguins. You will need a
longish trip on a liveaboard to get out to the far northwestern islands
where the best Galapagos diving is found. Bring as much of
own dive gear
as is practical, but especially your own mask. Avoid going to
altitude, e.g. returning to Quito, too soon after diving. If
time in Ecuador is limited, and the main purpose of your trip
is diving, it could be worth getting Ecuador
flights into and out of
Guayaquil (sea level), rather than Quito (2800m above sea level).
you are not
able to dive, snorkelling is an attractive alternative, especially in
warmer waters. Kayaks can be rented even by those with no
experience in some beach resorts and in the Galapagos Islands.
or kayaking trips
in Ecuador are easy to
arrange on several different white water rivers and it is
occasionally possible to arrange a more tranquil raft journey on a
traditional Ecuadorian style raft. Look for a reputable
rafting operator, ask about lifejackets, safety procedures and the
guide's qualifications. Be honest about your own
level of rafting experience and don't allow yourself to be
put into an advanced group tackling rapids you can't yet cope
with just to make up numbers.
Mountain climbing is an attractive option in the country with the
"Avenue of the Volcanoes" and some of the most beautiful mountains in
the world such as Cotopaxi and Chimborazo. Don't
altitude, take time to acclimatise and do some easy climbs before you
tackle the higher mountains and volcanoes to minimise the risk of
altitude sickness. Make sure your mountaineering guide is
qualified and reputable, and that you can communicate.
ASEGUIM (Asociación Ecuatoriana de
Guías de Montaña) is the recognised certifier in
Ecuador. Check before you set off that your mountain guide
has a first aid kit and all the equipment you will need for the climb.
Some ascents are possible even for inexperienced climbers,
for example Cotopaxi, others, such as El Altar, are a more technical
climb not to be attempted by beginners. A good mountain
operator will advise you on the possibilities. Note that
weather conditions can change from day to day so your planned climb may
not be possible.
and trekking may
be less technical than climbing mountains, but preparation is still
important - check the map and the weather forecast, and advise someone
of your intended route. Especially in higher areas, fog can
descend in minutes, so make sure you still have a means of finding your
way. As well
as any natural
dangers such as rockfalls, be aware of the local security
situation for hikers.
Check with your embassy or the South American
Explorers' Club for the latest news about assaults, but
generally avoid trekking alone or in a very small group. Also
bear in mind that many mountains in Ecuador are active volcanoes, so
check before hiking that erruptions are not expected. A good
local guide can make all the difference to your wilderness trek or even
a simple hike, by pointing out wildlife, explaining local culture and
keeping you on the right route.
Before cycling off into the distance, check the bike and the brakes.
Before that, check out the cycle tour operator. Ask
about insurance, spares and find out just what is included.
Some agents offer cycling tours where you cycle downhill and
they transport you and the bicycle back up by truck. Traffic
can be chaotic and not particularly respectful to cyclists, roads in
Ecuador tend to be quite potholed and tunnels
are not always illuminated, so proceed with caution on your two-wheeled
that your travel
insurance covers your planned
adventure sporting activities
necessary pay an extra premium for high risk activities or buy an
additional policy for extreme sports.
Check definitions carefully, some of the most
innocuous-seeming activities sometimes get categorised by insurers as
risk adventure sports - extreme snorkelling, anyone?
Sports in Ecuador
Sporting activities, extreme sports and active travel in
Hiking, rafting, kayaking, diving, trekking, mountaineering and cycling
some of the active adventures and outdoor pursuits available in
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