Although just a small town, Mindo deserves a places on Ecuadorian itineraries for one reason in particular and that is the huge number of bird species that inhabit the area. At the last count, there were over 500 species and there are many bird reserves close to Mindo. Surrounded by forested mountains, the town also is a great place to enjoy other outdoor activities such as mountain biking, horse riding, canyoning, tubing or zip-lining.


The pleasant town of Otavalo is often visited as a stopping off point for those heading further on to hike, but it also has one of the best indigenous markets in South America. Photographers will love the colourful market stalls selling all manner of indigenous goods and for those wanting some Andean souvenirs, this is the place to come.


The peak of Cayambe, at 5790 metres, towers over the town of the same name. This is also Ecuador’s flower capital as can be seen from the fields of blooms around the town. There are some nice treks in the enormous Reserva Ecológica Cayambe-Coca.

Parque Nacional Cotopaxi

The beautifully symmetrical cone of  Volcán Cotopaxi. Fauna that can bee seen in the park includes Andean condors, llamas, deer and wild horses. There are some short walks in the park and for those with a good degree of fitness and a head for heights, the peak can be climbed with a guide.  


Cuenca is the third largest city in Ecuador and is recognised by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. The city, of half a million people is in a highland valley, surrounded by mountains on all sides. It is a very pleasant city, with many old colonial era buildings and easy to walk around. It also has a good selection of restaurants as well as bars and nightclubs.