Ecuador may be one of the smallest countries in South America, but it is also one of the most diverse! There is an abundance of things to do whilst you are volunteering here in Katitawa, all within a bus ride away. Best of all, the buses here are affordable and efficient, so you can see the wonders of Ecuador on a budget!
Places to Go and Things to See!
Only 45 minutes from Salasaka, lies the adventure capital of Ecuador. Wander around the town to find lots of great bakeries, cafes, and restaurants. Head to a volunteer favourite, Venezuelan Arepa's To Go, just off the main square, for some wonderful arepas and empeñadas. Don't forget to check out the bridge and the other side of the river for a nice view of the Tungurahua volcano. Baños is also Ecuador's centre for extreme sports - try rafting, canyoning, paragliding and more. You could also try the Baños to Puyo bike ride, a 60km cycle through the mountains, stopping off to enjoy the majestic water falls along the way. For super luxury, visit "Luna RunTun Spa" - $20 for a day in thermal pools on the mountain top.
The jungle at Tena
Take a bus to arena, via Baños to arrive in the Amazon basin. You can organise white water rafting, jungle treks, and even a visit to Misahualli for a night or two. For a very special volunteering experience, visit the Hare Krsnas at The Wisdom Forest - no minimum stay but email first: firstname.lastname@example.org
Cotopaxi is the highest active volcano in Ecuador and has experienced volcanic activity as recently as 2015. You can climb to the refuge at 4864m from the car park at 4500m. It can get windy up there and isn't always the easiest climb, but the hot chocolate and warm food at the top is well worth the walk. If you book a tour through a private operator in Latacunga or from Quito you can also bike ride back down from the car park to the park entrance for that little extra bit of adventure whilst experiencing the breathtaking views of Cotopaxi National Park.
Walk the whole way around this incredible volcano crater filled with a beautiful blue-green lagoon. Just take the bus to Ambato, then to Latacunga, and finally to Quilotoa. Once at the lagoon you can rent a kayak for $3. For an added experience you can also take a horse ride back to the top.
Ecuador's beaches are some of the best in the world. Take a night bus to Guayaquil and then another on to Montanita, Puerto Lopez, or Mompiche, to name a few, where you can spend some time soaking up the sun by the sea. From Puerto Lopez you can book a day tour for around $40 to the nearby island of Isla de la Plata where between June and September you can go whale watching and see the wonder of Humpback whales jumping from the ocean.
Quito is the capital city of Ecuador and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Spend a few days here to soak up the rich culture and history of El Centro Histórico. Visit the wealth of museums, witness the changing of the guards at the Presidential Palace, or experience the bustling bars and restaurants that Quito has to offer. Don't forget to take a trip in El Teleferiqo - from the top you can hike to the summit of Pinchacha in about 3 hours; but don't forget to dress warm as it can get cold up there. If you have time, why not take one of the frequent public buses to Mitad del Mundo to visit the equator line and jump from the Northern hemisphere to the Southern.
Taking a night bus from Ambato you can arrive in Cuenca the following morning. Cuenca is a city steeped in colonial-era architecture and Incan ruins. With plenty of museums and churches you won't get bored on a weekend visit to this historic city. Only 45 minutes away is Caja National Park where you can spend a day walking amongst the mountains and lakes - certainly a photographer's playground.
You can visit in the biggest craft market in South America every Saturday. It's open every day of the week but takes up the whole town on Saturday. It's also a cool town to hang out in, though be prepared to buy lots of stuff. Get there via Quito. You can also stop to appreciate the view of Imbararu volcano or visit the crater lake at Cotacachi where you can do a wonderful 6-hour hike around the rim.
For more great volunteer projects, visit: www:volunteersouthamerica.net