The best places for rock climbing and trekking are located some 60 km south of Quito in Cotopaxi National Park. In this Park stands the highest active volcano in the world, Cotopaxi (5,900 m). Without a guide, proper equipment and experience in the snow and ice, you should not try to climb above the Jose Ribas refuge, situated at 4,800 m. Further south, the city of “Baños” is a good base for short walks and ambitious climbing. It also has the advantage of hoarding hot springs.
Near Cuenca in the Southern Highlands, Las Cajas National Park offers arid tours through inhospitable landscapes dotted with beautiful lakes. The highest peak in Ecuador, Chimborazo (6,310 m) is not recommended for casual hikers.
If you are not an expert climber, it is advisable to remain in the vicinity of the mountain, where the rides are a wonderful experience.
In Ecuador, the coastal water is warm all year round. You can swim at the beaches of Atacames, San Vicente, Caraquez Bay, Bay of Manta, Salinas and Playas. You should take care with the strong undertow in Atacames, which takes some victims each year.
It is possible to go diving in the Galapagos, but you should be provided with the equipment and book in advance a circuit. The snorkeling is less complicated and very rewarding because you can see very close the sea lion pups. Anyway, you also will need to book it in advance and you should be equipped for this activity.
Tours through the jungle in the East region can be arranged in cities like Misahuala, Coca, Baños, Dureno, Tena and Quito. The tours often include rides, restrooms and canoe trips.
For the observation of birds, the most suitable places are the jungle excursions or visiting the National Park Las Cajas, Parque Nacional Cotopaxi or the Galapagos Islands.