Ecuador in Pictures: 18 Beautiful Places to Photograph
The South American country of Ecuador has a great deal to offer those who enjoy a little adventure with their travel. Sandwiched by the Pacific Ocean to the west and the larger countries of Columbia and Peru to the east and south respectively, this nation of 16 million people features everything from well-preserved colonial architecture to trekking adventures in the Andes.
The country has long been an attractive travel destination for nature seekers, who flock to the Ecuadorian province of the Galapagos Islands.
The capital city of Quito is a delight to explore. In addition to its many well-preserved examples of colonial architecture, the city's hillside setting means there's a great photo waiting to be taken around pretty much every corner. Be sure to set up at least a few shots with the snowcapped (and still active) Cotopaxi volcano in the background. Better still, try to include the spectacular 45-meter-tall El Panecillo statue in your image, too.
2. The Devil's Cauldron
The Devil's Cauldron (Pailón del Diablo) in Baños is a must-visit destination. Those with a keen eye for a great photograph will want to try a few different angles, with one of the best being from the rope suspension bridge that leads to these spectacular waterfalls. But be sure to carry something waterproof in which to place your camera or phone when not using it, as the spray can be quite intense.
Its Andes setting makes Cuenca an even more attractive destination for sightseeing excursions. After snapping some pics of the surrounding mountains, make sure you save some energy (and battery life – keep your camera charged) to explore the city's spectacular colonial architecture, especially fun during festivals and national celebrations.
- Read More: Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Ecuador
4. Take a Train to the Devil's Nose
Regarded as one of the world's top train journeys, the ride to the Devil's Nose in the Andes offers no end of great photo ops. As good as the amazing switchback journey that climbs up and down the Devil's Nose itself is the spectacular scenery you'll witness along the way.
5. Ingapirca Ruins
Located high in the Andes south of Quito, the impressive Ingapirca Ruins is the largest Inca archeological site in Ecuador. The most impressive structure, the Temple of the Sun, is a must-photograph attraction, with the surrounding hills adding a dose of drama to the scene.
6. Yasuni National Park
Located in the Amazon River Basin, Yasuni National Park offers a unique opportunity to explore one of the continent's most ecologically important regions. Here, you can take a fun river tour, or – preferably with the help of a professional tour guide – journey into the dense tropical rainforest. And be sure to keep your camera at the ready, as the region is home to a wealth of wildlife.
7. Santa Ana Hill, Guayaquil
Some of the best images of Ecuador perfectly capture the rich colors of the country's old colonial-era buildings. In this case, an old colonial-period church sits atop a Santa Ana hill above a neighborhood of brightly painted homes as the sun sets in the background.
The spectacular Cotopaxi volcano certainly provides one of the most dramatic vistas in Ecuador. Just 50 kilometers from Quito, this still-active volcano is the country's second tallest peak and stands some 5,897 meters, ensuring a good photo of it can be captured at numerous vantage points, even as far away as Quito.
9. The Galapagos Islands
More than a few travelers have included a visit to the Galapagos Islands on their bucket lists. Although located quite a distance from the mainland, tourists will make the effort to visit in order to enjoy sights such as the famous giant tortoises and its abundant birdlife, many of them unique to the region. For photographers seeking superb views, be sure to include some of the smaller islands, such as Bartolome Island shown here, in your Galapagos Islands itinerary.
10. The Malecón, Guayaquil
Those who enjoy a good seaside stroll will definitely want to visit the coastal city of Guayaquil. Here, you'll find the Malecón 2000, a 2.5-kilometer stretch of boardwalk along the Guayas River. Camera in hand, you'll find no end of great photo opportunities as you explore this dynamic city and its waterfront.
Paying a visit to the Otavalo Market, located in the city's Plaza de Ponchos, has become one of the top things to do in Ecuador. Here, you'll find countless brightly decorated stalls selling wares, clothing, and textiles made by local indigenous people. In addition to providing great shopping, this bustling market offers plenty of opportunity to capture this delightful locale by camera.
12. La Sierra Ecuador
The Ecuadorian Sierra – La Sierra Ecuador – covers a vast mountainous area of 27,500 square miles and boasts some of the country's most pleasing scenery. Here, in an area saddled between two branches of the Andes that run parallel to one another, you're spoiled for choice when it comes to taking snapshots, as this picture-perfect region stretches some 603 kilometers from top to bottom.
13. Beautiful Beaches
Boasting over 2,250 kilometers of coastline, Ecuador offers no end of opportunity for those seeking a great beach vacation. This beach in Machalilla National Park, on Ecuador's central coast, shelters nesting sea turtles.
- Read More: Top-Rated Beaches in Ecuador
14. Las Penas, Guayaquil
The Las Penas neighborhood in Guayaquil offers plenty of great photo opportunities. Located on Santa Ana Hill, the streets – many of them for pedestrians only – that lead in and out of this clean, well-kept neighborhood all seem to point down to the water and are lined with brightly painted homes and shops.
15. Monument to the Equator
Located just a short drive from Quito, the Monument to the Equator sits on a large tract of land that's fun to explore. In addition to this very photogenic monument – it just so happens to mark the precise location of the equator – the grounds are also home to the Ethnographic Museum Middle of the Earth, which showcases the history and culture of the country's indigenous population.
16. Cajas National Park
Only 30 kilometers from the picturesque town of Cuenca, you'll find yourself in Ecuador's spectacular Andean Highlands region. Here, you'll find Cajas National Park (Parque Nacional Cajas), an area of outstanding natural beauty that encompasses some 270 glacier-fed lakes and lagoons.
Add to this its countless creeks, rivers, and rapids, and it's a kayaker's dream. It's also popular among serious hikers, too, as well as mount bike enthusiasts.
17. Podocarpus National Park
Podocarpus National Park (Parque Nacional Podocarpus) is another very camera-worthy destination in Ecuador. Known as the "Botanical Garden of America" for its tremendous abundance of flora and fauna, this unspoiled region is well-known for its towering trees, which reach heights of up to 40 meters.
Many of the plant species you'll see here aren't found anywhere else in the world. The same is true for much of the park's wildlife and bird species, so take lots of photos!
18. The Hot Springs of Baños
The small town of Baños de Agua Santa is a must-visit for its many hot springs and waterfalls. Set in a dense jungle that's easily accessible for hikers and bikers, the region's many natural attractions are extremely photo-worthy whether you're traversing the area on foot, mountain bike, or even kayak – all popular adventures for outdoor enthusiasts.
Be sure to also visit the town's major church. Set against the often mist-shrouded hills and jungle, this man-made feature celebrates their attachment to nature – and water in particular.