Walking and Hiking
Quito is a great place to enjoy outdoor activities like walking and hiking as it is blessed with a beautiful countryside and great hiking trails. As also, if you are people's person, you will come in more contact with local mestizos and native Quiteons as you learn more about their culture, traditions and daily life.
Quito lies on a higher altitude than most other South American capitals and therefore enjoys a pleasant climate throughout the year. The Cotopaxi Volcano area is a great place to enjoy hiking as you get to view volcanic formations such as mud and lava flows. There are many parks in the city like Parque Metropolitano where you can enjoy a day out, have a picnic with your family and enjoy the view of the Pichincha Volcano and valleys of Tumbaco and San Rafael.
The last but not the least option is the Pichincha Volcano which is accessible by the El Teleferico cable car. Once you reach the volcano, it transforms into a great hiking trail with the biological diversity of the volcano surrounding you.
Quito is a city situated in the valley of Andes mountain range surrounded by 10 peaks suitable for serious mountain climbing. Many tourists have come and gone, with an enriched experience of climbing the Chimborazo Mountain and the active volcano Cotopaxi. Both these mountains tower beyond 5,000m making the game more interesting.
Mountain climbing is an interesting opportunity of exploring the Andes with a once in a lifetime opportunity of getting a close view of an active volcano. The best-loved sites for mountain climbing have always been Cotopaxi, Pichincha, and Cayambe volcanoes which give ample opportunities to test your climbing skills.
If you have the stamina, fitness and love the puffing of your breath as you challenge the mountains, this activity is best to explore nature's blessings on Quito.
Wheeling down the tracks of mountains as your feet rotate the paddle continuously, mountain biking is an exciting way of having a 360-degree view of the countryside horizon, the mountains, natural vegetation, and the plains. The adrenaline rush of plunging from one mountain to the plains below is an experience in itself, lasting for a lifetime.
The Cotopaxi Full Circuit is a two-day tour where you get to befriend the active volcano of Cotopaxi and known for its birth and growth, in the form of lava and mud flows.
The cloud forests of Mindo will surely tire you, but not bore you, as you travel through the dense, foggy vegetation, come in contact with the wet drops of waterfalls, hear the sweet singing of hummingbirds, and have a glimpse of the life of villagers of Nono and Tandayapa.
Quito and the surrounding areas are a bird watcher's paradise as they offer protection to some of the rare bird species in the world. More than 1600 birds build their nests in the Quito region, with the Mindo-Nambillo Forest reserve housing 500 of them. Ecuador is one of the few countries in the world that offers such diversity in such a small space. Other protected areas that offer excellent bird watching opportunities are Cotopaxi, Cayambe-Coca, Cotacachi-Cayapas.
Of all of them, Mindo ranks the topmost destination for avid 'twitchers'. Mindo's neighboring valley of Tandayapa is also equally interesting to capture some bird images. Cotopaxi National Park is also one interesting place that birdwatchers love to visit for its array of bird species.
Rafting and Kayaking
The towering mountains of the Andes range and the roaring rivers venting their anger as they meet the sea, Quito is a dream place for white water rafters and kayakers. And when the rainy season takes over, the rafter's happiness knows no bounds.
The rivers and tributaries of Toachi, Blanco, Río Quíjos, Macas, Río Upano, and the Namangosa Gorge are a hard exam to pass. The different Grades (I, II, III, and IV) make the paddling of blades harder and harder. But as you meet the San Rafael waterfalls and Papallacta hot springs after plunging up and down different Grades of rivers, the thermal waters will relax your nerves and calm your excitement.
Quito is a nature's paradise and has several natural reserves and zoos that house various species of land animals, aquatic animals, and birds. The wide range of animal species that the Amazon tropical forests offer can also be seen in Ecuador.
Some of the interesting places to visit are the Quito Zoo (Guayllabamba), Parque Cóndor rehabilitation project (Otavalo), and Zoologico San Martin (Banos). A number of rare wildlife like the Galápagos Tortoise, Andean Spectacled Bear, and Andean Condor are provided shelter at the zoos and natural reserves.
Visiting a Spa and enjoying various types of treatments like aromatherapy, mineral spa treatment, thermal spa treatment, etc has become a fad for the fashion conscious. Also, it has become a part of alternative medication for those with serious illness. For some lovely pampering and massages visiting the nearest Spa is the best choice.
The Papallacta Thermal Springs Resort, Arasha Resort & Spa are some resorts that have hot thermal springs nestled in their boundaries. These thermal springs are used to unwind and also as a treatment for people with physical disabilities. The resorts offer facilities like first-class relaxing stay, high-quality international cuisine, and soothing spa treatments.
Just pack up your sack, hire trekking and camping equipment and let yourself free in the countryside to explore the Andes and it various rivers, plains, and grasslands. Your walking boots will be busted by the time you finish your trek and reach Quito. There are many sites in and around Quito that offer wonderful opportunities for nature lovers. The Los Cedros Ecological Reserve with 6,000-hectares of virgin forests in the El Chocó region is a paradise for trekkers and scientists.
Cotopaxi National Park, a wonderfully reserved national park has an interesting walking trail from Panzaleo to Limpiopungo via which you can discover the beauty of Cotopaxi volcano. The woodlands of Cayambe-Coca Ecological Reserves have a rich diversity of flora and fauna at a higher altitude of 3,400m. As you enjoy camping by the lakeside, the magnificent view of the snow-capped Cayambe is sure to enthrall you.
Horseback riding is fast becoming a popular way of enjoying time in a relaxed manner, by visiting one of the hacienda hotels that surround Quito. Haciendas are small countryside inns run by Ecuadorian families whose daily lives revolve around agriculture or dairy farming. Most of them have been turned into full-fledged hotels providing international cuisine and lodging facilities to guests.Today Horseback riding has become synonymous with hacienda where tourists get to travel from one hacienda to another as they enjoy each inn's personal welcoming traditions. La Catriona, La Alegría, Volcanoland, and Yanahurco are some of the haciendas developed around the Cotopaxi area which offer such facilities as circuit horse back riding along with a fantastic stay.
A few years back, no one could dare travel in Quito on a cycle. The traffic rules were mainly structured around motorists and automobiles. But due to the initiative of some environmentalists, the use of bicycles was promoted on a large scale. Since then certain spaces of Quito have been reserved as "Ciclopaseos" or cycling routes on special days such as Sundays.
Every alternate Sunday is celebrated as a ‘Ciclopaseo Cycle Sundays’ where a 10km long route on the city's northern side is freed from cars, taxis, and buses. People paddle cycle, rollerblade, jog, or just walk down the routes. For tourists, the bikes along with a helmet can be hired.