condor trek

Trekking and Camping in Ecuador

Things you need to know about Trekking and Camping in Ecuador

Ecuador is one of the best places in the world for outdoor enthusiasts, there will always be a natural reserve or national park near any location of the country, however, is does not mean, it will be easy to set up a tent, or a campsite, and enjoy the night in the wilderness.

Trek AltarCamping in Ecuador is allowed in most places, entrance to the different national parks in mainland Ecuador, is free to the public in general, yes this means also to tourist, you may encounter a “community tax” from time to time, but other than that, there are no fees to visit any of them.

Some national parks and close outdoor reserves have some great easy to follow trails, all you need is to download maps, in google maps or even the app help a tone, this allows you to follow easy trails along and it can point you to the closest aid point safely.

Some treks like the Rucu Pichincha summit in Quito are easy to follow, you need about 6 hours to complete the whole trail, it starts from the base of teleferico (Quitos Touristic cable car).

Camping in the Andes 

This is the most common and less complicated place in Ecuador where you can set up your tent, the Cotopaxi National Park, is by far the most visited, of all the national reserves in the Andes, getting there can be tricky, from Quito you will need to take buses and trucks in order to get there, as of 2020, higher regulations may imply that you will need a guide to enter the national park, you can negotiate it in the registration, another popular place for backpackers to visit is the Quilotoa Lagoon, once you make your way there, you may find places to set up a campsite, if you have the energy, you can ask permission to the local community to allow you to set up your tent in the loop, or in the shores of the crater lake.

Another great place to set up your tent at is Cuicocha lake, in Imbabura province, just 45 minutes away from Otavalo, to my personal point of view the sight and landscape is a lot nicer than Quilotoa.

We offer some of the best-organized treks in Ecuador with the best guides and services, for more info check our Trekking page

Ingapirca Inca Trail


Camping in the Amazon

Some eco-lodges in Ecuador, have budget tours where they have set locations with tents and common bathrooms to be shared, this may be the only way to camp in the Amazon, venturing out on your own, trying to repeat the “amazon tales” out there may be a life-threatening desition.

if you definitely set your mind into it and you want to camp in the amazon, taking local canoes from Napo River, is what you are looking for, ask to be dropped off at local communities, and then ask for permission, however, take in mind that this is a wild territory, and this desition can mean you are naively risking your life.

Camping on the coast.

Unless you are in a private property, or basecamps, it is by law forbidden to make a campsite on the beach or near it, you could face jail time and a fat fine, sometimes, authorities are just happy with sending you off with a warning, however, this part of Ecuador´s territory is protected by the Marines and Navy, thus don’t take your chances looking for Dicaprio´s Beach in Ecuador.

Great least known beaches to visit from north to south:

  • Muisne – (no camping here)
  • Portete
  • Cojimies
  • Jama
  • San Jacinto
  • Canoa
  • Marianita
  • Puerto Lopez – for Frailes Beach
  • Tunas
  • Ballenita
  • Playas Villamil

Near popular beach towns, you will always find cheap camping places where you can share a shower and bathroom.

Camping in the Galapagos Islands

This is simple, If you want to save money while visiting the islands, you may want to discard this idea, your tent, mat, or any camping gear that you plan to take there, will be withdrawn from you at the airport, is simply not allowed.

Tips for Trekking and Camping in Ecuador

  • Forget about bong fires, it is not allowed to light fires in any national park, unless you are camping in private property and have permission by the owner to do so
  • Get a reusable gas tank, some major towns have places to refill butane tanks
  • Bring your gear, Ecuador has high taxes in imports, so buying gear will cost you 30 -60 % more than what it actually costs
  • Waterproof: Ecuador has unpredictable weather, waterproof can save you from having a horrible time.
  • Read and inform yourself about the places you want to go and don’t venture out on your own unless is safe.
  • Update your sources, travel books, take 3 4 years to get updated, most of them do not have current valid information.
  • Rubber boots, yes that’s right! if you are planning to take multiple days in the paramos of the Andes, or if you want to visit the Amazon, these boots will keep your feet dry
  • Temperatures during the day in the Andes can go up to 20 degrees Celcius but it can drop to -5 degrees at night.
  • headlamps are a must
  • You will be able to buy propane tanks and also you can refill them in major cities in Ecuador specially in Quito – Riobamba – Baños, and Cuenca.

Some of our volunteer programs allow you to set tents and campsites, like the shiwiar and wowranies, for more info on volunteering opportunities, check our Ecuador Eco Volunteer page