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Adventure Sports
Adventure sports: Traditional rafting trip in Ecuador
Adventure sports: Galapagos diving trip preparationVolcano Cotopaxi in Ecuador
Snorkelers in the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
Tourists trekking in Ecuador
Ecuador hiking: hikers at Quilotoa Lake
Kayaking in the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

Extreme sports, outdoor pursuits and adventure activities abound in Ecuador.  Choose your adventure sport tour operator with care.


Adventure Sports

Adventure sports and outdoor pursuits are a key attraction for many visitors to Ecuador.  The wide range of beautiful landscapes in this compact country offer opportunities for active adventures from hiking and mountain climbing to diving and kayaking.  Some outdoor activities require long, tough treks in the wildnerness, other adventure sports may be just a short trip from town.  You can scale a snow-capped volcano one day and snorkel off the beach the next.  (Note: don't try this the other way round - you need to acclimatise to the altitude before climbing the higher peaks). 
Ecuador is a developing country and tour operators for extreme sports are not as regulated as you might be accustomed to at home.  For any adventure sporting activity tour, check that your guide is qualified and make sure before setting off that the guide speaks enough English, or you speak enough Spanish, to communicate effectively in case of emergency.  Ask about first aid kits and weather forecasts - a responsible adventure sports guide should have the answers.  Do some research and ask around to get recommendations from experienced divers, climbers, kayakkers, trekkers or whatever your sport is.
Water Sports
Diving is a popular option for many tourists in Ecuador.  Note that diving in the Galapagos Islands is for experienced divers only as cold water and unpredictable currents make for technically difficult dives.  If you are a qualified diver, the Galapagos offers the opportunity to swim with whale sharks, manta rays, hammerhead sharks, many tropical fish and Galapagos penguins.  You will need a longish trip on a liveaboard to get out to the far northwestern islands where the best Galapagos diving is found.  Bring as much of your own dive gear as is practical, but especially your own mask.  Avoid going to altitude, e.g. returning to Quito, too soon after diving.  If your time in Ecuador is limited, and the main purpose of your trip is diving, it could be worth getting Ecuador flights into and out of Guayaquil (sea level), rather than Quito (2800m above sea level).
If you are not able to dive, snorkelling is an attractive alternative, especially in warmer waters.  Kayaks can be rented even by those with no experience in some beach resorts and in the Galapagos Islands.
Rafting or kayaking trips in Ecuador are easy to arrange on several different white water rivers and it is occasionally possible to arrange a more tranquil raft journey on a traditional Ecuadorian style raft.  Look for a reputable rafting operator, ask about lifejackets, safety procedures and the guide's qualifications.  Be honest about your own level of rafting experience and don't allow yourself to be put into an advanced group tackling rapids you can't yet cope with just to make up numbers.
Mountain Sports
Mountain climbing is an attractive option in the country with the "Avenue of the Volcanoes" and some of the most beautiful mountains in the world such as Cotopaxi and Chimborazo.  Don't underestimate the altitude, take time to acclimatise and do some easy climbs before you tackle the higher mountains and volcanoes to minimise the risk of altitude sickness.  Make sure your mountaineering guide is qualified and reputable, and that you can communicate.  ASEGUIM (Asociación Ecuatoriana de Guías de Montaña) is the recognised certifier in Ecuador.  Check before you set off that your mountain guide has a first aid kit and all the equipment you will need for the climb.  Some ascents are possible even for inexperienced climbers, for example Cotopaxi, others, such as El Altar, are a more technical climb not to be attempted by beginners.  A good mountain climbing tour operator will advise you on the possibilities.  Note that weather conditions can change from day to day so your planned climb may not be possible. 
Hiking and trekking may be less technical than climbing mountains, but preparation is still important - check the map and the weather forecast, and advise someone of your intended route.  Especially in higher areas, fog can descend in minutes, so make sure you still have a means of finding your way.  As well as any natural dangers such as rockfalls, be aware of the local security situation for hikers.  Check with your embassy or the South American Explorers' Club for the latest news about assaults, but generally avoid trekking alone or in a very small group.  Also bear in mind that many mountains in Ecuador are active volcanoes, so check before hiking that erruptions are not expected.  A good local guide can make all the difference to your wilderness trek or even a simple hike, by pointing out wildlife, explaining local culture and keeping you on the right route.
Cycling
Before cycling off into the distance, check the bike and the brakes.  Before that, check out the cycle tour operator.  Ask about insurance, spares and find out just what is included.  Some agents offer cycling tours where you cycle downhill and they transport you and the bicycle back up by truck.  Traffic can be chaotic and not particularly respectful to cyclists, roads in Ecuador tend to be quite potholed and tunnels are not always illuminated, so proceed with caution on your two-wheeled adventure.
Check that your travel insurance covers your planned adventure sporting activities and if necessary pay an extra premium for high risk activities or buy an additional policy for extreme sports.  Check definitions carefully, some of the most innocuous-seeming activities sometimes get categorised by insurers as high risk adventure sports - extreme snorkelling, anyone?

Adventure Sports in Ecuador
Sporting activities, extreme sports and active travel in Ecuador. Hiking, rafting, kayaking, diving, trekking, mountaineering and cycling are just some of the active adventures and outdoor pursuits available in Ecuador.  Note that no responsibility can be taken for the content of external links or for reliance on any of the suggestions on this site.