The capital Quito, is a city with a lot of history where you can walk in downtown, enjoying the beautiful colonial buildings. There is also the "TelefÃ©rico" cable-car which takes passengers from the highest mountain in Quito to see the whole city from the sky. Admission is $8.50 per person November 2010. There are many welcoming cafes as well as many dancing clubs open every weekend, often until 5AM.
In Guayaquil, an excellent place to visit is the MalecÃ³n 2000, which is very similar to Navy Pier in Chicago, Illinois, offering food, shopping, boat rides and a beautiful view of the river. Except for electronics, prices are quite low; however, almost everything sold with any sort of brand name is a knockoff. This area is very well patrolled and quite safe. For a real adventure, it is possible to visit the more authentic, less expensive, and far more dangerous BahÃa or "Informal Market". It is not advisable to visit it without a native. It is possible to purchase a knockoff of almost anything here. Pirated video games and movies also abound; it is possible to purchase game systems modified to play such games as well. Make the proprietors prove to you that any movies or games you might purchase actually work before buying though. In the BahÃa, it is necessary to haggle for all items.
BaÃ±os is the perfect city for the outdoors or extreme sports enthusiast, offering rafting, mountain climbing and backpacking excursions of all sorts. It is possible to get an English speaking guide. Be sure to get all the necessary vaccinations, as it is possible to get some nasty infections from prolonged exposure to the water. BaÃ±os also offers a public hot spring mineral bath, which only charges $1 admission. Other, more expensive baths also exist, but are fed from the exact same water. It is best to arrive at these baths as they open, as the water is freshest and cleanest then.
The Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve is probably the best place to see the Amazon Rainforest in Ecuador, even though there are other national parks which are also interesting such as the Yasuni National Park. It is a place of high biodiversity and nature lovers should feel in paradise. That is a good way to discover the indigenous communities of Ecuador and to eventually meet a local shaman. It is necessary to get to Lago Agrio to reach the reserve. Private transportation is made possible by the local accommodation, which is provided by eco-lodges.
Ibarra -and the whole Imbabura province- is about a 90mins ride from Quito and offers many touristic activities such as community tourism, adventure tours rafting, swing jumping, kayaking, trekking, etc and indigenous visits. The most recommended places in Imbabura to visit are: Ibarra, Otavalo, Intag and Cotacachi
The north of Ecuador offers the best beaches, including Bahia de Caraquez, Manta, Crucita, San Jacinto, and San Clemente. They offer very inexpensive hotel accommodations, great food and friendly people.
Ecuador is perhaps the most bio-diverse country in the world. The Galapagos Islands are justly famed for their wildlife, but there is also lots to see on the mainland. Ecuador has over one hundred different types of hummingbirds. Good places to see them include Cuyabeno Wild Life Reserve, Mindo and San Luis de Pambil.
MontaÃ±ita TownIn the coast, 3 hours from Guayaquil, This is a growing town with many particularies which makes it great to visit: Goog Beach and incredible surroundings, the people, incredible nightlife, and surf. There are many people who live in the town permanently from all over the world.
formal university study
While all universities in Ecuador can theoretically admit foreign students, most have onerous entry requirements and will not admit students for just a semester or two. Two universities -- Universidad San Francisco and Catholic University -- stand out for extending a welcome to foreign students, who can choose to study for a semester or even complete a full Bachelor's or Master's degree. Be sure to inquire about enrollment matricula costs which are usually above and beyond normal tuition. Obtain a student visa, if needed, before you enter Ecuador to study.
Catholic University of Ecuador (http://www.puce.edu.ec/)
Universidad San Francisco de Quito (http://www.usfq.edu.ec/ho...)
Quito is a great place to learn Spanish, the accent in Quito is soft and clear and easy to understand. Quite a few private Spanish academies exist, they offer one on one and group courses with personalized programs that focus on grammar but also in helping to improve speaking and comunicational skills in a short period of time. Quality varies greatly, so check reviews online and speak to current students before enrolling.
Students who want to learn spanish for longer periods and in big groups might consider the programs of two Ecuadorian universities which offer semester length Spanish as a Second Language classes for foreigners. University study is ideal if you are serious about learning Spanish and have the time to complete the full program. Successful completion of a university Spanish program may also allow to continue studying at that university or even to earn a degree. On the other hand, if you wish to learn Spanish while enjoying being on the beach, then MontaÃ±ita is the best place to learn.