There is so many things to do and see in the Ecuadorian capital, Quito. However, there are some times you just want to get out of the busy city for the day. Luckily, surrounding Quito are many attractions, perfect for a day adventure. Hop in your car and enjoy the area!
The Quito Zoo is located north of the airport, 45 km northeast from Plaza Grande and 35 km southeast from Mitad Del Mundo. It is an easy day trip, or half day trip accessible by both car and bus. At the zoo you can explore over 120 species of Ecuador’s vastly diverse wildlife. Some of the zoo’s more famous animals include the famous Galapagos Tortoise, the rare Andean bear and Jaguars. You can enjoy animals representing all of Ecuador’s different ecosystems in one spot!
I am always a fan of zoo’s, not only for their conservation efforts, but your ability to see a whole countries animals and more, even if you do not have the chance to visit the whole country itself. Even if you do visit every region of Ecuador, many of the animals are nearly impossible to spot in the wild. It is important to note that biodiversity and natural resources are given protections under the Ecuadorian constitution, so don’t go destroying nature.
The Zoo is open Tuesday to Friday from 8:30AM to 5:00PM; Saturday, Sunday and Bank Holidays from 9AM to 5PM; and is CLOSED on Mondays.
Tickets cost $3 for children, $3.50 for students, $4.50 for adults, and $2 for seniors.
Located 100 km from Quito, are the Termas Papallacta, or natural hot springs. It is the perfect relaxing day trip from Quito, accessible by car or bus. The expansive facility is very nice and clean, with lockers to keep all your things safe. It features a range of temperatures in different hot spring pools, from burning hot to comfortably warm. You also have the option to dunk yourself in the freezing water from the neighbouring river. Just a few hours in the hot springs and I felt like a million bucks, and a bit dehydrated, so drink up that water!
If you feel like spending more time at the hot springs, there are also cabins available to stay in, along with a general spa within the compound. Turn a day trip into a relaxing and natural spa weekend!
From the entrance of Termas Papallacta you can continue on into the Cayambe Coca Ecological Reserve. A note of caution though, there is no other exit connected to this road, so every trip is round-trip. In the mountains there is lots of fog and one lane curves along the dirt road, so be careful! We entered the park in the afternoon, which I do not suggest, as the combination of high surrounding mountains, fog, and the sun going down made for a less than fun drive to the exit.
Pululahua Geobotanical Reserve
The Pululahua Geobotanical Reserve is the home of the Pululahua Volcano. It is a collapsed volcano with great biodiversity and unique landscape. Interesting fact, it is the first national park in Ecuador established in 1966.
Museo Templo del Sol
It is located right outside the Pululahua Geobotanical Reserve is the Museo Templo del Sol. It is a cool and interactive look at the life and religion of the Incas. Entrance fee is $3.
Hiking around Cotopaxi is the main attraction, you can also summit the peak but need special gear and training. There is also horseback riding, mountain bike paths and plenty of beautiful photo opportunities if you just want to drive to the base.