Where to Trek
As well as the parks mentioned above, some other great places for trekking in the highlands are the areas around:
Quito (Rucu Pichincha, Cerro Ilaló)
Otavalo (Lagunas Cuicocha, Mojanda)
Vilcabamba (including Podocarpus National Park)
On the coast you can trek in Machalilla National Park, the Mache Chindul Reserve and Cerro Blanco near Guayaquil. Land is generally in private hands and long trails do not exist.
There are many trails leading from the highlands down to the Oriente and then into the Amazon rainforest, where you will definitely require the services of a guide. You can also explore the Reventador and Sumaco volcanoes and surrounding lowlands.
In the experiences section or my blog you can read my account of the hikes and treks I have done in Ecuador including:
Inca path to Ingapirca
Cajas National Park
Cerro las Hayas
Bear in mind
Wherever possible check conditions with local people before you set out. Conditions can include weather, state of the trails, any crime reports.
Recognise your limits
Are you really able to complete the trek according to your plan? Can you speak enough Spanish to ask for help? Do you have all the equipment you need? Are you sure you can navigate the route?
If the answer to any of these questions is no then you probably shouldn´t set out to trek on your own.
Try to minimise your impact on the countryside, especially where you camp. Protect water sources. Respect local people.
Prepare physically and take care to acclimatise to the altitude where you are trekking.
Carry the appropriate clothing and equipment.
External rain cover and internal waterproof sack
Plastic bags to protect gear and collect trash
Tent (mosquito net in lowland areas)
Plastic sheet to put under tent
Sleeping bag and insulating mat
Camping Stove and fuel
Oats (avena) or cereal (cereal /seh-ri-AL)
Powdered milk (leche en polvo)
Sugar (azúcar) /Honey (miel)
Salt. pepper (sal, pimienta)
Packet soup (sopa)
Noodles /pasta (tallarines/fideos)
Whole grain bread /crackers (pan integral/galletas)
Water, tea, coffee (agua, té, café)
Rasins/ dried fruit / nuts (pasas, mani) (expensive in Ecuador)
Cooking pans, plate, cup etc.
Washing up brush or sponge
Water bottle + container to collect and purify water
Purification tablets (water takes an age to boil at altitude)
First aid kit
Torch/ head lamp + batteries
Pen and paper
Hiking or rubber boots
Gaiters or waterproof trousers
Woollen hat, scarf, gloves
Light fleece sweater
T-shirts, shorts, underwear
Woollen socks + cotton socks to prevent blisters
Sandals/ camp shoes
Sun hat + sunglasses
I also recommend camera, binoculars and some camp entertainment (it gets dark and cold early).