The best things come in small packages, and this couldn’t be truer of Ecuador. This jewel of a country can’t be bettered when it comes to natural and cultural wonders. One of the most bio-diverse countries on earth, it is home to dozens of animal and plant species found nowhere else in the world. Each of Ecuador’s four very distinct regions, the Andes, the Pacific coast, the Amazon rainforest and the Galapagos Islands, provide the setting for its spectacular biodiversity and beauty.
The wonders of Ecuador’s natural and cultural diversity coupled with its relatively small size are what make it such a great place for the traveller. On even a short visit, it is possible to admire monkeys in lush jungle canopies, swim with sea lions in the Pacific Ocean and hike along old Inca trails while marveling at the breathtaking volcanic scenery.
While the extraordinarily varied and spectacular scenery provides a constantly exhilarating backdrop to your adventure, Ecuador’s diverse cultural heritage will also be demanding of your attention. Over a dozen different indigenous groups live here: each has its own history and each contributes to the rich and complex notion of Ecuadorian identity. Highland villages famed for their brightly coloured, hand woven textiles, remote Amazonian communities where the Shaman still perform the traditional rituals of their forefathers and Afro-Ecuadorian beach towns where the days drift by to an altogether different beat.
Ecuador’s towns and cities also have a strong allure of their own. Set high in the Andes, the country’s capital Quito is surrounded by dramatic, mist-covered peaks. Packed with historical monuments and architectural treasures, you will want to spend time here exploring the bustling streets by day and joining in the vibrant, pulsing nightlife that takes centre stage once the working day is over.
The Galapagos meanwhile is one of the few places left on earth where you can watch wild animals at close range – on land and at sea. Fall under the islands’ spell as you get close up and personal with the local inhabitants: abundant and tame birdlife, lumbering giant tortoises, land and sea iguanas and frolicking sea lions. Underwater is just as exciting: swim with colourful reef fish, marvel at the speed of a passing penguin and keep an eye out for a school of graceful rays or a lone Hammerhead shark.