Ecuador & Galapagos
The Galapagos Islands are a major draw, but the Ecuadorian mainland holds many surprises
Straddling the equator, hence its name, Ecuador borders with Colombia to the north and Peru to the southeast. Though one of the smaller countries in South America, it offers extreme diversity within its borders: stunning mountain landscapes with dramatic snow-capped volcanoes; patchworks of fields on rolling hillsides; unspoilt lush rainforests with snaking rivers; world-class colonial towns; dry desert micro-climates; and miles of plantations of banana, cacao and other exotic fruits.
The Andes divides the country from north to south: to the east lies the Amazon basin, offering virgin rainforests with tremendous wildlife sighting opportunities, meandering brown-water rivers and mysterious black-water lakes. This region is and also home to several tribal groups, some of which choose not to have contact with the outside world. To the west, beyond the highly biodiverse cloud forest, lie the coastal plains and Pacific beaches. Some 1,000km further offshore (also right on the equator) are the enchanted Galapagos Islands, which undoubtedly remain the country’s leading draw for visitors.
The diversity of the different regions and micro-climates has given rise to the evolution of hundreds of thousands of species of flora and fauna, which thrive in the huge variety of diverse ecosystems. This small country takes ecological conservation seriously: there are 10 national parks and 14 natural reserves protected by the state, including dozens of vast green forest belts. Amazingly, tiny Ecuador is home to 10% of the world’s plant species (the majority of which grow in the north-eastern Amazon) and 8% of the world’s animal species.
In addition to this mass of natural beauty, Ecuador is proud of its rich history and cultural diversity, with more than 30 indigenous groups across all regions, as well as the beautiful historic colonial cities of Quito and Cuenca – both of which have been declared by UNESCO as World Heritage Sites.
North of Quito, the ‘Choco’ cloud forest in Mindo is a birdwatchers’ paradise while the neighbouring province of Imbabura offers an entertaining train journey to the small Afro-Ecuadorian community of Salinas as well as beautiful lakes and the well-known Otovalo Market. Less well-known is the small town of San Antonio de Ibarra, which is renowned the wood carving skills of its residents.
With its year-round spring-like weather, the warmth of its people and the amazing natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage, it is no wonder that we consider mainland Ecuador to be one of the world’s best kept secrets.
To discover more about Ecuador and the broad variety of experiences it offers, give us a call or send us a message.
Places we love to stay
This historic colonial hacienda set in beautiful countryside offers some of the best horses and riding in Ecuador.View details about Hacienda Zuleta
Hacienda La Danesa
A very charming family-owned hacienda located just one hour outside Guayaquil, on a 500 hectare traditional cattle and cacao farm.View details about Hacienda La Danesa
Off the beaten track and set in a beautiful location, this hacienda has a wonderful homely feel and is well placed to explore the local cloud forest.View details about Hacienda Manteles
Conveniently located in Plaza San Francisco in the old town, Casa Gangotena is an excellent boutique hotel with good service.View details about Casa Gangotena
Pikaia Lodge is a striking modern building set on top of a hill with panoramic views. The hotel brings a new level of luxury to the Galapagos Islands.View details about Pikaia Lodge
This four-day journey from Quito to Guayaquil (or vice-versa) offers guests an insight into Ecuador’s varied history, cultures and landscapes with overnight stops at three typical hosterias en route.View details about Tren Crucero
MY Passion has recently been the subject of a complete refurbishment leaving her with a vibrant interior of distinctive Ecuadorian style, replete with rich reds and golds with starburst suns glowing from the ceilings.View details about M/Y Passion
Launched in November 2015, Petrel is the latest addition to the luxurious and fast class of catamarans, joining sister ships Ocean Spray and Cormorant. She can accommodate 16 passengers in great comfort and contemporary style, with a large sun deck with shaded seating area and Jacuzzi.View details about M/C Petrel
Hacienda San Agustín de Callo
Built around a courtyard, the highlights of this unique hacienda are two Inca buildings – still in full use as a dining room and a chapel.View details about Hacienda San Agustín de Callo
Undoubtedly the most exclusive and luxurious hotel in the heart of the Choco cloud forest, Mashpi Lodge is a world away from the world.View details about Mashpi Lodge
Scalesia Lodge opened its doors in October 2015, offering for the first time top quality accommodation on the largest and most dramatic island in the Galapagos, with a population of less than 4,000.View details about Scalesia Lodge
Hacienda La Alegria
Located just an hour south of Quito Hacienda La Alegria offers some of the best horse riding in Latin America.View details about Hacienda La Alegria
Sacha Lodge provides nature lovers with a comfortable base from which to explore the Amazon rain forest, whilst enjoying good food and friendly, efficient service.View details about Sacha Lodge
Originally a wedding gift from Prince Rainier to Princess Grace of Monaco, hence the name (and before that, Winston Churchill’s yacht of choice for post war cruises), MY Grace is a boat steeped in tradition and old world class.View details about M/Y Grace
Located on the main square in the heart of Quito’s old town, the Plaza Grande offers sumptuous rooms and suites with service to match.View details about Plaza Grande
La Pinta is large motor yacht which has recently been completely renovated. In spite of its size, it accommodates just 48 guests leaving ample social areas and a beautiful observation deck towards the bow.View details about LA PINTA
Galapagos Safari Camp
The ‘Safari Camp’ offers guests a different way to experience Galapagos: sleeping in luxury tents with excellent meals and bar service in the main lodge.View details about Galapagos Safari Camp
The MV Evolution left a lasting impression on us. She was fully refurbished in 2012 and is beautifully fitted out with the over-riding impression of being a small, elegant, 1930s ocean liner.View details about MV Evolution
Private Galapagos Villa
For a large family or group of friends, this exclusive private villa in the Galapagos Islands would make an ideal land base before or after a cruise.View details about Private Galapagos Villa
Cuenca’s best boutique hotel is conveniently located in the heart of the city and offers guests personalized service and a memorable stay.View details about Mansion Alcazar
Royal Palm Hotel
Located in the highlands of Santa Cruz island, Galapagos, the Royal Palm is an exclusive hideaway resort.View details about Royal Palm Hotel
Oro Verde Guayaquil
The Oro Verde is Guayaquil’s top downtown hotel, offering quality service, comfort and a choice of restaurants along with a great bar and other facilities.View details about Oro Verde Guayaquil
MV Anakonda is a new expedition cruise ship operating on the Napo River in the Ecuadorian Amazon.View details about MV Anakonda
This delightful country hacienda offers extensive equestrian activities and is just a short drive from the heart of the city of Cuenca.View details about Caballo Campana
Launched in 2016, the M/V Origin sets new standards of quality and service in the Galapagos Islands.View details about M/V Origin