Ecuador & Galapagos

  • Sea lions, San Cristobal, Galapagos

    Sea lions, San Cristobal, Galapagos

  • Ecuador: Quito, Plaza Grande and Cathedral

    Ecuador: Quito, Plaza Grande and Cathedral

  • Ecuador: Tren Crucero

    Ecuador: Tren Crucero

  • Nazca Boobies

    Nazca Boobies

  • Ecuador: Mount Cotopaxi

    Ecuador: Mount Cotopaxi

  • Lizard


  • Angamarca, Cotopaxi Province

    Angamarca, Cotopaxi Province

  • Ecuador: Indigenous traditional dancers near Lasso

    Ecuador: Indigenous traditional dancers near Lasso

  • Bartolome Island, Galapagos

    Bartolome Island, Galapagos

  • Ecuador: llamas and alpacas

    Ecuador: llamas and alpacas

  • Marine Iguanas

    Marine Iguanas

  • San Rafael Falls

    San Rafael Falls

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.

Extreme diversity

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.

Read Horatios Clare’s exclusive review of Pikaia Lodge on Condé Nast Traveller.

To discover more about Ecuador and the broad variety of experiences it offers, give us a call or send us a message.

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