As one of the smallest countries in South America, part of Ecuador’s charm is its compact size. The Amazon Basin is a day’s drive from the Andean peaks that form the Avenue of the Volcanoes; the Pacific Coastal plains just a hop, skip and a jump from the Indian markets of the highlands. Ecuador’s four regions- the Andes, Amazon, Pacific Coast and Galapagos- encompass an incredible variety of flora and fauna.
The Galapagos Islands are, of course, a highlight. Cruising the distinct islands and seeing the creatures that inhabit their shores is a simply unforgettable experience. Choose from three to fourteen night cruises, from small yachts to large cruise ships…and for land-lubbers some fantastic lodges are now available. The Amazon Basin is a mere 30 minute flight from Quito, crossing the Andes and descending into the steamy tropics. Cruise the Napo River, admiring the rich green foliage that lines the banks before arriving at your remote jungle lodge.
The Pacific Coast is home to sugarcane and banana plantations that add to the tropical feeling the equatorial climate lends. The coastal towns of Salinas and Esmeraldas are ideal places to kick back and enjoy freshly caught ceviche. Surfing enthusiasts from around the world converge on the annual international surfing competition in Montañita.
The highlands are home to colourful indian villlages, each with their own unique markets and specialty handicrafts. A highlight is the wonderful Valley of Longevity, Vilcabamba, where the locals claim the combination of pure air, clean water and a relaxed lifestyle allows them to live to well over 100 years. Travelling north out of Quito you reach the famous markets of Otavalo- extend your stay in this beautiful valley in one of the regions traditional hacienda’s.
Quito is one of South America’s loveliest capitals, and the first to be named a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Wander the steep streets and discover incredible architectural beauty and a rich history.