Your Journey through Ecuador
The approximately 110,000 square miles (283,000 square kilometers) of Ecuador are brimming with irresistible beauty and thrilling adventure. Not only do they contain the world-famous Galapagos Islands and five UNESCO World Heritage Sites; but Ecuador also has one of the highest concentrations of biodiversity in the world; Come explore the snow-peaked caps of the Avenue of Volcanoes, delve into the exotic Amazon Rainforest, and follow Charles Darwin’s footsteps encountering some of the most extraordinary life on the planet.
Andes Mountain Range
The power of the Ecuadorian Andes has permeated throughout the cultural and economic history of Ecuador for centuries, and the magnificent silhouettes of these 32 volcanoes continue to attract guests from all over the world. Long before colonial times, the Andes acted as an essential trading center between coastal and Amazonian peoples, and have come to play a significant role in many of the country’s legends. The Otavalo Indigenous Market is an excellent example of these traditions. The colorful textiles of the indigenous people of Otavalo are made using ancient techniques and ideas of the region, making it an excellent spot for tourists to find some keepsakes.
Of Ecuador’s volcanoes, Cotopaxi is one of the most celebrated, both by Ecuadorians and international communities. As the highest active volcano and the second-most symmetrical in the world, its snow-capped flanks are awe-inspiring. Cuicocha Volcano is likewise a natural work of art with its clear, turquoise lake and grassy islands. Against the setting sun, it makes for an excellent foreground to views of surrounding mountains, including the majestic Cayambe and the towering Imbabura volcanoes.
Amazon Jungle Tour
The Amazon Jungle contains some of the most bio diverse life in the world and, at just a 45-minute flight from Quito, it is the perfect addition to your Galapagos cruise. The Ecuadorian Amazon is a beautifully complex ecosystem and, though it only makes up about 2% of the Amazon Rainforest, it is home to 44% of all its birds, the most extensive diversity of tree species of any region in the world, and the third-highest level of amphibians.
However, numbers aside, the Ecuadorian Amazon is a sight to behold. Don’t miss the chance to watch the sunrise through the mist of the Napo River and listen to the natural world awake around you. Explore its jungle paths amongst the vine-entangled kapok trees and allow native guides to reveal the Amazon’s wonders, from lime-flavored ants to ancient pink dolphins. Just as life has adapted to this vibrant but competitive environment, so have humans developed their techniques to survive amidst the flora and fauna they encounter. The Amazon Rainforest is one of the most beautiful natural wonders of the world, and its secrets hide around every corner.
The Galapagos Islands
It is impossible to visit Ecuador without visiting the Galapagos Islands, which lie due west from its coast. This equatorial archipelago has been an evolutionary hotspot since Charles Darwin arrived in 1835. The rich waters surrounding the islands support a diverse selection of life, from Galapagos penguins to marine iguanas, but also make for some of the best scuba diving in the world. Extensive work managed by the Galapagos National Park has seen many species return to stable numbers, and now visitors can stroll across volcanic islands much as they were thousands of years ago. Giant tortoises, blue-footed boobies and other endemic species to the Galapagos Islands have no fear of humans gazing at you with pure curiosity.
Ecuador possesses attractive characteristics, habitats that remain pristine and in specific ways unhindered by humankind. There is no better escape from the daily rhythm of life than the white-sand beaches and crystalline waters of the Galapagos Islands, the gentle flitter of Amazonian hummingbirds, or the ancient giants of the Ecuadorian Andes.