Ecuador sits astride the Equator, where its relatively tiny size belies its staggering geographical diversity, from a battalion of snow-smothered Andean volcanic peaks to luscious Amazon rainforests. The wild Pacific beaches are fringed with exuberant vegetation pulsating with wildlife.
The Galápagos Islands, which also form part of Ecuador’s territory - are located a couple of hours flight from Ecuador's coast. Born from volcanoes thrusting their way through the surface of the waters, the clutch of alternately sun-baked and misty islands of twisted lava, jagged cliffs and scrubby forest seem an unlikely habitat for wildlife. But a phenomenal array of trusting bird and reptile species, not to mention undersea marine animals, have settled and evolved here, to the delight of visitors from Darwin onwards.
Mainland Ecuador is compact and easy to get around. Roads are invariably scenic and journeys are of a comfortable length. Short domestic flights and a recently refurbished railway complete the transport network. It is one of the continent’s most traditional countries; there’s a strong indigenous tradition in the highland villages, with cottage crafts and hand-woven textiles piled high in the lively markets and Quito is a most impressive colonial city. Ecuador is especially attractive if you are looking to take part in outdoor activities, visit local communities, enjoy breathtaking nature and relax in country farms or haciendas in exquisite scenery.
Experience Ecuador on its own or combine it with a wind-down on a sunlit chalk-white beach in the balmy Galápagos islands or a Galápagos cruise.