Ecuador’s startlingly diverse natural landscapes range from dense and steamy Amazonian rainforests to volcanoes and Andean peaks to untouched tropical beaches. It’s a world-leader in eco-tourism and a rugged playground for outdoor adventure.
Ecuador’s central region, the sierra, is defined by the magnificent Andes. Lush green hills surge into the clouds to form snowy peaks, intermingled with more than thirty smouldering volcanoes, some of the most active in South America. Cotopaxi, one of the largest in the region, draws thrill seekers and from all over the world to climb to its smoking basin rim or ride horses in the valleys.
To the east, the sierra slopes down through lowland cloud forests into the sultry domain of the Amazon rainforest. Ecuador’s biodiversity is almost unrivalled, home to twice as many bird species than the whole of Europe and countless species of wildlife and plants.
On the other side of the Andes is Ecuador’s coast, where there are long stretches of idyllic tropical beach, almost undisturbed by human influence, and dense and steamy mangrove swamps. Inland old banana, coffee and sugar plantations await your exploration.
Among the wild beauty of Ecuador lie age-old colonial cities like the capital, Quito and Cuenca. Both of which are Unesco World Heritage sites and contain beautiful examples of Renaissance-era architecture with cobblestone streets, balconied Spanish townhouses, whitewashed churches and monasteries.
Ecuador is the gateway to a special archipelago located almost 1000km off the west coast. The heavenly Galapagos has one of the planet’s most incredible ecosystems with endemic wildlife you don’t see anywhere else. There are untouched beaches populated by reclining sea lions, giant tortoises and rare penguins ambling fearlessly around their preserved natural habitat. Hop between islands to discover the inspiration behind Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of the Species.
Ecuador is the perfect introduction to South America, and Lightfoot’s experienced team will help design you a unique luxury tour, guiding you through the country’s best kept secrets.
- Capital: Quito
- Main Language: Spanish
- Population: 15.49m (2012)
- Time Zone: GMT -5 (Galapagos is GMT -6)
- Currency: United States Dollar (USD)
- Best time to go: Galapagos is a year round destination with each month offering a varied wildlife experience. There are only two real seasons in Ecuador – rainy and dry season, and even during the rainy season, most days are sunny until the afternoon.