On South America’s northwest coast, find an equatorial paradise filled with tropical rainforests, snowy peaks, colonial towns and ancient civilizations.
Ecuador greets visitors with three breathtaking regions of natural landscapes, encompassing verdant jungles, glorious beaches and the Andes. Prevailing indigenous communities, ancient Inca ruins and a legacy of colonial monuments make it a culturally diverse country, too. Ecuador, the Spanish word for “equator”, straddles both the northern and southern hemispheres. Ecuador’s biodiversity has attracted visitors for centuries, including the esteemed naturalist Charles Darwin.
The Sierra, amid the eastern and western chains of the Andes, runs through the country’s heart. Start in Quito, Ecuador’s capital and one of the world’s highest cities. Wander narrow streets to discover an architecturally impressive city, which combines urban modernity with indigenous cultures.
See Inca ruins at Cochasqui, admire colonial-era landmarks in Cuenca andrelax in the thermal baths of Baños. Drive or bike along the Avenue of Volcanoes and trek to the summit of the Cotopaxi and Chimborazo volcanoes. Ride the spectacular Devil’s Nose mountain train from Alausi to Sibambe.
Oriente, stretching east from Sierra, is a sprawling wilderness of tropical rainforest. It’s a haven for multi-day treks, wildlife spotting and tours to indigenous communities. Spot over 500 bird species at Parque Nacional Yasuní. Paddle a canoe on the lakes of Reserva Faunística Cuyabeno. Tena is the gateway for white-water rafting adventures and trips into the Amazon Basin.
The Costa region runs along Ecuador’s glorious Pacific coastline. Check out the fishing village of Canoa and the luxury resort of Muisne. Ride big waves at the backpacker hangout Montañita and go whale-watching in Parque Nacional Machalilla. Explore the eclectic neighborhoods of Guayaquil and the pristine beaches of Salinas. Visit the Galapagos, a fascinating collection of volcanic islands, home to endemic marine life and superb snorkeling.
Ecuador is a small country when compared to its South American neighbors. The compact size and an excellent tourism infrastructure make getting between major attractions simple. In just one day, you can drive from the Amazon jungle to idyllic beaches via the Andes and coffee plantations.