One of the most biodiverse countries on Earth, Ecuador is home to not only the Amazon and Andes but the gorgeous Galapagos Islands too. Asides from its stunning natural sights and enticing Pacific coastline, it has delightful colonial towns and bustling cities to explore while its rich history, culture and heritage shines forth wherever you go.
Nestled between Colombia and Peru, Ecuador lies in the northwest of South America alongside the glimmering waters of the Pacific Ocean. While its more than 2,300 kilometers of coastline is dotted with beautiful beaches, bays and bluffs, the interior boasts first the enormous Andes Mountains and then the thick, impenetrable jungle of the endless Amazon rainforest. Besides vast volcanos, valleys and rivers, the Andean nation also has the utterly unique ecosystems of the Galapagos for visitors to explore, some 1,000 kilometers west of the mainland.
Just as diverse as its remarkable landscapes and wildlife are the country’s cities and towns. While its capital Quito – the highest in the world – has some lovely colonial-era churches, plazas and a lively nightlife scene to check out, other towns such as Otavalo are instead known for their colorful and chaotic markets and rich indigenous culture and handicrafts.
After Quito, Cuenca is a very popular spot to visit due to its atmospheric cobbled streets and large colonial center with the vibrant port city of Guayaquil and all its modern malls and museums also attracting lots of people. For unforgettable rainforest adventures, waterfalls and wildlife, Banos de Agua – the ‘Gateway to the Amazon’ – is the place to go with Salinas and Montanita instead being known for their brilliant beaches and world-class surf spots.
Aside from taking superb sightseeing cruises and whale watching tours up and down the coast, you can also enjoy all kinds of epic outdoor adventure activities amidst the Amazon and Andes. For a quintessential Andean experience, many people hike along the Quilotoa Loop for its volcanos, lakes and small towns while Tena offers some excellent kayaking and white-water rafting. With amazing national parks like Cotopaxi, Sangay and Yasuni to explore alongside the fantastic fauna and flora of the Galapogas archipelago; Ecuador really does have it all.