It has often been said that Ecuador reflects all of South America in one country, with its magnificent Andean spine lined with a staggering 30 volcanoes, Amazon rainforest, colonial cities, colourful Indian markets, an Incan heritage, and a lovely coast.
Ecuador also has something all its own - the Galapagos Islands, far out into the Pacific.
We prepared 11 reasons for you to discover Ecuador:
1. Amazing diversity
Ecuador spans four vastly different worlds. From the endless reaches of the Amazon, to the breathtaking beauty of the Andes, to the pristine stretches of the Coast and the legendary Galapagos Islands – each region boasts a unique landscape, ecosystem and culture. Nowhere else on earth can visitors experience such extreme diversity in one country. And because Ecuador is only the size of Nevada (United States), it’s possible to see it all in just one trip!
2. Home to the Galapagos Islands & UNESCO World Heritage Sites:
Ecuador is home to the Galapagos Islands and is the number one, most biodiverse country per square mile in the world. Ecuador counts some 50 different ecosystems, several of which are considered Biodiversity Hotspots by Conservation International and have been named UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
3. Great Food
And speaking of local meals, the country's cuisine is as diverse as its landscape. Hearty mountain fare and seafood make up the crux of Ecuador's national specialties, which include a citrusy ceviche, toasted corn snacks, a cheesy potato soup, pan-fired pork/chicken, and goat stew. For more adventurous eaters, though, there's guinea pig, or cuy. Yep, people in the Andean region of South America love them some guinea pig.
4. Endless adventures:
Only in Ecuador can a traveler climb the tallest active volcano in the world, kayak the rapids of the Amazon rainforest, crisscross the Equatorial line on horseback, surf tropical Pacific swells along a Pre-Incan archeological site (Chirije), and swim with penguins, marine iguanas, sea lions and harmless whale sharks – all in one trip!
5. Rich culture:
Ecuador is home to a diversity of cultures, many of which (particularly in the Andean and Amazonian regions) live much the way they did centuries ago. In city centers, visitors will find museums, theaters, thriving markets, festivals, and very welcoming people. Ecuador blends Spanish culture with African and European influences, and this vibrancy is reflected in the people and its cities.
6. An example in sustainable tourism:
Ecuador has made conservation and responsible tourism development a priority. The country is taking aggressive steps to establish a sustainable tourism infrastructure that will ensure its unique ecosystems are carefully monitored to preserve their natural abundance. By visiting Ecuador, travelers contribute to the local economy and participate in Ecuador’s mission to become a leader in sustainable tourism.
7. Something for everyone:
Ecuador is one of the most versatile destinations on the planet, with plenty to offer to just about any type of traveler. From adventure seekers and Eco-tourists, culture and history aficionados, inquisitive families and active honeymooners, to watersports enthusiasts, incentive travelers, and visitors looking to learn Spanish; itineraries catering to their interests are easy to arrange.
8. Easy to travel:
A choice of US and international carriers offering daily flights from both the East and West Coast of the US, a short 4- to 6-hour flight from Miami and New York, a Dollar-based economy, conveniently located international airports, a reliable transportation system, a wide range of accommodations and English readily spoken in the major cities and tourist areas make travel to Ecuador effortless.
9. Safe and friendly:
Ecuadorians are honest, warm and service-oriented people who truly enjoy welcoming foreign visitors to their country. Their friendly nature makes travelers feel safe and well looked after, as they are treated like guests rather than tourists.
10. Eternal spring-like weather:
Ever heard of an endless spring? Since the country sits on the equator, mainland Ecuador stays at an average of about 66°F, pretty much all the time. Also, temps and weather conditions vary by region/geography, so no matter the month, you'll always be visiting a section of Ecuador at the perfect time.
11. Off the beaten path:
Ecuador is an “up and coming” destination among international travelers “in the know”. Free from mass tourism, the country is a heaven for travelers looking to discover something new and different. And if that doesn’t raise a few eyebrows and impress the boss, one can always mention bragging rights one through nine.
- Galapagos Islands, swim between the most colourful fish and harmless sharks. - Cuenca, the third largest city with a great nightlife- Quito, the colonial capital with amazing architecture
Ecuador, about equal in area to Nevada, is in the northwest part of South America fronting on the Pacific. To the north is Colombia and to the east and south is Peru. Two high and parallel ranges of the Andes, traversing the country from north to south, are topped by tall volcanic peaks. The highest is Chimborazo at 20,577 ft (6,272 m). The Galápagos Islands in the Pacific Ocean, west of the South American mainland, became part of Ecuador in 1832.
The official Language is Spanish. Other Indian languages are: quechua shimi. Minor Indian nations also speak awapit, cha´palachi, tsafiqui, paicoca, a´ingae, huaotirio, shuar-chichan and záparo.
Since 2000 $ US Dollar has been used as local currency
There is really no ideal time to go if you're planning to see more than one area of Ecuador, because the climate varies according to region. The rainy season is October-April in the Sierra (with April the wettest month) and January-April on the coast. The coastal rainy season coincides with the warmest water currents for swimming, surfing or (in the Galapagos) snorkeling, and these are the most popular months on the coast. The June-September dry season is the most popular in the highlands: This coincides with the wettest months in the Oriente, when roads may be washed out.
Before the Spanish introduced cattle, the favored meat in Ecuador was guinea pig. It's still an Ecuadorian delicacy. It is said to be tasty and sweet, something like a cross between a chicken and a rabbit. With its abundance of seafood, fresh fruits and vegetables, the best cuisine in Ecuador is found on the coast. The greatest glory of the coastal cuisine is ceviche, which is fresh fish or shellfish marinated using various recipes combining lime or lemon, chili, onions, coriander and perhaps other spices. Typical alcoholic Ecuadorian drinks include various fruit concoctions made with a powerful sugar cane spirit as a base.
The history of pre-Inca Ecuador is lost in a misty tangle of time and legend, and the earliest historical details date back only as far as the 11th century AD. Pizarro reached the country in 1532 and spread terror among the Indians thanks to his conquistadors' horses, armor and weaponry. Today, only one intact Inca site remains in Ecuador - Ingapirca, to the north of Cuenca. Despite its history of internal rivalry and border conflicts, life in Ecuador has remained peaceful in recent years, and it is at present one of the safest countries to visit in South America.
There is freedom of religion in Ecuador. Approximately 90% of the people are Catholic. Indian nations, most of whom are Catholic due to Spanish colonization, mingle Catholic rites with their own vision of the cosmos.
Ecuador's pre-Columbian peoples excelled in pottery, painting, sculpture, and gold and silver work. The Spaniards trained indigenous artists to produce colonial religious art, which can be seen in many churches and museums. Local crafts include fine examples of basketry, leather work, woodcarving, weaving, ceramics and jewelry.
The Pacific coast of Ecuador is known for the amor fino, a kind of popular song, as well as a variety of dance music. Pasillo, pasacalle and yarabi are popular folk dances. El pasacalle is a form of dance music, while the sentimental el yarabi is probably the most popular form in Ecuador.The indigenous communities of the Ecuadorian highlands are largely ritual or ceremonial, with many wind instruments like the guaramo horn, and the pifano and pinkullo flutes.
A grassland environment called paramo is found at 3,300m of altitude. Annimals you can find here are rare mountain tapirs, spectacled bears, white-tailed deer, rabbits, the Andean fox and pumas. Birds include the Andean condor and numerous hummingbird species. The amazing rainforest has many reptiles, large predators, such as the anaconda and the caiman plus lizards, iguanas, geckos and tortoises. There are hundreds of birds including parrots, macaws and the harpy eagle. Among the insects are several hundred species of butterflies including the blue Morpho. In the waters you can find the infamous piranhas, stingrays, electric eels and some huge catfish.