Ecuador is one of the most diverse countries in the world, offering the visitor a chance to experience a holiday of a lifetime. Four key areas make up the Ecuador's tourism products: The Galapagos Islands; The Andes; The Amazon and The Pacific Coast.
Alluring to those seeking a destination that blends adventure, wildlife and culture, Ecuador appeals to the discerning visitor.
Hot on the heels of the ‘Galapagos' Television series recently screened by the BBC, the islands' appeal to the wildlife enthusiast has never been as popular. The travel industry looks set to benefit from an upsurge in interest and bookings as a result.
Galapagos, for many seen as the crown of wildlife bio-diversity on the planet, represents unique opportunities to encounter nature close at hand. The Galapagos Islands, made famously by Charles Darwin's book ‘The Origin of the Species', lies 1000km of the coast of Ecuador where many different ocean currents both warm and cold collide, providing the perfect habit for all different types of land and sea creatures.
Amazonia, a short 35-minute flight from Ecuador's capital city Quito, transports the visitor into another species such as caiman; the Amazonian experience offers a real adventure into the unknown. Exploring creeks in dugout canoes, swimming in black water lakes with piranha and spotting both daytime and nocturnal creatures, provides visitors with a unique insight into the importance of preserving our eco-heritage on the planet.
The Pacific Coast includes regions such as the beautiful Esmeraldas where again the visitor can explore long deserted beaches and national parks and interact with the fishing communities.
The coast also offers whale watching at Puerto Lopez between June and September; escape-from-it-all coastal towns such as Bahia de Caraquez; the infamous blue-footed, red-footed and masked boobie birds can all be found on only one side in Ecuador, on Isla de la Plata. Often dubbed ‘the poor man's Galapagos', it is also a great island to snorkel and marvel at spectacular marine life. Machalilla National Park is Ecuador's only coastal national park and spans 55,000 hectares. This mass of coastal land contains both tropical dry forest as well as archaeological sites. There are many walking trails and en-route visitors will encounter up to 350 species of birds. Afterwards visitors can take a leisurely dip in one of the park's hot spring sulphurous pools and bathe in mineral rich mud.
The Andes dominates Ecuador and majestically run north to south. Both Quito and the quaint city of Cuenca provide perfect gateways to explore the multitude of sightseeing excursions the peaks and national parks provide.
The Avenue of the Volcanoes offers an awesome and inspiring scene. Perhaps one of the most prolific is one of the world's only snow capped volcanoes Cotopaxi, which can be seen on clear days from Ecuador's capital city, Quito. Cotopaxi National Park provides many activities for the visitor including horse riding complete with chaps and ponchos; mountain climbing in addition to seeing glacial lakes and numerous wildlife, such as wild horses.
Ecuador's highest peak is Chimborazo at 6310m and is famed for being the farthest point from the centre of the earth. Chimborazo provides good trails for the serious mountaineer and the casual trekker alike.
Otavalo is a must for those seeking to blend shopping with cultural. Otavalo is the largest craft market in Latin America, affording the visitor with opportunities to barter for colourful handicrafts with the Otavalenos people in this small Andean town.
Ecuador's three major cities, Quito, Cuenca and Guayaquil afford visitors an array of attractions both culturally and recreationally. Quite simply, Ecuador is a must for those wanting to experience a life at its purest!