Amazonian rainforests, Andean peaks, foggy cloud forests, white-water rafting, the Galapagos Islands and a rich indigenous heritage, all this and more in Ecuador.  Wedged between Colombia and Peru, Ecuador is one of the most geographically and culturally diverse countries on the planet. Split by the Andes, a rocky spine of snow-capped volcanoes, the ancient Amazon is to the east. And to the west are misty bird-filled cloud forests, untouched coastline and, of course, the awe-inspiring Galapagos Islands.  One day you will pick through hand-woven wool sweaters at a chilly indigenous mountain market; the next day you will be sweating over your binoculars while spying on howler monkeys in the Amazon jungle.

For adrenaline junkies the choices are outrageous - mountaineering and trekking are world-class (try the Quilatoa Loop); toss in some horseback riding and surfing and you will go home happy. For culture vultures Ecuador's indigenous heritage of traditional costumes and highland markets will enchant. Browse South America's largest handicraft and textile market in Otavalo, or venture west to the Mindo Cloud Forest to view pre-Incan burial mounds. Finally, a trip to Ecuador would not be complete without visiting the Galapagos Islands. These are geologically young and famed for their vast number of endemic species, which contributed Charles Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection. These are best explored on a cruise lead by experts.

Why we like it

  • Historical, colonial haciendas
  • UNESCO protected city of Quito
  • Home to the Galapagos Islands
  • Otavalo market & Inca ruins
  • Cloud forest to coast by train
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