On my recent safari around Ecuador and the magical Galapagos Islands I discovered that this small South American country, smaller than the state of Nevada, with a population of 15 million, has something for everyone.
Upon landing in Quito, at 9,300 feet, you enter a world of traffic and modern buildings, yet just 90 minutes from the capital, in the highlands of the Sierras, you encounter colorful, bustling indigenous markets, and historic haciendas that have been converted into comfortable old world inns. On clear days, you see a multitude of volcanoes.
For those who want more than a view, mountain outfitters can guide you to the top of Cotopaxi, at 19388′ the highest active volcano in the world. The truly remote Amazon basin, lush rain forests and the famous Galapagos Islands are also easily accessible in one trip. Whilst in the Galapagos, you can cruise the islands in 5 star luxury, smaller boats are the name of the game, stopping off daily to explore new islands and their unique wildlife, combined with wonderful snorkelling and kayaking, or it is possible to stay on some of the islands and branch out daily from there.
The “Republic of the Equator” was one of three countries that emerged from the collapse of Gran Colombia in 1830 (the others being Colombia and Venezuela). Between 1904 and 1942, Ecuador lost territories in a series of conflicts with its neighbors, and a border war with Peru that flared in 1995 was resolved in 1999. Although Ecuador marked 25 years of civilian governance in 2004, the period has been marred by political instability – nine presidents have governed Ecuador since 1996! Nevertheless, none of this will worry visitors making a trip around this beautiful diverse country.
Although the modern industries of oil, roses, bananas and timber are bringing change, and some prosperity to the country, the Indian culture is still very much in evidence everywhere on the mainland, and the markets, held regularly, are not to be missed.
The summit of Chimborazo 20,700 feet (6,310 m), Ecuador’s highest peak, constitutes the furthest point from the center of the Earth because of the high elevation, the location of the mountain at the equator and the oblateness of the Earth. The wonderful dynamic Galapagos islands are constantly changing shape, just as the pristine wildlife on them consistently evolves.
Ecuador makes an ideal family vacation, and because it is on the Equator, it can comfortably be visited at all times of the year. Whilst it can be easily visited along with neighboring Peru or Chile, there is more than enough to do just staying in Ecuador. I was there during holy week, a powerful experience in this strongly Catholic country.
Accommodation is extremely comfortable, ranging from 5 star to quaint, and the food and facilities are excellent. We have the finest personal guide in Ecuador to connect you with.
Notable up country properties include La Mirage, a Relais and Chateaux property; and Hacienda Cusin. Chillo – Jijon, built in grand style in 1720 and San Agustin, built inside original Inca walls, are hosted by the same families that have lived in them for hundreds of years. In the Amazon, Kapawi Lodge is an excellent community based scheme, or Sacha Lodge, but contact us for advice on this.
Contact us to begin a journey: +1 435-649-4655 or firstname.lastname@example.org