From the heights of the Andes
to the depths of the Galápagos.
Although a small country in South American terms, Ecuador offers incredible contrasts and natural wonders that make it one the most beautiful in which to travel. Although straddling the Equator (hence its name), many areas are at high altitude with a cool temperate climate. To the west, the unspoiled Galápagos Islands owe their extraordinary profusion of wildlife to the effects of the cool Humboldt Current from the south (see our separate Galápagos section for more information about this fantastic destination). Quito, Ecuador's scenic capital, is possibly the most beautiful in South America. During the 13th century it was the prosperous site of the ancient Kingdom of Quitus and later the northern capital of the Inca Empire. Colonial Quito was founded in 1534. The Spanish built monasteries and palatial mansions making the city a centre of artistic achievement - recognised internationally when it was named a World Heritage Site.
Many colourful Indian markets such as Otavalo offer irresistible bargains of flowers, vegetables and handicrafts. South of Quito is the famed “Avenue of Volcanoes”, a series of high, fertile valleys of unforgettable beauty, dominated by the snowy cones of Chimborazo and Cotopaxi - at 5900 metres, the world's highest active volcano. Further on you may join the spectacular rail journey from Riobamba along the “Devil's Nose” switchbacks - a must for rail enthusiasts. The east of Ecuador also boasts perhaps the most pristine areas of Amazonia, considered one of the world's “hot spots” of bio-diversity.
For tours in the Ecuadorian Amazon go to our Amazon section or click one of the links below: