A Grand Tour of Ecuador

Ecuador might be the second-smallest country in South America, but it has a huge heart and so much natural diversity that it intrigues and invites travellers from all over the world.  From the snow-capped Andes to the jungles of the Oriente, the Galapagos Islands, and the beaches of the Pacific coast, it is an action packed destination for those looking to see and experience something a little different, and it is now more accessible than ever before.

A country not to be rushed, one could easily lose themselves for a year travelling through Ecuador, trekking through the Amazon, shopping at the colourful indigenous markets for handmade clothing and souvenirs, and sailing the Galapagos for an unforgettable trip into nature, so if you only have a couple of weeks an itinerary is vital.

There are several different routes one can take when travelling through Ecuador. Flights between the larger cities are both frequent and cheap, but if you really want to get a feel for the Ecuadorian lifestyle, we would have to suggest you jump on the bus with the locals.  A 10-hour bus ride will cost around $10 (US dollars), and you may well make new friends as you travel through the ever-changing countryside.

Quito is the starting point for many, and if trekking, hiking, and tropical rainforests are your ‘thing’, a trip to the Amazon should features somewhere on your itinerary.  There are several stunning eco-lodges hidden amongst the lush vegetation where one can spend 3 or 4 days uncovering what the largest rainforest in the world has to offer.

Nestling 2500 metres above sea level, the historic city of Cuenca is arguably the most charming city in Ecuador.  Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it boasts numerous cathedrals, museums, colonial parks, and historical buildings, and any poets, writers, or philosophers looking for inspiration will find it right here.

The thermal pools of Baños attract both locals and travellers from across the globe.  Set against an impressive Volcano backdrop, the hot springs are surrounded by breathtaking scenery, and the small town provides easy access to the national park of Llanganates.

Finally, no trip to Ecuador would be complete without a trip to the Galapagos Islands.  Both a national park and a biological marine reserve, the Galapagos are an archipelago of volcanic islands that home a vast array of plant species, birds, and marine life. Land trips, sailing tours, and helicopter flights are available from the mainland, for those who wish to uncover the Pacific’s most prized possession.

Ecuador is an amazing destination, so why not head on down to the equator, and discover it for yourself!

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