Travel to Ecuador

Travel to Ecuador

Ecuador is like no other place on Earth. Stare down a giant tortoise in the Galápagos, explore Quito’s colonial monuments, or simply pick a direction and start trekking.

One of Latin America’s most up-and-coming destinations, Ecuador is routinely praised for its abounding biodiversity. It is home to a great variety of dramatic landscapes found within its tropical Amazonian rainforests, among the scenic valleys, volcanoes and peaks of its Andean highlands, and along the beaches of its Pacific Coast. Ecuador’s ecological diversity is most well-known on the Galápagos Islands, a UNESCO World Heritage Site made famous by Charles Darwin in the 19th century. Don’t make the mistake of thinking Ecuador worthy of a visit solely for its nature reserves and national parks; its heritage is just as fascinating. Its ancient, pre-Columbian history is exceptionally rich. It was an important part of the Incan Empire, and it later had a starring role in Spain’s colonial empire in South America. Travelers to Ecuador today are exposed to an intoxicating blend of ancient sites, contemporary cities, mesmerizing scenery, interesting cultural experiences and outstanding cuisine.

Ecuador has a very rich culture. Most Ecuadorians are a mix of Native American and European ancestry, and the resulting blend of cultures is evident in Ecuador’s music, cuisine, folk art and handicrafts. As Ecuador is home to over 10 indigenous groups, during your travels you may hear locals chatting in one of many Amerindian languages in addition to Spanish.

Ecuador’s indigenous, Incan and Spanish pasts have all left their marks on Ecuador’s cultural offerings. Visitors to Quito encounter one of the best-preserved, Spanish colonial Old Towns in all of South America. Cuenca is home to a fascinating blend of Cañari, Incan and Spanish cultural influences. To capture the beat and culture of contemporary Ecuador, enjoy the galleries, shops, markets and nightlife of Guayaquil, which is also home to the Museo Antropológico y de Arte Contemporáneo, one of the country’s top museums for travelers interested in art and history.

While Ecuador’s cuisine is generally not described as elaborate, most of the meals are prepared from scratch with fresh ingredients and tasty seasonings. You’ll see many varieties of potatoes, beans and rice, which are often served inland with chicken and pork dishes, and served with excellent seafood along the coast. Ceviche in particular is one such seafood delicacy found along Ecuador’s tropical coastline; this area is also known for its amazing variety of fruits. In addition to the popular snacks and dishes found throughout the country, in the cities of Guayaquil and Quito you’ll also encounter high-end, gourmet restaurants.

Ecuador is located in northwestern South America, nestled between Colombia and Peru on the continent’s Pacific Coast. A paradise for nature lovers, its national parks and nature reserves are some of the finest in the world. In area, Ecuador is slightly larger than Colorado. The Andes Mountains run vertically through the country, separating the jungles of Ecuador’s Amazonian interior and its tropical coastal area. Roughly 600 miles west of the mainland lie the famed Galápagos Islands.

Most Ecuadorians reside in either the highlands, an area that is home to many snowcapped volcanoes, or along the coastal plains. As Ecuador is located along the equator (hence the name “Ecuador”), the sun rises and sets at more or less the same time throughout the year. Rather than four seasons, Ecuadorians have a wet season and a dry season - both of which have something to offer visitors.

Ecuador’s capital, Quito, has two interesting geographic claims to fame: it is the highest capital in the world and the one nearest the equator.

Largest cities: Guayaquil, Quito and Cuenca

Ecuador’s roots are ancient. Indigenous cultures and civilizations thrived there for thousands of years before eventually being conquered and incorporated into the sophisticated yet short-lived Incan Empire. When Spanish conquistadores arrived in the 16th century, they made cities like Quito important administrative seats in their vast new empire.

Today, visiting the heart of Quito is like taking a glimpse of 500-year-old Ecuador. Its many extraordinary monuments, like the churches La Compañía de Jesús and the Iglesia de San Francisco, date back to the colonial era and led to Quito being named one of UNESCO’s first World Heritage Cities. Quito is also home to two outstanding museums that will delight any history buff: the Museo Nacional del Banco Central del Ecuador and the Fundación Guayasamín.

Outside of Quito, there are many fascinating historical attractions worth visiting in Ecuador. The ruins of Ingapirca trace their origins to both the ancient Cañari and the Incas. Nearby in Cuenca, another UNESCO World Heritage City, travelers can visit the beautiful New Cathedral (Catedral Nueva). In Guayaquil, the historic areas of Santa Ana Hill and the Las Peñas district house many of the city’s best art galleries. Lastly, while nature is their primary draw, the Galápagos Islands and their many species led to the creation of one of the most important books of the 19th century: Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species.

Ecuador Vacations

Quito Escape
Guayaquil Escape
Quito & Guayaquil
Quito, Guayaquil and the Galapagos Islands Cruise

Not Included