Why Travel to Ecuador & Galápagos Islands
Ecuador is home to the legendary Galápagos Islands with its remarkable variety of wildlife not found anywhere else on earth. Wildlife that is comfortable around humans, enabling you to get close for some amazing experiences, and photos! Mainland Ecuador is a fabulous destination in its own right with the magnificent Andes, pulsing Amazon rainforest, rich Andean history and culture, colorful towns and festivals, hospitable people and plenty of adventure.
Where to Go
Quito – One of the world’s first cities to be named a UNESCO World Heritage site, due to its exquisite and well-preserved colonial architecture and treasures. Explore cobblestone streets, colonial churches and beautifully restored mansions. Ninety minutes from Quito is the Mindo cloud forest, renowned for world-class birding. Two hours north of Quito, the vibrant Otavalo indigenous market offers a remarkable range of products including beautifully woven textiles.
Avenue of the Volcanoes – Over a dozen volcanoes line the route with lush slopes capped by jagged cloud-swept craters. The park around snow-capped Cotopaxi, the highest active volcano in the world, is a favorite destination to enjoy raw nature, wildlife and adventure sports, as is the area around Chimborazo volcano, worshiped by the local indigenous communities as a god. Travel along the Avenue of the Volcanoes from Quito south to the port city of Guayaquil visiting villages and indigenous markets and staying in lovely restored haciendas.
Amazon – A half hour flight from Quito takes you into the lush rainforest of the Ecuadorian Amazon, which you can explore from a jungle lodge or luxury river boat. By foot down forested trails, by small boat down tributaries, and from high up in observation towers, you’ll search for monkeys, sloths, river dolphins, birds and a thrum of other life in one of the most biodiverse places on earth.
Galápagos Islands – Home to a stunning diversity of species that can’t be found anywhere else, the Galápagos Islands are one of the best places in the world to experience wildlife. The islands are home to birds such as boobies, frigates, flightless cormorants, the waved albatross and those specialized finches that drew Darwin’s attention. Marine life includes sea lions, seals and penguins, marine iguanas basking on volcanic rock, and a healthy underwater world. The Gálapagos is a haven for snorkelers and scuba divers. On land watch lumbering 500-lb, 100-year old giant Galápagos tortoises – a species that can’t be found any other place on earth.
When to Go to Ecuador
Being on the equator, Ecuador has an enjoyable year-round climate. The mountainous areas are cooler than the coast and the Amazon is generally warm and humid. The seasons in Ecuador differ more in the amount of rainfall than temperature. But even in the rainy season skies are usually clear until the afternoon. The Galapagos Islands have a cooler, drier season (June – December) and cooler/slightly rainier season (January-May), both with their advantages. The Amazon area is driest in August and December through March and explorations vary depending on the seasonal height of the river.