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Ecuador may pack more attractions per square mile into its Wyoming-sized borders than any other country in the Americas.
If you like mountains, Ecuador serves up the Andes. If you like tropical rainforest, exotic flora and fauna, and isolated rivers where the only noises are birds chirping and monkeys chattering, Ecuador offers the Amazon basin for your enjoyment. If you like remarkable Spanish colonial architecture, history and charm, Ecuador is home to beautiful (and beautifully situated) cities like Quito and Cuenca.
If tropical coastlines are your preferred scene, Ecuador lays the Pacific coast at your feet. If shopping is your passion, Ecuador presents a dizzying array of colorful hand-woven textiles, hand-made carvings –- and ranks as the real home of the Panama hat.
And if you like wildlife, the Galapagos Islands may be the top location outside of Africa to view it – and is certainly the best place in the world to get up close and personal with a variety of birds, reptiles, and sea mammals.
You can walk, photograph, dive, and snorkel among them without frightening them or causing them to scatter – as long as you stay on the trails, don’t reach out to touch them and obey all the other rules of the land and sea that your trained guides lay out.
Keep in mind that the Galapagos are almost 800 miles (1200 kilometers) from mainland Ecuador, so except for a stay in coastal Guayaquil or the capital, Quito –- the two cities from which Galapagos flights depart -- you may not see much more of Ecuador on a Galapagos tour than the islands themselves.
However, many tour operators offer extensions to Galapagos tours that will take you to other destinations in Ecuador or nearby Peru; Galapagos-Machu Picchu combinations are especially popular.
The old section of Quito – which sits at more than 9,300 feet (2,800 meters) in the Andes, the world’s highest capital city – and Cuenca, which sits at 8,400 feet (2,500 meters) in the mountains, are both UNESCO World Heritage sites, filled with remarkable examples of Spanish colonial architecture. And both warrant a visit.
Quito is larger, noisier, and prone to petty crime like pickpocketing, but old town Quito is a trove of colonial architectural treasures such as the Jesuit church known as La Compania, with its ornate Baroque carvings and nave gilded with gold leaf.
Quito is also a good base for trips to the 19,000-foot (5,800 meters) high Cotopaxi volcano, about 30 miles (50 kilometers) south of the city, and to the famous Otavalo Market, about 50 miles north, where you can shop for woolen goods and other hand-made textiles and carvings, or just take in the colorful scene. The popular Middle of the World Monument, with its yellow stripe that supposedly marks the Equator, is on the way to Otavalo.
Cuenca is smaller, quieter, and also enjoys a spectacular mountain setting. The old city is filled with colonial churches, plazas, parks and museums.
Wherever you choose to go in Ecuador, Stride can help you find the perfect guided group tour or tours that best suit your needs. And chances are, you’ll want to return again and again.
|Galapagos Island, Otavalo Market, Montanita, Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve, Cotopaxi, Quilotoa and Many More|
|Exploring Culture, Wildlife Sightseeing & Nature Sightseeing|
|Brazil, Chile, Peru