This small, ecologically and culturally diverse country is easily accessible to travelers from the U.S. Renown for the Galápagos Islands, Ecuador has three other distinct regions—the Andean, the Pacific Coastal and Amazonian regions—all easily visited in one trip. Whether you prefer an active vacation, cultural immersion or surrounding yourself with wildlife and nature, Ecuador has something for every traveler.

When to go: Ecuador is considered a year round destination, with no real seasons other than rainy or dry. One of the biggest factors in determining climate for a given region is altitude. Visitors enjoy 12 hour days all year long.

Itineraries

The Road Less Traveled: Ecuador's Highlands & Cloud Forest

Galapagos Land-Based Discovery

Highlights

Quito

The capital city of Ecuador, Quito was named the first UNESCO World Heritage city in 1978. Draped along the shoulders of the volcano Pichincha at an elevation of 9,000 feet, the colonial district features plazas ringed by spectacular churches, cobblestone streets and a wealth of museums. Don’t miss the Convent of San Francisco, the Plaza Grande, the pedestrian-only Calle ‘La Ronda’ for handicrafts, restaurants and live music, and the Compañía de Jesús Church, a baroque icon on the Calle de Las Siete Cruces (the street of seven churches).

Otavalo

Two hours north of Quito is the charming town of Otavalo, nestled amongst the Andes. Famous for its Saturday indigenous market with local weavings and handicrafts, there are also lovely colonial haciendas nearby where you can soak up a bit of Ecuador’s past (Simón Bolívar slept here). On the way, make a quick stop at the Middle of the World exhibit, where the equator runs through Ecuador.

Amazon Rainforest

A short flight from Quito takes you to the town of Coca, a jumping off point for travels down the Napo River, the largest waterway of the Ecuadorian Amazon and chief tributary of the Amazon itself. Experience rainforest wildlife, meet indigenous people who share their knowledge of native plants and animals, and enjoy the nightlife—cayman spotting by dugout canoe!

Galapagos Islands

A once in a lifetime destination, the Galápagos Islands are stunning year round. Most visitors access the islands by boat, but island-based itineraries are also possible. Imagine yourself pondering the endemic iguanas, tortoises and finches just like Darwin did, or snorkeling with playful sea lions in pristine waters, where the visibility is excellent and you can see a huge variety of marine life.

Pacific Coast

Warm waters favor the coastal region of Ecuador nearly year-round due to the El Nino effect. Travelers can surf, snorkel, dive, parasail or just relax and enjoy the view. Explore the mangroves, sample the local seafood or visit a working hacienda.

Mindo

To the northwest of Quito in Mindo, travelers can experience the Ecuadorian cloud forest, a region of great biodiversity. Anyone who has interest in bird-watching or native plants is well rewarded by a visit to one of several cloud forest lodges.

REVIEWS

“Our trip to Ecuador was truly memorable. When asked to identify the best part of our trip, I was at a loss. How do you choose among experiences which started at an exceptional level? The best that I was able to do was identify the two most memorable qualities of the experience which were the richness and variety. One example was a three day “home” stay in the Imbabura area. Our “family” was open, gracious and we enjoyed some of the best food we had in Ecuador. We thoroughly enjoyed their sharing of their life on the farm, their community and some of their skills and traditions.”

– Ed, Seattle

Who we support

We believe that to travel responsibly, a portion of our tour cost should benefit the communities we visit. For this trip, we will donate to The Charles Darwin Research Station, whose work is focused on the conservation of the habitat and unique wildlife of the Galapágos Islands.