Equador & Galapagos Islands
The small South American country of Ecuador packs a lot into its compact borders. The mainland offers a wide range of sights and experiences ranging from pretty colonial towns and charming haciendas to the highest active volcano in the world and the vast Amazon Rainforest. And as if this were not enough reason, the main drawer lies a short flight away in the Galapagos Islands, an archipelago of national parks nearly a thousand kilometres off the coast of Ecuador, exceptional for its fearless and unique wildlife.
The Galapagos Islands
The Galapagos islands are best explored from an expedition cruise at sea. The birds and animals of the Galapagos are totally fearless and can be viewed at very close quarters while basking in the sun or swimming in the sea. Photo opportunities are endless and snorkelling provides further chances to explore the rich marine life.
The Ecuadorian Amazon
The Ecuadorian Amazon can be explored on a superior river cruise or from a number of rainforest lodges, many only accessible by light aircraft or riverboat transfer. The plentiful wildlife to be seen include monkeys, frogs, caimans, river dolphins and many parrot and parakeet species. Excursions include nature walks, boat rides, visits to clay licks and canopy walkways.
The capital city of Quito lies in the shadow of towering Pichincha volcano. The historic old quarter has wonderfully preserved Spanish colonial architecture with plazas and narrow streets filled with beautiful churches, monasteries and elegant mansions, some of which have become charming boutique hotels.