Ecuador & the Galapagos Islands 2014
Ecuador is the hidden gem of South America. It is a compact country offering so much for the traveller, it is considered a destination in itself. A little gem of a country with a huge variety for the traveller, including ‘bucket list’ highlights like the Galapagos Islands and the Amazon.
Once you have ticked these off the list, look further and you will find the wonderfully preserved old city of Quito – a UNESCO World Heritage City, the country province of Imbabura, home to the thriving markets of Otavalo where you can get an amazing culture fix, and the Avenue of Volcanoes - not only with its amazing scenery but also some beautiful historic Haciendas.
Further south you will find the charming city of Cuenca, another UNESCO World Heritage City, which you can easily lose yourself for days. There is such a variety in this small country we recommend up to two weeks to explore!
The Ecuadorian Amazon is ideal for adventurers or science buffs, hosting many protected areas and national parks and the best way to experience this area is staying at a jungle lodge offering excursions to view wildlife, hikes, boat trips and visits to indigenous villages. Cloud forest is great for trekking and wonderful array of birds, particularly the humming bird.
One of the great adventures to put on your list when visiting Ecuador is travelling by the Chiva Express through the Devil's Nose switchback where you will get a birds-eye view of the scenery sitting atop the custom-built train-coach on tracks.
Fly to the Galapagos Islands, 1000km from the mainland and come face to face with untouched and endemic bio diverse wildlife, all differing from island to island. A three night cruise is minimum but we recommend a four or seven night cruise to really appreciate it all. At the Galapagos islands you can snorkel with sea lions, watch the many vaieties of land and sea iguanas.
Ecuador is a destination you can travel to in comfort any time. The Galapagos has exciting wildlife happenings any season with snorkelling available all year round with wetsuits provided in winter. The Amazon is rainy and humid between Jan - Sep as would be natural and the lodges kindly provide good old gumboots for your comfort!
It is certainly fine if you do not speak Spanish in Ecuador, but if you can learn "Buenos dias" (Good morning, until 12 noon), "Buenos Tardes" (Good afternoon) and "Buenos Noches" (Good evening) it will be most pleasantly received. Learning how to ask for a white wine or a beer "Un vino blanco por favour" (or replace vino blanco with cerveza) is also a good one to know!