Ecuador, named for its location on the Equator, seems to have it all, despite its diminutive size. With stunning Spanish colonial cities, indigenous villages with weekly local markets, the dense jungle of the Amazon rainforest, breathtaking peaks of the Andes, and the ecological marvel of the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador is almost a microcosm of South America. The volcanic archipelago of the Galapagos Islands is truly its greatest treasure, with a huge diversity of unique wildlife that remains friendly to humans. While the Galapagos may be a big attraction for visitors, mainland Ecuador is also worth exploring with its stunning mountain vistas, colonial history, traditional communities and vibrant local culture.
Ecuador has its own section of the legendary Amazon rainforest, home to hundreds species of mammals, thousands of birds and insects, many endemic to Ecuador. Ancient trees, some over 400 years old, tower above, entangled with thick lianas and supporting a huge variety of bromeliads. Wildlife apart, this is also a cultural experience, where we meet local communities who share their intricate knowledge of their surroundings, the medicinal properties of plants and their unique relationship with the jungle. There are a selection of Amazon Lodges and River Cruises which will allow you to get deep into this unique ecosystem.
Remote villages and colourful Indigenous markets rest among the soaring cones of snowcapped volcanoes, such as the famous town of Otavalo to the north of Quito, whose weekly Saturday market is one of the largest in Ecuador. Visitors can observe the hustle and bustle of the town as farmers and country workers flock in to sell vegetables, meat, livestock or beautifully woven or wood-carved handicrafts. The towns and people retain a distinctive identity with fascinating blends of Inca and colonial influences, and many can be visited as a day-trip from Quito.
The road South of Quito is known as the 'Avenue of Volcanoes', and passes through the highlands between towering snow-capped peaks, past the Cotopaxi National Park, indigenous villages and towns such as Ambato, Latacunga and Riobamba. At Alausi you can ride on the 'Devil's Nose' railway, an incredible feat of engineering providing an amazing journey descending the steep mountainsides on a series of switchbacks.
The Avenue of Volcanoes ends with Cuenca, a beautiful colonial city founded in 1557. Its cobbles streets, towering cathedrals, magnificent churches and wide plazas are second only to Quito's, while its year-round spring climate make it the perfect places to spend a few days strolling and enjoying the city's more relaxed ambience.
This stunning archipelago, Darwin's living laboratory of evolution, provides unique opportunities for viewing wildlife at close range. We offer a wide range of Cruises to suit all tastes and budgets, and which offer the best way of seeing the different islands.
The Galapagos Islands have inspired botanists and nature-lovers alike. Charles Darwin visited in 1835 and declared "remarkable; it seems to be a little world within itself." The islands are made up of the tops of volcanoes and flourishing with endemic species of plant, fish and reptile. During July, August and September the sea is cooler and possibly choppy and the weather more likely to be windy. The Galapagos National Park is dedicated to the preservation of this unique habitat and visits are carefully co-ordinated with fixed itineraries (licensed by the park authorities) for each boats so that the number of visitors at each site is carefully controlled.
Find inspiration from these pre-fabricated itineraries, all of which are 100% tailorable to match your personal interests and travel preferences. Start planning your journey with our expert advisors, for first-hand advice and specialist inspiration.
This tour includes the Amazon rainforest, a Galapagos cruise to experience the stunning friendly wildlife and an insight into the colonial charm of Quito, high in the mountains.
Quito - Amazon Lodge - Quito - Galápagos Cruise
from £4,251 with flights
Close encounters with friendly wildlife on the Galapagos Islands cruise and experience fascitating cultures in the exuberant rainforest and by the volcanoes on the Andean mountains.
Quito - Amazon Lodge - Quito - Riobamba - Cuenca - Guayaquil - Galápagos Cruise
from £5,267 with flights
Visit the mountain villages with local markets, along the Avenue of Volcanoes, high in the Andes. Take a cruise in the Galapagos Islands to observe the abundant friendly wildlife.
Quito - Galapagos Cruise - Quito - Riobamba - Cuenca - Quito
from £4,191 with flights
We explore the exuberant rainforest from the comfort of a boat travelling on the Napo River. admire Andean landscapes and the Pacific coast with Isla Plata teeming with wildlife.
Quito - Amazon River Cruise - Machalilla - Guayaquil
from £2,890 with flights
Close encounters with tame wildlife are a unique experience for youngsters to develop an appreciation of the natural world. Doing so with family builds a a bond for life.
Quito - Galapagos Cruise
from £3,116 with flights
The essential tour of the Galapagos, and the quickest way to get to the islands to discover the wildlife.
Quito - Galapagos Cruise
from £3,762 with flights
Cruise the Galapagos Islands. experience the Andean mountains, colonial heritage and Inca civilisation. Option to continue to Lake Titicaca, La Paz and the stunning setting of Rio de Janeiro.
Ecuador - Peru - Bolivia - Brazil -
from £5,114 with flights
Cruise the Galapagos Islands for close encounters with friendly wildlife, combined with the landscapes of the Andean mountains, colonial heritage and ancient Inca civilisation.
Peru - Ecuador -
from £5,687 with flights
Select a location to find out more about where to stay and what to do in each of these fascinating places. If where you are looking to visit is not mentioned please contact a specialist advisor as these are only some of the hand-picked places we have visitied.