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Ecuador: Galapagos, Andes Highlands
& the Amazon Rainforest
This friendly little nation sitting astride the equator, from which it takes its name, has the highest bird species count of any country in the world and has double the number of floral and faunal species found in the entire European continent; all in an area similar in size to the British Isles!
This astounding natural spectrum is combined with some spectacular cultural and scenic attractions, including some of the most formidable snow-capped volcanoes in the world. Like Cotopaxi and Chimborazo, the closest point on earth to the sun. These snowcapped giants tower above green temperate valleys of eternal spring and beautifully preserved Colonial cities and indigenous villages. To top it off, mainland Ecuador is the unavoidable springboard to the Galapagos Islands. It is therefore wise to think of this layover as a short (or long) extension, a destination that is very much a hidden gem waiting to be discovered.
The fact that the country is located along the equator also accounts for its warm tropical beaches and the glorious Amazon Basin, with extensive rainforests and silt-clad rivers that meander through them. The changing ecosystems also give way to an equally remarkable human population, a joyful, friendly people that celebrate both Spanish and pre-Columbian traditions through lively, colorful street celebrations and a one-f-a-kind mixed-heritage culinary culture.
Hacienda Zuleta is a rare gem hidden in the Ecuadorian Andes. We stayed there for three nights with Gloria, our guide. She was a wealth of knowledge, a patient+friendly guide!”
We loved the tapestry and workshops in Otavalo. During our stay, we loved to walk around Cuicocha crater lake! Quite a breathtaking view!”
Maria was excellent and courteous! She even helped me bargain in the Otavalo market! Meeting Belen, the hatmaker woman, was a unique experience!”
Gina was incredible! Excellent English, knowledge, and very pleasant.”
Giovanna is exceptionally knowledgeable, especially about Ecuadorian history & politics! She is an excellent storyteller”
Gloria was a joy to be with! She was very knowledgeable.”