Ecuador may be a small country that straddles the equator, but make no mistake about it, Ecuador packs a big punch! There are colonial cities, soaring mountains and volcanos, misty, cloud forests, thick jungles teeming with wildlife and the world’s best nature preserve, the Galapagos Islands. You can experience it all with one of our vacation packages to Ecuador in a short amount of time. Today you can hike around the base of a 19,000 foot volcano in the Andes, tomorrow fish for piranha in the Amazon Jungle and the day after that snorkel with a family of seals in the Galapagos Islands. Ecuador is a destination that is going to steal your heart and have you craving more. With that being said, it’s time to strap yourself in! Your bucket list is about to get smaller, and you’re finally going to have something in common with Charles Darwin.
The first stop is the beautiful capital of Ecuador, the city of Quito. Located in a valley at the base of the Pichincha Volcano, Quito offers a genuine welcome and is the perfect place to begin your journey. Quito is often thought of as having two different cities: the old colonial city and the new modern city. Wander back in time as you explore the old city, a UNESCO world heritage site where you will discover 16th century colonial architecture, monasteries, cathedrals, bustling plazas, markets, street vendors, great eateries and warm, friendly locals who are excited to meet you. Want to see what progress looks like? Then it’s time to visit the new section of town where you will witness modern architecture, museums, urban parks and a cheerful nightlife. For some great day trips out of the city, head north to the center of the world. The equator runs through Ecuador and you will have the opportunity to stand in the middle of the world with one foot in the Northern Hemisphere and the other in the Southern. Another great day trip is visiting the Otavalo Indian Market, one of the best and most famous in South America. Locals come from the highlands and the jungle to trade and sell goods with one another. Here you will find fresh picked fruits and vegetables, exotic flowers, woven textiles, leather products, art and anything else that you can imagine. Walk through the market and see how villagers exchange goods, trading a chicken for a bag of coca leaves. The market makes for a very entertaining day and a great opportunity for you to practice your Spanish. Want a little more adventure? Explore the many walking and hiking trails in the Mindo Cloud Forest or go for a horseback ride around the volcano at Cotopaxi National Park. Speaking of volcanos, why not spend a few days traveling along the “Avenue of the Volcanos”? This journey departs from Quito and works its way south along a series of magnificent snowcapped volcanos and small towns until you arrive in Cuenca, the most picturesque city in Ecuador. This colonial masterpiece and absolutely perfect climate is no doubt the reason why Cuenca has become one of the most desired cities for expats and Europeans to live out their golden years.
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Next stop, the Galapagos Islands, situated 600 miles off the coast of Ecuador, consisting of 19 islands and more than 40 islets. The Galapagos Islands were created more than six million years ago when they emerged from the Pacific in a flurry of volcanic activity. For many people the first association with the word “Galapagos” is the name “Darwin” – and for good reason. Charles Darwin first discovered the Galapagos Islands in 1835 on board the Beagle and was instantly amazed by the extraordinary and bizarre life he found on the islands. It has been more than 450 years since Darwin set his eyes on the islands, yet the islands remain largely unchanged thanks to the conservation efforts of the Galapagos National Park and the Charles Darwin Research Center. A further boost to the protection of the islands came in 1978, when UNESCO declared them a World Heritage Site. Learn how each island has its own unique ecosystem and how birds and animals have formed specialized relationships that have allowed them to adapt to the island’s’ isolation. As a result, the Galapagos Islands have a wide variety of endemic species that you will not find anywhere else on Earth. Favorites include the giant Galapagos tortoise, marine iguana, sea lions, blue-footed booby and the Galapagos penguin – the only penguin species to be found in the Northern Hemisphere. The surrounding waters are the lifeblood for the Galapagos Islands, making them one of the best places on the planet for scuba diving. There is simply nowhere on Earth like the Galapagos. The unique landscapes of these remote islands have not lost any of their haunting beauty since Darwin first explored them. The Galapagos Islands are one of the only destinations where you can have a personal interaction with wildlife and nature, while learning about evolution and adaptation, a once in a lifetime experience!
The Escape Maker offers vacation packages to Ecuador that let you discover all the beauty and natural wonders the country has to offer.