Named for the Equator this South American country is one of those somewhat overlooked places.
The capital Quito, built on the ruins of an Inca city, is one of the highest capitals in the world, perched in foothills of the Andes Mountains at 2850 metres. With its Spanish conquistador history and impressive colonial churches and fascinating old town area, one of the delights of Quito is the colourful local markets with great fruit and brightly decorated ceramics. Further out explore ruins of ancient civilisations.
Take a drive to the equator itself and you have an impressive monument of the actual line of the equator and several museums recounting the history of the exploration of the equator. You can straddle both hemispheres here.
Ecuador is home to one of the most remarkable island systems on the planet – the Galapagos Islands. A flight due west from Quito will bring you to the main island and from there the best way to see the islands is on a cruise. Manned by expert guides who will explain this unique island chain and ecosystem, you will explore several islands and meet the local marine iguanas, bright red crabs, multitudes of seabirds, and possibly the amazing equatorial penguin. Nowhere else can you get so close to wildlife. Not hunted by men or feral animals, you can literally walk centimetres from birds on nests and past sealions basking on the steps on the back of your boat. It is the place that crystallised Charles Darwin’s work Origin of the Species and revolutionised our understanding of how life evolved on earth. Check out the blue footed boobies, again unique to these islands.
Let Ecuador delight you in so many ways.