Tag Archives: Ecuador

E is for Ecuador

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.

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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.

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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.

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Let Ecuador delight you in so many ways.

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Darwin’s Treasure House

Few islands capture the imagination quite so much as the chain of volcanic islands in the midst of the Pacific Ocean a thousand miles from the coast of Ecuador.

The Galapagos Islands are unique.  In the proper sense of the word.  One of a kind.  Unlike anything else.

Remote, virtually untouched and pristine, life on the Galapagos Islands is all about getting up close and personal with nature at her most resilient and various.

It is worth the time and money to see this truly spectacular chain of islands and experience walking among seabirds that are totally unafraid of humans.  You can literally be a metre from a chick and the mother bird will not be fazed.  The animals have right of way, and sealions will use any convenient step landing or even the back of the boat you are cruising on as a good place for a night’s sleep.

Blue footed booby mother and chick

A cruise will include several islands and your guide will help you discover as Charles Darwin did, that finches adapt to become entirely different from each other depending on the island they are endemic to.  It is the place that crystallised Darwin’s theory of evolution that changed the world in Origin of Species.

Stark, sharp, rough black volcanic basalt is home to bright red baby crabs that grow to black adults, but advertise their danger as young crabs to all who would eat them.  Blue footed boobies will not glance at a red footed booby, because it is the feet that turn them on!  Seabirds dive in phalanxes of precision for fish that do not stand a chance.

Sealion and booby Galapagos Islands

And to ensure that this place remains extraordinary for all time – on the Equator, the islands are home to the Galapagos !