Ecuador

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Ecuador

A visit to Ecuador delivers a punchy balance of Latin American culture, extraordinary wildlife and contrasting landscapes. 600 miles off the mainland, is the county’s star attraction – the Galapagos Islands. This pinprick in the Pacific Ocean is surly one of the world’s greatest wildlife hotspots and they should be on every nature-lover’s bucket list.

 

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While the Galapagos Islands are rightly on most agendas for a first-time visit to the country, the rest of Ecuador should not be overlooked. Back on the mainland, some of the best Amazonian lodges are tucked into Ecuador’s share of the rainforest and the northern and southern sierra mountains offer grassy rolling hills juxtaposed with lofty snow-capped peaks. Quito, the country’s high-altitude capital city is a treasure trove of perfectly preserved Colonial architecture with easily accessible cloud forests not far beyond.

Die-hard wildlife fans will be fascinated by the experience of combining an exploration of contrasting habitats from the Amazon, to the cloud forests and ending in the Galapagos. The three points are easy to reach and we work with lodges and boats that provide the very best in expert guiding. There are over 300 species of mammals endemic to Ecuador from monkeys to Andean foxes and nearly 2000 species of birds.

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Quick Facts

Capital
Quito

Population
16.5 million

Area
272,045 sq km (105,037 sq miles)

Major Languages
Spanish, indigenous languagues

Major religion 
Christianity

Monetary Unit 
US dollar

Ecuador is a year-round destination. Being so close to the equator means that temperatures and micro-climates across the country are determined more by geography, sea temperature and altitude than they are by traditional ‘summer-to-winter’ seasons.

Weather in the Galapagos Islands is generally moderate. The warm, wet season is roughly between December and June and the cool, dry season from June to December.

In the Amazon Rainforest the change in precipitation and temperature varies little from month to month although April and May tend to see more rain than other times of the year.

The Sierras can be visited at any time and, again, their weather patterns are unpredictable though they are generally driest between June and September.

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Highlights

The Amazon Rainforest

In our opinion, some of the best Amazonian lodges are based in Ecuador. Some are particularly well suited for families with teenagers and all of the lodges we work with are dropped carefully into remote locations at the water’s edge. Explore the rainforest via canopy walkways for an enviable view of the treetops spreading as far as the eye can see or glide silently through the waterways with birds and monkeys chattering on every side.

This is a birdwatcher’s paradise with an estimated 1600 species nesting in these emerald forests. There are more species of wildlife tucked into Ecuador’s rainforest than there are in the Galapagos Islands and, with well-trained eyes of your expert guides, the chance of seeing some of these rare and beautiful creatures is greatly increased.

The Galapagos Islands

No amount of watching Sir David Attenborough’s ‘Galapagos’ series can prepare you for the shock of wildlife residing in and around these islands. Three major oceanic currents brings a mesmerising variety of marine life to these islands. Take a swim in the crystal clear water and you may find yourself snorkelling or diving with sea lions, penguins and humpback whales all at the same time or relax on the beach amongst blue-footed boobies, waved albatross (between April and November) and land iguanas basking on the rocks. There is almost always the chance of a short, sharp shower during the day but these tend to clear up quickly to reveal clear blue skies and a sparkling ocean.

The only way to access the most remote islands such as Espanola Island where colonies of sea lion bask on sugar-white sands is to sail and there are a handful of excellent vessels to choose from. However, for guests who do not have sea legs, there are some charming lodges based on land such as the family-run Galapagos Safari Camp, which has excellent guides and boats for day trips out to the islands and 55 hectares of land to explore.

As always, choosing the right experience for you is key and we are here to help when you are ready to start planning the wildlife trip of a lifetime.

The Central Highlands

The Andes Mountains run the entire length of South America’s western coast, approximately 4,500 miles from north to south. In Ecuador, the mighty Chimborazo volcano with an altitude of 20,697 feet attracts many a hardy mountain climber looking for one of the world’s ultimate challenges. Beyond the craggy peaks and icy glaciers and indigo crater lakes are soft, grassy hills, pretty colonial towns and traditional haciendas to explore. A visit to the north and south of the central highlands combines this exciting variety of landscape and is an excellent way to get a true sense of Ecuadorian history and culture.

Those who enjoy life in the saddle will be very content as Exceptional Travel can arrange some very exciting riding experiences in this part of the world. These can range from getting into the wild beyond with nothing but your horse and a tent and some of the best guides and riders in the country to daytrips from the comfort of a traditional hacienda.

The Amazon Rainforest

In our opinion, some of the best Amazonian lodges are based in Ecuador. Some are particularly well suited for families with teenagers and all of the lodges we work with are dropped carefully into remote locations at the water’s edge. Explore the rainforest via canopy walkways for an enviable view of the treetops spreading as far as the eye can see or glide silently through the waterways with birds and monkeys chattering on every side.

This is a birdwatcher’s paradise with an estimated 1600 species nesting in these emerald forests. There are more species of wildlife tucked into Ecuador’s rainforest than there are in the Galapagos Islands and, with well-trained eyes of your expert guides, the chance of seeing some of these rare and beautiful creatures is greatly increased.

The Galapagos Islands

No amount of watching Sir David Attenborough’s ‘Galapagos’ series can prepare you for the shock of wildlife residing in and around these islands. Three major oceanic currents brings a mesmerising variety of marine life to these islands. Take a swim in the crystal clear water and you may find yourself snorkelling or diving with sea lions, penguins and humpback whales all at the same time or relax on the beach amongst blue-footed boobies, waved albatross (between April and November) and land iguanas basking on the rocks. There is almost always the chance of a short, sharp shower during the day but these tend to clear up quickly to reveal clear blue skies and a sparkling ocean.

The only way to access the most remote islands such as Espanola Island where colonies of sea lion bask on sugar-white sands is to sail and there are a handful of excellent vessels to choose from. However, for guests who do not have sea legs, there are some charming lodges based on land such as the family-run Galapagos Safari Camp, which has excellent guides and boats for day trips out to the islands and 55 hectares of land to explore.

As always, choosing the right experience for you is key and we are here to help when you are ready to start planning the wildlife trip of a lifetime.

The Central Highlands

The Andes Mountains run the entire length of South America’s western coast, approximately 4,500 miles from north to south. In Ecuador, the mighty Chimborazo volcano with an altitude of 20,697 feet attracts many a hardy mountain climber looking for one of the world’s ultimate challenges. Beyond the craggy peaks and icy glaciers and indigo crater lakes are soft, grassy hills, pretty colonial towns and traditional haciendas to explore. A visit to the north and south of the central highlands combines this exciting variety of landscape and is an excellent way to get a true sense of Ecuadorian history and culture.

Those who enjoy life in the saddle will be very content as Exceptional Travel can arrange some very exciting riding experiences in this part of the world. These can range from getting into the wild beyond with nothing but your horse and a tent and some of the best guides and riders in the country to daytrips from the comfort of a traditional hacienda.

Where to stay

These are just a selection of the properties we can personally recommend. Please get in touch to hear more about our full portfolio.

Hacienda La Danesa

This charming six-bedroom farmhouse offers guests of all ages a delightful escape into a traditional way of Ecuadorian life that has been maintained by the Olsen family for over fifty years. The warm and friendly staff love nothing more than to show guests into the heart of their community from life at the stables to the bustling kitchen and dairy farm.

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Hacienda Zuleta

This stunning 17th century working-farm was the residence of Ecuador’s former President Galo Plaza Lasso and his family. A pretty two hour drive from Quito brings guests to this warm and friendly hacienda nestled deep in the Andes.

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Origin & Theory

These luxury yachts in the Galapagos offers guests comfort and space on board and a highly experienced 14-member Ecuadorian crew, which includes two fantastic naturalist guides (one for every ten guests). Ecoventura pride themselves on local conservation and guests who board this boat can be assured they are in the hands of a team that takes protecting these precious islands seriously.

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Sacha Lodge

This remote jungle lodge is hidden deep in the Ecuadorian Amazon. From here guests can explore the pristine rainforest in the hands of fantastic guides who know the jungle and waterways of the Napo River better than anyone.

take me to Sacha Lodge

Get in touch with us now to start planning your journey

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