Like the rest of South America, Ecuador spreads a diverse array of natural wonderlands. Within the country resides the dense Amazonian rainforest, the famous Galápagos Islands, towering volcanic peaks, lush Andean highlands and Ecuador’s high altitude capital city, Quito. Natural wonder, cultural intrigue and rare wildlife all wait to greet you on your holiday to Ecuador.
Nature lovers are set to be utterly enthralled by Ecuador, one of the few places you can get up close and personal to the planet’s most beautiful and unique creatures. The iconic Galápagos Islands have an astounding variety of wildlife, including many species found nowhere else on earth. Snorkel with century-old sea turtles; spot iguanas scuttling across terracotta red sands; watch out for lumbering sea lions basking in the sun. The Amazon again provides a glorious array of wildlife. Here you’ll glimpse the flutter of a macaw’s rainbow-hued wings darting through the forest canopy, and follow the jungle’s trails and rivers to find monkeys, sloths and river dolphins.
Ecuador travel: dazzling biodiversity, culture and history
Ecuador travel also offers a whole lot of culture and history. A UNESCO World Heritage city, set against a spectacular mountainous backdrop, Quito is home to 17th-century monasteries, engrossing galleries and lively plazas. Outside the city, there’s rich Ecuadorian heritage to be discovered, whether it’s ancient Inca ruins perched on hillsides; mountain villages with sprawling, colourful markets; or coastal towns where seafood dinners and sunsets are the daily fare. The scenery in Ecuador is truly something else - there’s a setting for every type of adventure, whether it’s a picnic on a sun-kissed beach or a hike through rural villages.
Across the deep blue waters lie the awe-inspiring Galápagos Islands, a must-see during your Ecuador holiday. Climb volcanic landscapes, meet giant tortoises and discover a spectacular underwater world. Get in touch with our Destination Specialists to find out more.
Great sample itineraries
Pair your Ecuador travel with adventures in Peru on an epic heritage tour. Or journey to the breathtaking Galápagos Islands to glimpse rare wildlife. Wherever you go, we’ll ensure it’s unforgettable.
Ecuador is unique in more ways than one. This verdant country straddles the equator and Quito, its capital, sits at an altitude of 2,850m. You’ll find extraordinary examples of indigenous American culture, Spanish colonial architecture and of course, remarkable wildlife. This is the gateway to The Galapagos Islands, after all.
Galapagos National Park
The Galapagos National Park is the oldest national park in Ecuador and has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Visit the park to see wildlife such as giant tortoise, marine iguanas, hammerhead sharks and many water birds, and visit the Charles Darwin Research Station.
Visit captivating cities
Quito, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, brims with culture and the Museo de la Ciudad, the City Museum, is a great place to understand Ecuador’s pre-Columbian history. Pick up vibrant alpaca textiles and stroll the 17th century cobbled streets of the Old Town.
“For spectacular views over the mountains of Quito, hop on board the Teleferiqo cable car, one of the world’s highest aerial lifts. Once you’re at the top, you can hike to the summit of Rucu Pichincha - a five hour round trip. As the second highest capital city in the world, it’s worth remembering altitude sickness in Quito - drink lots of water and lay off alcohol for the first few nights so you can properly acclimatise.”
“The real equator in Ecuador is not actually where the Equator Monument is situated, but within the Intiñan Museum, about 200m away. The museum is well worth a visit, and as well as seeing the equator, there are educational games and experiments.”
Events & Festivals
Festivals are the perfect time to really get an insight into a country and its culture. Head to Ecuador in February to join the mischief of Mardi Gras, or in April to witness the elaborate religious parades of Semana Santa.
Ecuadorian Mardi Gras
Ecuadorian Mardi Gras, culminating on 25 February, is celebrated with fervour in the Andes. The idea is to have as much fun as possible before Cuaresma (Lent). The week-long celebration sees parades, neighbourhood street parties and a whole lot of espuma (party foam) and water guns. Bring waterproof protection for gadgets and don’t dress in your best!
Semana Santa (Holy Week)
From 5-11 April, Ecuador celebrates Holy Week with festivals and religious ceremonies. One of the biggest events is on Holy Friday, in Quito, where thousands of people come for the procession of Jesús del Gran Poder (Jesus the Almighty). Expect to be inundated by purple robed figures, traditional music and restaurant specials of Fanesca (a rich traditional soup).
Most people will never have sampled Ecuadorian cuisine before visiting the country, but there is a diverse and delicious array of traditional dishes to sample on your Ecuador holiday.
Ceviche is often enjoyed on the beach in Ecuador. It consists of seafood, usually shrimp or sea bass, marinated in citrus juices. Unlike the Peruvian version, it is served with the juices it has been soaked in. It is commonly enjoyed with toasted corn or plantain chips.
Often sold at street stalls, a large plantain - similar to a banana - is cut down the middle, filled with mozzarella, and fried on the grill. This is Ecuadorian fast food at its best.
Fried potato balls, stuffed with cheese, Llapingachos are an Ecuadorian snack served with a delicious peanut sauce.
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