Ecuador and the Galapagos may be one of South America’s smallest countries, but what it lacks in square miles it more than makes up for in beautiful landscapes, colonial cities, ingenious cultures and of course wildlife. Straddling the equator – for which the country is named – the mainland made up of Amazonian rainforest, mountainous highlands dotted with vibrant Andean villages and towns and tropical coastal plains, while sitting 620 miles off the coast are the famed Galapagos Islands where the wildlife will hardly bat an eyelid at your presence.
Ecuador’s capital city Quito’s striking ‘Old Town’ is a labyrinth of cobblestone streets replete with colonial houses and baroque churches. The Mindo Cloud Forest is enchantingly lush landscape bursting with fragrant orchids, shimmering butterflies and over 500 species of bird. The unique Andean corridor of the Avenue of Volcanoes is a sight to behold – a verdant valley dramatically flanked by spectacular snow-capped peaks. Santa Cruz in the Galapagos is the best place to view the majestic giant tortoise, which has lived on the islands for a million years.