Where to go

Ecuador

An overview of where to go and what's on offer in Ecuador...

Blue-footed Boobies' courtship dance
Blue-footed Boobies' courtship dance

Ecuador is undoubtedly one of South America’s most remarkable countries. Nestled between Peru and Colombia, with the Pacific Ocean to the west and the Amazon rainforest to the east, Ecuador offers a breathtaking range of year-round destinations. For such a small country (Ecuador would fit inside Texas twice, with room to spare), it is home to staggering diversity.

Over 8% of all the animal species on Earth can be found in Ecuador. Indeed, the country is a twitcher’s paradise, boasting nearly a fifth of the world’s bird species – double the amount found across Europe and accounting for nearly half the species found in South America. Of all the plant species found on our entire planet, 10% can be found in Ecuador, with over 3,000 species of orchid alone. Without going crazy on the statistics, it is hard to overstate Ecuador’s diversity!

Ecuador’s wondrous flora and fauna is illustrated nowhere better than the enchanting Galapagos Islands. Lying nearly 1,000km off Ecuador’s west coast, this volcanic archipelago is a unique marvel of wildlife and geology. Click here to read more on the Galapagos Islands.

Yet you don’t have to fly to the Galapagos Islands to enjoy Ecuador’s biodiversity. North of the beguiling capital city of Quito, are the enchanting cloud forests that sprawl across the Andean slopes. On the eastern borders are Ecuador’s share of the single largest tropical rainforest in the world – the Amazon.

The lure of Ecuador doesn’t stop with its biota. The natural landscapes and history of civilisation offer further fascination. Ecuador also contains 47 volcanoes, many of which remain active. Soak in the geothermal springs of Baños; or take an epic train journey through the avenue of volcanoes or the switchbacks of the Devils Nose crossing. Why not mooch the expansive Otavalo markets, hand-pick a Panama hat from their true home, in Cuenca; or explore the Incan ruins of Ingapirca. Last but by no means least, visit Ecuador’s largest city, Guayaquil, and head up to relax on the beautiful Pacific beaches.

Further reading...

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    At a glance... Ecuador

  • Size: 283,560 km2
  • Population: 17 million
  • Time zone: GMT -5 / GMT -6 in the Galapagos
  • Time to visit: Year round
  • Go here for: The Galapagos Islands, wildlife, outdoor activities, beaches, culture
  • Top destinations in Ecuador:

    Our recommended top hotels and lodges for Ecuador:

    1. Hotel de Parque - Front

      Hotel del Parque

      This opulent hotel resides in Guayaquil’s Parque Histórico (Historic Park). Built on the bank of the Rio Daule and surrounded by the botanical gardens of the park, Hotel del Parque is a tranquil haven in Ecuador’s most populous city. The hotel has a fascinating history: Originally built in 1890,... More...

      Our rating:
      5
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    2. Sacha Lodge - Location

      Sacha Lodge

      Located in the largest private reserve in the Ecuadorian Amazon, Sacha Lodge now owns nearly 5,000 acres of pristine rainforest. Not only does this provide a vast conservation area, free from mining, drilling, hunting and logging; it offers guests an incredible and authentic Amazon experience.... More...

      Our rating:
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      4
    3. Napo Wildlife Ecolodge - Location

      Napo Wildlife Center Ecolodge

      Napo Wildlife Ecolodge offers a luxurious stay in the privileged, Amazonian setting of the Yasuni National Park – Ecuador’s largest protected area. Since 2003, the property has been run by and for the local Kichwa Añangu inhabitants; balancing an authentic, exclusive experience for guests and... More...

      Our rating:
      5
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    4. Iguana Crossing Boutique Hotel - Exterior

      Iguana Crossing Boutique Hotel

      Our pick of the hotels on Isla Isabela. The Iguana Crossing Boutique Hotel is the newest property in Puerto Villamil and, for us, delivers on all fronts. Located on a beautiful beach, you really can sit and watch iguanas crossing the golden sand dunes; all from the comfort of the picturesque... More...

      Our rating:
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    5. Mashpi Lodge - Location

      Mashpi Lodge

      Mashpi lodge must be seen to be believed. Built on the site of a former timber mill, this architectural marvel is surrounded by 2,500 acres of pristine Cloud forest reserve. Incredibly, not a single tree was felled in creating the property or the single access road. The visionary owner – former... More...

      Our rating:
      5
      User rating:
      5
      Price:
      5