Ecuador & The Galapagos Islands
One of Lonely Planet’s Best In Travel 2019 destinations, Ecuador is one of the smallest yet most bio-diverse countries in South America. With easy access to the Andes mountains, Amazon rainforest, and the famed Galapagos Islands, there will be absolutely no shortage of adventure here.
After Quito, Cuenca is Ecuador’s most important and beautiful colonial city. Their historic city center, with a skyline of massive rotundas, was named an UNESCO World Heritage site in 1999. The city is also the center of many craft traditions, including ceramics, metalwork and the internationally famous panama hat.
Baños is the central highlands’ premiere destination for mountain biking, rafting, and hiking. Adventure lovers can also relax in steaming thermal springs, boat to the Amazon basin, or catch the occasional eruption of Volcán Tungurahua.
The Galapagos Islands
Designated the world’s first UNESCO World Heritage site in 1979, the Galapagos Islands are home to one of the most bio-diverse ecosystems on the planet. About 80% of land birds and 97% of reptiles and land mammals, and more than 30% of plants and 20% of marine species are found nowhere else on earth.
More people live in the Galapagos than is commonly assumed, and the majority work in the tourism industry. Ecotourism is incredibly important here, as people strive to keep the human footprint to a minimum. Many of the areas on the island are protected by the Galapagos National Park Service, including the Galapagos Marine Reserve.