Picturesque market of Saquisilí - Ecuador
Attractions of South America e-Book

Ecuador



Ecuador is a blessed country. Cradled by the Andes the country hosts some of the most beautiful mountains in South America. The Galapagos Islands, a unique archipelago, are a wonder of creation with unique wildlife only found on the Islands.

It is one of the more traditional countries with many indigenous groups making for wonderful colorful sights. If it is diversity you are looking for than this is the place to be.


Tours in Ecuador



Quito

Quito - Ecuador Quito is the capital of Ecuador and is an ideal home base for numerous visits out of town. The name means center (Quitsa) of the world (To) in the language of the Tsáchila or Colored Indians. It has not only the biggest historical center in South America but also one of the most beautiful historical centers of America.

Its cultural heritage was so important that it was the first city in the world to be declared World Heritage Cultural Site by UNESCO in 1978.

I rented an apartment with some wonderful people. We were all taking a Spanish course and it was really great fun. I had a private teacher for $2.50/h and after a few weeks my Spanish was getting into shape. it is something I can highly recommend if you have the time.

Read more about Quito

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The Galapagos Islands


The wonderful creatures of the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
Click to see a photo collage of the wonderful iguanas found on the Galapagos Islands

The Galapagos Islands are an absolute must when you travel in Ecuador. The archipelago has been isolated for many years and nature has created astonishing endemic creatures. The giant tortoises are the most famous creatures from the islands. The National Geographic has chosen the Galapagos Islands as one of the Wild Places in its 50 Places of a Lifetime picks. My pictures say more than a thousand words.

The boats leave from Puerto Ayora on the main island Santa Cruz. Depending on your budget different options arise. There are three-day tours going either to the Southern or Northern Islands. A six-day tour takes you to all the islands. Inform with your travel agency about the different options. The bigger your budget, the bigger your boat, the bigger your... ?
Diving and snorkeling is possible on the Galapagos Islands and it is just incredible. Please respect the islands as mass tourism is putting a lot of pressure on both animals and nature.

The Galapagos Islands have been an inspiration for the world changing theories of biologist Charles Darwin. His groundbreaking work "The Origin of Species" came forth out of observations made on the Galapagos Islands. The Charles Darwin Research Station in Puerto Ayora on the main island Santa Cruz can be visited while your there. The giant tortoises, one of the wonders of nature, are under close scrutiny as the majestic animals are still recovering from near extinction.

Read more on how to tour the Galapagos Islands (and see some great pictures). 

Note: As I had the time I arranged a tour by myself. It is quite simple. You take a flight from the coast town of Guayaquil to the Galapagos Islands, once you are in Puerto Ayora on the Galapagos Islands you start shopping for a boat (I paid $50 a day). Traveling is so easy. I paid half the price of the agencies in Quito. Just do it. You will not regret it.


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Cuenca

Cuenca - EcuadorCuenca, a UNESCO World heritage site, is the third largest city of Ecuador. It lies in Southern Ecuador and is a wonderful city with impressive historical buildings.

The historical center is just charming with its fine cobble stoned streets lined with nice churches and colonial houses with colorful facades, balustrades, wrought iron balconies and red tiled roofs.

The impressive churches date back to the 16th to 17th century. Although it can't beat Salvador da Bahía from Brazil in the church contest Cuenca still has some 52 wonderful churches to enjoy, one for every Sunday. The city has been chosen "Capital of South America" in 2002. It is a must see city when you travel in Ecuador.

Read more about Cuenca

Markets: Saquisilí and Otavalo

Market in Otavalo - Ecuador The picturesque market in Saquisilí (see picture on top of page) makes for a nice day trip. If you are looking for South American handicraft (carpets, pullovers, etc...) then Otavalo is the place to be. The quality is just superb and local people are dressed very distinctive.

Read more about Otavalo

Note: I was traveling around with this guy who bought 35 pullovers, 4 carpets and one... horse saddle in Otavalo. He sold the goods back home. An excellent idea (I am just not a merchant, it is not for me).

Mountains and Volcanoes

Crater of Cotopaxi, the highest active volcano of the world! Ecuador is a country that is loved by mountain climbers. Cotopaxi and Chimborazo are majestic jewels that have conquered the hearts of all those who have seen them.

I had one of the most magical experiences of my life In Ecuador. I climbed the highest active volcano of the world and I invite you to read my story of Cotopaxi.



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For detailed information on history, politics, economy and so on, please consult the excellent Wikipedia article of Ecuador.



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Must See Places in Ecuador
Quito Galapagos Islands Cotopaxi
Quito Galapagos Islands Cotopaxi


Also visit:

Cuenca
Otavalo
Saquisilí
Vilcabamba
Andean Music
Food from Ecuador

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© All photographs by Mark Van Overmeire