Ecuador - Rich in History, Culture and Natural Beauty
Ecuador is situated along the north west coast of South America, and it borders the countries of Peru and Columbia. Ecuador’s capital is Quito which is less than 15 miles from the equator. The Galapagos Islands are considered a province of Ecuador. The islands are located in the Pacific Ocean, approximately 600 miles off the Ecuadorian coast. Ecuador is divided into 24 provinces. Its three largest cities are Guayaquil, Quito, and Cuenca. The national currency is the US dollar. With the Andes Mountains and the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador is one of the top tourist destinations in South America. Tourists from the United States and most parts of Europe and Asia can visit without needing a visa for up to 90 days.
Ecuador’s main international airports are located in the cities of Quito (Mariscal Sucre Airport-UIO), Guayaquil (Simón Bolívar Airport- GYE) , and Manta (Eloy Alfaro Airport-MEC). In the Galapagos, the main airport is located on the island of Baltra. Ecuador has regional airports in Cuenca, Ibarra and other destinations. LAN Airlines is the primary international air carrier, with domestic flight service available from three local airlines including TAME. Ecuador is served by approximately 20 international air carriers including Delta, American, Continental, United, British Airways, Air France, KLM and Lufthansa. Direct flights are available between Miami and Quito with a total flight time of about 4 hours and 15 minutes, with a travel time of approximately 17 hours from London to Quito. Getting to Ecuador by cruise ship is another travel option. Princess, Carnival and Norwegian Cruise Lines all offer itineraries with stops at Manta and the Galapagos.
Ecuador has a wide choice of accommodations for travelers at almost any budget. Some of the accommodations include luxury hotels, bed and breakfasts, inns, spas, resort hotels and eco-lodges. Quito offers internationally recognized hotels such as Hilton, Sheraton and Marriott. Throughout Ecuador there are local and family owned hotels and haciendas offering well-appointed accommodations. Many travelers visit Ecuador as part of an adventure or eco-tourist package tour. Tour operators within Ecuador and the Galapagos offer first class accommodations and service together with exceptional hospitality at some of the finest lodges anywhere. For information about accommodations in Ecuador and the Galapagos visit our travel section.
Ecuador is one of the world’s most environmentally diverse places and its many destinations offer travelers a range of attractions to explore. A unique landscape awaits visitors as Ecuador hosts warm sunny beaches of the Pacific to impressive mountain villages in the Andes to the Amazon rain forest, to the world’s ecological wonder - the Galapagos Islands. The Ecuadorian Andes offer outdoor activities such as hiking, kayaking, and mountain biking, making it ideally suited for the outdoor sports enthusiast and one of the most popular tourist destinations in South America. With its rain forest, the Ecuadorian Amazon is home to thousands of distinct animal species such eight-pound toads as well as some of world’s most exotic food stuffs. Due to the country’s proximity to the equator and its diverse geography, Ecuador is an adventure traveler’s dream vacation. Where else on earth can you see first-hand prehistoric creatures roaming their indigenous habitats, see giant marine tortoises and marine iguanas, trek alongside active volcanoes, immerse yourself in the ancient culture of the Inca civilization, visit a world capital city standing only 15 miles from the Equator and situated at 2850 meters (9,000 feet) with over a million inhabitants! Other must-see attractions include Ecuador’s protected areas - its national parks and reserves included.
Monuments and Parks
Historical monuments and national parks abound in Ecuador. History buffs may wish to consider visiting the Ingapirca Archeological Site with its Temple of the Sun, chambers and observatories, and a visit to The Carondelet Palace - Ecuador's Seat of Government and its president. Those with an interest in architecture should see the Plaza de San Francisco with its intricate golden designs adorning the nearby Monastery of San Francisco with its 16th century artwork. Nearby is the San Augustine Monastery and Church with its remarkable courtyard, alters and candelabras. While in Guayaquil be sure to see the Moorish Clock Tower with views of the Naval Yacht Club. For the outdoors type, Ecuador is a land of incredible biodiversity and unique ecosystems - many of which have been designated as national parks. Some of our favorite parks include the Galapagos Marine Reserve which was declared a world heritage site in 2001; Illinizas Ecological Reserve known for its cloud forest and stunning crater lake of Laguna Quilotoa; and The Puyanop Petrified Forest, home to the largest known area of exposed petrified wood and an ecosystem teeming with 130 different species of birds and exotic trees such as the Kapok Tree. For more travel information come see our travel guide, which features more 23 of Ecuador’s most popular Protected Areas.
Places of Interest
Ecuador offers many fascinating places of interest both in its cities as well as in the countryside. Favorite among many travelers are the many fine museums throughout the country. In Quito, The Astronomic Observatory Museum located in Alameda Park and established in 1596 has an informative visitors center and a beautiful adjoining park. The Municipal Museum of Guayaquil provides visitors with a rich sampling of the history of Guayaquil including archaeological exhibits about the city’s first inhabitants. For those interested in anthropology and the study of indigenous peoples of Ecuador, try visiting The Aborigines Cultural Museum in Cuenca. The Museo Nacional del Banco Central del Ecuador, located in Quito, is a massive institution combining collections of fine art, ancient artifacts, technology, and other similarly fascinating exhibits. If you like the performing arts, Ecuador is home to many regional theatres, such as the famous Bolivar Theatre, the Patio de Comedias, Quito’s Prometeo Theatre, and the Teatro Sucre which is known for its fine plays, concerts and dance performances.
While you peruse our hundreds of pages of destination guides and travel catalogues be sure to look for special offers and the best prices on flights, hotels, and car rentals. If you have any travel questions please contact us.
We look forward to seeing you in Ecuador!
Travel Team at Ecuador.com