Ecuador may be the smallest country in the Andes’ highlands, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have much to offer to tourists. The country boasts of plenty of colonial architecture, indigenous cultures and amazing landscapes to interest a wide variety of travelers.
The country is basically divided into four regions: the Galapagos Islands, the tropical coastline, the Andes Mountains and the Rainforest. The Galapagos National Park has been working to preserve the original ecology of this fragile landscape since 1959, and visitors can walk along paths and trails just feet away from the wildlife. The tropical coastline of Ecuador offers visitors natural delights such as a river safari, stunning Pacific beaches, the amazing nightlife of Manabi, surfing and deep sea fishing, and sightseeing such as the gold-mining community of Zaruma or the markets of Santa Rosa.
Ecuador’s most developed tourist industry can be found in its Andean highlands, where visitors can make a base in the country’s capital of Quito and discover the area’s colonial towns, volcanoes, Indian markets, or mountain lakes. Finally, the rainforest offers plenty for adventure lovers and nature lovers. Things to do here include visiting one of the indigenous tribes that welcome outside visitors, taking a guided hike or canoe expedition, or simply camping and discovering the wonders of the rainforest.
Most visitors to Ecuador arrive by air at the international airport located at the country’s capital of Quito. Direct flights to Ecuador are available from Houston, Los Angeles, New York, Miami, and several destinations in Europe. For getting around the country, many choose domestic flights, as they are efficient and reasonably priced. Buses are the main method of transportation, with the choice of smaller twenty-two seat buses that are the faster option and regular autobuses which are slower but offer a chance to meet and greet the locals.
There are lots of hotels in Ecuador for every traveler, from those looking for luxury accommodations to those on a rock bottom budget. Those counting their pennies can get by on about $15 a day, provided that they’re willing to stay in youth hostels, eat with the locals and avoid the nightclubs (not always a bad option!). Mid range accommodations with the occasional restaurant and evening out will run around $60 per day.