Ecuador, appropriately named after the equator, holds a massive imaginary line running directly through its middle. Ecuador is one of the smallest countries in South America with an area of “only” 100,000 square miles. Ecuador borders Peru in the southeast, Colombia in the northeast, and the Pacific Ocean splashing along the entire west side. The population of Ecuador is 15 million with the capital city of Quito holding 2 million residents.
Though Ecuador lacks bragging rights in size, the country surely stands apart with its breathtaking landscapes, lush vegetation, and climatic varieties. The climate, mainly determined by altitude, changes from tropical sun and heavy rain in the Pacific coastal area, to temperate, dry climate regions in the Andean highlands. The Amazon basin on the eastern side of the mountains shares the climate of other rain forest zones.
Ecuador is one of eighteen mega diverse countries in the world with thousands of different animal and bird species. The famous Galapagos Islands, a very special spot on earth, are located about 990 kilometers away from the mainland, and are home to unique flora and fauna, such as the giant tortoises. The islands are also historic for being the birthplace of Darwin’s Theory of Evolution.
When exploring deeper into the 100,000 square mile terrain, you will find diverse attractions for tourists and volunteers alike. Some highly recommended areas of exploration are the Amazon jungles, the Andean Mountains, volcanoes (active and dormant), tropical forests and a variety of beautiful beaches. The Pacific Coast is a perfect place for ocean diving, relaxing on the beach, and enjoying hours in the sun. For those backcountry lovers and nature fans, rest assured the Ecuadorian territory offers much in both calm and adrenaline driven activities.
Due to Ecuador’s geographical diversity of ocean, mountains, and island chains, whenever you choose to travel, one part of the country will be in its peak season. June through September, however, are typically the drier months. The general high season for festivals, fiestas, and crowds are between mid-December through January, and then again from June through August.
Besides of the famous Galapagos Islands and the Amazon Rainforest we recommend the following Insider-Destinations, that you shouldn't miss:
• Quitos old town: Especially the Basilica de Quito and the Capilla de Hombre are breathtaking buildings
• Take a bath at the hot springs of Baños de Agua Santa. The small town is just next to the active Tungurahua Volcano! You should also visit the Pailon del Diablo, (the devils throat) with really good trekkings!
• For adrenaline seekers we recommend the Nyon X-Treme Valley - Tarzan Swing, Zipline, Abseiling, Paintball, Canopy, Rafting and many more things
• The colonial town of Cuenca: Impressive old buildings can be visited here without the hassel of other big cities.
• Every Saturday the Otavalo Mercado, the biggest market in South America should be visited - here you can really find everything. Its a 3 hour drive from Quito.
• The active Volcano Cotopaxi, is with 5.697m the tallest volcano on earth. A thrilling experience for hikers and mountainbikers
• Ar least one beach stop is a must. The laid back town of Montañita is well known for its white beaches and good surfing waves.
No doubt, you will feel comfortable and at ease while enjoying this open-minded and hospitable nation.