Ecuador, is a country in Northwestern South America, with a Pacific Ocean coastline, lying on the Equator between Colombia, to the northeast, and Peru, to the south and east.
Cotopaxi is the world's highest active volcano. Many cities and sites are integrated in the prestige Unesco World Heritage Sites. Such cities and best known places are the Galapagos Islands and the city of Cuenca.
Different regions of Ecuador:
- Amazon Rainforest - is mainly tropical rainforest elevated 400 m above sea level. The Amazon region of Ecuador is one of the few places in the world where its probably best to travel with a group, with a guide or through a jungle lodge. Unless you are studying, teaching English or consulting on a project in the Amazon, you are unlikely to have enough knowledge about the area to stay safe and, most importantly, to learn about the plants and animals that make the area so special. If you have more than a few days and you're not a super tight budget, staying and traveling with a jungle lodge can be very rewarding. You're based right in the midst of the jungle, and, at the better lodges, you're in an area that's protected from farming, logging and drilling. You usually have 2-3 activities per day including birding hikes, canoe trips and fishing for piranhas. Again, at some of the better lodges, you usually have a guide that speaks English, French, etc and an indigenous guide. This ensures that you really get to see some amazing things like five different species of monkeys, caimans, tarantulas and lots and lots of birds.
- Andean Highlands - with the cities Quito, Baños, Cuenca, Mindo, Otavalo, Riobamba, Loja
- Coastal Lowlands - with the cities Guayaquil, Esmeraldas, Machala, Salinas, Manta, Atacames
- Galapagos Islands - a small archipelago of islands belonging to Ecuador in the eastern Pacific Ocean. The islands are quite remote and isolated, lying some 1000 km (620 miles) west of the South American continent. The Galapagos archipelago consists of 13 main islands and 6 smaller isles, which together embrace some 50,000 sq km (19,500 sq miles) of ocean.
Highlights of Ecuador:
- Canoa - is a pleasant, laid-back fishing village on the Pacific coast of Ecuador in the Manabi province. Popular with travellers and yet not over-run by them, it's an excellent place to chill-out for a few days on the beach or practice your surfing skills.
- Esmeraldas - is a coastal city. It has one of the most popular beaches in Ecuador. Thousands of tourists come to Esmeraldas to enjoy of the beautiful warm tropical weather. Many young people come to Esmeraldas to enjoy and have a good time. The weather is very good, it's not cold at all but it doesn't get too hot. You can swim in the ocean and enjoy big waves, The beaches are not fancy as those in Hawaii or Miami, but that is what makes the Esmeraldas beaches more cozy.
- Guamote - A cosy and authentic Andesvillage though easy accessible.
- Guaranda - Located in the heart of the country, quaint Guaranda is the smallest provincial capital in the highlands. Its pleasant climate (22 to 25 degrees centigrade in the tropical regions) make it very popular with visitors, who are also attracted the area’s cool paramo. Guaranda is known as the City of the Seven Hills. At 2650m, this highland city is the smallest provincial capital in Ecuador. The Carnaval festivities of the area have gained fame throughout Ecuador. They are very traditional and last for several days. Visitors are offered chicha (a local, maize-based alcoholic drink) and the popular firewater known as Pájaro Azul (Blue bird) which help them get into the spirit of the festivities.
- Mindo - is a small town in the Andean foothills of Ecuador. Set in beautiful cloud-forest, it attracts birdwatchers first and foremost, but also has attractions for other tourists. Mindo is located to the north west of Quito. Mindo is surrounded by the Mindo-Nambillo Cloud Forest; the forest is home to hundreds of species of birds many of them are in danger of extinction.
- Montañita - located on Ecuador's "Ruta del Sol" ("Route of the Sun"), recently renamed "Ruta del Spondylus" and part of Manglaralto Parrish in Santa Elena Province. The region is known for its unique combination of small tourist/friendly villages and towns, magnificent unspoiled beaches, world-class surfing and both island and mountain natural reserves. Over the years, a relaxed and multicultural atmosphere has evolved. A hidden treasure that did not even appear on the maps just a few years ago, the combination of perfect waves, golden sand and tropical vegetation have slowly developed its reputation as a tropical paradise.
- Puerto López - "Poor Man's Galapagos". It is a dirt-road (or mudslide depending on the rainfall) fishing village lying in a bay on a wide stretch of beach. In the evenings and morning there is usually no electricity.
- Puyo - Jungle town
- Salinas - Beautiful beaches, and great little ocean-front restaurants. Salinas is a beach, so everything that have to do with the sea, the beach, the sun is what you can and should do in Salinas.
- Tena - is a popular launching point for jungle, kayaking and rafting tours in Ecuador's Amazon rainforest region. Tena is popular with travelers, since it is known as being peaceful, orderly, clean and more geared towards tourists. Many inexpensive hotels, tourist agencies, and restaurants cater to backpackers who commonly use the town as a jumping-off point for trips into the rainforest. Tena is surrounded by forested hills and is located at the edge of the Andes, which are visible to the west.
- Vilcabamba - meaning Sacred Valley, is a quiet, scenic, peaceful valley near the Podocarpus National Park in southern Ecuador.
- Parque Nacional Cotopaxi - the central feature of the national park, is nearly 5,900 m in height and is one of the highest active volcanoes on earth, although its present activity is limited to a few steam fumaroles. The landscape of the park is typical of recently active volcanic areas, and there are several peaks in the protected zone well over 4,000 m in altitude.
- Pululahua Geobotanical Reserve - Pululahua is a Quichua word that means “cloud of water” or fog. It is a collapsed volcano with great biodiversity and unique geological formations. It is due to this uniqueness that it was declared a Geobotanical Reserve. It has a geological uniqueness, and great diversity with more than 2000 species of flora, great diversity of birds, mammals, and insects of exotic appearance.
- Cuyabeno Wild Life Reserve - The Cuyabeno is a floated forest with one of the biggest bio-diversity in the world. In the Cuyabeno Wild Life Reserve there are about 10 monkey species and more than 500 bird spices. The Cuyabeno Wild Life Reserve has the record of the most tree species per hectare (307). The Cuyabeno is one of the places with most biodiversity in the world.
- Podocarpus National Park - contains a complex of more than 100 lagoons, among the best-known being the Lagunas del Compadre. Also there are waterfalls, and several classes of mammals and plants. Some unique biological adaptations have developed within the park, especially amongst birds.
- Galapagos Islands - The Galápagos archipelago is world-renowned for its unique and fearless wildlife- much of which was inspiration for Charles Darwin's Theory of Natural Selection. The islands are therefore very popular amongst natural historians, both professional and amateur. Giant tortoises, sea lions, penguins, marine iguanas and different bird species can all be seen and approached. The landscape of the islands is relatively barren and volcanic, but beautiful nonetheless. The highest mountain amongst the islands is Volcán Wolf on Isla Isabela, 1707 m (5600ft) high.