Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands

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Ecuador tours


Ecuador tours beachEcuador is recognized for its remarkable natural, geographic and cultural diversity. Within a relatively small territory (256.370 square kilometers), Ecuador shelters the biggest biodiversity per area in the world (9.2 species per square kilometer). Ecuador has four diverse and rich regions: The Amazon rain forest, the Coast, the highland Andes, and the Galapagos Archipielago. The cultural diversity is equally rich. This beautiful country embraces an impressive variety of ethnic groups, including some untouched communities that still preserve traditional costumes and cultures. As a result of its multi-ethnic composition, ancient history, and the skilled arts and crafts of its inhabitants, Ecuador offers a wide and varied gastronomy and folklore.

Ecuador tours, Atacames beachEcuador's 500 mile-long Pacific coastline boasts pristine beaches and dramatic landscapes. The north coast's quaint villages are interspersed among dense stands of mangrove and bird-rich estuaries. Esmeraldas has a distinctive black culture unique in Ecuador. Near Puerto Lopez, Machalilla National Park features a well-preserved remnant of the once extensive dry tropical forest. The region supports long stretches of isolated beaches and varied wildlife including humpback whales which return each season to mate just off the coast. The south coast has centuries-old archaeological sites and the country's best known beach resort Salinas, a haven of modern hotels and high rise condos west of Ecuador's largest city, Guayaquil. The far southern coast is dedicated to shrimp farms and banana plantations and is seldom visited by foreign travelers.

Ecuador tours, AndesThe Andean highlands encompass a central valley called the Avenue of the Volcanos that is lined by eleven imposing ice-capped peaks including Cotopaxi (19,350') and Chimborazo (20,705').

Centuries-old haciendas like La Cienega near Latacunga or Hacienda Cusin in the Lake District, the colorful Otavalo Indian market, pristine reserves like Pasochoa, and hiking or climbing adventures are the attractions in the north. Around Cuenca the peaks dwindle in height but make up for their lack of altitude with ruggedness. Quaint, cobblestone-streeted towns like Gualaceo and Chordeleg retain a rich, tangible history.

 Nearby Cajas National Reserve protects pockets of Andean cloud-forest and dozens of glacier-carved lakes within its craggy confines. The western slopes between the coast and the Andes protect scattered preserves like Cotacachi-Cayapas, Mindo and Intag that contain about 1% of the original tropical dry forest and offer excellent birdwatching and day hiking.

Ecuador tours, OrienteComprising 60% of Ecuador's land but less than 5% of its population, the rainforest, or El Oriente, east of the Andes is the country's least traveled sector. Considered the richest and most complex community of plant and animal life in the world, 7.5 million acres of primary Amazonian forest are protected in reserves like Yasuni National Park on the Río Napo and Cuyabeno Reserve on the Aguarico River. Built in the style of native homes, jungle lodges such as Sacha and Kapawi organize a variety of activities and are a great way to experience the rainforest. In the southern Oriente, Shuar and Achuar groups retain many aspects of their traditional lifestyle that include rites of passage and unique hunting and fishing techniques.

Ecuador tours, Galapagos IslandsThe Galapagos archipelago, located 600 miles off the Pacific Coast, was declared a National Park in 1959. Its nearly 60 islands protect more than 3,000 square miles of land and more than 27,000 square miles of ocean.

They are unique in the world for their endemic species which have no fear of man - visitors can approach within a few feet to observe and photograph wildlife.

Galapagos Islands, Tagus Cove

 

Ecuador and Galapagos cruises

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Ecuador & Galapagos cruises

Last Modified 8/1/06 6:44 PM