This is what memories are made of. In a country the size of England and Wales, Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands succeed in packing the most extraordinary wildlife, cities and scenery you’re ever likely to experience.
We recommend starting in Quito, the capital city high in the Andes. Quito is over 500 years old and offers cobbled streets, indigenous markets, gold-filled churches and Andean rainy downpours that are capable of taking your breath away.
It’s a short hop from Quito to the cloud forests, the biodiverse green lands that tower 1,000 metres above sea level and are home to countless plants and animal communities. The Valley of the Volcanoes runs north from Quito up the Pan American Highway with dramatic volcanoes either side of the road. The Andean scenery here is a great backdrop for horse riding, trekking and visiting indigenous villages and market towns such as Otavalo.
From the Andean capital, fly across the Pacific and arrive at the majestic Galapagos Islands. These consist of around forty islands, just three of which are populated, and play host some of the world’s most colourful and curious wildlife. From red and blue-footed boobies to colourful marine iguanas, the wildlife here has developed in isolation from the mainland. As a result, the birds and animals have no natural fear of humans – meaning they don’t get camera shy and you can watch them in all their unabashed glory.
When to go
You can visit the Galapagos all year round. Although you should be aware that during September and October some yachts go into dry-dock and the sea mist can be make wildlife spotting a little trickier. Mainland Ecuador has a wet season from October to November and February to May, so the city may not be at its best during these times.