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Named after its location on the equator, Ecuador is the smallest of the Andean countries. Despite its size, South America’s smallest country is distinguished by the diversity of its geography. In the highland region lies the capital city Quito, with a charming colonial centre and situated at 2,850 metres above sea level. In contrast, the Pacific coast boasts beautiful beaches and glorious sunshine.
The Amazon region invites you to delight in the magical lagoons and marvellous primal forest. The Galapagos Islands, some 1,000 km off the coast in the Pacific Ocean, also belong to Ecuador. This isolated Archipelago, formed by volcanic eruptions, is a window into prehistory with an abundance of rare and unique species of plants and animals.
Few cities have a setting to match that of Quito, the second highest capital in Latin America after La Paz, Bolivia. Set in a hollow at the foot of the Pichincha Volcano, which stands at 4,794 metres. Quito was an Inca city, discovered by the Spaniards in 1534 and its charm lies in its colonial centre, with steep and narrow cobbled streets.
North of Quito is the province of Imbabura, also known as the province of lakes. Here, the town of Otavalo is home to the largest and most famous market in Ecuador. The market dates back to Pre-Inca times and has the largest selection of handicrafts from all over the country including textiles, ceramics, woollen goods, tapestries, native paintings, leather goods and much more.
Experience a scenic train ride through the Andes mountains on what is considered ‘the most difficult train in the world” to Rio Bamba, the capital of the Chimborazo province and roughly the geographical centre of Ecuador. This quiet agricultural town is sometimes known as the “Sultan of the Andes”, and travellers are promised breath-taking views of Ecuador’s highest peak, Chimborazo at 6,310 metres.
Take a different track and see Ecuador on board the exclusive ‘Chiva Express’ for a colourful and unique train ride along this original railroad from the Andes to the Coast. The adventure includes visits to Indian markets, Rio Bamba, Alausi, the Devil’s Nose switchbacks, Cuenca and El Cajas National Park.
You can choose from a range of different cruises with vessels available to suit all tastes and comfort levels. Categories include deluxe, first class, and tourist class and vary from larger cruise liners with extensive facilities to smaller yachts/catamarans for more personalised attention. All cruises are manned by an experienced crew and naturalist guides that will be able to make the most out of your Galapagos experience.