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Destination-Ecuador (South America)
Ecuador is the smallest of the Andean countries and lies exactly at the equatorial in the north western coast of South America. The country is a miracle of ecology; just imagine, a country the size of England holds figures like; 302 species of mammals, 18250 plants with flowers, 1559 bird species, 374 reptiles, 402 amphibians and 706 fresh water fish… and don´t forget the First National Park of Earth, the Galapagos. The country has the best beaches on the pacific coast of South America, where the first Cultures of America flourished. It also has the highest volcanoes of the Andes, when Alexander von Humboldt visited in 1802, who thought Chimborazo was the biggest mountain on the world, and sure it is the closest point to the sun on earth. The Andes give origin to the main rivers that form the Amazon basin.
Greenplanet.com published in the home page the following “Cool” facts about Ecuador:
- The Ecuadorian Amazon represents just 2% of the whole basin, but yet, is home to one-third of all the bird species in the entire Amazon region and 10% of all the tree species on earth
- Over 24 tropical life zones are found in Ecuador including: mangrove swamp, dry tropical forest, tropical cloud forest, paramo and tropical lowland rainforest.
- One hectare of lowland Ecuadorian rainforest can contain as many frog species as in all of North America; one tree can contain more ant species than in all of the British Isles combined; and of the world's known bird species (about 9,000), pint-sized Ecuador is home to over 1,500.
Civilization in South America began in the coastal village of Valdivia 8000 years ago. Other outstanding cultures are La Tolita 600 bc and 200 dc, a culture that created mythology and fine gold work. In the Highlands there are remarkable cultures like Cerro Narrio who built pyramids and later met the INKAS. Ecuador was part of the Inca Empire for 70 years and proudly became part of the Spanish empire until 1822 that it got independent.
Cultures in the highlands of Ecuador discovered the Equatorial line, they called the “path of the Sun” and from there they developed a calendar, a religion and what we call now the Andean Cosmo vision. This is where the Shaman got his knowledge of plants and energetic locations in the mountains that you shall visit during the tour. Ecuador has a very well balanced set of relaxation – rejuvenation therapies in the most holy places of the Andes.
How to reach Ecuador
The natural gateway to this land of traditions and nature is Quito International Airport. There are regular flights from all the capitals in South America, main cities in the US and even a direct flight to Amsterdam. Government is opening a second Airport this year and new routes might open. As a Reference a flight to Quito Miami takes 3h50 minutes. Galapagos Islands are 960 miles of the coast and the flight takes 1 hour and 30 minutes.
Ecuador is proud to have the best beaches in South America, some are on mainland and some are in Galapagos like the word famous Tortuga Bay.
Ecuador Wildlife Sanctuaries
Ecuador has an impressive volume of its land mass as national parks and other protected areas. PANE is the name given for Ecuador’s protected areas. PANE areas cover 10 percent of Ecuador’s total territory, which is one of the largest commitments to national reserves of any country in the world. In total, there are 44 protected areas. The parks and reserves are rich with Ecuador’s diverse flora and fauna. In the PANE areas, it is possible to find 75 percent of Ecuador’s bird life, 90 percent of the country’s amphibians and 60 per cent of its flora.
Many of Ecuador’s indigenous groups rely on the resources that the national parks and other protected areas hold. In particular, groups such as Waorani, Kiwchwa, Shuar, Achuar, Shiwiar and the Cofan play their part in the conservation of the reserves. By protecting these areas, Ecuador goes a long way toward conserving them for future generations. The conservation efforts help to protect the parks to some degree from the activities of oil companies and other exploitation.
The culture of Imbabura and Carchi provinces are well preserved as a piece of live culture with the Otavalo people and other indigenous communities, living with their own culture, language and customs. History buffs will particularly enjoy the museums and archaeological sites in the northern Andes that showcase exhibits and ruins of the Incas, earlier Andean civilizations such as the ancient Caranquis & Quitus and other cultures. Visitors really looking to immerse themselves can even partake in an ancient ritual with one of the region’s many traditional shamans.
The largest indigenous handicraft market of Otavalo, opening Saturdays and all week, is the best option to discover the mix of cultures of Imbabura and Carchi provinces.
Tungurahua Volcano at Sangay National Park
Naturally Heated Pools- After a long day of hiking or bike riding, there are few better places to relax than Baños de Agua Santa. The town is full of outdoor pools naturally heated by the volcano and a dip in one of them is a highlight for any traveler in Ecuador. The water is naturally infused with a high mineral content and is widely believed to have medicinal healing properties.
Spas- Another option is to book a massage or spa treatment at one of the excellent and affordable spas around town for the following day. A relaxing hour-long hot stone reflexology massage can be enjoyed in this impressive setting and entrance to the Amazon Rain Forest.
Galápagos National Park, was established in 1959, as the first national park of Ecuador. The government of Ecuador designated 97% of the land area of Galápagos as the country's first National Park. The remaining 3% is distributed between the inhabited areas of Santa Cruz, San Cristobal, Floreana and Isabela.
In 1979 UNESCO Declared the Galápagos Islands as Natural heritage site for humanity, making the Park Service through the Superintendent of the Park responsible for performing permanent park conservation and guarding the islands.
The Galapagos Marine Reserve was created in 1986. Additionally the same year the Galápagos National Park was included in the list of Biosphere Reserve because of its unique scientific and educational worth that should be preserved for perpetuity.
In 2007, the UNESCO added the Galapagos National Park to its List of World Heritage Sites in Danger, reflecting the dangers posed by a fast pace of human development in all its areas, which represent the gravest danger to the fragile ecosystems which have evolved over millions of years in natural isolation.
Visit Ecuador and feel the energies!