This geographic factoid becomes increasingly difficult to believe once you begin to explore the incredible diversity that Ecuador has to offer.
The spectacular Andes mountains run north to south and roughly divide the country into thirds.
In the central Andean region, you will observe towering volcanoes (many still active) and snow and glacier-covered peaks. In the surrounding valleys and foothills are attractive colonial cities, colorful indigenous markets, high elevation lakes and hot springs, and historic haciendas.
On a clear day in Quito, ride up 3,600 feet to a final elevation of over 13,000 ft on the “teleferico” (gondola). From there you will see the vast extent of the highlands, including three very impressive volcanoes (Antisana 18,700 ft; Cayambe 18,725; and Cotopaxi 19,347 ft). If you are an outdoor enthusiast, there are endless activities to keep you busy!
Tom approaching the summit of Cotopaxi
Lynn biking in the Andean foothills
Donkey we befriended along the bike ride
In the eastern third of the country, the “Oriente,” you find yourself in the headwaters of the Amazon Basin. This is the land of cloudforests and rainforests teeming with waterfalls and abundant life including jaguar, monkeys, tapir, and dazzling tropical birds. Tom and I actually saw 8 species of monkey in 2 days near Ecuador’s border with Peru! Here in these remote areas exist an impressive diversity of indigenous groups, many of whom still maintain their traditional ways of life. There are jungle lodges to visit, white-water rafting trips to take, and more hot springs to soak in.
El Jardin in Puyo
Rafting on the upper Pastaza
Rainforest at Tashapi (near Puyo)
Then of course, heading west you will drop down to the Pacific Ocean. We enjoy travel to the Andes and the Oriente but for living purposes, we absolutely love the coast!
Tom’s mom, JoAnn, enjoying a book and a good “hammocking” session at our house in Crucita
Tom, Eduardo, Paola and Red (who purchased a beachfront lot from us last March) making sushi rolls from fresh tuna
The beach in Crucita where we live
The icing on Ecuador’s cake of course is the Galapagos Islands, 300 miles off the coast.
Young sea lion
Blue-footed boobie with baby
While Ecuador is not a big country, we hope you’re beginning to recognize that there are so many amazing places to visit and explore!
And being small definitely has its benefits! A flight from Quito to Manta is a mere 30 minutes!
So imagine leaving your home on a cold wintry morning in the US, landing in Quito around 4pm and then arriving to the coast in time to enjoy your seafood dinner at sunset! Yes, this can and does happen! We invite you to give it try!