|The Galapagos Islands can only be visited by first entering Ecuador. The Islands are renowned for their amazing array of wildlife, much of which is quite tame so gives visitors the chance to see many species in their natural habitat. Amongst some of the animals you can see are sea lions, giant tortoises, penguins and many different bird species too.
The landscape of the Islands is quite barren, but beautiful in its own way, and of course they are have national park and UNESCO World Heritage Site status. Because of the accessibility, fewer visitors get to the Galapagos Islands from Ecuador than perhaps might, and add to this the strict control on access too, but this is understandable when considering the biological importance of the Islands.
Back on the mainland of Ecuador there is also much scenery and wildlife here too. If you are interested in birds, Ecuador gives you great opportunity to see hundreds of different species, including over 50 different Hummingbirds!
The best place to see birds is the small town of Mindo in the foothills of the Andes. Bird tours are available into the cloud forest where you’re likely to see Toucans, Hummingbirds and many others. You can also visit the waterfall, the Mindogarden butterfly farm and an orchid farm in this area.
Just outside Quito is Ecuador’s first national park, Pululahua, which was also later designated a Geobotanical Reserve due to its great diversity of birds, plants, mammals and insects as well as its geological uniqueness. Pululahua was a volcano which erupted and then collapsed about 2500 years ago.
Quito is the capital city of Ecuador. This is a colonial town and was actually the first city in the world to be designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1978. You must not miss the world’s second highest cable car here, called Teleferico, which goes up to an impressive 4000 metres (12,000ft). Not only can you see the city, but on clear days you can also see six volcanoes in the surrounding areas.
Quito’s old town is full of beautiful colonial architecture and many churches including La Iglesia de la Compania de Jesus, which is said to be the most beautiful church in the Americas.
Ecuador’s largest city and most important port is Guayaquil. Its attractions include the hot climate and lively atmosphere where eating seafood is definitely recommended! If you want to take a trip to the Galapagos Islands this would be the best place to take it from due to its proximity, and the fact that the cheapest flights are usually available from here.