Ecuador & Galápagos
What We Love
- Quito is the entry point to catch a ship to the Galápagos Islands—Ecuador’s main attraction. But with a new airport and many intriguing new hotels, visiting this old colonial town has become a destination in and of itself.
- Shopping for Panama hats (originally from Ecuador, not Panama) in the cobblestone plazas of Cuenca, Ecuador’s third-largest, and arguably loveliest, city.
- When one arrives in the Galápagos, a childlike sense of curiosity takes over as one catches a glimpse of the natural world at its most isolated. Untouched by humans and the outside world, the reefs, rocky beaches, and jagged calderas of this volcanic archipelago still protect the same fascinating creatures that inspired Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution.
- The best way to reach the Galápagos is on a sailboat, as Darwin did. Hop from island to island feeling the thrill of discovery.
- Launching a sea kayak or small skiff to get close enough to explore the nooks of each island’s coastline. Landing on the lava-caked shores amidst giant marine iguanas, giant tortoises, and penguins. Surprisingly, the wildlife are unperturbed by the presence of humans and thrillingly allow spectators to get a close look.
Things To See & Do
- Roughly the size of Colorado, Ecuador packs a biodiverse punch with the Pacific coast, towering Andes, and, of course, La Selva (That would be the jungle to us gringos.)
- Visit a traditional shaman of the northern Amazonian rainforest who still practices the ancient medicine of his ancestors.
- Wave to humpback whales from laid-back surfing villages on the north coast.
- On the Galapágos, scuba dive and snorkel in the collapsed volcanic craters, like that of Genovesa Island, to swim with sea lions (who swirl around you!) while turtles, dolphins, and whales play nearby.
- With a naturalist guide, hike past thousands of spectacular seabirds—including the famous blue-footed boobies—to the island’s summit and take a gander out over the shimmering Pacific.
Ecuador and the Galapágos Islands are easily combined with a trip to its neighbor to the south, the ancient Incan territory of Peru. Or head down into the northern Amazon to search for river dolphins and caiman crocodiles.