Ecuador tourism is one of the most fascinating experiences you will ever have in South America...
Even though geographically small in size if you compare it with its neighbors, Ecuador contains an improvable variety of landscape and culture that will leave you breathless.
Adventure travel Ecuador has a menu that caters to every taste.
In a matter or hours you could be swimming, surfing or whale watching in the Pacific coast, trekking and mountaineering the Andean highlands or Sierra - an area filled with snow-capped mountains, volcanoes, hot springs, mountain lakes, waterfalls and incredible valleys.
Or visiting the ancient cities of Quito - Ecuador capital- or Cuenca, both rich in Colonial architecture and declared Cultural Patrimony of Humanity by UNESCO.
And how about Baños and Otavalo?
Otavalo market - held on Saturdays - is the most important indigenous market in the country. It should be part of your Ecuador tourism experience.
You may choose instead to explore the Amazon rainforest or Oriente, an area that covers almost half of the country.
The Ecuadorian rainforest is ideal for hikes and expeditions, canoe and rafting trips, wildlife observation, community-based ecotourism, or just relaxing on a luxurious jungle lodge.
You've got several roads to get to the rainforest, from Quito or, provably the best one, from Baños to Puyo.
And if you'd like to watch stunning wildlife and perhaps to enjoy some diving or snorkeling, just head off to Archipélago of Colon.
That's the official name of Galápagos Islands, the enchanted volcanic islands located around 600 miles to the West. Read some Galápagos Islands facts here.
A magnificent destination for your Ecuador tourism experience and provably the most unique South America travel experience you could ever have...
Let's review some Ecuador facts and figures...
Ecuador is endowed with dramatic topography, climatic zones, vegetation and wildlife, but Ecuador culture it's as varied as its regions. A multi ethnic society with more than fourteen indigenous groups conforming what we could call a Coastal culture, Andean culture and Jungle culture.
In the Ecuadorian Amazon, we find the aboriginal communities of the Achuar, Shuar, Cofan, Siona-Secoya, Shiwiar, Zaparo and Huaorani.
Tagaeri is a group of the Huaorani secluded in the jungle that has chosen not to interact with mainstream society. Have you ever heard of the Tzanzas (Tsansas)?
Tzanzas is an ancient technique of head-shrinking capable of reducing a human head to the size of an orange.
It's part of the culture of the Shuar (Jivaro) natives who inhabit the tropical Ecuadorian rainforest, where the mountain ranges meet the Amazon river. Great warriors and fiercely independent, the Shuar fought the Inkas (Incas), back to the days of expansion of the Inca Civilization. They've also battled the Spaniards and resisted domination.
Expert blowgun hunters, they use curare - a poison that paralyzes - on the tip of the dart, and can shot nearly one hundred feet (30 meters). To learn more about them, refer to The History of the Shuar, and visit The South America Travel Library for this and other tribes of the Amazon rainforest.
The Ecuador culture of the Andes it's represented by the indigenous groups of the Quichua, Cañaris and Saraguros. The Pacific coast has a Coastal culture represented by the Cayapas, Chachis, Tsachilas and Huancavilcas.
Ecuador natives account for around 25% of the total population, while Mestizo - mix of Indian aboriginals and European - are the vast majority - around 40%.
White Europeans represent 15%, and there is also a Black population - 5%- descendants of African slaves brought during 16th. century to work on the coastal sugar plantations.
The Andean region (Highlands, or Sierra) encompasses ten provinces and divide the country in two, from north to south.
For the international traveler, this is the most sought after Ecuador tourism destination, as well as the most developed.
It contains 30 peaks of volcanic origin, being Mount Cotopaxi (5,897 meters) the highest active volcano in the world. The most active volcano is Mount Sangay (5,230 meters), being Mount Chimborazo (6,267 meters) the highest point in Ecuador. Quito lies on the western slopes of Pichincha volcano, some 2,900 meters above sea level. Most likely, you'll begin here your Ecuador tourism experience before moving inland.
You wouldn't want to miss Baños either - on the right bank of the Pastaza river - famous for its waterfalls and thermal springs, surrounded by four volcanic peaks: Tungurahua (5,023 meters), Chimborazo (6,310 meters), Aitar and Carihuairazo.
Oriente, as the Ecuadorian rainforest it's known, has several protected areas...
And three of Ecuador's most important rivers: Putumayo, Napo and Pastaza.
The Pacific coast has lots to offer for your Ecuador tourism experience , apart from excellent seafood and fish-based traditional cuisine. The provinces of Esmeraldas, Manabi, and Guayas - where Guayaquil (Ecuador's main city and port is located) are quite impressive destinations that attract visitors from all over the world.
There are also several areas along the coast to spot the Humpback Whale - from June to October. For more info, visit the whale watching season page. The most popular Ecuador beaches include...
Two National Parks: Machalila and Manglares-Churute, plus two Ecological Reserves: Cayapas-Mataje and Mache-Chindul. If you are fond of outdoor and nature-related activities, you will find Ecuador adventure travel to be a true paradise.
Ecuador tourism is another great option to enjoy your South American vacations and a superb example of the raw, wild beauty the continent is made of...