Ecuador is perhaps one of the most diverse countries on Earth. It is mega diverse! Ecuador is often described as South America in small-scale. A lot of what can be seen in South America can be seen in a much smaller geographic space, in this small Andean nation. There are towering Andean mountains, and there is Amazon rainforest. There is also the Galapagos Islands. The geographic situation of Ecuador is what gives this small country its tremendous diversity. In a day, it is possible to cross various different landscapes ecosystems, passing from Amazon rainforest through the Andes and then dropping down to stunning lowland coast. Due to its amazing diversity, Ecuador is a fantastic country to visit for a multi-experience vacation, and here’s why.
The wide array of landscapes in Ecuador provides plentiful opportunities for active adventures. On Ecuador trips it is possible to hike and/or climb up mountains and mountain bike back down them again. There is also a lot of whitewater, so many superb spots for whitewater rafting or kayaking. There are caves, and canyons, so both caving and rappelling are also possibilities. On the coast and in the Galapagos Islands there are also opportunities for scuba diving and surfing. Ecuador tours can include chances to fish for piranha or enjoy a jungle walk at night in the heart of the Ecuadorian Amazon. Yet a visit to Ecuador offers a very diverse range of other experiences too. You can enjoy relaxing at a beach, chilling in a hot spring, visiting historic colonial centers, experiencing indigenous community life or visiting colorful bustling markets. The diversity here means that Ecuador is truly a country for everyone.
The tremendous diversity of landscapes and ecosystems presents opportunities for a very wide range of different species to survive and thrive here. Considering birds alone, there are thought to be more than 1,600 different species. These are as different as the mighty Andean condor, through to the parrot in the rainforest, or the multitude of hummingbird species in the cloud forest. The country also teems with animal life of many kinds. In the highlands you might be lucky enough to spot an Andean spectacled bear, in the jungle a capybara, and off the coast, a humpback whale. Plant species are also plentiful in Ecuador. There are thought to be in excess of 16,00 different species, of which, there are 3,500 different types of orchids! All of this diversity means there are plenty of cloud forest, jungle and mountainous tours where you get a chance to experience the weird and wonderful flora and fauna of this South American country.
When describing the diversity of Ecuador, the Galapagos Islands deserves a special mention. The strange diversity of species in the archipelago was one of the pointers to Charles Darwin that evolution had occurred, helping him to develop his enduring theory. The diversity and range of wildlife here is well known. There is everything from the waved albatross to the giant tortoise and the various different species of finch that helped Darwin develop his theory. Yet, the Galapagos Islands is also remarkable for its diversity of landscapes. With white beaches, black beaches, green beaches and red beaches, brackish lagoons, spitting volcanoes, mangroves, cacti and even lush green highlands, the Galapagos Islands is unique not just for its wildlife. Those on a Galapagos Islands cruise will get a sense of this as every single day is different, but even on a land-based trip it is possible to get a real flavor of the diversity.
Ecuador is not only diverse for its geography but also its culture, people and range of languages spoken. Luckily, to keep things easy from a travel perspective, most people can speak Spanish, and almost everyone working in the tourist industry speaks English. Aside from Spanish, other key languages include Quichua and Shuar. These are both languages spoken by indigenous groups. Various other indigenous languages are spoken by the variety of different groups in the country, and indigenous groups are estimated to comprise around 25% of the population. There are numerous distinct groups of indigenous peoples in Ecuador. Some of these include Afro-Ecuadorians, Quichua, Awa, Tsachila, Chachi, Epera, Shuar, Achuar, Cofan, Zapara, Waorani, Andoa, Secoya, Siona and Shiwiar. While there are some similarities between the groups, there are some distinct cultural differences between them. This alone can make a visit to Ecuador fascinating. Of course, different indigenous groups mean different cuisines, so there are plenty of different foods to try on your visit.
Ecuador and Galapagos Insiders have expertise in the diversity of Ecuador and can help you organize your Ecuador trip to enjoy as much as you can or want to in the available time that you have. Why not get in contact with us and we can include the range of diversity you want in a custom made Ecuador tour.