Neighbouring Colombia and Peru, Ecuador is a relatively small country that nevertheless offers an enticing array of scenic landscapes, diverse wildlife species and interesting cities. Dense Amazon rainforest, towering Andean mountain peaks, palm-fringed Pacific Coast beaches and fascinating historical sites are all part and parcel of Ecuador’s prolific charms. The former Inca town of Cuenca is the nation’s third-largest city and a Unesco World Heritage Site. This alluring city, with its cobbled streets, beautiful architecture and photogenic plazas, boasts a huge variety of museums and art galleries. The vibrant capital city of Quito is also worth a visit. Arguably the most dazzling jewel in Ecuador’s crown is the Galapagos Archipelago in the Pacific, about 1000 kilometres west of the mainland. Their magnificent, pristine landscapes and prolific wildlife, which inspired Charles Darwin, have made this cluster of islands a world-famous travel destination.
Days 1 - 4
Ecuador’s third-largest town is possibly its most beloved. Ancient history tells of an impressive Incan center with the finest temples covered in gold sheets and magnificent palaces, but little remains of this glory. The town’s present-day charm is due largely to its impressive colonial architecture, cobbled streets, plazas and churches – including the blue-domed Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception – and its setting above the grassy banks of the Rio Tomebamba. The town center was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1999 and is a popular place for writers, poets and artists.