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 - 3
The town of Otavalo offers a rich experience – in color, nature, and history. Surrounded by the peaks of three massive volcanoes, the town is best known for its Saturday market and the offerings of woven textiles for which the Otavaleño people are world famous. (This weaving tradition goes back to pre-Incan times.) Otavalo is also known for its traditional music, which forms a major part of Inti Raymi, the summer solstice festival. While in the area, visit the nearby town of Cotacachi and the Cuicocha laguna or retreat to the sacred ceremonial Cascades de Peguche, an 18m-high waterfall that plunges out of the thick forest. It is said that bathing naked under the upper waterfall cleanses your soul.