When you think of South America the first images that pop to mind, at least for me, are the mountains of Patagonia, the rich history found at Machu Picchu and Christ the Redeemer in Rio. That might be a generalisation on my part but looking at any of the travel magazines there are certain cultural symbols that always have pride of place and slowly we begin associating these with a country or continent whenever they are mentioned. Whilst articles can be a great source of inspiration a country shouldn’t be defined by its most famous icon. The Galapagos Islands may have put Ecuador on the map but there is so much more to this country than meets the eye.
Cloud forests, misty highlands and historic cities are just a few of the environments that make up this small yet extremely diverse country. A two week stay was not nearly enough to uncover it all but Ecuador has really caught my attention and I can’t wait to return and discover the lesser known parts that haven’t yet made it into the latest edition of Conde Nast Traveller.
Apart from the natural beauty, you will encounter some of the friendliest and welcoming people, the likes of which rival the locals in Kenya. They also have an amazing passion for their country which you can see first hand if you stay at the Mashpi Lodge. There you’ll meet some of the most knowledgeable guides and be shocked by how they manage to locate a Moss-backed tanager or a Choco Toucan from several canopies away – warning: you may also become a budding birdwatcher.
Now that I’ve sung Ecuador’s praises I want to show you the highlights from my trip and hopefully I’ll be able to give you some ideas on where to visit during your time in Ecuador.
- Dodging high speed hummingbirds at Mashpi to get the perfect shot.
- Facing my fear of heights in a gondola high above the canopy.
- Stumbling across what must be part of the Jurassic Park set.
- Discovering that Canada isn’t the only place for a scenic hike.
- Watching the changing of the guard.
- Feeding llamas whilst praying they won’t choose this moment to spit on you.
- Enjoying candyfloss skies in the Galapagos.
- Waking up surrounded by Ecuador’s finest nature.
- Testing out my GoPro in the underwater world.
- Getting up close and personal with the locals on a night walk.