Tucked away on the west coast of South America, the nation of Ecuador has a surprising wealth of natural beauty you’d struggle to find anywhere else in the world. With four distinct micro-climates and a landscape that varies from alpine to tropic, there’s bound to be something for everyone within the country’s borders.
So, in an ode to this wonderful country, we’re taking you on a virtual tour of Ecuador’s natural wonders – your real-life tour could be just a phone call away!
Ecuador’s soil and landscape wouldn’t be anything like what it is today without the influence of its many volcanoes. Many of the peaks in the Andean mountain range are, in fact volcanic, with two in particular taking the spotlight.
Mount Cotopaxi is the world’s highest active (yes, active) volcano at just under 6,000 metres tall. Ecuador is also home to the highest point on Earth, Mount Chimborazo, which at 6,248 metres above sea level overtakes the mighty Mount Everest as the point on earth closest to outer space. Unlike Everest, Chimborazo can be climbed in a less than two weeks, compared to the months required to summit its Himalayan counterpart.
Read more: How were the Galápagos Islands formed?
The Galápagos Islands are also volcanic, contributing to their rich biodiversity. Situated in the Pacific Ocean some 1,000 kilometres of the coast of the Ecuadorian mainland, the Galápagos Islands have been recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage site for their ‘outstanding universal value’.
Relatively untouched by mankind, you can experience these incredible islands on a Galápagos cruise with AE Expeditions, encountering everything from iguanas and penguins to the blue-footed booby and giant Galapagos tortoise. You can learn more about the Galápagos’ weird and wonderful wildlife in our blog post here.
Read more: Our luxury eco-lodge in the clouds
Ecuador’s magical cloud forests are true ecological wonderland. Usually situated anywhere upwards of 500 metres in altitude, cloud forests get their name from their mystical shroud of fog or cloud layered over the canopy. These high altitude forests gain most of their moisture from the cloud cover, creating a cool environment quite different to the humid, wet air of the rainforest.
According to Rainforest Rescue, these cloud forests are home to 15-17 per cent of the world’s plant species, as well as containing 20 per cent of the global bird diversity.
To the east of Ecuador lies just a pocket of the great Amazon, the world’s largest rainforest. It hosts a wealth of plant and animal life, including species such as monkeys, jaguars, iguanas and anacondas! On our Ecuador in Depth tour, you can get a chance to encounter the Amazon for yourself when we visit Sacha Lodge on the Napo river while searching for a glimpse of caiman alligators.
Within the Ecuadorian Amazon is also found the UNESCO biosphere reserve, Yasuni, which is used to research sustainable development – an essential part of learning to live in harmony with the environment.
To learn more about this incredible country, check out our six things you didn’t know about Ecuador blog post. To start planning your adventure today, take a browse through our brochures online.