Holidays & Sabbaticals to Ecuador – In a Nutshell
This South American country may be a lot smaller than neighbouring Peru and Columbia, but it packs a serious punch. Its breathtaking natural landscapes span remote cloud-forest, active volcanoes, golden beaches, tropical jungle and the snow-capped Andes.
Culture-wise, its breadth is enormous too, with colourful indigenous markets blending with colonial architecture, and the cosmopolitan cities of Quito, Cuenca and Guayaquil.
But it’s best known for the Galapagos Islands, a stunning archipelago of volcanic islands with a unique climate and ecosystem where Charles Darwin studied. From the endemic giant tortoises and blue-footed boobies to visiting whale sharks and marine iguanas, the wildlife here is incomparable.
How to Get to Ecuador
You can travel overland from Peru or Colombia as part of a longer South American itinerary.
If you’re arriving by plane, you’ll likely fly into Quito’s Mariscal Sucre airport, though there’s also an international airport in Guayaquil, the jumping-off point for the Galapagos Islands.
There are no direct flights to Ecuador from the UK; flights go via the US or Europe and take approx. 15-18 hours. Direct flights from the US take approx. 4-13 hours.
From Quito you can take hopper flights around the country, and on a clear day you’ll see volcanoes and rainforests below you.
If you’d prefer to travel overland, take private transfers, self-drive, horseback ride or go by bus: the autobús de lujo (luxury buses) are air conditioned and comfortable.
When & Weather – Ecuador
Ecuador (meaning equator) has a mostly stable climate throughout the year with temperatures governed by altitude. Tropical and humid in the lowlands and cooler and crisper in the highlands.
High Season (Dec, Jan, June-August) is the most popular time to visit. We’d recommend going in late spring (April and May) and late autumn (late-Aug and Sept) when temperatures are warm and the humidity is lower in the tropics.
Temperatures range between 9°C (48°F) and 30°C (86°F).
Who will Ecuador Appeal To?
The country’s breathtaking natural landscapes and superb wildlife are best suited to:
- Wildlife enthusiasts
- Active travellers
- Solo travellers
- Adventure seekers
- Culture vultures
We work with colonial city hotels, rainforest lodges, friendly guesthouses, glamping and expedition ships in the Galapagos.
Off The Beaten Path
- Climb Cotapaxi, one of the world’s highest active volcanoes.
- Photograph the pretty colonial town of Cuenca, which dates back to 1557.
- Visit a clay lick on the Napo River to watch hundreds of colourful parrots lick the rocks to feed on minerals; a stunning natural phenomenon.
- Ride the Teleferico cable car up the Pichincha Volcano for epic panoramas over Quito.
- Scuba dive with whale sharks, hammerheads and manta rays in the waters around Darwin and Wolf islands in the Galapagos.
- Hike through the beautiful, wild Pasochoa Reserve, past herds of skittish llamas.
- The Bosque Petrificado Puyango near Loja is one of the world’s largest petrified forests, with fossilised trees dating back 120 million years.
- Spy Andean spectacled bears through the mist in the cloud forest.
- The Ecuadorian rainforest is home to a wide variety of monkeys, as well as shy jaguars, 3-toed sloths, kinkajous, tapir and beautiful ocelots.
- Condors soar over Parque Nacional Cotopaxi at first light every morning, showcasing their vast three metre wing span.
- Several North American birds migrate here, including the Virginia rail, kingbird, barn swallow and scarlet tanager.
- But if you’re coming to Ecuador for wildlife, it’s really all about the Galapagos Islands. On land, you’ll walk past prowling iguanas, scuttling Sally Lightfoot crabs and nesting frigate birds. You can dive with turtles, and boat past colonies of noisy sea lions and endemic Galapagos penguins. Most famous of all are the blue-footed boobies and giant tortoises.
Ecuador Experiences you shouldn’t miss:
- Hacienda hopping around Cotopaxi.
- Horseback riding through the Zuleta Valley.
- Bargaining for woollen blankets, bright ponchos and woven tapestries in the markets north of Otavalo.
- Meandering along the cobbled streets of Quito’s Old Town and people watching in the Plaza San Francisco.
- Bathing in the Baños hot springs.
- Sailing around the Galapagos islands, Charles Darwin’s outdoor laboratory.
- Watching water swirl in both directions around the plug holes at El Mitad del Mundo, a museum straddling the equator.
The Ecuador Tierra Viva Foundation is a non-profit charity, based in Ecuador with a mission to improve the quality of life of the country’s poorest communities through provision or improvement of water, health and education services. Projects include bringing medical professionals to remote villages, implementing organic farms and medicinal gardens and biodiversity studies in the Amazon, amongst others.
Our experienced team will guide you through a number of ideas based on how you would like to experience Ecuador.
Consider visiting Ecuador in combination with its neighbouring countries, Peru and Colombia.
Browse our gallery for inspiration and read the sample itinerary below to whet your appetite.
No matter how long you wish to travel, we’ll guide you through the planning process to ensure a trip is carefully pieced together to suit your interests, pace of travel and budget. Contact us to start planning a holiday or sabbatical to Ecuador.