For many tourists, Ecuador travel means only one thing: the Galapagos Islands. Too bad, because not only is that area overly taxed in some respects, the rest of the country deserves more than a quick stopover on the way traveling in or out.
Ecuador is the home of the Panama Hat, impressive Andean peaks, quiet beaches, and a dense jungle. Ecuador is blessed with an impressive variety of natural attractions. Massive mountains and volcanoes attract casual hikers and serious climbers, while the Amazon jungle and rainforest attract a different kind of explorer. In much of the country, you've got a nice mountain view out your window: here you'll find one of the highest concentrations of volcanoes in the world.
Ecuador is not so far along on the luxury travel route, however, with most of its upscale tourism focused on small pampered yacht trips to the Galapagos. Most of the travel to that island is self-contained: there are (thankfully) no large hotels on the islands that would suck up lots of resources and add to the already worrisome degradation. For now, the top hotels and lodges are all focused in the two largest cities, the cloudforest, and the jungle, though a few country haciendas are standouts.
Although Quito is a vibrant city with plenty of attractions, get out further if you can to explore. The rural markets are a swirl of color and varying costumes, with great buys in every direction. The towns of Cuenca and Baños are worth more than just a stopover on a day trip. Adventure activities in the highlands and cloudforests are among the best in South America. Apart from a trip to the Galapagos Islands, almost everything you would spend money on in Ecuador is a terrific value.
The secret is out now on Ecuador as a place to retire or live abroad: it offers one of the best payoffs on the planet in terms of what you can get for your money as a resident.
Luxury Hotels in Ecuador
Aboard Quasar Expeditions' Luxury Yacht in the Galapagos
Cruising the Galapagos Islands with Angermeyer Cruises
Earth-friendly Galapagos Cruising Aboard the Flamingo I
Traveling Mainland Ecuador, from the Cloudforest to the Devil's Nose
Quito and the High Valley of Ecuador
Adventures in Ecuador's Amazon Rainforest
Cuenca, Ecuador – The Next South American Real Estate Boomtown?