Avenue of the Volcanoes
Two hours' drive south from Quito is the Avenue of the Volcanoes, a road that winds its way between Andean foothills dotted…
Ecuador is the second smallest country in South America and yet within its borders, you can find a microcosm of the entire continent – hence the joy of an Ecuador holiday.
Not surprising then that Ecuador tourist board coined the phrase ‘All you need is Ecuador’ given that they have mountains and beaches as well as the Amazon. Although the Galapagos Islands attract large numbers of visitors, not so many take the additional time to explore the Ecuadorian mainland. There you can find villages and markets which are truly local and not catering to tourists. It is just a delight.
One of the biggest benefits of a trip to Ecuador is that you don’t get the same concentrations of visitors that can be found in surrounding countries. Quito, the second highest capital in the world at 2,800m, was one of the world’s first UNESCO Heritage Sites, dates from 900AD and is well worth a visit. Outside the capital, you will find small villages with weekly markets where foreign faces are rare and traditional clothes prevail. Culture aside, the landscape is gorgeous and displays the lush green beauty of the tropics with brightly coloured birds flashing in the trees. From Quito, it is easy to reach the Amazon, the Andes, the Cloud Forest and the Galapagos.
We support projects right across the planet. Explore below to see where and how we’re making a difference – in some cases, we can even arrange a visit as part of your tailor-made itinerary. The support from The Steppes Fund for Change will enable the Vicente Mamallacta Educational Unit in the Kichwa Anangu Community of Ecuador’s Yasuni National Park to receive whiteboard markers, pencils, filing cabinets, Spanish reading books, and a television for early childhood education.
Discover suggested activities to include on your Ecuador holiday
Travel by foot up the active Cotopaxi Volcano in the Andes, the second tallest volcano in Ecuador.
Trudge to the top of a tall canopy tower for up close encounters with magnificent birdlife, listening for approaching monkeys.
Consider exploring the Amazon in more than one country, moving between Ecuador, Peru, Brazil, Colombia or Bolivia to experience the remotest corners of the Amazon Basin.
Take a trip to the colourful neighbourhood of Las Peñas to photograph its streets during the golden hour, staying to absorb the vibrant social atmosphere in the evening.
Saddle up for to ride over the undulating Andes, with a view of the active Cotopaxi Volcano.
Journey to Mojanda Lake in the summit caldera of the inactive stratovolcano. Look out for Andean condors and chestnut-winged cinclodes.
Visit the small archaeological museum, Museo de Agua Blanca, that houses a collection of arrowheads, animal figurines and stone seats.
Explore the protected bays, long beaches and tropical dry forests of Machalilla National Park, brimming with wildlife that includes armadillos, arrow frogs, and black howler monkeys.
Shop for artisan carvings, colourful llama wool blankets, ponchos, jewellery and freshly baked breads at the largest craft market in South America.
Head out to try and find the elusive and magnificent pink river dolphins, which only live in the fresh waters of the Amazon Rainforest.
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As usual all aspects of this trip went like clockwork, even thought we were in South America where timings can be different to other parts of the world! This we put down to the work done by Paul and his knowledge of the country.
Roxy recommended that we should add on a trip to the Amazon ahead of our Galapagos Islands journey, and what a brilliant addition it was. We loved every moment of our time in both places, and were impressed with Roxy's advice.
We would recommend Steppes for anyone travelling to the Galapagos Islands- they are lovely company to deal with from start to finish, and James not only listened but went out of his way to accommodate our requests. Thank you!
Paul excelled himself in putting together our unusual itinerary to the Amazon Rainforest. He was conscientious, listened to what we liked and made excellent suggestions.
A passion for travel runs right through every one of our experts - meaning they're always ready with first-hand insight about their specialist countries.
From quaint Andean villages and colourful markets to staggering volcanic landscapes and the Amazon Rainforest, Paul has explored the length and breadth of Ecuador.
This small country encapsulates the continent of South America, and James has been privileged to visit the Amazon, the Andes, the coastal regions and the enchanting Galapagos Islands.
John rode the railways of Ecuador on the carriage roof before it was outlawed, but still recommends a jaunt along the Devil’s Nose – an engineering marvel that can still be enjoyed from inside a carriage.
I love to squeeze as much out of my day as possible. An outdoors fanatic, I love to delve into harsh environments having summited numerous mountains and trail running into the unknown whenever I get the chance – whether at home or overseas. Funnily enough, it didn’t start like that. It took a few years for the burning fire of adventure to truly take light with my eyes opened by the adventures travel could afford.
Ecuador hosts many festivals which generally have a political or religious derivation involving dancing and very authentic markets to visit for all to visit, with Easter celebration being particularly important.
As with everywhere you should take precautions about not walking around at night and avoid certain areas of the city of Quito – your guide will advise you of these upon your arrival. Avoid travel at night as this is a time petty crime can occur. Make sure you only take registered taxis booked by hotels.
Distances are relatively small within Ecuador and you can expect fascinating culture, great wildlife and incredible scenery.
Ecuadorian food is based around meat or fish, plantain and rice and is generally cheap, tasty and plentiful. With many of exotic fruits to hand in this tropical country expect to eat maracuya (passion fruit), naranjilla and guanabana which are served as juices and ice cream.
Different all over and very British in its temperamental nature. There are three vertical bands in Ecuador; from west to east- Pacific, Andes, Amazon with varying weather patterns. The driest time to visit the Pacific and Andes regions is from June to October. In the rainforest, surprisingly, you should always be prepared for rain – it’s what makes it so magical.
Ecuador is at its best June to November. Travel is possible outside of this time but be prepared for rain. Galapagos is a year round destination with seasonal variations.
Quito is at a height of 2,800 metres, so
spending your first day there taking it relatively easy is recommended. Staying
hydrated and maintaining a lazy pace will help you no end. Also, don’t eat too
much in the evenings, because your slowed rate of digestion will keep you
awake. Go careful with alcohol too, you will find it affects you quicker up
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