Where is Ecuador?
Ecuador is located on the Equatorial line (0 degrees latitude) in South America, bordered by Colombia and Peru. It is 283,000 sq km (109,000 sq mi), about the area of Nevada or Colorado, and a little bit bigger than the UK. It has a population of 16 million people.
What languages do they speak in Ecuador?
Ecuador’s official language is Spanish. But Quechua and Shuar are common indigenous languages recognized by the government, along with a dozen others.
Historically, for a brief period, the area was conquered by the mighty but short-lived Incan Empire. Spanish conquerors took over the land in the 1500’s, and Ecuador began to assert its independence in the early 1800’s.
Many location names are a mix of Quichua and Spanish, for example Riobamba (rio - Spanish for “river” and bamba - Kichwa for “plain”).
What are the major regions of Ecuador?
Way off to the west in the Pacific Ocean lie the Galápagos Islands, which areabout 1000 km (600 mi) off the coast. To put it into perspective, that’s about as far as Quito is from Costa Rica! Made famous by Charles Darwin, this is where he studied several species of finches and first developed his theory of evolution. There is a remarkable amount of animal life here: turtles, blue-footed boobies, seals, iguanas, crabs, and so much more! The islands are sparsely populated and the most breathtaking sightseeing is by boat, island-hopping the uninhabited islands - uninhabited by humans, anyway!
Moving to the mainland, the western part of the country is the Pacific coast and Western lowlands. Beaches on the Pacific Ocean are spectacular anywhere, and Ecuador is no exception. The Andes mountains slope down westward to the beaches along Ecuador's long coast. The weather here is generally hot and humid. Guayaquil is a major commercial city and travel hub. It’s also hot. Very hot.
Moving inland, the Andes mountain range runs North-South straight through Ecuador like a backbone. Whereas the Coast is mostly at sea level, the Andes stretch upward into the heavens, with its highest point being Mt. Chimborazo at 6,268 meters (3.9 miles). Cities like Quito and Cuenca are situated about 2,800 meters (~1.8 miles) up, which can be quite an adjustment! You might find yourself out of breath. The high elevation brings less oxygen and cool, damp weather. It can get pretty chilly in this area, with temperatures at nighttime dropping down to the 50’s F (10° C), with the fog usually clearing up at midday for some pleasant sunshine.
The Andean mountain range has many volcanoes, some of them still active, such has Chimborazo, Cotopaxi, and Tungurahua. It also has breathtaking landscapes, national parks, indigenous villages, and lush vegetation.
To the East, an area called el Oriente is Ecuador's claim to the great and fear-inspiring Amazon rainforest. This slice of jungle is an absolute paradise of biodiversity and adventure. The area is well preserved by Ecuador's government and one can experience all the thrills of an intrepid hike into the jungle.
We offer tours of Ecuador starting at $449/pp!