Ecuador's mega-diverse wildlife includes 15% of the world's bird species. It's home to the Galapagos Islands, Amazonian Rain Forest, and "the best-preserved, least altered historic centre in Latin America" in Quito (UNESCO). The country is considered to be divided into four regions: the jungle, which is east of the Andes and covers part of the Amazon basin, the altiplano, or up in the Andes, including historic Quito, the low coastal area west of the Andes, including the city Guyaquil, and lastly, the Galapagos, which are mostly visited by tourists, who generally fly in and stay on boats just offshore.
There are pre-Incan ruins in Ecuador, in the large complex Ingapirca (built by the Cañari people, and later inhabited by the Inca), as well as in smaller sites throughout the Andes, including one that is within the city limits of the colonial city of Cuenca, in the mountains. Also in the Andes, there are many trekking, hiking and skiing possibilities, including scaling Chimborazo, which is an inactive volcano and Ecuador's highest peak. The varied climatic and geographical features give rise to several distinct culinary styles, which in the Andes feature quinoa, a giant corn kernel called mote, potatoes and yuca, which is often boiled, mashed, stuffed with cheese and fried into patties called llapingachos.
From mountain climbing to finding out how you can contribute to conservation of Ecuador's rainforest, Matador articles on Ecuador can be read below.
Photo by Mitch Anderson.