Highlights of a wildlife holiday to Ecuador

Spanning three distinctly different geographical zones, from the steamy Amazon east of the Andes through the Andean Highlands, before extending 1,000 kilometres out to sea toward the rocky marine haven of the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador’s vast natural attractions proudly bely its status as the smallest South American country. 

This is the perfect place for a wildlife holiday.

Landscapes and Jungle

Back on the mainland, venture into the highlands to explore some of the Andean scenery that provides the quintessential image of Ecuador - quaint colonial market towns backed by snow-capped mountains and volcanoes. The wonderfully conical Cotopaxi soars 5,897 metres into the sky, and is one of the world’s highest active volcanoes, protected within an ecological reserve that offers great opportunities for hiking, trekking and climbing amongst the pine forests.

Ecuador’s Amazonian region is incentive enough to visit the country alone, even before venturing to Galapagos. Staying in the remote jungle of the world’s largest rainforest is an experience not to be missed, where traditional life and ancient traditions combine with abundant wildlife. Amongst the mammals living in the steamy jungle are armadillos, sloths, monkeys, tapirs and ocelots, but the smaller stars of the Amazon are the countless butterflies, frogs, lizards and tropical fish that you will come across as you explore by boat or walking safari. 

You can also climb the canopy of the rainforest for an incredible vantage point over the network of rivers.

From the Andes to the Pacific

The stretch of land between the Andes and the Pacific is known locally as 'La Costa' and provides a huge range of natural wonders, from rugged beaches and a variety of ecosystems, to spectacular landscapes and interesting cultures. Spanning 187 miles from north to south, here you can visit popular, rugged beaches or marvel at the magnificent beauty of secret ones, explore mangrove forests and cross mountainous jungle or discover wonderful cities. 

About an hour drive from the city of Quito, you will find the beautiful Mashpi Cloud Forest where air from the Pacific Ocean gets trapped in the steep slopes of the Andes. Here you can embark on wonderful wildlife experiences and nature walks, in a place where water is king, clinging to the canopy before landing on the soft mud underfoot. In this tiny region, there are an estimated 500 bird varieties and thousands or rare orchids and other flora. 

The only place to stay here is the ultra modern Mashpi Rainforest Lodge, which presents unrivalled views through its glass walls and some very unique experiences.

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