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.