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Overview to Ecuador: Travel Guide and Tourist Information
Biologically and geographically blessed, Ecuador’s natural terrains harbor some of the most incredible reserves of wildlife in the world. Add this to its inviting cities, and it becomes clear that Ecuador may well be the jewel in South America’s (already glittering) crown.
The country is conveniently split into three geographic regions that run – more or less – in north to south strips, divided by the twin tramlines formed by the Andes. The forested coastal region sits to the west, the Sierra in the middle, and the wilderness of the Oriente to the east.
Many travelers begin their adventures in the high-altitude land of the Sierra, where Ecuador’s agreeable capital Quito can be found. Surrounded by volcanoes, the city includes a picture-perfect Old Town of graceful squares and religious buildings included on UNESCO’s list.
In the same area, and only a couple of hours’ travel from Quito, the town of Otovalo hosts a market every Saturday that’s considered among South America’s best. The colonial center of Cuenca and the activity travel hub of Banos also draw visitors from across the continent.
In contrast to the highlands of the Sierra, the coastal region is predominantly low-lying, and consists mainly of beaches, mangrove swamps and clouded rainforest. The area excels for surf at Montanita, while Bahia de Caraquez and Manta are also great seaside destinations.
The westward Oriente provides an altogether different pace of life. This is the extreme South American wilderness, and only the hardiest of backpackers tend to go on trekking expeditions into its thick tropical rainforest.
Ecuador also includes a small archipelago in the middle of the Pacific known as the home of Darwin’s Theory of Evolution. A trip to the Galapagos Islands – perhaps the most fascinating natural habitat on the planet – is yet another thing that makes a trip to Ecuador compulsory.