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Cuenca ToursEcuador ToursEcuador Tours

Ecuador

With an unbelievable amount of diversity in a such small area, Ecuador is branding itself as the green eco-friendly getaway of the continent. In Ecuador, it’s all about the nature.

Did You Know

  • The Galapagos Islands are active Volcanic Islands in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, 600 miles (1,000 km) from the Ecuadorian coast.
  • Ecuador is the world´s largest supplier of bananas, supplying almost 1/3 of the entire globe.
  • The so-called Panama Hat is actually from Ecuador, with most hats manufactured in Cuenca.  The modern day misnomer developed as a result of these popular and functional hats historically being shipped abroad from the Panama Canal, hence, the “Panama” Hat.

Country Highlights

Cuenca and the south
Visitors often find Cuenca to be a surprisingly lovely city with a small town and old world feel.  A UNESCO world heritage city center, warm year-round temperatures and a proliferation of lush green riverbanks make this a very easy city to love.  Cuenca has a reputation for artisans such as the panama hat makers in and around as well as guitar makers and artists of all kinds.  Cobblestone streets and peaceful plazas plus a proliferation of good restaurants mean you may might not want to leave.  If you need a nature break, you can get away just 20 miles (32 km) to the jagged mountain landscape and blue lagoons of Cajas National Park.  This park is run with quiet efficiency by the local water authority.  Another day trip will take you to Ingapirca, the Inca’s largest city in Ecuador, located on the edge of the paramo and the extensive Sangay National Park.

Just an hour south of the city of Lojas is the village of Villcabamba, world famous for its waters which are said to bring longevity.  This valley and environs has become a magnet for anyone seeking relaxation and warm climes.

Quito and surroundings
The first city to be declared a World Heritage site in 1978, this restored colonial city is spread across a high Andean valley giving it a unique character.  Pichincha volcano broods over the city and occasionally belching out some smoke.  A worthwhile day trip is to take a teleferico (cable car) to the other peak for splendid views plus, at 4, 680 m, the experience of high altitude hiking without the exertion.  Quito has the best preserved historic center in Latin America and is packed with picturesque old squares (plazas) and centuries old monasteries.   For a taste of Quito’s vibrant art scene over the centuries don’t miss the Museo del Banco Central.  Try out Gringolandia, or the Mariscal for some vibrant night life.  22km from Quito is the Mitad del Mundo: a kind of equator theme and park and learn all kinds of true and false facts about the equator.  Quito is a fabulous base for nearby excursions with Cotopaxi, Otovalo and Mindo a day trip away.  Papallacta can be visited in one day but you might want to stay overnight at these gorgeous thermal waters.

Galapagos
Much more than tortoises, the Galapagos is a paradise for nature lovers of all shapes and sizes.  It was the differences in species between the islands that nudged Darwin towards his theory of natural selection.  The islands are special for being a unique place where this relation between nature and environment is still in play, where due to centuries of isolation and then protection, the have relatively no fear of humans; there’s no doubt this is THE place to see wildlife up close.  Swim with dolphins and sea lions, try not to trip over iguanas, get up close to tortoises and turtles and learn to tell your Blue Footed Booby from your Brown Noddy.

Northern Highlands and Mindo and Otavalo
The biggest must see are the three huge markets held in the traditional mountain town of Otavalo.  There’s the food market, early morning livestock market, and of course the colorful and fascinating handicrafts market that bring villagers from all over in droves.   The area around Mindo is a bird watcher’s delight with many ecological and community based lodges catering to ornithologists, hikers and mountain bikers.  Lush cloud forest here gives excellent opportunities to see birds such as the Andean cock-of-the-rock, scaled fruiteater and golden-headed and crested quetzals.  It’s also home to the latest craze: white-water tubing.

The Valley of the Volcanoes
Because of the bulge at the nearby equator, at 6, 310 meters above sea level, the peak of the Chimborazo Volcano is actually the highest point from the center of the earth.  As the Pan-American Highway runs down the middle of the country, it passes no fewer than 9 volcanoes of more than 5,000m – hence the name of this stunning part of the country.  Cotopaxi National Park has vast areas of paramo where wild horses and Condors roam, the glaciated volcano looming high above.  The Quilota crater lake is a mesmerizing turquoise blue and said to be bottomless. In villages around Quilota, in Ilinizas National Park, see traditional mountain life played out amidst one of the country’s best national parks and stay in cozy, award-winning eco lodges. 

Banos is a playground for lovers of hot springs, green beauty and waterfalls.  The town is set up for hiking, mountain biking, rafting and then resting in the numerous thermal baths and spas.  The road from here towards the jungle awards spectacular opportunities for mountain biking downhill past a series of thunderous waterfalls with views of the Amazon below.  In nearby Riobamba hop on the Devil’s Nose train for a spectacular, thrilling ride past Chimborazo volcano and up a series of almost perpendicular switchbacks.

 Amazon
One third of Ecuador is Amazon rainforest and is home to a bizarre array of wildlife, and indigenous tribes such as the Achuar, protective Huarani and headhunting Shuar.  Many rainforest lodges integrate environmental consciousness, excellent wildlife watching with some community involvement – offering an excellent opportunity to integrate with one of these fascinating communities.  The best protected areas for jungle trips are along the Lower Napo River, the stamping ground of caimans, over 500 bird species including parakeets and macaws,  pink dolphins, sloths, various kinds of monkeys, anacondas, jaguars, tapirs, harpy eagle  and as many insects as you can shake a stick at.  In the Southern Oriente the extremely isolated Kapawi Lodge is an example of sustainable tourism in action with the Achuar community being owners and managers.

Ruta de Sol - Route of the Sun (Coast)
Ecuador’s coast has a fabulous variety of beaches to suit all tastes.  The north is famous for its Afro-Ecuadorian culture and foods.  Inland lie still preserved areas of mangrove swamps and tropical rainforest such as the community run Playa de Oro Reserve.  Canoa has a pretty beach, a tranquil laid back scene, Bahia de Caraquez is a sophisticated peninsular and eco city.  Machalilla National Park contains one of the largest tropical dry forests remaining in the world.  The park includes Isla del Plata, an island sanctuary for marine birds similar to those found in the Galapagos, and in June to October the area offshore is a mating ground for humpback whales.  In and around the park are some of the loveliest unspoilt beaches in Ecuador.  Montanita keeps itself small despite its reputation as the best surfing venue in Ecuador.  As you continue down the coast along the Route of the Sun you’ll arrive at the highly developed resort town of Salinas.  The continental shelf falls off just 13 miles from the beach, making this an excellent place for deep sea fishing for blue marlin, tuna and other very large fish!

Guayaquil
This is the economic heart of Ecuador and has been reinventing itself as a thoroughly modern city in the last few years.  The seafront Malecon is a well developed promenade of boutiques, parks, modern, world-class museum and galleries and new metro and improvements happening all the time.  A good place for people watching, shopping and eating seafood.  Its historic and nature park is becoming an increasingly attractive tourist option.

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Testimonials

First, we had a wonderful time and the trip was fun and interesting. We managed not to get sick and did not have any altitude

Alan and Judy, Peru & Ecuador

Hi Max, I can't tell you pleased we were with what you arranged for us. We, I had a great time and the fact that

Dave, Peru & Galapagos

Hey Donovan - the overall trip exceeded our expectations.  We would definitely recommend the trip, even though it was a bit expensive for our friends,

Brian S, Peru & Galapagos

HI Max and Donovan,I would like to thank you for a lovely Trip.  The Coral staff did an awesome job making our vacation spectacular.The DietrichsEcuador &

The Dietrichs, Ecuador & Galapagos

Max,Just wanted to touch base and you let know how great our trip went.  Other than AA losing Jill’s bag (which caused a bit of

Darin, Peru & Galapagos

Hi Donovan the trip through Costa Rica was fabulous. Once again you did an outstanding job giving us a trip to remember. Our guide, Charlie

Linda, Costa Rica

We had the best time ever, just an exceedingly wonderful whirlwind tour of Peru and the Galapagos. Your tour guides were so careful and aware

Jane and Sue, Peru

I had contracted with Ideal South America (ISA), after checking with eleven other travel agencies.  If you plan on a trip to South America I

Col. Ed Scholl, Peru

Max, The trip was fantastic and you put together a very nice itinerary.  The guides were very knowledgeable and the lodging was great, the flights

Ralstons & Pruesses, Peru

As promised, a while back, I am sending you some pictures from our trip to Peru. As I mentioned previously, we had an amazing time!

Peru, Eid-Heberle Family

I wanted to take a moment and thank you and your staff for planning and delivering an incredible trip! Alyssa and I had an amazing

Jake and Alyssa

We are back we had a great time. Thanks for your careful planning. The Andes were spectacular, the yacht was terrific … the Galapagos amazing.

Schreibers, Florida

"We had a wonderful time on our trip. Everything went really smoothly and we enjoyed all of our excursions. It was the trip of a

Ralston Family, California

Our trip was wonderful! Everything was well organized, hotels were great, and the weather was close to perfect.

Lewis Family, Pennsylvania

Jan 2013

...the places we saw exceeded our expectations. Machu Picchu is way better than the pictures show. The Galapagos trip is also great. I guess the

Sonny & Amanda Punzalan, California

Dec 2012

The trip to Ecuador and Peru were great! We felt that all of the guides, drivers, and transfers were excellent. Everything went well

Sue Clark & Family, Washington

Peru & Ecuador, Dec 2012

We had the best time and wanted to let you know that every hotel, transfer, guide, connection, tour, mode of transportation, and cruise were perfect.

Mark Stout & Family, Pennsylvania

Machu Picchu & Galapagos, Dec 2012

Thanks for the ideal trip. Everything worked out perfectly. Loved having somebody with name card at every airport to pick us up and give

Bruce Thaler, Philadelphia

Machu Picchu & Galapagos, November 2012

It was marvelous and the trip of a lifetime. If I searched for a fault in the trip I could not find one to complain

Howard Silberstein, Miami

Galapagos & Ecuador, November 2012

Thank you guys for planning our Galapagos and Machu Picchu trip. We had a great time! The transfers were punctual, and the guides

Yau Ru Chen, Los Angeles

Machu Picchu Galapagos, October 2012

Thanks for arranging such an awesome trip for the Whiteside family when in Peru this week. The guides were absolutely superb

Janet Whiteside, Florida

Peru, July 2012

The experience from beginning to end was excellent. The combination of Sacred Valley, Iguazu ending in Rio is great

Paul Jones

Machu Picchu, Iguazu & Rio, March 2012

We just returned from our South American trip with fond memories and no hitches. Thanks to your planning and foresight.

Victor Limlingan, Travel Agent – The Philippines

Ecuador, Galapagos & Panama, June 2012

...we were so pleased with your services and will be booking with you again for our South American travel in the future!

Jennafer Bonello – Washington DC

Peru, June 2012

We had a wonderful trip. everything went well and all the guides were super nice and helpful.

Hamila Atefi – Washington DC

Peru and Galapagos, May 2012

I just wanted to say thank you for all of your hard work planning my trip. It was all appreciated, and provided us with

Chris Leggat – New York

Galapagos & Machu Picchu, June 2012

Just back from one of the most enjoyable and well put together vacation trips we have ever experienced! Thanks for putting it all together for

Rick Velategui – USA

Peru, Galapagos, Oct 2011

The hotels, guides & drivers were first class & we could not have expected anything more than what was delivered. Thank you again

Mike & Carol Lipischak

Peru, November 2011

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