Ecuador, officially the Republic of Ecuador, is a country in North-western South America bordered by Colombia on the north, Peru on the east and south, and the Pacific Ocean to the west. Ecuador is a representative democratic republic which includes the Galápagos Islands in the Pacific. Cotopaxi, which is located in the capital city of Quito, is the highest active volcano in the world. The country boasts numerous cities and sites listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites, such as the Galapagos Islands and the city of Cuenca. More importantly, one of its best features is its low crime rate, making it the safest country in Latin America – both South and Central America.
Quito and Cuenca are Ecuador’s historic centres and are both listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Quito’s downtown is lined with gorgeous colonial buildings. You also have a chance to see the entire city at the peak of Cotopaxi by riding the Teleférico (cable car). Meanwhile, Cuenca, a World Heritage City, features the finest examples of colonial Spanish architecture in the world. These cities have picturesque plazas, beautiful colonial mansions, and 17th-century churches and monasteries. Visit Parque Nacional Yasuní, the largest mainland park in the country, which is a sprawling section of wetlands, marshes, swamps, lakes, rivers, and tropical rainforest. The immaculately white Mirador de Turi, located on a hillside in the southern suburb of Turi, offers lovely views of all the churches' steeples and domes during the evenings.
How to get around within Ecuador
If it’s your first time visiting, the best way to maximise your tour is through a Tour Operator. You can easily navigate between cities on a bus, which covers almost all points in the country. Routes and schedules are available online at ecuadorschedules.com. The roads in Ecuador are considered as some of the best in the world, so driving around by car or motorcycle should be no problem. If you choose to get on a taxi (taxis are plentiful in the country), make sure that it’s licensed. Exploring Ecuador’s best sceneries in a shorter period of time, compared to road travel, is of course, by place. Flights between the biggest cities are in jets, and some of the smaller cities are served by prop aircraft. The main domestic airlines that serve Ecuador are LanEcuador, Tame, Aerogal, and Saereo.
How to get there
If you’re getting in by plane, you’ll most probably disembark at the new state-of-the-art airport in Quito since Aeropuerto Internacional Mariscal Sucre, the old airport, is no longer in use. Another port of entry is at the Guayaquil airport. Meanwhile, Galapagos Islands has its own two airports: one in Baltra and another in San Cristobal, both are served by the Aerogal airline through mainland Ecuador. Currently, there are no international train services into the country, although there are many sections running for tourists, the most popular of which is between Alausi and Nariz del Diablo. Driving into the country can also be an exciting adventure due to easy border crossing from Ipiales Colombia to Tulcan Ecuador. If you are coming in from Colombia and Peru, you can take the bus. A boat ride is not only possible, but also a great way to explore the rainforest.
Images by Flickr/Nestor's Blurrylife
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