Between Colombia and Peru, Ecuador, this small country as big as half of France, stretches from the Pacific to the Amazon by crossing the Andes mountain range, here called Sierra. No more altiplano strictly speaking, here, but a chaotic, highly volcanic relief, made up of snow-covered cones, páramo (a kind of high-altitude pampa) and checkered fields covering up to the highest slopes.
Despite its modest size, Ecuador offers an astonishing range of landscapes and cultures.
. It is a country divided into three distinct regions: the Pacific coast, the Andes Cordillera and the Ecuadorian Amazon. In addition, there are the Galapagos, a unique wildlife reservoir in the world.
While the Indians of the Sierra have largely preserved their Andean customs, the people of the coast seem closer to Caribbean customs. In the Amazon, people are struggling to survive, threatened by the oil industry and deforestation. As for Ecuador’s urban dwellers, most of whom are Métis, they have long since adopted the Western way of life. As in most, if not all, places in South America, the Church continues to play a major role and there have been successive military coups d’état here…
If the archaeological remains and colonial architecture are much less present in Ecuador than in Peru, this lack is partly compensated for by the superb historical centre of Quito, the beauty of the landscapes and the richness of nature – Amazonia and Galapagos in particular.
In short, the main reasons for a trip to Ecuador? This beautiful natural variety, combined with the authenticity of the welcome and a tourism that is still moderate, so without hordes of tourists…
For a first trip to Latin America, Ecuador is an ideal gateway.