The smallest of the Andean countries has no reason to envy its neighbours, as our Ecuador travel guide will show. Snow-capped volcanoes that adventurers can climb; colonial architectural gems in the old town of Quito and pastel-hued houses in Cuenca (both UNESCO World Heritage Sites); the pre-Columbian ruins of Ingapirca; the dense Amazonian forest explored at first by boat, then on foot to discover its trees and flowers, birds and monkeys, and bizarre buglife, and gain glimpses of the cultures of the indigenous peoples who understand what true harmony between man and nature means. Then head to beaches, thermal spring spas, multicoloured markets, mineral mountains with ice blue lakes. That’s before you even switch from mainland to main event – the earthly paradise of the Galapagos Archipelago, where animals are not afraid of men.
Wild life here is so sweet that the birds do not need to know how to fly, the seals come ashore to dance with you and the turtles are so big you could be in Alice in Wonderland.