If you're planning an Ecuador holiday, you'll be visiting the smallest country in the rugged Andean highlands and one of the most rewarding travel destinations in South America. Ecuador travel is full of surprises - with its array of vibrant indigenous cultures, well preserved colonial architecture, otherworldly volcanic landscapes and dense rainforest, Ecuador packs its perimeters with more points of interest than many countries twice its size. When you touch down in its picture-perfect capital, Quito, at the start of your Ecuador trip, you are no more than a day's drive from a slog through all-swallowing Amazonian jungle, a snow swept ascent of an active volcano, a sociable haggle with indigenous artesanos or a welcome wallow on a tropical beach. And all that in a nation no bigger than the US state of Nevada.
A rich and diverse mosaic of ancient cultures is the foundation of Ecuador's national identity today. Archaeological facts have been found in the area dating back to 10,000 BC, and many cultures are thought to have evolved here between 500 BC and 500 AD. The Incas captured Quito in 1492 but the centre of the Inca Empire in Cuzco, Peru and Quito, Ecuador, would soon be divided again when civil war breaks out. Until Pizarro, one of the Spanish invaders, took over Quito in 1534 and Ecuador remained under Spanish rule for almost 300 years.
The indigenous people became slaves to Spanish landowners and this feudal system largely survived until land reforms in 1964. Ecuadorian independence was won in several stages beginning in 1809. By the late 1800s, the Radical Liberals reduced the power of the church - one of the strong legacies of Spanish rule - in an effort to modernize Ecuador. After a long period of political instability, Ecuador entered another period of economic expansion based on banana export. Military rule followed and finally Ecuador returned to democracy in 1979. Also during the 70s, Ecuador transformed from an essentially agricultural economy to a predominantly petroleum-based economy.
Full country name: Republic of Ecuador
Area: 283,520 sq km (175,780 sq mi)
Population: 12,920,092 (growth rate: 2.1%)
Capital city: Quito (pop 1.5 million)
People: 40% mestizo, 40% Indian, 15% Spanish descent, 5% African descent
Language: Spanish, Quechua, Quichua, other indigenous languages
Religion: Over 90% Roman Catholic, small minority of other Christian denominations
GDP per head: US$4,800
Major industries: Oil, bananas, shrimp, fish, coffee, textiles, metal work, paper products, wood products, chemicals, plastics, fishing, lumber
Major trading partners: US, South America, EU, Asia, Caribbean
Above all, we aim to be amazing hosts. We're proud of our kiwi roots, and our professional, warm and relaxed style of running trips around the world is unforgettable.
We're VERY picky about who we select to work in our team, and we have people from all over the world lining up to guide our trips. So we get to hire the absolute BEST in the business.
As soon as you get off the plane, we've got all the details of your vacation covered – top notch meals, comfortable transport & accommodation, amazing guides and INCREDIBLE service.
Whether you’re new to adventure travel, or you’ve never travelled in a group before, you’ll find yourself arriving home positively different from when you left.
With our small groups (no more than 14), you'll get to know our team, your fellow travellers, and have the flexibility and freedom to do as much (or as little!) as you like.
It's all about getting there under your own steam – on foot, in a sea kayak, or by bike. What better way is there to experience mind blowing scenery? If it's your first time, no worries – our expert guides have got you covered.