Take an excursion to the famous Galápagos Islands! This “living laboratory” of evolution inspired Charles Darwin 175 years ago and continues to offer a unique opportunity to explore a pristine natural ecosystem. The actively volcanic islands are home to fascinating creatures found nowhere else on Earth, including marine iguana, giant tortoise, flightless cormorant and a wide variety of finches. Snorkel amid schools of fish, sea turtle, penguin and playful sea lion or explore the waters of the Galápagos by kayak or glass-bottom boat! Don’t miss out on this amazing experience!
The small city of Baños lies at the foot of the active volcano Tungurahua. Named after the hot springs fed by the thermal waters of the volcano, Baños is one of the most popular attractions in Ecuador. Known as the “Gateway to the Amazon,” Baños is a favorite departure point for jungle tours. Waterfalls cascade thousands of feet down deep river gorges. The thunderous Pailon de Diablo waterfall, surging over a gorge where the Rio Verde and Rio Pastaza meet, is the most impressive. Walk, climb or hike the surrounding trails and volcano, take a jungle tour to the Amazon Rainforest or ride horses deep into the hills.
Take a weekend excursion to Cotopaxi! Only a short one- to two-hour trip from Quito, Cotopaxi National Park is one of the most impressive parks in Ecuador, containing the famed Cotopaxi Volcano. Cotopaxi National Park is a popular destination for those looking to hike, climb, trek and enjoy the stunning scenery. Cotopaxi’s ecosystem is home to a wide variety of flora and fauna, as well as puma, bear, rabbit, condor, wild horse and fox. The Cotopaxi Volcano is one of the highest active volcanoes in the world and one of the few equatorial glaciers.
Ecuador’s southern coastal region boasts scenic shorelines and world-famous beaches, including the popular Montañita. Take a trip to experience the Montañita Town, a quaint fishing village frequented by the international surfing community for the exceptional waves. Walk around the town, swim off the beautiful beaches or take a boating trip! Montañita is known for its nightlife as well, with nightclubs, bars and cafés to entertain locals and visitors alike.
Part of the excitement of traveling to Ecuador is exploring the handiwork crafted by local artisans, and there is no better place to see and purchase local arts, crafts and clothing than at the markets in the small town of Otavalo. The markets are known worldwide for the handiwork of its indigenous people. Spend a Saturday in the city’s Plaza de Ponchos, a weekly market offering a broad array of jewelry, wood and stone carvings, as well as woven clothing. Experience Otavalo and purchase a memento to take the culture home with you!
Explore the famous ruins of Machu Picchu! This site is Peru’s most visited attraction, located in the midst of a tropical mountain forest on the eastern slopes of the Peruvian Andes. Machu Picchu’s walls, terraces, stairways and ramps blend into its natural setting, an incredible sight to see. The stonework, terraced fields and irrigation system bear witness to the Inca civilization’s architectural, agricultural and engineering expertise! Walk along the walls and see the sun set over its towering stone monuments. This excursion is an amazing opportunity to see one of South America’s most famous manmade wonders.
Take a trip to the Uros Islands! The Uros are a pre-Incan people who live on forty-two self-fashioned floating islands in Peru. The Uros use bundles of dried totora reeds to make reed boats and to make the islands themselves! The larger islands house about ten families, while smaller ones, only about thirty meters wide, house only two or three. Take a tour around the islands, see how these unique people live their lives and spend a night immersed in an incredible culture!
Experience the famous Colca Canyon! This canyon is reportedly the deepest in the world, thought to be twice as deep as the Grand Canyon in the USA. Unlike most of the Grand Canyon, portions of the Colca Canyon are habitable, with pre- Colombian terraced fields still supporting agriculture and human life! This excursion offers hikes or treks in the canyons as well as a stop at Cruz del Condor, a highlight of the Colca Canyon! Walk up to the canyon viewing area, and your heart will drop as you peer over the edge!
Take a day trip to the Nazca Lines! The Lines are an exceptional collection of geoglyphs in the southern desert of Peru. There are about 300 figures among them, including geometric shapes, animal-like figures, straight continuous lines, humans and plants. The creation of the Nasca Lines is attributed to the pre-Inca Nazca culture that flourished in the area between 200 and 600 AD. The Nazca Lines are located on the Pampas of Jumana in the Nazca Desert of southern Peru, about 400 km from the capital, Lima. See these astonishing drawings up close!
Iquitos on the Amazon River is the world’s largest city that cannot be reached by road, and is surrounded by the Amazon jungle. Spend a day exploring Iquitos, sampling Amazonian cuisine and visiting one of Peru’s most fascinating markets in the floating shantytown of Belén. Many arrive in Iquitos while boating down the Amazon River! However you get to Iquitos, it’s definitely worth the trip!