From the extraordinary and awe-inspiring Galapagos Islands, to the Oriente – Ecuador's own piece of the Amazon basin – and the historic city of Quito, Ecuador is just about as diverse and unique a country as you're likely to find in Latin America.
No guessing its location (along the Equator in South America) there are many different types of Ecuador holidays to choose from. Just as good to explore with an adventurous spirit and a backpack as it is to live it up in luxury along the coast, some other great ways see the country include joining a cruise or an Ecuador tour.
Whichever way you decide to travel, one thing for certain is that Empanadas aren't the only thing that will reward your every turn in Ecuador! Being a country with such a diverse range of scenery and sights means that any Ecuador travel guide can only give you an introduction into what's in store on your trip.
Some of the highlights include getting lost in the cobbled streets of Quito Old Town, haggling at one of the world's biggest open air markets in Otavalo, hanging out with iguanas at Parque Bolívar in the bustling city of Guayaquil, and exploring the galleries and restaurants of the beautiful World Heritage-listed city Cuenca.
Go animal spotting in the Galapagos Islands
Of course, if you can only choose one place to visit in Ecuador then do not miss a trip to the breathtaking Galapagos Islands. This group of volcanic islands are unlike anywhere else in the world; the long list of people enchanted by the Galapagos Islands even includes naturalist Charles Darwin.
Swim with penguins, turtles and sea lions, and observe some of the world's most unique species of animals. While you're marvelling at the spectacular landscape, keep a special lookout for blue-footed boobies – a long-winged seabird with iconic blue feet.
One of the best launching pads for the islands is Quito, Ecuador's bustling capital. While in Quito, take time to explore the labyrinthine streets, watch the world go by in Plaza Grande, or head to the 'New Town' and visit one of the great restaurants or bars in Mariscal. One must-do is to travel to the nearby 'middle of the world' at Mitad del Mundo to stand on the Equator.
Adventure into the Amazon and Andes
Got a thirst for adventure? Then head into the stunning Andean highlands to hike through traditional villages and see spectacular valleys and snow-covered volcanoes. If you're feeling fit, consider climbing the challenging Cotopaxi volcano – with an altitude of 5,897-metres it's not for the faint of heart!
Another major reason people visit Ecuador is to venture down into the Oriente and explore the dense Amazon rainforest. Set out on the rivers and cross your fingers you'll see monkeys, toucans, river dolphins, sloths and other incredible creatures that live nowhere else but in the Amazon. If you get the chance, try to join a tour or excursion to meet some indigenous tribes and see how they live.
Spend time soaking in thermal baths in Baños, the 'adventure capital' of Ecuador and you will have just about scratched the surface of the country. Hire a quad bike and tour the stunning area, see the beautiful waterfall, go white water rafting or simply relax and keep watch on the active Tungurahua volcano that casts its shadow over the town.