The Mountains are my bones
The Rivers my veins
The Forests are my thoughts
And the Stars are my dreams
The Ocean is my heart
Its pounding is my pulse
The songs of the Earth write
The music of my soul
Ecuador has been called "South America in miniature" - Quito the Florence of South America. We dare to say that Ecuador offers the best of pretty much everything the world has to offer. All this beauty, wonder and diversity of experience is wrapped up into one small country, less than the size of the State of Nevada. Within a few hours of Quito, the Capital, you can experience a variety of terrain and climates from:
- The hot humid Amazon jungle of the Oriente, up to;
- The Andean Highland Paramo with some of the highest permanently snow-covered volcanoes in the world, down to;
- The palm fringed beaches of the Pacific Coast, out to;
- The otherworldly natural wonder of the Galapagos.
Ecuador is not only rich in geographic and climatic diversity but is also blessed with unique cultural and natural variety as well.
The country offers a mosaic of cultural diversity with archaeology, art, architecture, music and culinary and social experiences either showcasing or blending Pre-Colombian, Inca, Indigenous, European, Afro-Ecuadorian and "popular" North American style. Fortunately, many of the ethnic groups have retained their cultural identity and ways of life, particularly their connection with nature. This provides for outstanding community-based tourism, where one can step off the worn tourism path into the daily lives of the locals.
Ecuador is a "world" of protected, accessible and inviting, untouched natural environments - an ideal destination for those looking to re-engage with your heart and soul and the earth. It contains the highest biodiversity per area in the world. It is a birdwatching and butterfly heaven. Outdoor sports enthusiasts can find a special spot or reason to engage in just about any activity you can imagine, in one of the most invigorating and healthy spots on the planet - including Vilcabamba (the Sacred Valley) one of the World's Blue Zones of health and longevity. It is scenic, peaceful, surprising and very wild.
So why not take some re-creation time in this exotic destination, to rejuvenate, pursue your passion or discover a new one, spend time purposefully and immerse yourself in local life and culture. Connect with nature and its guardians and explore the mysteries of ancient civilizations, all in places where you feel you can touch the stars. Your new perspective on life will not only transform who you are but if you chose your companions on this journey well - your experience can positively change the world.
Looking for inspiration and guidance - here is a whirlwind of suggestions, from the ocean to the rivers, through the forests, to the mountains and down to the soul of the earth - we touch on only the very special, backed by links to awesome places and people that are sure to responsibly encourage and support your journey.
Elevate your Spirit:
This started as a mention of yoga retreats, shamans, and wellness centres, but we realized that any activity in this wonderous, spiritually and energetically supportive environ would have a special connection of body mind and spirit. So, find your music...
Dive with schools of sharks in the Galapagos Marine Reserve (one of the last best places in the world to do this)
Become one with the beat of the Ocean - catch a wave in the Galapagos or on the Pacific Coast. Other than Montanita, a recognized surfing destination, there are numerous other excellent isolated areas with breaks to explore.
Kayak the oceans, rivers and caldera lakes. Go whale watching. Explore the rivers of the Cloud Forest or Amazon Rain Forest by raft, tube or guided canoe. A great way to increase the possibility of connecting with one of the many elusive species - spectacle bears, or pink river dolphins.
Find peace of mind in one of the ecolodges dedicated to understanding the flora and fauna of the forest. Even though you're not an avid birdwatcher, find yourself enchanted by some of the species only found in Ecuador. Rise before dawn and hike through the mist to see the spectacular Cock-of-the-Rock mating dance or hike to an Amazon salt lick to see the parrots.
Find a working hacienda where horseback riding has been a way of life for centuries. Ride through the sweeping paramo in the Avenue of the Volcanoes - the best way to see this expansive landscape.
While in the highlands, take a hike around the remote Laguna Quilotoa Loop stopping to stay at LluLlu Llama and visit the local Quechua communities. Love the hiking - consider a 3-4-day trek on the Inca Trail (the less travelled part), to Ingapirca the best-preserved Inca ruins in Ecuador. Contemplate the mysteries and brilliance of this highly advanced civilization that were masters at living in natural balance with the earth.
Climb Cotopaxi, one of the highest active volcanoes in the world at 5897 m (19347 ft) and one of the highest places on earth you can stand on, without being an experienced technical climber. You will need to be in excellent physical condition, acclimatized to altitude and accompanied by a qualified, very supportive guide. Already conquered "Kili" we dare you...
Not up to the climb, take a breathtaking mountain bike ride down Cotopaxi, descending up to 3000 m (9800 ft) in one day.
Tour with Purpose:
Consider volunteering time and talent to support and empower local communities and social and environmental enterprises. Study and contribute to their conservation activities and community programs - help them to proudly enhance their way of life, without destroying precious habitat or cultural traditions.
Expand your mind:
Study a new language, learn a new skill, experience a new way of life. Ecuador is a great place to learn Spanish. The language here is a beautiful song and clearly spoken. Appreciate the chance to participate in other activities (salsa, empanada cooking, or surfing lessons) and fully immerse yourself into life at your selected location.
Plan an extended excursion deep into the remote Amazon Rainforest to be astonished and moved by the space and beauty in this majestic place. Join the indigenous protectors of this world in their daily rituals and celebrations of life. UNDERSTAND.