Why you should visit Ecuador this year.
Ecuador is located on South America’s west coast directly on the equator (‘Ecuador’ is Spanish for equator). The country has a diverse landscape of beautiful beaches, scenic Andean mountains and lush rainforests. It’s also got a buzzing culture including great cuisine and nightlife. However, there are more unique reasons to visit this country. Below are just some of the most unique reasons to visit Ecuador.
The highest capital city in the world
Quito is the capital of Ecuador. Standing at an altitude of 2,850m, it is the highest capital city in the world (excluding La Paz in Bolivia, which is sometimes considered to be a capital city and is even higher). Quito has well-preserved colonial architecture dating back to the 16th Century. So well-preserved is its history that it was the very first city to get a UNESCO World Heritage title. Landmarks include the Basilica del voto Nacional and El Panecillo. The city also has incredible cuisine and exciting markets.
Endemic wildlife species
Ecuador is home to a number of endemic species (species not found anywhere else in the world). Many of these species are not just limited to a single country but a single group of islands – the Galapagos Islands. On these beautiful islands you’ll find unique wildlife such as the Galapagos penguin, the flightless cormorant and the Galapagos land iguana. The islands’ unusual wildlife species inspired Charles Darwin to come up with his theory of evolution in the 1800s. It has since been a popular hotspot for wildlife lovers and those studying evolution. The best time to visit the Galapagos Islands is from December to May. There are hiking tours that you can take to explore the best parts of the islands.
No exchange rate
If you’re visiting Ecuador from the US, you won’t have to worry about the exchange rate – Ecuador is one of the few non-American countries that uses the US dollar. The country changed from the Ecuadorian Sucre to the US dollar back in 2000 due to their old currency having terrible inflation rates. This use of US currency makes it easy to work out the price of things while you’re there and you don’t have to worry about transfer fees.
Very active volcanoes
Ecuador has many volcanoes. You may even witness an eruption while you are there – Cotopaxi volcano is one of the highest volcanoes in the world and has erupted over 50 times since 1738. You can visit Cotopaxi National Park via bus from Quito. The volcano is closely monitored, so you don’t have to worry about being caught out by an eruption while hiking up it. It’s best to visit in the morning when there’s a lower chance of clouds and rain.
The first ever chocolate?
Ecuador is famous for its cacao. There is evidence that original tribespeople were consuming chocolate in Ecuador almost 5000 years ago. Some even argue that it is the birthplace of cacao. The country continues to produce a lot of chocolate to this day. Go to Quito and you’ll find chocolate tours where you can taste chocolate and learn about the farming and processing.