Covering just under 100,000 square miles, Ecuador is about the size of the state of Colorado. Yet, it is home to four major geographical regions: the Andes, the Amazon, the Pacific Coast, and the Galapágos Islands. That is pretty incredible if you think about it — four vastly different regions and ecosystems within such a small country. Due to its anthropological, geographical, and biological megadiversity, Ecuador claims four distinct “worlds” existing within its close borders. Read on for details on this fascinating and megadiverse country and to explore it through video clips.
While Ecuador is one of the lesser known of the Andean countries, it is baffling to many, especially Ecuadorians, as to why that is the case. And that’s because this little country at the top of South America is home to an astonishing array of wonders that include the magnificent peaks of the Andes; picturesque colonial towns and cities; the megadiverse Amazon rainforest; and the one-of-a-kind, rugged and alluring Galápagos Islands. While many people haven’t always had Ecuador on their bucket list, once they learn more about it, they do not want to miss out on all it has to offer. Whether it’s wildlife, nature, anthropology, language, or archeology, this megadiverse country never ceases to impress.
This video “Ecuador 4 Mundos” or “Ecuador 4 Worlds” outlines the four worlds existing within this little South American country, highlighting the immense biodiversity found within it:
The Andes Mountains
The Andes Mountains run north-south through the middle of the country and are the backbone of the nation. The country’s capital, Quito, is located high in the Andes Mountains. With fifteen different ethnic groups, the cultural diversity is great in the mountain region, which is known as “La Sierra” in Spanish. Most of Ecuador’s 28 volcanoes are in the highland region, with others in the Amazon and the Galápagos Islands. Due to its high altitude, La Sierra region has cool, spring-like weather with lots of sunshine. Visitors to La Sierra enjoy the colorful and friendly indigenous markets; the charm of colonial architecture and haciendas; and outdoor adventures in the cloud forest, near volcanoes, in national parks, and at hot springs. It is a naturally diverse area of untamed volcanoes, serene landscapes, and barren paramo vistas.
This short video shows views of a few of the mountains in Ecuador, including Cotopaxi Volcano, although there are many, many more:
The Amazon Rain Forest
The Amazon Rain Forest region hosts the world’s most biologically diverse natural habitats. It is home to millions of species of plants, birds, insects, and mammals. Known as “El Oriente” in Spanish, it is the country’s largest region and lies east of the Andes (oriente means “east” in Spanish). There are three active volcanoes in the Amazon rain forest region of Ecuador: Sangay, Sumaco, and El Reventador. Ecuador is the only country where there are three active volcanoes located inside the Amazon rain forest. The Amazon is the habitat of several indigenous ethnic groups including the Huaorani, Shuar, Ashuar, Kichwa, Siona Sequoia, and Quijos. Visitors to El Oriente can learn much about indigenous people who still maintain their ancestral traditions, customs, rituals, and medicinal plants, as well as learn about the magnificent flora and fauna that live here. Visiting the Amazon promises the adventure of a lifetime!
Produced by Napo Wildlife Center in Yasuní National Park,this short video on gives a glimpse into what it’s like to stay in the Amazon for a wildlife adventure:
The Galápagos Islands
Located just 600 miles off the coast of Ecuador, the Galápagos Islands are one of the world’s greatest natural wonders. Each island is a masterpiece of nature. The archipelago is made up of thirteen main islands, six smaller islands, and more than a hundred islets and tiny rock formations sticking their heads above the sea just far enough to support the tenacious lives which cling there. Sea lions abound here! These ‘Enchanted Islands’ are every bit as miraculous and magical as people have been saying since explorers and pirates first landed on their volcanic shores over 500 years ago.
This 2:47-minute video by National Geographic shows some of the spectacular endemic wildlife of the fascinating archipelago:
The Pacific Coast
The Pacific Coast is a lowlands region known as “La Costa” in Spanish. They run along the western coast and are home to rolling hills, dense mangrove forests, lush rainforests, and rushing rivers. Unlike the Andes, La Costa features a tropical climate and is hot and humid much of the year. With impressive beaches, visitors to this region can enjoy a wide variety of activities including whale watching, big game fishing, surfing, scuba diving, paragliding, and much more. And if that isn’t enough, the gastronomy of La Costa is sure to delight even the most demanding palate.
All You Need is Ecuador
Launched several years ago, Ecuador’s international tourism campaign “All You Need is Ecuador” was an unprecedented milestone in the country’s history. This message succeeded in positioning Ecuador as a quality destination on an international level.
Check out the video below – and think about all you could do while serving and traveling in this amazing country.
Explore Ecuador on a Volunteer Service Program
Global Volunteers’ Ecuador service program is conducted in the gorgeous Andean region of the country, and volunteers explore many fascinating sites both within Quito and outside the city while on a two-week service program. Some volunteers add pleasure travel either before or after their service program to explore other regions of Ecuador, including the Amazon Rain Forest and the Galápagos Islands. Whichever parts of Ecuador you explore, you will be stunned by the country’s gorgeous landscapes and fascinating biodiversity.
You may also like: