Explore the highlights of Ecuador and the Galapagos
Diminutive in size, yet incredibly diverse, Ecuador lives up to the saying: ‘the best things come in small packages’. No trip would be complete without making your way offshore to the country’s biggest draw card, the Galapagos Islands, home to cannot-see-anywhere-else wildlife including giant tortoises and marine iguanas. Back on the mainland, wander the cobblestone streets of the Andean capital, Quito, admiring the colonial architecture that has earned its Old Town World Heritage status, or barter at the Otavalo markets for textiles, handicrafts and jewellery made by the local, indigenous people. Ride the Devil’s Nose Train along some of the steepest stretches of railway you’ll ever come across, hike through the Avenues of the Volcanoes or head into the Amazon rainforest, keeping your eyes peeled for toucans, jaguars and sloths.
Outdoor enthusiasts will find plenty to get excited about in Ecuador. Climb up (or hike round) one of 10 active volcanoes towering over 5000 metres, including the snow-capped Cotopaxi. Head to Baños, the self-proclaimed adventure capital of the country – walk to waterfalls, try kayaking or rafting in the rivers, bungee jump, paraglide or simple relax in the thermal hot pools. Practice yoru haggling skills in the Otavalo market, snapping up traditional handicrafts and textiles, or take a tour into the Amazon rainforest for spotting toucans, sloths and (if you’re lucky) jaguars
Carb lovers will be in food heaven with the potato, rice and bean-heavy cuisine of Ecuador. While differences exist between the coast, where seafood reigns supreme, and inland, focusing on meat dishes, snack foods are ubiquitous. Empanadas (deep-fried pastries with meat and potatoes) and llapingachos (potato-and-cheese cakes) are popular everywhere you go. You cannot leave the country without sampling cuy, or guinea pig, considered a delicacy. Fresh jugos, or fruit juices, are staples at most meals; if you’re looking for something stronger, sip aguardiente a strong, sugar-cane spirit translating as ‘fire water’.
First on everyone’s bucket list when travelling to Ecuador, is a visit to the Galapagos Islands. The unique ecosystem of this archipelago of volcanic islands led to Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution; here you can swim with sea lions and get up close to giant tortoises and marine iguanas. Walk the streets and visit the cathedrals of the UNESCO World Heritage cities of Cuenca and Quito; legend says that if the currently incomplete Basílica del Voto Nacional in Quito is finished, the world will end!
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Our popular hotels
Volcano And Luxury Beach Twin Centre
Experience Costa Rica's dramatic scenery without compromising on comfort on this tailor-made twin-centre, staying at two boutique hotels With a commanding view of Arenal Volcano and several thermal hot springs of volcanic origin, the hotel is a great base to explore your first location, the must see Arenal valley, an area popular for nature trails and hiking. Transferring next to the Nicoya Peninsula, on the Pacific coast, we have selected an eco-lodge nestled on a bluff, with its own nature reserve.
Nosara, Guanacaste, on the North Pacific Coast
Beside two rivers, expansive sandy beaches and lush woodland on the Nicoya Peninsula, this beautiful eco-lodge boasts its own private nature reserve. Huge numbers of turtles nest each year at a nearby beach (July - November) and the subtropical forest and mangroves are home to a diverse range of wildlife. Sunsets can be particularly good in this spot, too. Boutique, elegant and unique – this sums up Lagarta Lodge. On the Nicoya Peninsula between expansive sandy beaches, rivers and lush jungle, this is an excellent base for exploring the surrounding area on boating and kayaking trips, surfing excursions and turtle tours.
An imposing sight at over 5,000 feet tall with a perfect symmetrical shape, Arenal Volcano is one of Costa Rica's most popular attractions and it is located within fertile lowlands with natural hot springs due to geothermal activity. Hiking trails are available offering great observational points, and this area also features diverse rainforest to explore - try a canopy tour, river rafting for an adrenalin rush or walk across one of the hanging bridges.
Playa el Jobo, Guanacaste
Nestled next to an expansive beach, lush jungle grounds and surrounding mountains, this All Inclusive resort boasts a fantastic setting on the north coast of Guanacaste Dreams Las Mareas Costa Rica Aerial View ALL INCLUSIVE Dreams Las Mareas Costa Rica Surrounded by nature and wildlife this premium All Inclusive Dreams Las Mareas offers a memorable holiday for the whole family, situated close to national parks on Costa Rica’s Pacific coast. It’s an ideal base to enjoy the nearby attractions or to relax by the beach after a few days of activities and adventure elsewhere in this diverse country.