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  • sueaitken7


Updated: Oct 26, 2023

Top of many people's travel wishlist is a visit to the untouched Galapagos Islands. But it's well worth including tome in mainland Ecuador as part of your holiday. the country is compact and easy to get around and roads are invariably scenic and journeys are of a comfortable length. Short domestic flights and a recently refurbished railway complete the transport network.

Ecuador is one of the continent’s most traditional countries; there’s a strong indigenous tradition in the highland villages, with cottage crafts and hand-woven textiles piled high in the lively markets and Quito is a most impressive colonial city. Ecuador is especially attractive if you are looking to take part in outdoor activities, visit local communities, enjoy breathtaking nature and relax in country farms or haciendas in exquisite scenery.

Cruising the Galapagos

There's a variety of different ships that tour the islands. Small vessels carry 12 to 20 passengers, medium 24 to 48, and large 90 to 100 at most. Small vessels are ideal when you want to meet like-minded people, as over the course of your cruise you’ll inevitably become a close-knit bunch. everyone sits communally at mealtimes. Medium vessels offer a good compromise between the intimacy of a smaller vessel and the anonymity of a larger one. You have more opportunities to find a quiet spot on deck and have time to yourself. They’re also a good mid-ground if you’re a little less confident about sea travel, as they offer more stability in the water. As you’ll see from the number of passengers, a ‘large’ vessel in the Galapagos is hardly gargantuan. They can be a good choice for families, as you’re more likely to encounter family groups. Many have built-in stability ballasts, so seasickness is less likely to be a problem. Large vessels typically offer more amenities and activities on board as well. It’s worth knowing, too, that a larger vessel doesn’t inhibit access to any islands — most islands are uninhabited and don’t have docks.

All vessels, regardless of size, will moor offshore, and you’ll journey to the islands in Panga boats.Vessels have set routes, allocated by the Galapagos National Park authorities several years in advance, and cruises can last from 4 to 15 days. A seven-night cruise is a good option, as it ensures you’ll see a wide variety of wildlife and geology across a handful of different islands without seeing the same species too often.

If you’d rather stay on Terra Firma, you can base yourself in one of the main towns (most likely Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz) and take day trips to different islands. Alternatively, you can island-hop, dividing your stay over two or three islands. Bear in mind you’ll still need to travel by speedboat to explore most sites.

Exploring mainland Ecuador

Depending on how long you want to be away for, there are plenty of interesting places to visit in Ecuador over and above the Galapagos. It's well worth considering... 1. A few days based in an Amazon lodge and explore the rainforest. 2. Staying on a ranch in the Andean Highlands. 3. Visiting the spectacular scenery along the Avenue of the Volcanoes.

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