Ecuador is the latest travel destination to be offered to Australians, as part of a campaign to turn the equator-straddling country from a boutique destination to a mainstream one. Located on the west coast of South America, Ecuador offers Amazon rainforest, snow-capped Andean peaks, sunny beaches and a rich and varied culture – all in a country just eight per cent bigger than the state of Victoria.
While the holiday destination is perhaps best known for the Galápagos Islands, a collection of volcanic islands made famous by Charles Darwin and noted for their impressive wildlife, including iguanas, penguins, finches and the largest living species of tortoise on Earth, the country is also home to 50 surf beaches, one of the world’s most spectacular rail trips, a breath-taking avenue of active volcanoes, and the closest point on Earth to the sun, Mt Chimborazo. At 6268m above sea level, it is the closest due to the planet’s equatorial bulge.
Due to its diverse history, Ecuador also offers a number of historical sites, including attractive Spanish-style plazas, fascinating Incan ruins and intriguing traditional indigenous villages, still home to exquisite textiles and fresh produce markets.
For last-minute travellers, Australians can experience a taste of what Ecuador has to offer on a special tour this August offered by Australian travel operator, Active Travel.
The eight-day ‘Avenue of Volcanoes’ tour will begin in the Ecuadorian capital of Quito, the world’s highest capital city at 2850m and a World Heritage site famous for its Spanish-style monasteries, churches and mansions. Travellers will then journey to the small market town of Pujili, where they can see indigenous customs and clothing, before visiting the Quilotoa, a picturesque crater lake. The tour will continue to Cotopaxi National Park, home to the world’s highest volcanoes (up to 5987m high) and also forests, mountains, lakes, and wild horses, before visiting the Pailon del Diablo, Spanish for “Cauldron of the Devil”, a dramatic waterfall which travellers can experience at close quarters. Continuing the theme, the tour will then journey on The Devil’s Nose train, which zigzags its way around an Andes peak along the toughest stretch of railroad ever built. The tour also features a guided tour of the colonial town of Cuenca and ends in the city of Guayacil on Ecuador’s tropical Pacific coast.
The tour will run from August 15-22, 2015, and costs from USD$1640 per person, twin share. Flights are not included. For more information, including inclusions and how to book, visit www.activetravel.com.au or call1300 783 188.
For general information on Ecuador visit www.ecuador.travel