The country is marked by its diversity of landscapes between the different regions and is a land of contrast between the high snowy peaks, the beaches with crystal clear water, the density of the Amazonian forest, or the large urban cities like Quito. Ecuador is divided into several distinct geographical areas:
- The Pacific coast, the “costa pacifica” where the city of Guayaquil is located, is marked by a relatively dry climate and beaches renowned for surfing, such as Montanita. The Galapagos Islands, the jewel of the country, are located 1000 km away.
- The Andean part, “la sierra andina” where the capital, Quito, is located. This area is divided between the Cordillera Oriental where the Cotopaxi is located at 5897 m of altitude, which is the highest active volcano in the world. The other side is delimited by the Cordillera Occidental, we find again the two a depression that we call the corridor interandin. The particularity of Chimborazo is that it is the highest peak in the world, taking into account that it is the farthest peak from the center of the earth… a question of perspective compared to the Everest mountain range.
- The Equatorial Amazon, also known as the Oriente, located in the east of the country, is extremely rich in diversity with many protected reserves and national parks, which are authorized for bird and butterfly watching. The “bosque protector Mindo Nambillo”, also known as the world capital of birds, is full of dozens of hummingbirds, toucans and parrots.
- The archipelago of the Galapagos Islands is probably more famous than the country it belongs to and represents the pride of Ecuadorians and is classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This unique place of the world is located at nearly 1000 kilometers from the coast. You will go from island to island enjoying daily excursions to discover the absolutely unique fauna and flora of this natural jewel in the middle of the Pacific. Giant turtles, blue-footed boobies, multicolored crabs and much more, all to amaze you.
- Pre-Hispanic period: the oldest archaeological remains found in Ecuador are related to the Valdivia culture of the IV century before Crist.
- Colonial period: The Spaniards arrived in Quito, motivated by the quest for El Dorado. An expedition under the direction of Francisco de Orellana set out to discover the Amazon after descending the Rio Coca and the Rio Napo.
At the present time, the country’s economy is based on the export of bananas, oil and tourism. There is a great abundance of resources but the country has difficulty in developing, especially in relation to international debts.
Ecuadorian cuisine is mainly based on potatoes, bananas, manioc, yuca, rice and lentils, although all regions have different specialties. The portions are generally very generous and with ingredients from local agriculture with Spanish influences. Here are some recipes to discover during your trip to Ecuador, in order to taste the diversity of flavors:
- The “sopa de frijole” is a red bean soup with potatoes, squash and feta cheese. This traditional family dish is a must in Ecuadorian gastronomy.
- The “hornado” is a traditional Spanish-influenced dish, which comes from the verb “hornear” which means “to put in the oven” in French, with suckling pig with onions, cumin and chicha, the traditional drink of the Andes based on fermented corn and roucou, a red seed from the Amazon that serves as a natural dye.
- The fanesca, which is served mainly during Holy Week, is made with 12 grains, in reference to the 12 apostles, including lentils, white or red beans, peas, broad beans and corn.
- The rico coco is a tasty dessert made with coconut cream, vanilla and sweetened condensed milk. A typical recipe from the Ecuadorian coast “muy rica”, “delicious”!
- The “loco Albahaca” is the local cocktail made with basil, passion fruit, vodka, coconut milk and limes, which can be enjoyed on the Pacific coast by the beach!
- The “corviche” is the fried plantain fritter to be enjoyed as a snack when visiting the Pacific coast cities. It is made with a crumbled fish fillet, cilantro, onions and roasted peanuts.