5 Reasons to Travel to Ecuador
Ecuador is a lively country filled with fascinating people, dramatic landscapes and unique wildlife. If you’re a seasoned traveler or someone who wants to start exploring the world, this is the place to go. The food, the views and the smiles make your travels there all worth while and easy. Check out some more specific reasons to travel to Ecuador below:
1. The Culture:
From the descendants of the Incas to the Afro-indigenous cultures to the isolated peoples of the Amazon, Ecuador is more diverse than you might think. Combined with a strong European influence, the residents of the capital of Quito have created an international hub teeming with colonial architectural treasures and gastronomical delights. Although part of the Andean highlands, the multicultural city is very different from the more rural areas of the highlands. The smaller settlements of the Andes offer a glimpse into the past stretching as far back as pre-Hispanic times. Although Andean culture is a collective term used to refer to the many indigenous cultures of the Andes, most came under the influence of the Inca Empire and now identify as the Quechua people. In almost all Quechua ethnic groups, many traditional handicrafts such as the traditional cotton and/or alpaca wool goods is not only an important symbol but still widely worn, not to mention perfect souvenirs to bring back home! The Amazonian cultures are smaller and not as unified, but possess noteworthy pride and preservation of tradition. A significant group, the Achuar people still to this day wake up early in the morning to drink a traditional tea, and share and interpret dreams as a way to bond and ensure the peace and safety of their society. They’re also amazing wildlife specialists and naturalists as they use the Amazon Rainforest as their highway and grocery store.
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2. The Galapagos Islands:
If you’re going to Ecuador, the middle of the world, you must stop at the Galapagos Islands. Charles Darwin saw the beauty of these islands before anyone else, and it’s no wonder why. Because of its position on earth, the Galapagos islands support many types of animals that would not be able to thrive anywhere else other than places closer to the poles. Penguins and sea lions are a couple of examples. But, perhaps, the most remarkable feature of these islands is their isolation, which continues to affect the unique evolution of many species. Animals have adapted specifically to each island, but also have adapted to not be afraid of humans because of ecotourism efforts and the lack of human settlement. Supporting numerous threatened and rare species is truly rewarding in its own right, but the history of the islands is something not to miss either. Beneath the surface of Floreana is a rich history of shipwrecked sailors, pirate-caves, and intrigue.
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3. The Wildlife:
Ecuador, particularly the Amazon Rainforest, is home to incredible animals found nowhere else in the world. All of them depend on the intricate complexities of the rainforest to survive. The exotic land animals living in the Amazon Rainforest include the giant river otter, mantled red howler monkey, colorful macaws, the pygmy marmoset, jaguars and three-toed sloths, just to name a few. Equally wonderful creatures live in the mighty Amazon River and its many tributaries: the Amazon Pink River Dolphin, loggerhead turtle species, eel and even river manatees. Many are endangered, and if we lose the Amazon Rainforest, we lose these animals. Of course, this loss of biodiversity would happen piecemeal, as one species goes extinct, other species that depend on them also dwindle as a result. And indeed, because many plants depend on animals for maintaining stasis by eating competing plants, dispersing seeds and more, the loss of any species would echo throughout the Amazon.
4. The Food:
As diverse as the people that call it home, Ecuadorian cuisine is also varying and delicious. The mountainous regions of the Andes typically serves pork, chicken, beef and cuy (guinea pig) as meat options. The meat is then served with hearty, carbohydrate-filled foods such as rice, corn and potatoes. You can walk into almost any small eatery and get hornado, roasted pig and potatoes. When venturing to the Amazon, yucca, potatoes and plantains are found in almost every meal. These starchy foods provide the majority of the calories in the Amazonian Achuar’s diet. Manioc root or yucca is used to make chicha, a ceremonial fermented drink of the Achuar group. While strolling through the quaint town of Baños, you can find melcocha in local shops. This colorful taffy is handmade right in front you, which is also very fun to watch…and eat! Keep your eyes out for Pan de yuca, as well! This cheese-filled bread is definitely the national snack along with patacones, refried mashed plantains.
5. The Amazon Rainforest:
The Amazon Rainforest is an unimaginable place to most of the world. Scientists proclaim this vast expanse of wilderness is the lungs of the world, but it can be hard to conceptualize what that exactly means. Trees perform the important task of absorbing and sequestering carbon dioxide, and the staggering number that grow in the Amazon is a critical feature of our planet that facilitates this vital function. The Amazon Rainforest is thought to account for around 10% of the Earth’s terrestrial carbon stores. Aside from being home to some of the greatest array of plants and animals in the world (of which scientists estimate we have discovered about 1/4!), the Amazon Rainforest is doing the world as a whole some pretty huge favors. With all this life and the Amazon Rainforest’s huge role in balancing our climate, it’s no surprise it is truly a wonder of this world.
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