Ecuador is draped across the equator in the north-western corner of South America. It shares a disputed border with Peru to the south and east, borders Colombia to the north and abuts the Pacific Ocean to the west. The country can be divided into four regions: the western coastal lowlands, the Andean backbone, the eastern jungles of the Amazonian basin and the Galápagos Islands. The central highlands are composed of two volcanic ranges separated by a central valley, where much of the population lives. The highest peak is Chimborazo (6310 metres).

Puerto Lopez Mandala
Thanks to its climate and the variety of habitats (alpine grasslands, coastal swamps, tropical rainforest), Ecuador is one of the most species-rich nations on earth. Ecologists have dubbed it a ‘megadiversity hotspot’. Animals include several species of monkey, plus sloths, llamas and alpacas. Bird-watchers come from all over the world to see the famous Andean Condor but there are plenty of other bird species: about half of the 58 species found on the Galápagos Islands are endemic. Ecuador’s freshwater fish are equally exotic, but most visitors would rather not personally experience the amazing qualities of electric eels, piranhas and the tiny candiru catfish – which can swim up the human urethra and lodge there by erecting sharp spines.


The only thing predictable about Ecuador’s weather is its unpredictability. The country has two seasons, wet and dry, but local weather patterns vary greatly depending on geography. The Galápagos and coastal areas are influenced by ocean currents and are hot and rainy between January and April. This is an unpleasant time to be in these areas. From May to December it rarely rains and the temperature is a couple of degrees cooler. In the highlands the dry season is between June and September and also around Christmas, but the wet season isn’t particularly wet. Temperatures are generally spring-like and get no higher than 24 degrees centigrade. The eastern rainforest experiences rain year-round but July and August are the wettest months; September to December are the driest. It’s usually as hot in the east as it is on the coast.

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