Picturesque colonial centers, Kichwa villages, Amazonian rainforest and the breathtaking heights of the Andes – Ecuador may be small, but it has a dazzling array of wonders.
Whenever people tell me they want to visit South America, but don't know where to begin, I recommend Ecuador. This is a country that seems to have it all: Andean peaks, Amazon rainforest, indigenous markets, colonial towns, sun-drenched beaches – not to mention a rather famous chain of volcanic islands full of fascinating wildlife. Adding to the appeal is Ecuador's (relatively) small size and its ease of travel (good roads and an easy-to-remember currency). But best of all are the Ecuadorians themselves: kind-hearted, generous and proud of the great strides they've made in the last decade, they are in fact the nation's greatest treasure.