I haven't been to Ecuador yet, but after reading this article by Cher it inspires me to want to explore this amazing country.
Sitting right on the equator at the northwestern edge of South America, Ecuador is a family-friendly country with unparalleled opportunities to experience the wonders of the natural world. Bordered by Colombia and Peru, Ecuador’s provinces include the incredible Galapagos Islands just 1,000 km (600 miles) off the Pacific coast.
An Ecuador vacation is a perfect way to introduce the whole family to ancient human history, fascinating wildlife, and diverse landscapes from the Andes Mountains to the Amazon jungle.
Here’s why it makes for a great destination to bring the kids:
1. You’ll All Be Welcome
Ecuador has a young population with lots of children, and its people are very welcoming to girls and boys who visit. In this family-oriented culture, you’ll find lots of entertainment and educational activities geared toward the younger members of the family. Spanish is the official language, so while it’s always nice for travelers to learn some words and phrases in the local language wherever they go, English is the most-spoken foreign language and you probably won’t have to consult a dictionary too often.
Some hotels have babysitting services, playgrounds, and game rooms, and a number offer suites with multiple bedrooms as well as common areas where the whole family can gather after a day seeing the sights.
While you can certainly find restaurants offering sophisticated fare for an evening out á deux, on behalf of the small folks you might be happy to know that Ecuadorian food is not known for its spiciness. Children will especially love the traditional, fruity ice cream and the variety of candies made with unrefined cane sugar. On the healthier side, Ecuadorian food tends to center on savory grilled meats, seafood, and fresh fruit and vegetables, including delicious plantains that even picky eaters will gobble up.
2. Who Doesn’t Love the Rainforest?
Every child learns about it in school, but to see the rainforest up close and personal is an experience not to be missed, particularly in its current endangered state. The largest and most diverse rainforest in the world is in South America, representing over half of the entire planet’s remaining rainforest ecosystem, and it is habitat to thousands of species of birds, fish, and mammals, and an estimated 400 billion trees comprised of 16,000 species.
The portion of the Amazon jungle that extends into Ecuador is known as the Oriente, and is still home to indigenous members of age-old tribes. You can take one-day tours into areas close to towns, or stay at one of the jungle lodges that offer more time to hike through lush forests and ride dugout canoes through coiling rivers and a landscape teeming with exotic birds, howling monkeys, and other wildlife.
3. The Galapagos Islands Are Unique
A visit to the Galapagos Islands brings natural science to life. It’s a super-charged field trip to the famous location that inspired Charles Darwin nearly 200 years ago and today still boasts creatures and plants not seen anywhere else on earth. The giant Galapagos tortoises are among the most famous and recognizable, weighing up to 500 pounds and with life spans of over 100 years. Of the birds on the islands, the blue-footed booby, with beautiful sky-blue webbed feet is among the most delightful to behold. The Galapagos are also home to a huge number of sea dwellers including incredible rainbow-colored crabs, plus the smallest penguins in the world.
This string of volcanic islands amidst the blue Pacific is a short flight from Guayaquil or Quito, and once there you can stay in a hotel and take day trips by boat or you can book yourselves onto a live-aboard cruise (various ones accommodate a few dozen to 100 guests) and wake up at a different island destination each morning.
4. The Culture Is Intriguing
From the first peoples who settled the region 15,000 years ago, through the Inca civilization and the 16th century Spanish conquistadors, Ecuadorian culture is steeped in traditions. There are beautiful old colonial cities to wander, festivals to attend, great music to enjoy, ruins to explore, high-quality museums to visit, and an extensive variety of guided and self-guided tours to every corner of the country. Not to mention local marketplaces with fabulous handcrafts to bring home as souvenirs and gifts.
5. There Are Lots of Fun Things to Do
When you’re toured out, you can all let loose with some just plain fun. There’s horseback riding, snorkeling, scuba diving, kayaking, and a host of other activities, both wild and tame, for every member of the family.
Cher is passionate about everything to do with travel, and draws on her experiences in South America to share stories and advice with fellow travellers.
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