For a country only about the size of Nebraska, Ecuador makes the most of its space. This destination offers something for everyone, whether it's watching the sunrise over a beach along the Pacific Coast or horseback riding along the Andean plateau, rimmed with snow-capped volcanoes.
At a recent New
York exhibition showcasing "The Four Worlds of
Ecuador," Travel Agent learned about the country's diversity,
offering agents a world of selling points. Evident by its name, Ecuador sits on the equator in the northwest
region of South America, sharing borders with Colombia
to the north and Peru
to the south and east. It is divided into four distinct regions: the AndeanHighlands,
the Amazon, the PacificCoast and the Galapagos Islands.
Even during a short visit travelers can visit all four regions, experiencing
everything from snowy peaks to thick, humid rainforest teeming with life to white-sand
"When we were trying to figure out how to market Ecuador, I was looking at pictures of the
country, pictures of snow and then sand and then the rainforest," says
Patricio Tamariz, director of Ecuador's
Tourism Promotional Fund. "There it was staring me right in the
face—diversity. Is there another country this diverse? That's how we'll market Ecuador."
The nearly 20 vendors at the recent trade show held at the
Millennium Broadway Hotel in New York
City were promoting the country in the same fashion,
displaying information on everything from dolphin, whale and bird watching to
bungee jumping and bullfights, from mountain climbing to scuba diving and
But the country's landscapes and activities aren't the only
diverse traits of Ecuador.
There are 27 different ethnic groups that co-exist in the country. Many,
especially those in the Andean highlands and the Amazon rainforest, have had
limited contact with modern civilization and still live much the same way as
their ancestors did hundreds of years ago. Most Ecuadorians are willing to
share their traditions and rituals with foreigners, giving visitors the
opportunities to participate in cultural practices.
More Flights, Accommodations
The main airport is the GuayaquilSimónBolívarAirport.
Daily flights are offered from both the east and west coasts
of the U.S., with flights
from New York and Miami, some as short as four hours from the
latter city. Nonstop Delta flights from Atlanta
are the latest airline routes offered to Guayaquil.
Those flights, which began two months ago, are about six hours long.
Some of the best hotels available in the country include the
Hotel Patio Andaluz, a converted 400-year-old house in which the first
president of Ecuador
once lived, says Francisco Baca, hotel manager. The conversion from a historic
home to the present colonial-style hotel took four years and was completed in
2004. The best rooms are any of its 31 Deluxe suites, which, like most of Ecuador's
accommodations, are incredibly affordable. The Deluxe suites go for about $180
a night, including tax. Their biggest amenity are their ample living room
space, Baca says. A 10-percent commission is offered to agents. For
information, including booking, call Baca at 011 593 2 228 0830 or e-mail
The Mansion Alcazar, located 10 minutes from the
airport, has 14 colonial style rooms. Booking here will result in a 10-15
percent commission for agents depending on volume, says Mateo Estrella Durán,
hotel manager. The best rooms are its four suites, including the Royal suite
and the Mirage suite. Both cost $185 per night. The Royal suite includes an
antique French queen-sized bed, handmade furniture and a bathroom with a shower
and tub. The Mirage suite features hand-painted flowers on the ceiling and on
the wall, a king-sized bed and a window with a view to the garden. For more
information or for booking contact Durán at 011 593 7 2837 107, or e-mail
Another notable hotel is the Hotel Oro Verde, located
just eight minutes from the airport.
It has 230 rooms, is a member of The Leading Hotels of the
World and offers a 10-percent commission for agents. The Presidential suite at
the Hotel Oro Verde is the best room and goes for $500 a night. It includes a
dining room, cable TV, a safety deposit box and a stereo system. For more
information on the Hotel Oro Verde, including booking, call Lorena Garay C.,
tour and travel executive for the hotel, at 011 593 4 2327 999 ext. 7230, or
These and a host of other hotels are located in general
proximity to the airport. But instruct clients not to lounge at their resort
for too long, since Ecuador
has plenty to see. Essential
The Andes is one of
the most visited regions of the country. It is home to a large percentage of
the population and is well known for its glacial volcanoes and snow-capped
peaks. It also has historic cities, Indian markets, old haciendas, ancient
Incan ceremonial temples, churches, deep valleys and some of the best
goldsmiths and silversmiths in the country, among other attractions.
Located in the Andes is Ecuador's
which offers plenty for clients who appreciate art, nature, mysticism,
architecture, nightlife, archaeology, sports or adventure. Quito is 320 hectares and has about 40
churches and chapels and 12 museums. And it was the first city in the world to
be declared a "Cultural World Heritage Site" by the United Nations
Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in 1978.
In the first century A.D., nomadic communities discovered
the region where Quito
lies today. It became the capital of Ecuador
in 1830 when, after three centuries under Spanish rule, the nation of Ecuador
proclaimed itself an independent republic.
For the environmentally conscious client, the Amazon
is the country's haven for eco-tourism. Here, travelers can canoe, watch
wildlife and take part in guided hikes through forest trails.
Clients who want to catch some rays should head to the Pacific
coast. With more than 1,700 miles of coastline, Ecuador
is said to have some of the most beautiful beaches in South
America, with the mild weather and warm water necessary to fully
Located 620 miles from the mainland, the Galapagos
Islands were made famous by Charles Darwin, who wrote about
his studies there in such works as The Origin of Species. This island
chain, whose land mass is about equal to that of Pennsylvania, is made up of the peaks of
enormous underwater volcanoes. Having never been connected with the South
American continent, Galapagos' flora and fauna developed in complete isolation.
And to make everyone's lives a bit easier, Ecuador not
only accepts the U.S. dollar, the dollar bill is its main form of currency.