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Ecuador:

four universes in the middle of the world

Eduardo do Valle

David Aguillar, Evandro Rocha, Fernanda Frazão, Getty Images

It makes sense that Ecuador was named after the imaginary line that divides the globe in two: the country is a magical place in which four distinct universes coexist. On one side, the mysterious Amazon jungle. On the opposite side, the Galápagos archipelago and its almost untouched nature. From above, the Andes voice themselves through immense volcanoes, and, down below, perfect waves break in the imposing Pacific. In addition to the native peoples, the big cities, and the isolated communities. And fauna that, being among the most diverse on the planet, still has not been discovered completely. Below, check out four reasons to explore the four corners of this country, this cosmos at the center of the Earth.

 

Quito and the volcanoes

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Preserved historical buildings are common in the Ecuadorian capital, where it is possible to be at the center of the world geographically and symbolically. The city, however, is the starting point for a very popular type of tour in Ecuador, to the volcano route, which has over 40 volcanoes across the country. In the city, Pichincha can be easily reached by aerial tramway.

 

Guayaquil and the Pacific

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The biggest city in Ecuador is not a beach – but it looks like one! By the banks of the Guayas River, Guayaquil has the largest port in the country, and its Malecón, a boardwalk overlooking the river, is home to some of the coolest attractions in the city. For a seaside adventure, a two-hour drive will take you to the Ruta del Sol, a kind of Ecuadorian Gold Coast that connects the provinces of Santa Elena and Manabí.

 

The Amazon and biodiversity

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In the east of the country, cars give way to boats as green becomes omnipresent. The Ecuadorian Amazon is probably the most biodiverse place on the planet – still, it’s estimated that only 60% of its species have been discovered. The highlight here are the national parks, like Sumaco Napo-Galeras and the Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve, that offer an immersion experience into the forest.

 

Galápagos and conservation

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Unique species and rock formations have made the Galápagos a special destination for any traveler. The archipelago, famous for having served as the inspiration for Charles Darwin’s theories on natural selection, currently has great infrastructure for visitors, but the importance of its conservation has transformed it into a symbol of sustainable tourism in the world.