Ecuador comes to the fore Shining a light on this magical country

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One of the smallest countries in South America is having something of a renaissance in 2008, with the New York Times declaring it one of the top 53 places to go to this year, and Condé Nast Traveller magazine dedicating a sizeable chunk of editorial to Ecuador in its December issue. So what is the appeal and why now?

Well, Ecuador may be small, but it makes up for its size in an awe-inspiring display of biodiversity, history and culture. In fact it has the largest biodiversity per area in the world with dense rainforest and a number of national parks, including the Galápagos Islands, 600 miles off the Pacific coast. The capital of Quito, perched 9,200 ft high in the Andes, has been reborn after a seven year, $200 million renovation project of its historic colonial centre, which was already considered to be ‘the best-preserved, least altered historic centre in Latin America,’ by UNESCO. Surrounded by snow-capped mountains, Ecuador’s capital has, as Condé Nast Traveller points out, enough attractions to keep visitors busy for days. But when you tire of the churches, museums and culture, a walk around the streets admiring the colourful attire and bustling lives of the indigenous people will give you a delightful sense of the unique character of the place.

In keeping with the vibrant character of this spectacular country, accommodation takes on a special hue. Of course, there are upscale hotel chains, but Ecuador is famous for its beautifully preserved haciendas which have been converted into luxury boltholes. At Aracari, we offer five of the best haciendas, each with its own unique style and offering. One hacienda is built on an Inca Temple and overlooks the snow-capped Cotopaxi volcano, another one is Moorish in inspiration. Some are working farms, others grand estates. A few of them have superb “Quiteno” style colonial art and furniture within their walls, others impressive European period pieces.

Once settled, you can explore the dramatic volcanic landscapes on horseback, by vehicle or a combination of the two – or travel a little further to explore the rainforest, known as the Oriente. We have selected luxury lodges, deep within pristine areas of the rainforest, which specifically follow ecological and community policies, and offer the greatest opportunities for you to see the largest variety of wildlife in its natural habitat.

In short, Ecuador has it all, wrapped in a strong sense of individual identity. It is an easy country to travel around and small enough to experience all of the different qualities that come together in this patchwork quilt of a country. To discover more about Ecuador, please contact your Aracari representative.