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Ecuador has an array of vibrant indigenous peoples, well-preserved colonial architecture, otherworldly volcanic landscapes and dense rainforest.
From the capital at Quito, you are no more than a day's travel from a jungle tour or wildlife photography tours through Amazon jungles, trekking up the slope of an active volcano, a sociable haggle with indigenous artesanos or a guided snorkeling tour along a tropical beach.
Somewhat more distant are the Galapagos Islands. Owned by Ecuador since 1832, the Galapagos are lauded as one of the world's greatest natural history treasures, their unique diversity of plant and animal life living laboratory for scientists and casual observers alike.