Ecuador & Galapagos Photography Tours
A dazzling array of wonders is squeezed into this compact country. The Enchanting Islands: the Pacific archipelago of Galapagos, 1000 km adrift of the Ecuadorian mainland, has been called many things: evolution in action, a living museum, a ‘little world within itself’. And they’re all true.
Epithet after epithet was found too weak to convey to those who have not visited the intertropical regions, the sensations of delight which the mind experiences. —Charles Darwin
If an argumentative group of travelers sat down to design a shared destination, they would be hard put to come up with a place that would best Ecuador. Packed like a knee-cap between Peru and Colombia, Ecuador contains within its borders an improbable variety of landscape and culture. For the mountaineer, it is bisected by an epic stretch of the northern Andes. For the jungle explorer, there is a biological mother lode within the Amazonian Oriente. The sea-minded are rewarded with miles of Pacific coastline, to say nothing of the living wonders of the Galapagos Islands.
Not only are these regions highly defined, but excluding Galapagos they are also wonderfully contiguous. The entire country is about the size of Washington state, and it is home to some of the world’s most extraordinary national parks. In a matter of two hundred miles, the traveler can penetrate all of the mainland’s defining regions–the coastal lowlands in the West, the volcanic central highlands, and the rainforests of the East, or Oriente.
Ecuador’s climate is equally generous to the traveler. Embracing the Pacific, Ecuador rests squarely on the equator (hence its name). Here, seasons are defined more by rainfall than temperature. A warm rainy season lasts from January to April, and May through December is characterized by a cooler, drier period that is ideally timed for a summer trip.
Essence of Ecuador
The “focus” of our photography tours in Ecuador are The Galapagos Islands.
Ecuador’s most beloved and popular national park lies in splendid isolation about 960 kilometers off the mainland. Made famous by Charles Darwin, the Galapagos Islands are no less enthralling now than they were a hundred years ago. Every year, thousands of curious visitors journey to the remote islands to behold the wondrously variegated wildlife that inspired The Origin of Species.
Relatively young, the Galapagos sprouted out of the Pacific from a suboceanic lava vent on the ocean floor. This same process created the Hawaiian Islands, and it continues today in both island groups. In the Galapagos, the vent is gradually creeping east with the Nazca plate, forming more islands as it moves. There are currently sixty named islands, the principals being Fernandina, Isabela, Baltra, James, Santa Cruz and San Cristobal.
The climate in the islands is generally mild and comfortable. From June to December, the Humbolt current rises up from Antarctica, its cooler air bringing in the rainy season. In January, the Humbolt’s withdrawal allows the warmer equatorial current to move in, bringing with it a dry season that endures through May.
Ecuador has seen thousands of years of human habitation, with the ancestors of today’s indigenous peoples living in every corner of the country. Ecuador has a treasure chest of architectural wonders, with magnificent churches, cathedrals and convents looming above photogenic plazas – some of which date back to the 16th century.
Food & Wine
With towering snow-covered peaks and Amazonian rainforest, most visitors tend to overlook Ecuador’s coastline. This however is a serious mistake – some of Ecuador’s best dishes come from the north coast. The Afro-Ecuadorian province of Esmeraldas serves delicious seafood with African accents. For a truly sublime experience, try encocado, fish or shrimp cooked in a richly spiced coconut sauce. Better known is ceviche, a dish of uncooked seafood marinated in lemon juice and seasoned with thinly sliced onion, chili, coriander and other herbs.
Ecuador’s best known hot toddy is a delicious drink – called canelazo”– made from water boiled with real cinnamon, fruit juice and a dash of cane alcohol, that is sure to help warm you.
In the Galapagos we travel with small boats which allow us to swim with sea lions, roam inland verdant hills, or get us to hiking to vantage points overlooking the famous marine iguanas. The Galapagos Islands are formed of lava piles and dotted with shield volcanoes, many of which are periodically active. The striking ruggedness of the arid landscape is accentuated by high volcanic mountains, craters, and cliffs.
Best Time to Visit
July & August