The Amazon Rainforest - life hums, buzzes, chatters and bubbles here more than anywhere else on earth. Here you can find a monkey small enough to fit in your palm, an eight pound toad, a spider that eats birds, and the anaconda. Our idea of a perfect vacation is to go looking for anacondas and tarantulas and there is nothing more relaxing and yet exciting than spending your days taking a walk in this endangered forest.


We spent 4 days in Quito and were lucky to have one clear day in the city when we got to see the snowcapped active volcano Cotopaxi in the far distance adding to this truly unforgettable, impressionable ambiance of this Ecuadorian city which combines both the old and the new. We went up the Pichincha volcano which stands at a colossal 4790m over sea level, which left us breathless in more ways than one!

Ecuador straddles the equator, from which it takes its name. It is considered to be one of the 17 mega-diverse countries (a group of countries that harbor the majority of the earth's species and are therefore considered extremely bio-diverse). The Galapagos islands are well known and famous as the place of birth of Darwin’s Theory of Evolution. This country was on top of our travel list mainly due to the fact that despite being on the UNESCO list, the Amazon and the Galapagos islands are endangered by a range of negative environmental effects threatening the existence of their exotic ecosystems.

We wanted to meet the 90 year young “Lonesome George” before his demise which will also spell the end for his entire Pinta Island Tortoise sub-species! We also have an obsessive fascination with the creepy crawly creatures that are inhabitants of the amazing Amazon. The leaf cutter ants, the toucans, the howler monkeys and the pygmy marmoset that is smaller than your finger, the list is very long and incredible. Not to forget the indigenous culture that is still prevalent all through the Amazon basin.


Giant Galapagos tortoises meander through distant highlands and prehistoric marine iguanas sun themselves on black lava rocks along the shore. Flightless cormorants and tiny penguins swim through the waters while the graceful finch, made famous by Charles Darwin, dart around on all the islands. While cruising from island to island, we crossed the equator multiple times.


Neatly situated between four impressive volcanoes, Banos is a little town with a lot of character. We stayed at the quaint Luna Run Tun resort located right on the slopes of the Tungurahua, which rumbles and sends puffs of smoke into the air above as you try resting at night. The local melcocha (sugar cane taffy) was delicious and our hike to the Pailon del Diablo waterfall was wet and wild.

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Copyright ©2008 Rajani Ramanathan