The Andean Highlands, Ecuador

This patchwork of mountainous rainforest reserves brings rampant greenery at every steep turn. A visit here is all about the wildlife and the foliage, and sun-seekers and skinny dippers are in the wrong place. (Skinny hikers, however, would be fine, given the lack of people. Just remember the insect repellent, if that’s your bag). There are a few villages dotted about these ranges, but for most, the attraction is lodges that allow you to explore this glorious nature.

When to go

Daytime temperatures stay in the low 20s centigrade all year. Summer (December to March) can bring showers. Winter (June to September) is cool and dry.

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Getting there

  • Planes

    Quito’s airport, Mariscal Sucre International Airport (www.aeropuertoquito.aero) is in the Andean foothills nearby, with direct flights from Miami, Atlanta, Madrid, Amsterdam and several South American airlines.
  • Trains

    Ecuador’s train network (www.trenecuador.com/en) benefitted from a $280 million refit in 2006. It runs the length of the Ecuadorian Andes and takes in spectacular scenery (and has some very pretty steam trains).
  • Automobiles

    Car hire is possible, and Avis (www.avis.com) has sites across the country, but these mountain roads may be better navigated with a local driver. If you do drive, get a good GPS.