In the upper part of South America, Ecuador is a country of remarkable geographic diversity. It includes mountains, the Amazon River basin, colonial cities, and lovely beaches. It is considered an excellent choice for studying Spanish, as the language spoken there is quite clear in pronunciation and is almost completely free of influence from other languages.
Picturesque colonial centers, Quechua villages, Amazonian rainforests and the breathtaking heights of the Andes. Ecuador may be small, but it has a dazzling array of wonders. The capital, Quito, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is lined with photogenic plazas, 17th century churches, and beautifully restored mansions. Beyond the city, the Ecuadorian landscape unfolds in all its startling variety. There are Andean villages renowned for their colorful textiles and sprawling markets, coastal towns where days end with meals of fresh seafood and memorable sunsets, and remote settlements in the Amazon where shamans still harvest the traditional rainforest medicines of their ancestors.
Setting off on a trek into the Andes can seem like stepping into a fairy tale: there’s the patchwork of small villages, gurgling brooks and rolling fields, with a slowly wheeling condor overhead. Then the mists clear, a view of those towering snow-covered peaks comes into view, and the adventure begins – the challenging climb to the summit of a 5,000 meter high volcano.
Although the view from the top is sublime, you don’t have to scale a mountain to enjoy the Andes. These verdant landscapes make a fine backdrop for mountain-biking, horseback-riding or hiking from village to village, over nighting at local guesthouses along the way. Ecuador’s other landscapes offer equally alluring adventures, such as a surfing break off the Pacific coast.
Nearly 600 miles west of Ecuador's coast, the Galapagos Islands are often considered the greatest wildlife sanctuary on earth. A place so untouched by man that the many animal species here have no fear, these Pacific Ocean islands straddling the equator are the home of various species of birds, fish, sharks, penguins, seals, iguanas, rays, turtles, tortoises and much more. This island was the inspiration for Charles Darwin's theory of evolution. Wildlife encounters and diving are as good as it gets here, and the school can arrange trips.
The Amazon rainforest offers a vastly different wildlife-watching experience. From a remote lodge tucked away in the jungle, you set out on the rivers and trails snaking through the undergrowth in search of monkeys, sloths, toucans, river dolphins, anacondas and other creatures. Of course, the bird watching is unparalleled.
In brief, it’s an amazing country in which to study Spanish, and you’ll be delighted with the variety of adventures which will await you.
Travel – Fly into the international airport of Quito, opened in February 2013. The travel time into Quito is about 90 minutes. The school offers airport pickup service.
Most students arrive in Cuenca with a one hour flight from Quito. There are several daily flights. The school offers airport pickup service.