Ecuador is home to the highest active volcano in world, Cotopaxi in the Andes. With a peak elevation of 6,268 metres (20,564 ft), Chimborazo is the highest mountain in Ecuador, the highest peak in close proximity to the equator, and the farthest point on the Earth’s surface from the Earth’s center. Cayambe is the name of a volcano located in Pichincha province some 70 km (43 mi) northeast of Quito, and is the third highest mountain in Ecuador. (See Wikipedia List of volcanoes in Ecuador.) Cayambe Coca Ecological Reserve is a nature reserve located along the Equator a little over 38 km (24 mi) from Quito. Bosque Nublado Santa Lucia, translated as Santa Lucia Cloud Forest, is a cloud forest reserve, located about 80 km northwest of Quito. The Galápagos Islands (aka Archipiélago de Colón) are an archipelago of volcanic islands distributed on either side of the Equator in the Pacific Ocean, 926 km west of continental Ecuador, to which they belong. (See Wikipedia List of national parks in Ecuador.) There are also a good number of private nature reserves, Reservas Privadas en el Ecuador. Environmental issues include deforestation, soil erosion, desertification, water pollution, and pollution from oil production wastes in ecologically sensitive areas of the Amazon Basin and Galapagos Islands.

Ecuador has a relatively well developed ecotourism sector, largely thanks to the Ecuadorean ecotourism association, Asociacion Ecuatoriana de Ecoturismo (ASEC). Amigos de las Areas Protegidas functions as a national ecotourism portal for Ecuador, originally sponsored by the Alianza Ecuatoriana para el Turismo Sostenible (AETS). The Smart Voyager program awards its green seal of approval to hotels and boats that meet a set of strict conservation standards; Smart Voyager is managed by Conservación y Desarrollo, an Ecuadorian citizens’ group that carries out both research and integrated conservation and development projects in a number of rural communities. Jatun Sacha Foundation offers volunteer opportunities in their reserves and biological stations. Ecuadorean mountaineer Marco Cruz operates Expediciones Andinas, a tour operator specialized in adventure tourism. Eminent ecolodges in Ecuador include the Black Sheep Inn and Casa Mojanda in the Andes, Bellavista Cloud Forest Reserve & Lodge, El Monte Sustainable Lodge and Santa Lucia Cloud Forest Lodge in the Cloud Forest, and Cuyabeno Lodge, Kapawi Lodge, Sani Lodge, La Selva Jungle Lodge, Butterfly Lodge, Yachana Lodge, Yarina Ecolodge and Napo Wildlife Center in the Amazon. Tambopaxi ecolodge is located in Cotopaxi National Park. Tierra del Volcan is the only ecotourism and adventure tour operator that owns three traditional Andean haciendas or ranches around Cotopaxi. Maquipucuna Reserve & Lodge and San Jorge Eco-Lodge & Botanical Reserve provide nature experiences close to Quito. Luna Runtún is a volcano spa south of Quito in the town of Baños. Tropic is one of Ecuador’s leading ecotourism operators. Expediciones Apullacta is an agency based in the World Heritage listed city of Cuenca, in the highlands of Ecuador. Tangara Tours and Guest House is an agency based in the coastal city of Guayaquil.

Conservación Internacional Ecuador (CI-Ecuador) works among other things with marine tourism, including the Galapagos. Tip Top Galapagos cruises owner Rolf Wittmer maintains a Galapagos tourism blog and newswire service. The International Galapagos Tour Operators Association (IGTOA) is another good source. In 2012, Silversea Cruises acquired Canodros S.A., the Ecuadorian tourism company that operates the ship, Galapagos Explorer II. Ecoventura‘s fleet includes three expedition yachts custom-designed for Galapagos cruising. Galaeco is a Quito based agency specializing in Galapagos tours.

Biosphere reserves:

  • Archipiélago de Colón (Galápagos) 1984
  • Yasuni 1989
  • Sumaco 2000 2002

IUCN members:


The “Republic of the Equator” emerged from the collapse of Gran Colombia in 1830 (together with Colombia and Venezuela). Ecuador lost territories in a series of conflicts with its neighbors between 1904 and 1942. In 2000, Ecuador adopted the U.S. dollar as its legal tender.


The Cofan people are an indigenous people native to Sucumbíos Province northeast Ecuador and to southern Colombia, between the Guamués River and the Aguaricó River (a tributary of the Napo River). The Secoya people are an indigenous peoples living in the Ecuadorian and Peruanian Amazon. The Shuar people (aka Shiwiar) are an indigenous people of Ecuador and Peru, members of the Jivaroan peoples, who are Amazonian tribes from the headwaters of the Marañón River. Pascual Kunchicuy operates locally guided tours into the Shuar region. The Curaray River (aka Rio Curaray) is a river in eastern Ecuador, part of the Amazon River basin, home to several indigenous people groups including the Quechua (aka Kichwa) and Huaorani. RICANCIE Eco-Turismo Comunitario en la Amazonia offers cultural exchange in nine Quichua-Communities in the Sumaco Biosphere Reserve (Sumaco Napo-Galeras National Park) on the Upper Río Napo. Papangu Tours is a Kichwa owned agency organizing community tourism. Heart of the Kichwa proposes tours to the shaman Don Luis near Kuya Loma on the Rio Napo. The Ecological Foundation Tiuti Wally organizes tours in the Mawka Llakta sector of the Sarayaku community in the heart of the Ecuadorian Amazon region.

Qhapaq Ñan (aka Ruta Inka) refers to the Inca road system stretching along the Andes through Ecuador, in preparation for World Heritage. A focal point for community tourism development in Ecuador is FEPTCE (Federación Plurinacional de Turismo Comunitario del Ecuador). Near the Cotacachi Cayapas Ecological Reserve, Runa Tupari Native Travel offers homestays with indigenous families. FUNDECOL (Fundación de Defensa Ecológica) is a conservation NGO organizing community tourism in the Esmereldas region on the Pacific coast. Guacamayo Tours & Rio Muchacho Organic Farm, based in Bahía de Caráquez, a beachside ecocity set on a peninsula separating the Pacific Ocean from the Chone Estuary, organizes volunteer opportunities. The “campaign of good tourism” (Campaña del Buen Turista) is operated by Quito’s Universidad de Especialidades Turísticas. The Pontificia Universidad Catolica del Ecuador (PUCE) in Quito now offers degrees in ecotourism (Ingeniero en Ecoturismo). Hacienda Abraspungo is a picturesque lodge located near Riobamba. South American Explorers operates a clubhouse resource center for members in Quito. Global Exchange organizes a number of “socio-environmental justice” reality tours to Ecuador.

World Heritage:

  • Galapagos Islands (1978, 2001)
  • City of Quito (1978)
  • Sangay National Park (1983)
  • Historic Centre of Santa Ana de los Ríos de Cuenca (1999)

ICCROM members:


  • Influenced and influential: the role of tour operators and development organisations in tourism and poverty reduction in Ecuador by LM Erskine, D Meyer, 2012
  • Machismo-Marianismo and the Involvement of Women in a Community-Based Tourism Project in Ecuador, South America by LN Duffy, RA Mowatt, HC Chancellor, 2012
  • Constructing Fair Tourism in Ecuador: The Case of Asoguabo by W Katajamäki, 2011
  • Heritage tourism in Latin America: cultural routes and the legacy of Simón Bolívar in Colombia, Ecuador and Venezuela by GG McQueen, 2011
  • In search of a nobler past: incanismo and community tourism in Saraguro, Ecuador by J Jenson, 2011
  • Short-term effects of tourism activities on the behavior of representative fauna on the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador by F González, 2011
  • Social-ecological resilience and community-based tourism: an approach from Agua Blanca, Ecuador by E Ruiz, 2011
  • The Slippery Slope of Tourism and Oil in the Amazon: The Story of Tena, Ecuador by A Beahm, 2011
  • Tourism marketing 2.0. in Ecuador at VisitaEcuador. com by E Guzmán Barquet, S Raymond, 2011
  • Conservation volunteer tourism at a reserve in Ecuador: effects of perceptions, discourse, and motivations on human-environment relations by KE Grimm, 2010
  • Tourism strategies for “advantaging” the Amazon rainforest region: The Ecuador model by MV Reyes, 2010
  • Academic Management System Of The School Of Tourism And Hospitality Of The Catholic University In Ecuador by P CARRERA, 2009
  • Basic english tourism guide to develop english skills communication and improve the job of brigadistas costeros (tour guides) from Salinas Ecuador by L Morocho, L Mercedez, 2009
  • Design and application of a data warehouse to provide tourism information of Ecuador for travel agencies, during the first term of 2009 by MÁ Escobar Guerra, 2009
  • Oil Tourism: Disasters and Destinations in Ecuador and the Philippines* by P Widener, 2009
  • The Amazon rainforest ecotourism industry of Napo, Ecuador by KMK Lemky, 2009
  • Community tourism in Ecuador. Understanding community-based tourism from within the community by E Ruiz, M Hernández, A Coca, P Cantero, 2008
  • Decision-Aid for Ecotourism: A Case Study of a Community-Run Project in Ecuador by C Zografos, 2008
  • The Construction and Influence of Local Gender Roles on Practice in a Global Industry: Ecotourism In Ecuador by JM Weinert, 2008
  • Turismo comunitario en Ecuador. Comprendiendo el community-based tourism desde la comunidad by E Ruiz, M Hernández, A Coca, P Cantero, 2008
  • Community-Based Ecotourism in Ecuador and Its Contribution to the Alleviation of Poverty by D Peaty, 2007
  • Economic Assessment Of Tourism In Ecuador’s National System Of Protected Areas: A Case Study Of Seven Tourist … by A Rodríguez, G Consulting, 2007
  • Ecuador, the Digital Divide and Small Tourism Enterprises by S Karanasios, 2007
  • Seizing the Lake: Tourism, Identity and Power of the Indigenous Peoples of Quilotoa, Ecuador by MB Noroña, 2007
  • Ecuador-a model country for a “new” tourism? by M Guthmann, HJ Kagelmann, 2006
  • Negotiating ‘indigenousness’ through ecotourism in the Amazonian Ecuador by C Zografos, J Kenrick, 2005
  • Ecuador: fostering environmentally sustainable tourism and small business innovation and growth in the Galapagos by J Valdivieso, B Toth, J Hanna, J Quintero, 2003
  • The Kapawi Indigenous-Corporate Partnership for Ecotourism in Ecuador by A Stronza, 2003
  • Ecotourism in the Highlands of Ecuador El ecoturismo en los Páramos del Ecuador by H el Porvenir, 2002
  • Indigenous people and local participation in tourism: two case studies from Ecuador by C Bont, W Janssen, H Dahles, L Keune, 2002
  • Practical strategies for pro-poor tourism TROPIC Ecological Adventures-Ecuador by S Braman, FA Amazonia, 2001
  • Tourism in humid forests and its impact on selected species of the wild fauna of Cuyabeno River, Ecuador by A Müllner, A Pfrommer, 2001
  • Eco-tourism and local development. Conceptual and theoretical framework and problems in implementation. Empirical evidence from Costa Rica and Ecuador by P Sjøholt, 2000
  • Defending our Rainforest: A Guide to Community-Based Ecotourism in the Ecuadorian Amazon by R Wesche, A Drumm, 1999
  • Tactical Tourism A Comparative Analysis of Rainforest Development in Ecuador and Belize by KA Gould, 1999
  • Meeting the global challenge of community participation in ecotourism: Case studies and lessons from Ecuador by ME Wood, 1998
  • New approaches to community-based ecotourism management. Learning from Ecuador by A Drumm, K Lindberg, ME Wood, 1998
  • Indigenous ecotourism and sustainable development: The case of Rio Blanco, Ecuador by D Schaller, 1996
  • Indigenous ecotourism: the Capirona programme in Napo Province, Ecuador by JG Colvin, SA Dembner, 1996
  • Nature tourism and enterprise development in Ecuador by MA Wilson, JG Laarman, 1988
  • Nature-oriented tourism in Ecuador: assessment of industry structure and development needs by MA Wilson, 1987

Ecuador Data