Nature lovers from around the world are drawn to the rainforests, jungles, cloud forests, deserts, islands, volcanoes and snow-capped peaks of Ecuador, one of the worldâ€™s most bio-diverse nations. This tiny country holds 46 different ecosystems. Many private and public organizations work to protect Ecuadorâ€™s biodiversity, which includes 44 national parks and reserves, and several UNESCO Natural Heritage sites. The most notable of these regions are Ecuadorâ€™s portion of the Amazon Rainforest and the enchanted GalĂˇpagos Islands.
Whether you are interested in seeing some of the 2,725 orchid species growing in the wild in the Andes, or the 25,000 different species of trees in the northeastern Amazon Rainforest, Ecuador has what you're looking for. The Amazon is particularly rich in flora, partially because of its geographical advantage; the Andes sharply drop off into the Amazon River basin, feeding rich nutrients right into the rainforest basin. The Andes feature cloud forests rich in orchids, bromeliads and tropical plants and trees. In total, the Andes have an estimated 8,200 plant and vegetable species. Although the GalĂˇpagos Islands were volcanically formed and are largely barren, they are home to over 600 native plant species, and many more have been introduced.
The small country is also home to more bird species than exist in North America and Europe combined: a total of 18 percent of the worldâ€™s birds and 15 percent of its endemic bird species can be found in Ecuador. A million species of insects, 4,500 species of butterflies, 350 reptiles, 375 amphibians, 800 fresh water fish, 450 salt water fish species, and 1,550 mammal species crawl, climb, fly and swim throughout this bio-diverse wonderland.
Here are some related tips to help plan your trip to Ecuador: The South American Explorers' Club, History of Quito, When to Go, Floreana Visitor Site: La Loberia/Sea Lions Area, Fish in the GalĂˇpagos, GalĂˇpagos Health & Safety, Parrot Fish, Ruddy Turnstone, Getting to and away from Cuenca and Brown Pelican.