While the Galapagos Islands are high on most traveller’s bucket-list, many miss that Ecuador’s mainland wildlife is just as diverse and fascinating. Here photographer Chris Bray captures precisely that…
I’ve been running photo safaris to the Galapagos Islands for years, secretly exploring a little further afield each time we pass through Ecuador’s capital city of Quito. It is such an incredibly diverse country, in terms of both landscape and wildlife.
The misty foothills of the Andes mountain range rise only a two-hour drive from Quito, where the ‘Cloud Forests’ here are alive with hummingbirds.
Many luxury lodges also operate in the area, all boasting a spectacular array of these enchanting, iridescent birds. Toucans can also spotted, as well as a mosaic of butterflies, the occasional tayra (a formidable animal half way between a small bear and a weasel), even the odd jaguar is said to slip through these jungles.
Heading further east (ideally by plane), the mountains continue to rise forming an imposing chain of snow-capped peaks – even though they’re positioned right on the Equator.
Once on the far east side of the range you’ll find vast green catchment area which makes up part of the Amazon Basin, all still within Ecuador.
No visit to Ecuador is complete without spending several unforgettable days immersed here in the Ecuadorian Amazon, surrounded by monkeys, leaf-cutter ants, piranha, caiman (fresh water crocodiles), sloths, macaw parrots, different toucans, butterflies and so much more.
For the brave, guided night walks reveal critters including the infamous poison arrow frog and hand-sized tarantula spiders.
Couple all this with the famed wildlife of the Galapagos Islands just offshore – giant tortoises, iguanas, albatrosses, flamingoes, sea lions, seals and turtles – and you can appreciate the country’s tourism slogan: ‘All you need is Ecuador’.
Visit chrisbrayphotography.com to discover more about their two-week Galapagos/ Amazon/ Hummingbird photo safaris, as well as tours to many other unique destinations around the world including Iceland, Greenland, Antarctica, South Georgia, Patagonia, Alaska, Kenya and more.