Diverse Ecuador has more to offer than the Galapagos, discovers Chloe Cann on a twin-centre to Quito and the coastal lowlands
Drifting downstream around the curlicues of a lazy river in rural Ecuador, I’ve reached peak serenity. Tiny, teacup-size birds dart in and out of view: flamboyant indigo buntings and tropical kingbirds with vivid yellow chests.
Overhead, vultures soar as we cruise the olive waters in a convoy of inflatables, a thick corridor of greenery surrounding us. Tubing the Rio Milagro, or Miracle River, proves a delightfully sedate affair – until our guide Alfredo notices a new member of the group: a snake.
In front of us, a straw-coloured culebra is winding its way across the water. Yet the sighting merits little more than a fleeting shrug from Alfredo, who insists there’s no need to be afraid – it’s all just part of the scenery.
The Galapagos might be Ecuador’s most famous calling card, but there’s an abundance of flora and fauna to be found far beyond the shores of this hyper-touristy archipelago.