Imagine being in a place where you could be in 3 different ecosystems in less than 24 hours; A place where the climate changes drastically after only a couple hours on the road.
Imagine being in the hot and humid jungle surrounded by monkeys, birds and a variety of insects. After driving for a few hours, picture being at the top of a dormant volcano where you can see snow and feel the chill of the wind brushing up against your cheeks, while you see jumping alpacas passing by. Only hours later, you are in a beautiful beach drinking a delicious coconut juice surrounded by flying seagulls, watching red crabs in the sand, and enjoying the amazing weather.
Andean Region. Ph: Sofía Estrella
Seems impossible right?
As your mind wanders and creates these images, the beautiful possibilities seem endless. But, what if I told you that these seemingly imaginary places are real and they really are only hours away?
Well, they are real and are located in a small but magical place in the middle of the world called Ecuador.
Ecuador, the third smallest country in South America; where the Equatorial line divides the globe in two. There, the latitude is zero. There, the Andes mountain range crosses. There, biodiversity is at its finest.
Ecuador, is a country with only 109,483 square miles. For reference, it is smaller than the state of Nevada in the United States. With a population of 15.74 million, less than the population of the state of New York.
Even though, it is such a small country, Ecuador is known for its natural and cultural beauty. It is located in an amazing place of the world where you can find four different regions, the Coast bordering the Pacific Ocean to the West; the Andean region, where the Andean mountains go through; the Amazon, and the Insular Region, commonly known as the Galapagos Islands. Due to the different climates and conditions of these ecosystems, there is great diversity of plants, animals, and insects.
Though it be little, Ecuador is fierce. It holds an outstanding number of species of flora and fauna, relative to its size. It stands out from the rest of the world.
This small country, according to the Consulate of Ecuador, has 10% of all the planet’s plant species. It says that approximately 10,000 species are found in the Andes Mountains, 8,200 in the Amazon region, and 850 in the Galapagos. More than 2,725 different type of orchids have been identified in Ecuador and 25000 different tree species. Out of the 12 most important bio-diverse areas identified by the naturist Norman Myers, three are located in mainland Ecuador.
On the other hand, compared to Fauna, Ecuador has 8% of the planet’s animal species, and 18% percent of its bird species in the world. It also has approximately 3,800 species of different vertebrates, around 1,550 of mammals, 350 of reptiles, 375 of amphibians, 800 of freshwater fish, and 450 of saltwater fish.
Ecuador is also known for the more than one million of insect species, and the more than 4,500 butterflies species. All these plants, animals, and insects live in different regions in Ecuador, inherently living in different climatic zones. Even though it is a small country, it has 46 ecosystems. To mention some of them, there are moorlands, forests, valleys, and the Pacific Ocean. Research has suggested that the one of the most biodiverse ecosystems in Ecuador is in the Amazon region, which has a large tropical rain forest. It is the home of many different animals, plants, flowers, birds, and insect species.
It is an unbelievable experience to see the differences between the regions; it is crazy to think that you could be in a different region in less than an hour. Everything is so close that you are able to cross all over the country in car. However, there are specific zones of Ecuador that you are only able to get in by boat or a canoe. I am lucky to say that I was born in one of the most biodiverse country in world.
Would you like to come and see it for yourself?