Start your year traveling to Ecuador, one of the most beautiful and diverse places in South America. This small country will certainly amaze you, with a variety of activities, landscapes, and cultures that will definitively help you escape your winter blues.
Otavalo is a thriving market town that welcomes travelers from all over the world to its streets lined with vendors selling an incredible variety of textiles, clothes, jewelry, and musical instruments.
January is traditionally the warmest month for the northern Andes-lending itself to hiking, biking, horseback riding, and day trips spent exploring the foothills of the Otavalo’s neighboring volcanoes.
The people of Otavalo are proud of their crafts, and skilled weavers and artists welcome guests into their workshops for intriguing demonstrations, using traditional methods handed down from generation to generation. It’s best to start early when visiting the market. Merchants pack up early according to the crowd, and seeing the market in high gear gives you the full experience.
As with the coast, Otavalo, and the Galapagos- the Ecuadorian jungle at the start of the new year is typically the least rainy time of the year. There is a change in the cycle of the eco-system; new life and growth are found around every bend in the tributaries of the Napo River- deep in the jungle and surrounded by primary forests reaching up to the canopy.
Custom-made trips to areas where human development takes a back seat to the splendors of nature combine early morning canoe trips to parrot licks, observation towers from lodges on tranquil lagoons. Some of these include visits to nearby communities where the traditions of the river people span back in time for centuries.
The Galapagos Islands during the first months in the year are hot spots for both travelers and the creatures who live there. Blue-footed boobies are mating, sea lion pups are starting to take to the waters, and Galapagos penguins migrate to the western islands in search of cooler waters.
For travellers-the waters are warmer, the days are sunnier, and the archipelago is headed into one of its high seasons. In the highlands, the landscape comes to life-turning green and playing host to giant tortoises, Darwin’s finches, and a bevy of animals not found elsewhere. There is a fresh spirit in the air throughout the islands-a natural celebration that starts with the New Year and continues into the summer.
Because of Ecuador’s small size, all of these places are within reach during a few weeks on vacation in South America. The Galapagos Islands can be combined with jungle trips or mainland cultural adventures. Each region has something to offer-and helps to put a new piece of the culture into focus.