Finches, blue-footed boobies, and penguins often come to mind when people think about Ecuador. The Galapagos has attracted adventurers for centuries and is one of the best conservation efforts in the world. But there is so much more to this small South American country that many travelers overlook.

Ecuador has a bit of it all: some of the best preserved parts of the Amazon, the Andes, the coast, and yes, the Galapagos. Some locals like to say that you can experience a little bit of each climate in one day. And while we think that might be a bit of a stretch (or a really long day), we love that you can see so much variety in such a small amount of distance and time. Add to that the general stability and safety compared to a lot of the continent, and you have a winning destination. So yes, absolutely go to the Galapagos! But stick around the mainland a little while and you’ll see just how much this country has to offer.