Ecuador conjures up images of pristine rainforests and exotic wildlife. It’s also a little less travelled than its neighbour, Peru, although there’s a fair share of US expats here thanks to the country’s adoption of the dollar as their currency. Although on the one hand, travel is made easier by the much shorter distances (goodbye 21 hour bus journeys), the buses are certainly not up to the five star standards of Chile and Argentina and we’ve been told to watch our backs and our bags.

In fact, we fall victim to some light fingers almost as soon as we have crossed the border. Our day bags on the floor by our feet, Rich reaches down to find his bag open and his laptop halfway out. Later, we discover they’ve robbed $100 out of the wallet in the front pocket. Thankfully, the camera, laptop and credit cards are all safe. We’re angry but also relieved they didn’t get anything more difficult to replace.


The anger is quickly replaced with fascination. As the light fades, the bus starts to make its way up into the Andean altitude again, only this time the roads are flanked by endless banana plantations. Ecuador is the world’s largest More >