It may be small compared to some of the giants of South America, but Ecuador more than matches its neighbours in terms of culture, natural beauty and diversity. Straddling the equator that gives the country its name, weather varies from humid and subtropical to more temperate in the highlands of the Andes. One thing that never changes, however, is sunrise and sunset; each occurring at 6am and 6pm every day of the year! Home to the famed Galapagos Islands, where iguanas are just one of the unusual species to be found, mainland Ecuador also has large tracts of wildlife-rich Amazon rainforest, and a Pacific coastline that teems with marine life. The capital Quito sits high in the Andes, and the old town – a designated World Heritage Site – is a delightful mix of 17th-century colonial architecture, plazas, and picturesque churches. Head inland to discover indigenous Andean villages, where you can buy arts and crafts.