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Ecuador has four distinct geographic regions: the highlands, the Amazon, the coast, and a region of islands. The country’s official language is Spanish, but there are at least 13 Indigenous languages spoken throughout the country. It is a very biodiverse country, which is home to 8% of the world’s amphibian species, 5% of reptile species, 16% of bird species, and 8% of mammal species. There’s no doubt selecting from a list of Ecuador wildlife tours will deliver an incredible experience!
Ecuador, meaning “Equator” is located on the eastern coast of South America. It is well known to travelers, especially those traveling to the Galapagos Islands and in particular the Northern Islands. The Galapagos Islands were made famous largely due to Charles Darwin’s “Theory of Evolution” chronically his in-situ discoveries while on his own wildlife holiday – of sorts.
Amazon River Dolphin
The Amazon river dolphin is the largest of the river dolphin species which are known to develop a pink color that is more concentrated in males. They do not have fused cervical vertebrae like ocean dolphins, and this allows them to be able to turn their heads 90 degrees.
The Amazon river dolphin has a diet of 53 species of fish, making it the most varied diet of toothed whales around the world. They are classified as endangered on the IUCN Red List.
Where to visit to see the Amazon river dolphin:
The Amazon river dolphin is found in the Ecuadorian Amazon Jungle.
Consider taking an expert guide tour in Ecuador and learn more about the various wildlife that make their home in the Amazon.
Did you know that South America only has one species of bear? That’s right, the spectacled bear. The spectacled bear is classified as a vulnerable species since they face an uncertain future due to habitat loss. Characteristics of a spectacled bear include light-colored markings on its chest and face, round faces, and short snouts.
In popular culture, the cartoon Paddington Bear is a spectacled bear that hails from “darkest Peru”.
Where to visit to see spectacled bears:
While we don’t recommend seeking out spectacled bears in the wild, they are generally found in the cloud forests of Ecuador. Your best chance to see one would be one of Ecuador’s wildlife rescue centers or sanctuaries that takes in sick or injured animals.
Galapagos Sea Lion
Although they are not as large as their relatives from California, the Galapagos sea lion does not lack in size. These sea lions can weigh anywhere between 50kg and 150kg, with the males being larger than the females.
Galapagos sea lions are naturally social and curious, and they will often come into contact with humans. This can actually be to their detriment, however, as they will then come into contact with fishing nets, hooks, and garbage.
Best places to visit to see the Galapagos sea lion:
The Galapagos sea lion is found on each of the Galapagos islands making it nearly impossible not to see one on your travels.
Why not paddle alongside a Galapagos sea turtle on this exciting paddleboarding trip with Galakiwi?
Giant Tortoise (Galapagos)
Perhaps one of the most iconic of animals in the Galapagos, the giant tortoise is the largest living of all tortoise species. It is also one of the longest living vertebrates, with a life spanning 100 or more years. According to the IUCN Red List, the giant tortoise is considered vulnerable.
Conservation efforts remain a major focus on the Galapagos islands. The giant tortoise is protected and captive breeding programs alongside island restoration are assisting in the effort to restore populations.
Best places to visit to see a giant tortoise:
The giant tortoise prefers the climate of the highlands on the Galapagos islands. On several islands, including Santa Cruz, Isabela, and San Cristobal, you may be able to visit farms with free-ranging tortoises. This is the best way to see the giant tortoise without disturbing the habitat in which they live.
Get up close and personal while making a difference and enjoy exploring the Galapagos by joining a voluntour program with Bamba Experience.
One of the most recognized bird species in the Galapagos is the Blue-footed booby. These birds are most notable for their bright blue colored feet, yellow eyes, and brown wings. They are true marine birds, only heading to land to lay eggs and rear their young, so you will often see them plunging into the sea. They are avid hunters and will dive into the waters at incredible speeds of up to 97km/h.
The blue-footed booby male has a funny mating ritual which includes strutting his stuff and pointing his bill up to the sky. If the female likes it, she will join in his dance.
Where to go to see a blue-footed booby:
The best place to see a blue-footed booby in the wild is North Seymour. You may also see them on the islands of Santa Cruz, Isabela, Espanola, Pinzon, and Floreana.
Consider a responsible tour operator like Natural Habitat Adventures on a Galapagos Adventure. Under the tutelage of a naturalist guide, you will see wildlife up close in a way that does not put stress on the animals or the environment.
Marine Iguanas are not known for their good looks. They have funny squashed looking faces with wide-set eyes and spiky scales. Each island of the Galapagos is home to a marine iguana that differs in size, shape, and color.
Because the marine iguana spends so much time in the sea, they have developed special glands that help them to release the salt by sneezing it out of their nostrils. This is why you will often see a marine iguana with a salty face.
Best places to visit to see a marine iguana:
Various marine iguanas are found on each of the Galapagos islands. They may come in different colors and sizes with varying appearances, making each island visit unique and exciting.
Consider joining G Adventures on a small-ship cruise of the South, Central and East Galapagos islands. By visiting so many islands, you will have a much better chance of seeing a variety of animals you otherwise might not have seen.