Why is Ecuador the best tropical country for nature photography?

9 +1 reasons to take the leap.

Articles | Photography Tips | May 2022

By Jorge Castillo, Lucas Bustamante, Frank Pichardo.

We usually struggle to decide where to travel next for our photo destination. There are so many options that we will definitely need another life to empty our bucket list. However, if we can maximize our nature photography chances, our list of places can be significantly reduced to sites with a higher concentration of animals and landscapes.

Among these highly-diverse places, and after a lot of research, info, and experiences (that we are sharing with you in this article), we concluded that Ecuador is positioned in the first place as a destination for nature photography.

As soon as you land in Ecuador, your inspiration will be renewed! The magic of the Andes will welcome you to your NEXT lifetime adventure. In Ecuador, regardless of your interest, there are countless opportunities to take your photography to a new level, together with the assistance and guidance of our Tropical Herping guides. Wherever you look, you will have the opportunity to photograph fantastic wildlife and landscapes in a country the size of Nevada in the US or the whole United Kingdom but with 30 times their biodiversity.

Why should I choose or prioritize visiting Ecuador? Here are some reasons to take the plunge and travel to this unique country:

1. Easy trip planning

The planes flying to Ecuador from the United States and Europe are frequent and often inexpensive. Several airlines have direct flights from main hubs such as Miami, New York, Atlanta, Houston, Amsterdam, and Madrid.

Since 2000, the official currency has been the US dollar, which will make it easier for visitors. You can exchange them at the airport once you land at Quito or Guayaquil international airports for those using other currencies Or simply use a local ATM to get cash.

Ecuador has direct flights coming from different airlines in the United States and Europe.

2. Great diversity in all animal groups.

Ecuador has 0.2 % of all the Earth's landmass, and in this small territory, we can find around 6% of all known species. As of 2022, Ecuador has 17.8% of bird species, 7.2% of mammals, 8% amphibians, and 4 % of reptiles worldwide. We aren't considering the diversity of plants, fishes, and insects, which continuously keep growing. This astonishing number has led the world to catalog Ecuador as a Megadiverse country.

By taking a trip with us, you will have the opportunity to see and photograph a good amount of this biodiversity.

Galápagos sea lion (Zalophus wollebaeki), Spectacled bear (Tremarctos ornatus) and Brown-throated sloth (Bradypus variegatus). Photos by Lucas Bustamante.

Club-winged manakin (Machaeropterus deliciosus), Ecuadorian Hillstar (Oreotrochilus chimborazo), and Hoatzin (Ophisthocomus hoazin). Photos by Lucas Bustamante.

Galápagos giant tortoise, Red-eyed Dwarf-Iguana (Enyalioides oshaughnessyi), and Rusty Whipsnake (Chironius scurrulus). Photos by Lucas Bustamante.

Andean Marsupial Frogs (Gastrotheca riobambae), Amazonian Poison-Frog (Ranitomeya ventrimaculata), and Chachi Treefrog (Boana picturata). Photos by Lucas Bustamante.

A school of fish in the Galapagos island, Sally lightfoot crab (Grapsus grapsus), and Praying Mantis (Callibia diana). Photos by Lucas Bustamante.

3. The easiest way to get into the Amazon Basin.

The Amazon basin begins in the foothills of the Andes. Some of the main tributaries, like the Napo and Pastaza rivers, have their origins in the Ecuadorian highlands, which generates an overlapping area where you will be able to find species from both the Amazon Basin and the Andean foothills!

You can reach this ecosystem in a short 30 minutes flight to Coca or Lago Agrio cities, or a 4-hour drive from Quito with a very scenic view of the changes in ecosystems from the Andes to the Amazon.

Napo wildlife center, Ecuadorian Amazon. Photos by Lucas Bustamante.

A canoe with guest paddleing in Añangu laggon, Ecuadorian Amazon. Photos by Lucas Bustamante.

A guest photographing the sunrise from the canoe, Ecuadorian Amazon. Photos by Lucas Bustamante.

4. The most untamed wildscapes.

Ecuadorian conspicuous oreography plus our unpredictable weather can give us dramatic landscapes. Regardless of your favorite animal to photograph, this high-contrast scenery perfectly represents the wildlife living on it.

By capturing the whole panorama, you will complete your collection of images that will transmit the feeling of being surrounded by this breathtaking environment. But also, your photos will not only document the animals but also will tell the story of their respective ecosystems and how they interact with them.

Galapagos Flamingo (Phoenicopterus ruber glyphorhynchus) in Isabela Island, Galapagos Ecuador. Photos by Lucas Bustamante.

Cotopaxi National Park, Ecuador. Photos by Lucas Bustamante.

Blue morpho (Morpho menelaus) Photos by Frank Pichardo.

Down town Quito. Photos by Lucas Bustamante.

Cloudforest, Eastern Andean Alopes. Photos by Lucas Bustamante.

5. Smooth ground and aerial transportation...
with isolated, comfortable and luxury lodging.

Because Ecuador is a small country with good transportation infrastructure, it's generally easy to move around. You can take short flights to any of the eight main regional airports (including 2 in the Amazon and 2 in the Galapagos) or drive to any destinations you are looking for short commute times.

You can take short flights to any of the eight main regional airports of Ecuador. Photos by Lucas Bustamante.

If your trip has ground transportation, in less than 3 hours from Quito, you can be in the cloudforest, closer to a snowy mountain, or at the Amazon "gates." For those aerial connections, most of the in-land flights have a duration of less than an hour, while the Galapagos is just shy of a 3 hours flight.

During the last 13 years, we have teamed up with local communities, governments, and other organizations to provide unforgettable and meaningful experiences to our guests while raising environmental awareness and conserving rainforests. All of this while staying in some of the most comfortable lodges and hotels in the country and the region.

6. Ideal to visit during all year round.

With its location right on the Equator, most Ecuador enjoys comfortable and tropical weather all year round. There are no marked seasons, and its weather variation is more significant during the day than during the year. Nevertheless, depending on which region you are looking to visit or what animals you are looking to spot, there are some elements to consider.

Thunderstorms in the Ecuadorian Amazon, Añango Lagoon. Photos by Lucas Bustamante.

Rainbow in the Ecuadorian Amazon, Añango Lagoon. Photos by Lucas Bustamante.

Cloud over Galapagos highlands. Photos by Lucas Bustamante.

Sunrise at Cotopaxi volcano, Ecuador. Photos by Lucas Bustamante.

Kicker Rock - San Cristobal | Galapagos. Photos by Lucas Bustamante.

The weather on the highlands offers sunny, clear mornings and cloudy, often wet, afternoons. Although between June and September, you will have more warm and dry days. Warm, humid, and rainy are the weather name in the Amazon throughout the whole year. Ocean currents influence the Galapagos and the coastal area of the country. Generally, the months between December and April are cooler and drier than the rest of the year in the Galapagos.

To summarize. You will be in the companion of good weather and ideal for images all year round. We have designed our tours and photo safaris, considering not only the weather but also the best conditions to sight the most wildlife possible during your visit.

7. Delicious local food and centenary culture.

You will usually hear that there is no better way to know a country by its food and culture, and guest what, Ecuador is not the exception! Ecuadorian culture and gastronomy have deep into their roots in the indigenous origin of its people, although it has found a way to merge with another more exotic cuisine. Most Ecuadorian dishes are based on plantain, cassava root (yuca or manioc), and rice. Different kinds of corn, quinoa, and locally grown vegetables are the companion of some of these meals.

Fanesca, a traditional soup for Semana santa. Photos by Milton Bustamante.

Artisanal Fishers of Ecuador. Photos by Lucas Bustamante.

Lots of these dishes are mainly vegetarian, such as the Locro, a tich potato base soup in companion with avocados. Nevertheless, Ecuadorian cuisine is rich in the use of locally-produced animal proteins such as beef, lamb, pork, and the traditional "Cuy" (roasted Andean guinea pig). If you prefer a vegetarian or vegan option during your visit, the chefs at our selected hotels and lodges will match you with the perfect local dish.

Regardless of the physical activity during your trip, you will return home with a few extra pounds!

8. Meet and learn from the best local crew of naturalists and photographers.

Our group of talented tour leaders are not only experienced and recognized photographers but also knowledgeable and charming local people. They have spent most of their lives in nature, looking for wildlife, documenting, and studying it. We will join you during your visit and take you to the best spots to observe the animals in their environment while sharing the most effective wildlife photography tips for the area.

Our guests at Napo wildlife center, Ecuadorian Amazon. Photos by Lucas Bustamante.

Our guests will get tips on how to improve their photography. Photos by Frank Pichardo.

Our tour leaders having fun at a bus stop.

9. You will always want to come back for more.

If you have already visited Ecuador, you might already be familiarized with some of our previous points. Therefore, you also might be looking for your next excuse to return. Ecuador has countless destinations and combinations of destinations. Each region (Andes, Amazon, Pacific Coast, Choco, Dry Forest and the Galápagos) has different micro-regions (and wildlife!) that you might find vary from one to another.

The humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) Isla de la Plata - Ecuador. Photos by Lucas Bustamante.

Spotted Torrent-Frog (Hyloscirtus pantostictus), Carchi - Ecuador. Photos by Lucas Bustamante.

Sangay volcano, Ecuadorian Amazon. Photos by Lucas Bustamante.

Jaguar (Panthera onca) at Yasuni national Park. Photos by Lucas Bustamante.

Pacific seahorse, also known as the giant seahorse, (Hippocampus ingens) from Galapagos. Photos by Lucas Bustamante.

If you have been to any destination in Ecuador on previous trips, our expert staff will help you to tailor your next experience up to your level. We will recommend the destination and get everything in place to make your visit unforgettable.

Do you think that is enough? Not yet! Here is an extra reason to travel to Ecuador with us.

+1. By traveling with us, we team up to help save rainforests, mitigate climate change, and prevent the loss of biodiversity.

Truck carrying out logs from the Choco Forest. Photos by Lucas Bustamante.

Truck carrying out logs from the Choco Forest. Photos by Lucas Bustamante.

Palm oil plantation in the Choco Forest. Photos by Lucas Bustamante.

Population expansion in the Ecuadorian Amazon rainforest. Photos by Lucas Bustamante.

Leave a footprint that will help the environment. By attending our trips, you are helping us fund our conservation projects. Our goal is to provide funding, purchase, and protect the critically threatened rainforests in the Ecuadorian Chocó. This purchased land will be incorporated into Fundación Jocotoco's system of reserves under the flag of the Save the Chocó project, which we helped to carve a few years ago.

Your visit will help us purchase an acre of rainforest. By doing so, that acre will keep 25 tonnes of CO2e from ending up in the atmosphere.

Take the leap. Join one of our upcoming tours

Why join?

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Our naturalists and photographers will take you to the best places to admire wildlife, and share our top tips to get the best photos.

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Your visit saves 1 acre of rainforest in the Ecuadorian Chocó region.

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By protecting that acre, you keep 25 tonnes of CO2e from ending up in the atmosphere.

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