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The Emerald Forests of Ecuador

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Ecuador is a South American country that borders Colombia to the east, Peru to the south, and the Pacific Ocean to the west. The easiest way to get there is to fly into Quito, which is also the capital. The adventurous way to get there is to start on the Caribbean coast of Cartagena, Colombia, work your way up the coast, para-glide over Medellin, and then fly into Quito from the east. For US citizens you can get a 90 day visa.

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In Quito, the feel is very different than Colombia. As you stand outside on your balcony at night in the cool air, don't be surprised to hear people laughing, singing, and playing flute music. You will find some expats here as well. Some formerly lived in Panama and wanted to see what life was like in a South American country.

The Amazon rain forest runs through Ecuador and it's popular for hardcore bird watchers, as well as those who want to get off the beaten path. Some just feel a strong calling to go into this mystical cathedral-like rain forest. It's best to go with a guide or a group. As is the case in many Central and South American countries, once you are away from the city and in the interior, you will come across some rural areas where life is extremely tough, but the locals will greet you with a smile.

Some people live in very remote areas and live by any means they can, but mainly farming. There are also isolated schools in the Amazon, and if you speak a little Spanish, they might appreciate you stopping by and volunteering a few days to help with the kids. If you are interested in organic farming, you will find plenty to see and learn from people who have been doing it for centuries.

As with all travel to foreign countries, be aware of your surroundings, and don't travel at night or alone. The jungle might look beautiful as you fly over it, but hiking inside a tropical rainforest can be dangerous, so be careful.

For more information please visit: Ecuador.

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