A land once ruled by the Inca, with a rich native Amerindian and Spanish colonial heritage, snow-capped volcanic peaks, dense Amazonian jungle and Andean highlands, Ecuador is one of South America’s most exciting and rewarding destinations. Discover the UNESCO-listed old towns of the capital, Quito, and charming Cuenca, stand in the mysterious Temple of the Sun at Ingapirca, where Inca priests celebrated the solstices and browse colourful markets where indigenous people sell their handmade textiles. Our Ecuadorian tour is followed with a four-night cruise through the incomparable Galapagos Islands, which hold a pivotal place in the history of science. Little changed since Charles Darwin, then resident naturalist aboard the Beagle, first stepped ashore in 1835, this remote archipelago is home to unique wildlife which has evolved over millennia to suit these particular habitats. Darwin’s research here culminated in his landmark work, ‘On the Origin of Species,’ and a visit to these astounding islands is the ultimate adventure for any nature lover.