I traveled to Ecuador in June of 2008 with an awesome group of students from Poolesville High School. Our 9 day journey included three days in the Galapagos Islands, a day trip to Cotopaxi National Park, and a number of days in and around the environs of Quito. I returned to Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands in July of 2011 on an individual trip.  Ecuador is politically and economically stable country with a strong emerging middle class. 

    The history of pre-Inca Ecuador is lost in time and legend. It is commonly believed that Asian nomads reached the South American continent by about 12,000 BC and were later joined by Polynesian colonizers. It is believed that centuries of tribal expansion, warfare and alliances existed among the pre-Incan peoples until the arrival of the Incas around 1450 AD. Despite fierce opposition, the conquering Incas soon held the region, helped by strong leadership and policies of intermarriage. War over the inheritance of the new Inca kingdom weakened and divided the region on the eve of the arrival of the Spanish invaders.
    The first Spaniards landed in northern Ecuador in 1526. Pizarro reached the country in 1532 and spread terror among the Indians thanks to his conquistadors' horses, armor and weaponry. The Inca leader, Atahualpa, was ambushed, held for ransom, 'tried' and executed, and the Inca Empire was effectively demolished. Spain ruled the colony from Lima, Peru, until 1739, when it was transferred to the viceroyalty of Colombia.
    As a Creole middle class began to emerge, there were several attempts to liberate Ecuador from Spanish rule. Independence was finally achieved by Simón Bolívar in 1822. Full constitutional sovereignty was gained in 1830. The country's internal history has since been marked by fierce rivalry and occasional open warfare between the church-backed conservatives, based in Quito, and the liberals and socialists of Guayaquil.
    Over the last 100 years, assassinations and political instability have increasingly invoked military intervention, and the 20th century has seen more periods of military rule than of civilian. In 1941, neighboring Peru invaded Ecuador and seized much of the country's Amazonian area. The 'new' border between the two countries - although formally agreed upon and ratified by the 1942 Rio de Janeiro treaty - remains a matter of dispute.
    Despite its history of internal rivalry and border conflicts, life in Ecuador has remained peaceful in recent years, and it is at present one of the safest countries to visit in South America.

Click Here to see Galapagos Islands Page
Click Here to see the full 2008 Photo Gallery

Student Images from Quito 2008

More Student Images 2008

Images of Mr. Stanton and Fellow Travelers 2008

Land and People of Ecuador 2008

Images from my trip in 2011