Peru, Colombia and Ecuador
A hotbed of wildlife biodiversity, ancient civilisations and thriving cities, the three countries of Colombia, Peru and Ecuador have their own culture and heritage, as Georgina Deacon finds out.

Ecuador, Colombia and Peru have their own indigenous culture stretching back millennia, but share a colonial history which has inevitably shaped each country. All three countries have a growing Spanish language teaching industry and providers often offer opportunities for volunteering in the local community or exploring the region's natural surroundings.

Colombia, widely considered to be the birthplace of the literary style magical realism, is an enchanting country, and cities such as Medellín and Cartagena on the Caribbean coast, are where this can be enjoyed best. Ericka Duncan at Universidad Tecnológica de Bolívar recommends getting lost in the Walled City of Cartagena, admiring the ancient fortresses and basking in the ambient salsa music coming from the many bars and cafés to really soak up the atmosphere.


Neighbouring Peru is home to the Inca citadel, Machu Picchu, as well as a "rich blend of coast, sierra and jungle", according to María Maldonado at Universidad Católica San Pablo in Arequipa, a city surrounded by three volcanoes and two of the world's deepest canyons in the south of Peru. Another natural highlight is Lake Titicaca, the highest navigable lake in the world, which is also home to the Uros civilisation who live on floating islands made of living reeds.

Nestled between Colombia and Peru is Ecuador, more compact in size but no less impressive. Karla Torres at GET Ecuador says there are four natural regions all bursting with biodiversity: the Amazon River; the Ecuador coastline; the Andes mountain range; and the Galápagos Islands in the Pacific Ocean.




"You can jump from the North to the South Hemisphere in Colombia and Ecuador as they both lie on the equator"




Get to know Latin America

Montaña De Siete Colores
Instagram filters at the ready for Montaña De Siete Colores, or Mountain of Seven Colours. This natural rainbow rock formation in the Andes, officially known as Vinicunca, is 5,200m above sea level and its colourful terrain can be explored on foot, but beware, it's a difficult hike!



Quito's magic
Aside from Ecuador's ecological beauty, Daniela Boada at Simon Bolivar Spanish School notes that the scenic views around Quito and the city itself are worth exploring. "Quito has some indigenous markets, like the one in San Roque or the cemetery of San Diego, that hide many secrets, stories, legends and live culture," she divulges.


Flower power
"Every year the city of Medellín dresses in the most radiant and beautiful colours to celebrate the floral variety and the beauties of its land," says Nicole Chacón at Centro Catalina Spanish School, describing the Feria de la Flores, which is held over 10 days in August.





Regional specialities


Before a day of learning Spanish and surfing, Gijs Piters at Montañita Spanish School in Ecuador recommends bolon de verde, "a typical Ecuadorian dish made out of plantains".

Ericka Duncan from Universidad Tecnológica de Bolívar in Colombia suggests arepa de huevo, "a round of deep-fried cornmeal dough, opened, filled with an egg and spiced mince, then re-fried."


In Peru, "Nobody should leave without trying out a good ceviche with just fish or mixed with other seafoods," states María Maldonado at Universidad Católica San Pablo. Another seafood dish to try is encocado de mariscos "based on fish, shrimp and shells cooked in coconut sauce and combined with rice and fried plantain", says Karla Torres at GET Ecuador.


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