Periodically, I long for the tranquility of unspoiled nature. Two ecolodges recently gave me the perfect excuse to decamp to Ecuador.
Surrounded by towering green mountains and overlooked by immense snowcapped volcanoes, Quito ranks among South America's most underrated cities.
The home and studio of Oswaldo Guayasamin, whom many consider to be Ecuador's greatest painter, still stands on its privileged hillside perch overlooking Quito.
Shopping in Quito can be a real pleasure, especially in La Mariscal, a neighborhood just northeast of the historic city center.
Nowadays, there are cruise options to suit a range of traveling styles, from luxurious larger vessels to plush yachts that hold just a handful of guests.
Lima is South America's food city of the moment, but Quito has started to catch up. On this visit, I discovered two restaurants worthy of note.
Even if you have no intention of keeping a "life list," it's impossible not to feel excited by the incredible variety of gorgeously colorful birds in Ecuador.
One of the most memorable activities at Mashpi Lodge was a night hike through the cloud forest with a view across a valley lined by jungle-clad mountains.
Most Galapagos itineraries include a visit to the Charles Darwin Research Station to see the giant tortoises, but you can see them up close at Rancho El Chato.
It's not just the birds that are tame in the Galapagos: As we returned to our boat, our guide noticed sea lions playing in the surf off nearby Mosquera Island.
Galapagos Safari Camp, the original upscale land base in the Galapagos archipelago, is found on the island of Santa Cruz.
In this month's issue, Mr. Harper details his trip to the Galapagos Islands and his stay in Quito. Two Boston hotels are also reviewed.
Watch Mr. Harper's video of wildlife encounters in the Galápagos while on excursion from Pikaia Lodge, including giant tortoises, sea lions, iguanas and more.
Watch Mr. Harper's video from his stay at Mashpi Lodge, a private enclave in Ecuador set in a cloud forest amid one of the world's biodiversity hot spots.