Ecuador has a lot to offer the jaded traveler: jagged snow-capped volcanic peaks and looming Andes mountains, verdant jungles and centuries-old cities. Visitors find a country teeming with budget-friendly accommodations, food and activities, as well as warm and welcoming locals.
If there had been any downside to travel in Ecuador, it was a lack of transportation options, a worry that should be lifted in 2013 as the country unveils its revamped railway network. New lines will link Quito to Guayaquil, a bustling modern enclave with a funky arts scene.
Other notable routes will connect the Nariz del Diablo (Devil's Nose) peak with the 19,000-foot Cotopaxi volcano, creating the world's steepest stretch of railway.