The treasures of Latin America Ecuador’s cloud forests are probably the richest diversity hotspot on Earth, home to 15-17% of the planet’s plant species, and almost 20% of its birds. Bears, jaguars, tiny tamarin monkeys, pumas, ocelots, anteaters, sloths, armadillos, anacondas, alligators, giant river otters and ocelots are among Ecuador’s most exotic residents. With more than 1,500 species of birds (700 more species than Australia) Ecuador is a bird-watcher’s paradise. Charles Darwin was inspired to form his theory of evolution by his visit to the Galapagos Islands and the dozens of strange creatures that exist here and nowhere else in the world, like the Galapagos penguin and the marine iguana. The seas of the Galapagos hold more wildlife wonders still, from tropical fish, giant turtles, manta rays and hammerhead sharks.