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Dear British Airways, please bring Ecuador closer.

Ecuador amazon napo wildlife centre man paddling across black water lagoon red oar flip

I'm not one for sleeping on flights. In fact it baffles me how anyone achieves such a feat - has ever there been an environment less conducive to nodding off? The constant loud hum of the engine, the occasional turbulence-induced wobble spilling your water, the constant flushing of the toilet, midnight curries (wine and coffee anyone?) and the temptation of all manner of blockbuster films and the box sets you never got round to watching whilst at ground level. That's to say nothing of the absence of pillows, duvets and a comfortable mattress on which to spread out.

So I took the opportunity to re-read Alain de Botton's Art of Travel on my overnight flight from Heathrow to Bogota. I paid particular attention to his reflections on travelling places, given that I was soon going to spend four and a half hours in the shiny new airport of a capital city whose country I'd never visited, during the dead of the night. It's amazing what you can learn about a country by the tat being flogged in the various 'products of xxx' shops. Colombia seems a lot more provincial and cutesy than I'd imagined.

I'm here thanks to British Airways. Well technically Avianca were the ones who provided my safe deliverance and onward travel to Guayaquil. But had my final destination been Peru, Chile, Brazil, Argentina, Costa Rica or Mexico, I could have been deposited directly there from British soil by our national carrier. Not to mention that I'd just flown direct to Colombia.

Visitors to Ecuador have options. You can fly via Bogota, Madrid, Amsterdam, Miami, Atlanta or (from May 2019) Paris. But none get you to Quito with such swiftness as just about every other major tourism destination in the Americas. Which leaves Ecuador in the same bracket as Uruguay, Paraguay, Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador and both Venezuela and Nicaragua, sadly beset by crippling political instability.

Quito's Plaza GrandeYou'll be seeing this sort of photo a lot if (when?) the flights are finally announced

It was a topic I discussed with our various partners, friends and acquaintances in Ecuador. The BA issue. It can't be a complete coincidence that our three most popular Latin American destinations are Costa Rica, Chile and Peru - a situation which appears to be reflected nationally, save perhaps for the beach goers boarding flights to Cancun. Besides the tremendous hard work and personal experiences which have gone in to developing unique itineraries into these countries, the biggest external factor driving demand is almost certainly the direct flights.

San Jose and Lima in 2016 and Santiago in 2017 were announced to much fanfare and heavy promotion and media attention soon followed. National tourists boards seized the momentum with expensive promotional activities. Journalists travelled around and shared their experiences in national papers, driving public awareness up. The Inca ruins, colourful frogs and Patagonian peaks were all brought 'closer than ever'.

I even remember Lonely Planet optimistically suggesting Santiago as a convenient city break option. It's a 14 hour flight.

So, in case it has escaped the attention of the decision makers at British Airways and in the homes of holiday makers across the UK, allow me to give you a gentle reminder of the charms of Ecuador.

What's in Ecuador? Well there's the Inca heritage and highland culture of Peru, the bird life of Costa Rica and the jungles of Brazil. There is scenery on a par with Chilean Patagonia and there are steaks (almost) as good as the Argentine variety. Its coastline is more interesting than the beach resorts of Mexico's Yucutan Peninsula. The colonial churches and architecture tops just about everywhere else. Oh and it has the Galapagos. Which alone should suffice.

Walking along rainforest trail in Ecuadorian AmazonThis could be you following Sina through the Amazon - fortunately you don't need to wait for the flights to do so

It has wonderfully welcoming eco-lodges run by people with a genuine interest in protecting fragile environments for the benefit of the wildlife. Road journeys are spent in the company of volcanoes, cloud forest or rolling farm land. The internal flight between Guayaquil and Quito is epic. Chocolate, coffee and an abundance of exotic fruits provide a treat for the taste buds. Walking, mountain biking, tubing, horse riding and kayaking are all established ways of interacting with the land (and sea). There are birds everywhere.

So if anyone from the route planning department from British Airways will lend me an ear, I'd be delighted to chew it off. I want to share everything that moved me in Ecuador and it seems your flights are the golden ticket to public awareness. For everyone else that isn't employed by British Airways, if you'll lend me your ear then I'll happily share everything and help you plan your holiday here. Even if you do have to fly via B to get to C.

And you know what? Bogota's international airport is actually quite nice.

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The Pothole is Pura Aventura's popular monthly email. We share what we love, what interests us and what we find challenging. And we don't Photoshop out the bits everyone else does. We like to think our considered opinions provide food for thought, and will sometimes put a smile on your face. They've even been known to make people cry. You can click here to subscribe and, naturally, unsubscribe at any time.

The Pothole is Pura Aventura's popular monthly email. We share what we love, what interests us and what we find challenging. And we don't Photoshop out the bits everyone else does. We like to think our considered opinions provide food for thought, and will sometimes put a smile on your face. They've even been known to make people cry. You can click here to subscribe and, naturally, unsubscribe at any time.

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