- Experience the beauty of Ecuador with personalized excursions, vibrant culture, and delicious cuisine.
- Prepare for your trip to ensure a safe and healthy journey by researching visa requirements, vaccinations & budgeting.
- Support sustainable tourism practices by reducing our ecological footprint & supporting local businesses & animal welfare initiatives.
- Walking among giant tortoises in the Galapagos Islands
- Navigating the lush Amazon Rainforest
- Trekking through the breathtaking Andes Mountains
- Strolling along the cobblestone streets of historic cities like Quito and Cuenca
The Galapagos Islands, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, are a haven for nature enthusiasts. This archipelago of volcanic islands, located about 1,000 kilometers off the coast of mainland Ecuador, is home to an astounding array of unique wildlife, such as sea lions, marine iguanas, and the iconic giant tortoises. The islands also boast some of the world’s most beautiful beaches, including Tortuga Bay on Isla Santa Cruz, which has been recognized by Tripadvisor as one of the Top 10 Beaches in the World.
Maximize your Galapagos adventure by personalizing daily excursions around the inhabited islands. Many wildlife encounters are easily accessible without any cost, and there are plenty of affordable hotels on four of the islands. Just remember that the maximum stay for tourists is 60 days in a 1-year period, so plan your time wisely to fully explore these enchanting islands.
Amazon RainforestVenture into the heart of the Amazon Rainforest, one of the most biodiverse places on Earth, covering an area of 5,500,000 square kilometers in South America. As a part of Latin America, the Ecuadorian Amazon offers endless opportunities for exploration and unique experiences. Some of the activities you can enjoy include:
- Fishing for piranhas
- Spotting pink river dolphins
- Meeting with a local shaman
- Searching for elusive anacondas
Despite the vastness of the Amazon Rainforest, adhering to responsible tourism practices is vital to safeguard its fragile ecosystem. One way to ensure a sustainable visit is by staying at eco-lodges and joining guided tours that emphasize conservation and respect for indigenous cultures. These tours not only offer fascinating insights into the rainforest’s flora and fauna but also support the local communities that call the Amazon home.
Andes MountainsThe Andes Mountains, stretching the length of Ecuador, offer a dramatic landscape of snow-capped peaks, lush valleys, and shimmering crater lakes. Adventure seekers will find their ultimate playground with numerous trekking, mountain biking, and climbing opportunities. One of the most popular challenges is climbing Cotopaxi, a majestic volcano that reaches 5,897 meters above sea level.
For those who prefer a more leisurely pace, the Andes also offer scenic train journeys that provide an unforgettable glimpse into the region’s culture and history. The Tren de Hielo I, for example, takes passengers on a journey through the Ecuadorian Andes from Riobamba to Urbina, with a stop to meet Baltazar Ushca, the last ice merchant in Ecuador.
Historic CitiesEcuador’s rich history and culture are best experienced in its historic cities, such as Quito and Cuenca, both UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Wander through Quito’s Old Town, marvel at the Monasterio de San Francisco, and stand astride the equator at the famous Mitad del Mundo. In Cuenca, don’t miss the breathtaking view from the towers of Cathedral de la Inmaculada and indulge in a luxurious soak at the Piedra de Agua heated mineral baths.
Beyond Quito and Cuenca, Ecuador’s artisan towns in Azuay Province and the lively Otavalo market showcase the country’s rich cultural heritage and provide the perfect opportunity to support local communities by purchasing handcrafted souvenirs. As you explore these captivating historic cities, you’ll be immersed in the vibrant heart of Ecuador’s culture.
Preparing for Your Trip to EcuadorAdequate preparation is a must for a smooth and enjoyable journey to Ecuador. This includes understanding:
- Visa requirements
- Health and vaccination recommendations
- Currency and budgeting
- Packing essentials
Visa RequirementsEcuador welcomes travelers with open arms, and obtaining a visa is generally a hassle-free process. For most nationalities, including U.S. and Canadian citizens, no visa is required for stays of up to 90 days for tourism or business. If you plan to stay longer, you can easily request an extension through provincial migration offices.
For a hassle-free entry and exit, ensure your passport remains valid for a minimum of six months beyond your departure date. If you’re entering Ecuador by land from Colombia or Peru, register with the Ecuadorian immigration office at the border and provide your passport and travel details.
Health and VaccinationsStaying healthy during your trip to Ecuador is paramount. Consult a health care professional at least six weeks before your travel to discuss recommended vaccinations and health advice tailored to your itinerary. Some vaccinations to consider include:
- Hepatitis A
- Hepatitis B
- Yellow Fever
Currency and BudgetingEcuador uses the United States dollar as its official currency, making it convenient for travelers from the U.S. and easy to exchange for those from other countries. Credit cards are widely accepted, although carrying cash is always a good idea, especially in rural areas.
When budgeting for your trip, consider the cost of:
Packing EssentialsPacking for your Ecuador adventure requires careful consideration of the diverse climates and activities you’ll encounter. Essentials include comfortable walking shoes, a hat, sunscreen, insect repellent, a water bottle, and a first-aid kit. Clothing should be versatile and appropriate for the region you’re visiting, with lightweight, breathable attire for the Amazon Rainforest and warmer layers for the Andes Mountains.
In addition to clothing and gear, don’t forget to pack important documents such as your passport, flight tickets, and any necessary prescriptions for medication. With the right packing strategy, you’ll be well-prepared to embrace the wonders of Ecuador.
Navigating Ecuador’s TransportationEcuador offers a wide variety of transportation options, making navigating the country quite straightforward. No matter your preference, you’ll find a mode of transportation that suits your needs, budget, and travel style. Fasten your seatbelts as we journey through Ecuador’s diverse transportation network!
Ecuador BusesEcuador’s extensive bus network offers an affordable and convenient way to travel between cities and towns. With fares averaging $1 per hour of travel, buses provide excellent value while allowing you to soak in the country’s scenic landscapes. For added comfort, consider using shuttle buses or hop-on-hop-off buses, although these options may come at a slightly higher cost.
While buses are the most popular and efficient mode of transportation in Ecuador, safety is a critical consideration. The Ecuadorian government has installed GPS units on many buses and issued panic buttons connected to the ECU 911 Operations Centre to ensure passenger safety. Stay alert and keep your belongings secure to further enhance your bus travel experience.
Ecuador TaxisTaxis are a reliable and convenient mode of transport for shorter distances and city travel. Official taxis in Ecuador are easily identifiable by their bright orange license plates and registration number displayed on the side of the car and windshield. To ensure a safe ride, always check the driver’s credentials and make sure the taxi is in good condition.
When using taxis in Ecuador, negotiate the fare beforehand or ensure the taxi is metered to avoid overpaying. For added safety, consider using reputable taxi companies such as Taxi Express, Taxi Seguro, or Taxi Metropolitano.
Ecuador Domestic FlightsFor quick and efficient travel between distant destinations, domestic flights are an excellent option. Ecuador has several domestic airlines, including Avianca Ecuador and LATAM Ecuador. These flights conveniently connect major cities such as Quito, Guayaquil, Cuenca, and Manta, as well as the Galapagos Islands.
While domestic flights may be more expensive than bus or taxi travel, the time saved can be invaluable, especially if you have limited vacation time. Weigh the pros and cons of air travel to determine if it’s the best choice for your Ecuador adventure.
Ecuador Car RentalsRenting a car in Ecuador offers flexibility and independence, allowing you to explore the country at your own pace and visit off-the-beaten-path destinations. To drive in Ecuador, you’ll need a valid driver’s license and an international driving permit. Keep in mind that driving conditions and local traffic laws may differ from those in your home country.
While renting a car can provide an unparalleled sense of freedom, it may not be the most cost-effective or stress-free option for every traveler. Consider factors such as unfamiliar roads, local driving habits, and parking availability when deciding whether a car rental is the best choice for your Ecuador trip.
Experiencing Ecuadorian Culture and CuisineEcuador’s rich culture and delicious cuisine are integral parts of the travel experience. From learning about cultural etiquette to savoring traditional dishes and participating in vibrant festivals and celebrations, immerse yourself in the essence of Ecuador to create lasting memories.
Cultural EtiquetteEcuadorians are known for their warmth and hospitality, and understanding local customs and etiquette will help you connect with locals and avoid misunderstandings. A few tips to keep in mind include using a firm handshake and direct eye contact when greeting someone, dressing modestly, and respecting personal space.
Learning some basic Spanish phrases is another great way to show respect and foster understanding. A simple “hola” (hello) or “gracias” (thank you) can go a long way in making friends and enhancing your Ecuadorian experience.
Traditional DishesEcuadorian cuisine is as diverse as its landscape, with regional specialties reflecting unique flavors and ingredients. Here are some examples:
- Along the coast, seafood dishes such as ceviche and encocado de pescado (fish in coconut sauce) reign supreme.
- In the Andean highlands, comfort foods like locro de papa (potato soup) and llapingachos (potato pancakes) are popular.
- The Amazon region offers exotic ingredients like maito (grilled fish wrapped in leaves) and chontacuro (palm weevil larvae).
Festivals and CelebrationsEcuador’s calendar is filled with colorful festivals and celebrations that showcase the country’s rich cultural heritage. Some of the notable festivals include:
- Carnaval, celebrated in February or March, is a lively event marked by music, dancing, and parades.
- Inti Raymi, held in June or July, honors the Incan sun god with traditional ceremonies and feasts.
- Corpus Christi, a religious festival in June, features vibrant processions and intricate displays of sweets.
Attending local festivals and celebrations offers a unique opportunity to immerse yourself in Ecuadorian culture, providing unforgettable memories and a deeper understanding of the country’s traditions. So, let loose and join in the festivities!
Staying Safe and Healthy in EcuadorEnsuring your safety and health while traveling in Ecuador is crucial for a smooth and enjoyable experience. Here are some tips to help you stay safe and healthy:
- Be aware of crime and personal safety risks
- Know how to access health services and facilities
- Prepare for natural disasters and weather conditions that may impact your travel plans
Crime and Personal SafetyEcuador is indeed a stunning destination, but vigilance and necessary safety precautions remain paramount. Petty theft and more serious crimes, including violent crime, can occur, particularly in major cities and tourist areas. To minimize risk, avoid displaying valuable items, use reputable transportation options, and stay aware of your surroundings to prevent violent criminal activity.
Investing in comprehensive travel insurance is another critical step to ensure your safety in Ecuador. In case of emergency, your insurance provider can assist you with medical treatment, evacuation, and other support services.
Health Services and FacilitiesEcuador offers a range of health services and facilities, including private hospitals, to meet the needs of residents and visitors. In major cities, medical and dental care is available, with services in smaller communities and the Galapagos Islands meeting U.S. standards. However, when visiting remote areas, be aware that medical evacuation options may be extremely limited. Ensure you have a well-stocked first-aid kit and any necessary prescription medications.
Before traveling, consult a health care professional for personalized advice on vaccinations and health precautions to avoid potential health risks. It’s also a good idea to purchase medical insurance that covers emergency evacuation and treatment costs.
Natural Disasters and Weather ConditionsEcuador’s unique location on the equator and along the Pacific Ring of Fire makes it prone to natural disasters such as earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and flooding. To stay prepared for a potential natural disaster, monitor local media for the latest news and heed the advice of local authorities.
Weather conditions in Ecuador can also vary greatly depending on the region and time of year. Be prepared for the possibility of:
- heavy rain, especially during the wet season
- extreme heat in coastal areas
- cooler temperatures in the highlands
- strong winds in certain regions
Sustainable and Responsible Travel in EcuadorAs conscientious travelers, it’s within our power to ensure our visit to Ecuador positively influences the environment, local communities, and animal welfare. By practicing sustainable and responsible travel, we can contribute to the preservation of Ecuador’s natural and cultural treasures for future generations to enjoy.
Environmental ConservationSupporting environmental conservation in Ecuador can be as straightforward as:
- Reducing your ecological footprint during your journey by reducing your use of single-use plastics
- Avoiding souvenirs made from endangered species
- Using public transportation or carpooling when possible
Supporting Local CommunitiesBacking local communities forms a key aspect of responsible travel in Ecuador. Purchasing from local artisans, staying in locally-owned accommodations, and participating in community-based tourism not only contributes to the local economy but also provides you with a more authentic and meaningful experience.
By choosing to support local businesses and communities, you are directly contributing to the preservation of Ecuador’s rich cultural heritage and helping to improve the livelihoods of the people who call this beautiful country home.
Animal WelfareChampioning animal welfare also plays a key role in responsible travel in Ecuador. Opt for responsible wildlife encounters that do not involve direct contact with animals or exploit them for entertainment purposes. Additionally, avoid activities that may harm animals, such as riding elephants or swimming with dolphins.
By making conscious choices that prioritize animal welfare, you are not only contributing to the well-being of Ecuador’s diverse wildlife but also setting an example for other travelers to follow.
SummaryEcuador is a treasure trove of unforgettable experiences, from the awe-inspiring Galapagos Islands to the lush Amazon Rainforest, the majestic Andes Mountains, and the charming historic cities. With careful planning, preparation, and a commitment to responsible travel, you can make your Ecuador adventure truly extraordinary. So pack your bags, embrace the spirit of adventure, and embark on the journey of a lifetime in this enchanting South American gem.
THE AMAZON RAINFOREST
The Amazonian basin holds biodiversity and nature like no other place, you will be fascinated as you enter into another world surrounded by green vegetation and home to exotic wildlife. Amazon lodges and Cruises offer you a front row seat to this amazing ecosystem that doesn’t cease to amaze its visitors, have a look at the different lodges located in several regions of the amazon, make your pick and let us take care of the rest.ALL AMAZON
CLOUDFOREST AND SPA’S
The Cloudforest & Spa’s are the perfect getaway to get lost in the wilderness and tranquility of nature, rustic and modern retreats will blend with your surroundings. Lodges & Spa’s main objective is to create a refreshing and invigorating atmosphere perfect for nature lovers or couples looking for a remote and intimate location. Complimenting your surroundings you will find additional services that vary per retreat, private hikes with birding or natural experts, or a variety of spa treatments.ALL CLOUDFOREST
Day tours are a great way of acclimatizing to your surroundings and filling in between days before or after your longer tours. There is a wide range of day tours that can be arranged from Quito, the capital is strategically located to offer many day tours in the surrounding areas. Other regions might be more limited in the amount of day tours that can be offered. Day tours are also a great way of having an overall detour of a certain location without necessarily having to commit more then a day, perfect for travelers with limited time.ALL DAY TOURS
The very best destinations of Ecuador – all under one roof! our Ecuador trails (both short and long) are prearranged tours catering to themes such as mountaineering, couples getaways, natural retreats and much more! These have been carefully put together by locals that have literally traveled all around the country and know how to do it in the best way. Our prearranged tours can be used as a canvas, as a starting point per say, these can be completely customized and personalized to your liking and needs, let us know what you have in mind and we will work together to build your perfect Ecuador Trail!ALL ECUADOR TRAILS
THE GALAPAGOS ISLANDS
World known for its unique habitat, tameless wildlife, mind blowing landscapes and volcanic scenery, the Galapagos Islands are a dream holiday and a once in a lifetime trip, one of the most coveted and looked after Ecuador travel. There is a variety of ways you can approach the Galapagos, browse through the different ways you can get to know the islands, you’re only a few clicks away!ALL GALAPAGOS
One of the true beauties of Ecuador travel in the highlands is that they can cater to a broad range of travelers and count with easy access from nearby provinces where visitors can quickly get started with their scheduled activities. From Refuges and Parks that can be reached as day tours to appreciate the extraordinary view, to low peaks that can be used as introductory and acclimatizing programs for novice climbers, the highlands of Ecuador offer a unique introduction to climbing aficionados. For experienced mountaineers more demanding peaks like Chimborazo among others provide climbers with a remarkable climbing experience.ALL HIGHLANDS
Introduction To Ecuador
Slopes of Cotopaxi
Looking for that one stop where you can awake to the breathless view of the Andean highlands, and be put to sleep with the crashing of waves against the shore, or the sounds of crickets and frogs at night? look no further, Ecuador is a small little gem in South America that offers an unlimited amount of expeditions, tours, trails, markets and so much more, the only limit is your imagination.
Nature Rich Destinations
With 4 different regions found in Ecuador, the amount of diversity per land area is astonishing, it actually tops the list world wide. Nature rich destinations are found at every turn in Ecuador, it’s not uncommon for past visitors to return for more, and you often hear them saying that time spent in the country wasn’t enough. Ecuador is without a doubt a must stop if you are considering a visit to South America, come and be part of all that Ecuador has to offer.
The coastal region of Ecuador covers a third part of the country, its beautiful beaches, distinctive cuisine & warm weather all contribute to the high demand it has for locals coming from all over the country in weekends & holidays. Easily accessible by plane arriving to Guayaquil, Manta or Esmeraldas, the coastal region is the perfect way of complimenting your visit with surfing, whale watching or just enjoying yourself with some good old beach time.
Vast Amount of Expeditions
With countless destinations to cover in the country, expeditions are only as good as you want them to be, some typical combinations are: (Galapagos & Amazon) the perfect combination for wildlife & exceptional nature. (Quito Surroundings & Cuenca) Historical Centers at their best. (Avenue of the Volcanoes) an exhilarating and rewarding experience. (Beaches & Whale watching) Nothing beats sun and sea. (Cloudforest & Spa’s) An invigorating and refreshing getaway. These are only but the most popular destinations to get you started.
When To Travel
Bird under rainfall
Weather in Ecuador is one of the main reasons why the country is so abundantly blessed with nature & wildlife. Its strategic location & altitude play an important role in determining the many micro-climates found throughout the country, most of the highlands cities have a somewhat similar weather pattern. On the east & west side of the Andean Slopes a subtropical & humid climate is predominant but rainfall is completely variable.
There are no set climate seasons in the highlands of Ecuador, geographical location is the main determining factor, but the overall weather varies greatly. what comes closest that could be set as a pattern indicator is the dry season (June to September), & the wet season (October to May). December & January are a hit & miss where either season can occur or a mix of both. In general weather in Quito holds a steady cool climate from 14 to 19 Celsius on an average day, & drops to about 10 Celsius at night, rainfall is a different story and can happen at any time, Quitenos know better & its not uncommon to see them carrying their jackets & umbrella in a sunny day.
The coastal region with its subtropical weather boosts a warm & a rather welcoming climate all year round, befitting for the amazing & beautiful beaches found along its coastlines, the water as to be expected is warm & adds to the overall enjoyment. Climate seasons are not exact & vary somewhat with an average temperature of 22 to 27 Celsius on a regular day based on your coastal location. 2 seasons are to be expected in the coastal region, the Wet-Hot season (January to May) good sunny mornings in all their splendor, followed by regular afternoon rainfalls. Dry Season (June to December) is regularly met with cloudy-grey & misty mornings, and in most cases the sun shines brightly well into the day.
The rainforest as represented by its name has rainfall all year round, the intensity & frequency does however change during the year, this shouldn’t be a deciding factor when entering the amazon as wildlife & vegetation don’t vary significantly. (May & June) start displaying heavier rainfall reaching its peak months in (July & August). (Mid September to December) would be considered the driest months with light & less frequent rainfall. (January to April) rainfall is rather steady. Benefits of traveling with higher rainfall are healthy high streams in rivers reducing time travel in canoes, and lighter rainfall translates to better hiking terrain for manageable treks.