Ecuador is a beautiful country straddling South America's west coast, on the south-eastern side of the Pacific Ocean. Its varied landscape includes beautiful Amazon forest, lush grassland, mountains and mineral-rich Galapagos Island. On the Andean lowlands at an elevation of around 2,085m, Quito, is well known for its mainly restored Spanish colonial center, including colorful, ornate, 16th-century palaces and other religious buildings. In the mountains at elevations above 2,500m, you can spot picturesque terraced houses with water-carved stone roofs and spectacular mountain scenery.
This Ecuador travel guide highlights the primary cities of Quito and Cusco as the best places to see in this spectacular country. Both cities, and several other cities in Ecuador, offer a wide range of activities to tourists, from white sandy beaches to colorful festivals and jungle sports. Visit Quito for a comfortable stay at one of its charming hotels, or stay at one of its eco lodges, where you will experience nature and culture in a different way. The Ecuadorian yucca is one of the world's most unique flora and fauna, and if you want to see it up close, visit Quito. The world's highest coral reef, the Pitons, can be seen from a variety of locations in Ecuador and seeing it with your own eyes is a must for any tourist to this part of the world.
Ecuador is home to a number of islands including Antigua, which boasts the worlds' largest unbroken coast line. No other travel guide would include these islands in their itineraries, but visiting them is highly recommended, especially if you are a big fan of wildlife. A Galapagos cruise is an ideal way to explore this lush wilderness, and you can even arrange a tour of the island using a Ecuador travel video. You can see many unusual animal species up close on an Ecuador tour, and to see them in their natural habitat is a sight to behold.
On your Ecuador travel itinerary, you will also want to consider some of the more remote and less explored parts of the Galapagos. One of the most popular and beautiful islands in the Galapagos, Isabela, boasts hundreds of different species of bird and even has several volcanoes which makes it a great destination for bird watchers. The Galapagos National Park offers visitors an unforgettable opportunity to view all of nature in her true glory and offers camping opportunities in various regions throughout the park. Hiking to nearby volcanoes is also available in several areas, and is a popular activity among Ecuadorian tourists.
Ecuador is a great place to visit for almost any type of trip, including outdoor activities. Its geography and climate make it an excellent choice for hiking and climbing, as well as sailing and water sports. Ecuadorian tour boats offer the best places to view the land and sea, and you can even arrange an Ecuador tour boat cruise to see the flora and fauna in their natural habitats. There are a few high altitude treks available in the Galapagos that offer wonderful scenery. Whether you enjoy camping, hiking, or sailing, Ecuador is the perfect location for a Ecuador travel itinerary.
For those who like to take things a step further, Ecuador is home to some amazing walking tours. The Galapagos Islands was formed due to volcanic activity, and they are teeming with flora and fauna. The lush landscape along the islands offers an array of hiking trails to walk through and there are even walking tours that allow you to go on horseback. It is highly recommended that you bring a hiking boot, because the terrain on the islands can be very steep at times.
If you would rather not pack your hiking boots, or if you just want to get a little further into the rainforest, you will find that a visit to the historic center of Quito is highly recommended. Quito is the capital of Ecuador, and is the most historically-significant city in the country. You can get tours of the historic center from a number of Ecuador tour companies, and there are also taxis that offer this type of transportation. If you do end up renting a taxi in Quito, you might also want to consider the opportunity to mingle with some of the local Ecuadorians.
Ecuador is served by two major highways: Corozol and Merco. If you would rather explore Ecuador by foot, then you can get around by bus, which can get you from the airport to the different regions of Ecuador. The bus system is quite convenient, but the buses can get pretty crowded. So, if you are planning on a long trip, it might be better to rent a cab or go by bicycle. The total cycle time for four hours hike is about forty minutes, so you should have plenty of time to relax and get recharged.
Up to date information for vaccinations before you travel to Ecuador are available from the NHS Fit for Travel website.
Review the latest FCDO Travel Advice before travelling to or from Ecuador
The dry season from late May and June to November is unpleasantly cool, muggy and overcast. So if you like lying on beaches, then the rainy season from December / January to April / May is surprisingly the best time to visit Ecuador.
You can visit Ecuador without a visa, but you may be asked about your reason for travel and to provide evidence of a return or onward flight/bus ticket when you arrive. On arrival in the country, you'll normally be allowed to remain in Ecuador for up to 90 days per year.
See which forms you may need for entry into Ecuador.
The official currency of Ecuador is the United States Dollar (USD). If you're looking to transfer or spend money in Ecuador you can grab amazing United States Dollar deals via Wise.com (GBP to USD).
Over 300 species of mammals have been recorded in Ecuador including the rare Andean spectacled bear, monkeys (including spider, howler, woolly, capuchin and squirrel monkeys), marmosets, tamarins, two and three-toed sloths, deer, Andean foxes, llamas, vicuñas, anteaters, armadillos, agoutis, capybaras, peccaries.
Spanish food? Ecuadorian main meals, especially at lunch or almuerzo time, usually consist of meat, poultry or seafood with side dishes of rice and/or potatoes, a small salad, plantains (ripe or green), and some hot sauce on the side.
You can typically expect to pay around £1.27p for an equivalent pint of lager or beer.
Ecuador's official language is Spanish, but Quichua, an Inca language, is spokenby the Indian population. Besides Spanish, ten native languages are spoken in Ecuador. English is the most spoken foreign language amongst tourist providers and professionals. You can learn some basic Spanish before you travel to Ecuador and really impress the locals!
The currency in Ecuador is the United States Dollar (For a group tour a gratuity of about $5 per person per day and about $2-$3 for the driver is appropriate. If you hire a private guide, tip about $10 per day.).
The GMT time difference is -5 hours