Ecuador is nestled between Colombia and Peru on the Pacific side of South America. Traveling around Ecuador is a beautiful experience. The food is incredible, there are lots of mountains and people are extremely nice. Adventure lovers will love to explore the Ecuadorian Amazon or to climb one of the country’s many volcanoes while other travelers can enjoy the sun of the coast between two surfing lessons.
WHAT DO YOU NEED TO BRING?
If you plan on exploring the country you’ll want to pack for four seasons because you’ll probably encounter most of them in a single day. Ecuador is known for having one of the most diverse climates – it can feel like winter in the morning, summer in the afternoon, and winter at night.
1- Sun-screen: Ecuador is close to the Equator, which means you will get sunburned if you aren’t reapplying at least SPF 50 sunscreen regularly. There’s just more direct sunlight at the Equator. No matter if it’s cold or cloudy you need to put sunscreen on. You can also find factor 100 sun-screen in the pharmacy there in Ecuador which is perfect for hiking.
2-Mosquito Repellant: You’ll need mosquito repellant wherever you are in Ecuador, and especially on the coast and in the Amazon. No matter where you are in Ecuador, you might end up going on a waterfall or jungle-y hike in the Andes, and there will be mosquitos there
.3-Swimsuit: If you’re going to the beach or hot springs, this is a given. But even if you’re going inland and in a cooler month, everyone will challenge you to jump in really cold waterfalls/lakes in Ecuador. Plus, if you do anything that needs a wetsuit (canyoning, snorkeling, etc), you’ll want this on underneath.
4-Layers: Ecuador has different weather between the coast, rainforest, and mountains. So if you’re going around the country, you’ll want to be prepared for different temperatures-. We suggest packing a lot of layers! Even within just the mountains. If you’re headed to the coast, the weather is more stable.
If you’d rather not bring too much, you can find clothing made from alpaca wool for extremely reasonable prices. Alpaca wool is very light and very warm! So feel free to pack light and treat yourself to some new clothes when you get to Ecuador.
WHEN ARE THE BEST TIMES TO VISIT ECUADOR?
Ecuador technically only has two seasons: wet season and dry season. But Ecuador has such varying altitudes, it really depends on where/when you visit.
January to May is the coolest, wettest time of year for most of the country. Navigating the Amazon can be difficult during this time due to road closures and flooding. Temperatures along the coast are milder, and it’s actually quite pleasant in the Galapagos as the ocean waters are calm and warm.
June to the end of September is very dry, and you’ll also experience some of the warmest temperatures in Ecuador. This is peak season, so you can expect higher prices for flights and accommodations. Temperatures near the coast are as high as 77°F (25°C), while in Quito the daily average is around 70°F (21°C).
October to the end of December is another busy time in Ecuador, and especially in the Galapagos Islands.
WHAT IS THE CURRENCY IN ECUADOR?
So the Ecuadorian currency is the US Dollar. Sometimes ATM will not let you take out big amounts, so you might need to take out US$ 100 three times instead of US$ 300 once. Not so funny when you pay fees on top of each interaction. You need to take into account that some smaller towns/villages will also not have ATMs/banks, especially on the coast.
WHAT TO SEE IN ECUADOR?
There are activities for every traveler in Ecuador. You can surf in the coast, you can visit the basilica del Voto Nacional in Quito, go rafting in Tena, canyoning in Banños, climb volcanoes in Pichincha, visit the beautiful city of Cuenca, go whale watching in Puerto Lopez, dive in the Galapagos, explore the Amazon Rainforest…
HOW TO GET AROUND IN ECUADOR?
Public Transportation – Bus is the most common, efficient way to get around Ecuadorian cities. A local bus ticket costs usually about $0.25 USD. Bus stops are really only existent in Quito – outside of the city, you’ll generally just have to flag one down and request your stop whenever it comes along.
There are hundreds of bus companies! Many of them will take you along the common backpacking routes, but also into more remote areas. Long-distance buses typically cost from $1-2 USD per hour. For longer trips, like the 10-hour ride from Quito to Guayaquil, expect to pay around $10 USD for a one-way ticket. A bus from Quito to Bogota, Colombia will cost around $40 USD. From Quito to Lima, Peru will cost around $30 USD. You can just show up at the bus station to get your ticket,
Taxis-are very affordable, but they’re only metered in Quito. A short taxi ride shouldn’t cost much more than $5 USD. Otherwise, you’ll have to negotiate the fee with the driver. Don’t be afraid to haggle! In rural areas, a taxi might actually just be a pick-up truck.
Train – Ecuador’s rail system isn’t the best way to get around the country, although there are day trips along routes that are specifically designed for tourists. The route from Alausi along La Nariz del Diablo (The Devil’s Nose) is one of the most popular, thanks to its terrifyingly steep descent.
Fly – Flying within Ecuador is affordable, with most destinations being serviced from Quito or Guayaquil. Ecuador’s airlines are: Avianca /Emetebe (Galápagos-based airline) /LATAM /TAME
Flights from Quito to Guayaquil cost as little as $45 USD! TAME will also get you to some smaller Ecuadorian destinations, like Quito to Loja for $85 USD. Flying to the Galapagos Islands is obviously the most practical way to get there, but it’s certainly not cheap. One way from Quito to Baltra (the busiest airport) starts from about $215 USD. Guayaquil to Baltra is about the same.
BUDGET TIPS FOR ECUADOR:
Ecuador is one of the most budget-friendly countries in South America.
1-Food: It is quite cheap and really good. Meals typically cost between $3-5 USD for local food. You can find food stalls on the street for around $1-2 USD. Western-style meals will cost around $10-12 USD. If you want to go food shopping, you need to head to the local market. Indeed, buying 20 bananas and a kilo of apples works out to under $3 USD! You can find meals for just a few dollars, making this the best way to eat cheaply in the country!
2-Last Minute Tours: Galapagos Island cruises are expensive. By booking your tour in Quito last minute, you can save up to 40% off the cost of the trip. You can also just fly there and see what is around too! If you’re flexible in when you go and can wait around for a spot to open, this is the cheapest option.
3-Water Bottle: A water bottle with a purifier will come particularly in handy in Ecuador since you can’t drink the tap water. Having a water bottle will save you some money and thousands of plastic bottles.
Ecuador is generally a very safe country. It has its share of problems like anywhere, so as far as travel tips for Ecuador go, follow the same guidelines you would anywhere else. You can check our article to learn more: https://www.ecuatraveling.com/is-ecuador-safe-to-visit/
Much of Ecuador is at high altitude, including Quito, which is at around 2,800m. As most tourists fly into Quito, this could leave you feeling rough for the first few days of your holiday. We suggest you waiting before attempting high altitude hikes or climbing any of the volcanoes until you’ve had the time to acclimatize. You should also keep well hydrated and avoid alcohol, which makes the symptoms much worse.
Seasickness is a real possibility during Galápagos cruises. December to May tend to bring calmer seas, but you’re still out in the open water – so bring medication.
Wear long-sleeved shirts and long trousers in the jungle, and use insect repellent. The coastal rainforests and mangroves are far worse than the Amazon for mosquito bites. Mosquito nets should be provided when necessary.
Don’t forget that while traveling abroad, is it really important to have travel insurance. Isn’t it important to be protected against unexpected cancellations and sudden health emergencies? We recommend Seven Corners! For more than 25 years, Seven Corners insurance has been helping travelers 24/7 and has helped people all over the world.
You can check it here: Travel Insurance
Written by Clémence Aubry