Tiny Ecuador, the country on the equator, is a place where indigenous cultures, nearly all of which predated the arrival of Columbus in the New World, live against a backdrop of Spanish colonial-era cities and buildings. It`s where viewing wildlife and dramatic landscapes can be combined with such outdoor activities as rock-climbing and hiking. Ecuador is very well-known for its craft markets, with towns such as Otavalo parlaying them into their main attractions. Ecuador is also known for being an up-and-coming beach destination, with quaint seaside towns waiting for you to discover them.
Visitors to Ecuador typically visit Quito, the capital; Guayaquil, the country`s second largest city and gateway to the Pacific Coast beaches; and the Galápagos Islands, located a little more than 500 miles off the coast of Ecuador, which many people visit after spending time in Guayaquil. Other great places we recommend visiting in Ecuador are Cotopaxi National Park, 90 minutes north of Quito; Cuenca, the beautiful city with Incan ruins and Spanish colonial-era architecture; Baños and Coca, the two `Gateways to the Amazon`; and Otavalo, Ecuador`s most famous market town.
Ironically enough, the best time to visit Ecuador is during its rainy season. Temperatures are milder, humidity is not too high despite the moisture, and skies are blue the majority of the time, even though the threat of a shower is always looming. The rainy season occurs between December and April.
We recommend approximately 7-10 days based on what you want to see and do. We offer flexible vacation packages so you can select your number of nights in each city, desired hotel and activities. We suggest a minimum of 3 nights in Quito and the Galápagos Islands.
We recommend seeing the different parts of Ecuador by air and by private transfer. Ecuador is a very mountainous country and it can be quite difficult to navigate in a car on your own. When the drive is too long or arduous, allow trusted drivers to take you to where you need to go via private transfer, in air-conditioned, late-model comfort. For longer distances, air travel is the way to go; TAME, the flag carrier; Avianca Ecuador; and LATAM Ecuador all offer domestic service between Quito and a handful of destinations in the country, including the Galápagos Islands.
In 2000, Ecuador discontinued its currency, the sucre, and adopted the U.S. dollar as its currency, although it currently does mint its own centavo coins and are circulated in the place of U.S. cents. No currency exchange is necessary if you are arriving in Ecuador with U.S. dollars.
Spanish is the official language of Ecuador. You will most likely find English speakers in Quito, Guayaquil, and in tourist areas, but apart from these places you will have trouble conversing in any language that is not Spanish (or the native Quechua!). Take some time to learn key phrases in Spanish, like hello/goodbye, please/thank you, how much is it?, where is the bathroom?, and numbers from 1-10. To ask someone if they speak English, say `¿Habla inglés?`