Welcome to Ecuador
Compact as it may be, Ecuador offers an array of activities for those seeking nature, history and culture. From its pretty colonial villages to its lush Amazonian rain forest, from its white-sand beaches to its snow-capped volcanoes, you’ll find much to love.
Start with a cultural immersion in Quito and Cuenca, known for their picturesque plazas and 17th-century churches. From there, venture to the Andean highlands to Otavalo, home to the country’s most famous market, a great place to pick up handcrafted jewelry and alpaca blankets. Venture to remote mountain villages like Vilcabamba and Zaruma.
Sail through the Galapagos Islands, where you can meet marine iguanas, sea lions and blue-footed boobies up close. Head to Mindo’s cloud forest to see how many species you can see out of the 1,600 that reside there.
Eat like a local, enjoying a plate of arroz con pollo or llapingachoes (potato patties stuff with cheese), washed down by a warm mug of coca tea (also good for staving off altitude sickness).
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Need To Know
- When you’re on top of Mount Chimborazo, Ecuador’s highest mountain and located along the equatorial bulge, you’re at the Earth’s closest point to the sun. The summit is also the farthest point from the Earth’s core.
- The Panama hat is a misnomer. This iconic straw hat is actually from Ecuador.
- The world’s first- and second-ever UNESCO World Heritage Sites are in Ecuador: the Galapagos Islands and the city of Quito.
- Place one foot in the northern hemisphere and one in the south in Quito. A new museum, Intiñan, marks the spot that was previously held by the Ciudad Mitad del Mundo (Middle of the World City) monument. Originally, it was though that the monument sat on the equator, but modern measurements show it to be 787 north, now the site of the museum.
- Guinea pig (cuy) is a delicacy in Ecuador. They’re roasted on a spit and served just about throughout the highlands.
Ecuador’s official language is Spanish.
When To Go
For warm weather, the best time to go to is December to May. For cool, dry hiking conditions in the Andean highlands around Quito, the best to time to go is June to September. The Galapagos can be visited year-round. Expect rainy weather throughout the year in the western Amazon region; August to November are slightly less rainy. And, finally, October and November attract fewer visitors, as the weather can be variable.
Quito International Airport
Mitad del Mundo Airport, Tababela
Passport must be valid at time of entry for six months beyond arrival date.
Visa Required By US Citizen?
None for stays of 90 days or less
The CDC recommends the following vaccines for most travelers when visiting Ecuador: Hepatitis A and Typhoid. Depending on where you are traveling, you may also need Hepatitis B, Malaria, Rabies and Yellow Fever vaccines.
Power plugs and sockets: types A and B. Standard voltage: 120V. Frequency: 60Hz.
Official local currency: United States Dollar
If self driving in Ecuador, be aware that some roads are poorly maintained and may lack crash barriers, guardrails, signs and streetlights. Due to a lack of sidewalks, many roads are also used by pedestrians. The Pan-American Highway is well maintained.
Use intra- and inter-city buses with extreme caution, as they are often the target or crim and robbery. The buses are generally overcrowded and poorly maintained, leading to numerous accidents each year.
Valid US driver’s license is required.
US Embassy Info
U.S. Embassy Quito
Avigiras E12-170 y Eloy Alfaro
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: 593-2-398-5000 or 593-9-9788-3222
Local Visitor Info
Free Tourist Information Center Ecuador
Sebastián de Benalcázar
N2-26 y Simón Bolívar Plaza de San Francisco
Quito 170401, Ecuador
Tel: +593 99 779 4529
Local Emergency Phone Numbers
Safety and Security
The crime rate is high in Ecuador. The most common crimes are pickpocketing, robbery and hotel room theft. Avoid car jacking or theft from your car at intersections by driving with doors locked and windows rolled up. Do not leave valuables in your car.
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