Ecuador, a largely diverse country that straddles latitude 0° has four geographical regions: the Andes, the Amazon Rainforest, the Pacific Coast, and the Galapagos Islands. Here you can discover an amazing variety of landscapes, nature and culture: snowcapped volcanoes and beautiful mountains, ever-green rainforests and cloud forests, Indian villages and colonial cities, magnificent beaches and the fabled Galapagos Islands.
Ecuador facts and travel tips:
Population: 15,584,009 (2011 census)
Area: 256,370 Km² (99,027 square miles)
Language: Ecuador’s official language is Spanish. Kichwa (also quichua, thelanguage of the Incas )and shuarare official languages of ethnic groups. English is spoken in main touristic cities.
Religion: Roman Catholic
Local time: GMT/UCT minus 5 hours on Mainland Ecuador; and minus 6 hours in the Galápagos Islands.
Voltage: 110 volts, 60 cycles AC. Most outlets are for two flat prongs (like in the US).
Capital: Quito (2,800m/ 9,180ft.) Largest city: Guayaquil
Calling code: +593
Visa: check with your local Embassy if a Visa is required for travelling through Ecuador.
Personal documents: Bring your passport and keep the immigration entry form delivered when you enter the country (you may need it for departure). We recommend you make copies of all your documents and leave originals at your hotel. You don´t need passport to circulate through mainland. Original Passport is required for entry to the Galapagos Islands.
Currency: Ecuador’s currency is the US Dollar. There are currency exchange offices in the main cities. It is recommended to have small value bills ($20, $10, $5). $50 and $100 bills are not accepted in most businesses. Cash advances can be made at most ATMs in large cities.
Credit cards:Most hotels, restaurants and shops accept Visa, MasterCard, Diners Club and American Express. Traveller Checks are not common to be accepted in Ecuador.
Businesses: Most businesses are open from Monday to Friday from 8:30am-5:30pm. On weekends, most malls and shops are open.
Water: Tap water in large cities is potable and good for showering and brushing teeth. We recommend drinking water bottled mineral water.
Safety:Ecuador is a safe country overall but we recommend as in any large city, not to carry valuable objects, large amounts of money or jewelry. Take only a copy of your passport. It is better to take company taxis than to take one in the street.
Andes: Due to its proximity to the equator, the temperature in Ecuador varies greatly. Instead of having seasons, the climate is either in the rainy or dry season. There are extreme temperature fluctuations during the day, especially in the mountain valleys. After a cool, often sunny morning, the temperatures rise until noon. In the afternoon it rains mainly from November to May, and in the evening cools down. In one day the temperature can vary from 7 to 22 degrees celsius.
Pacific Coast: The coastal lowlands are tropical, warm and humid throughout the year with average temperatures of 25 °C (77 °F). May to December is the dry season. January to April is the warmer and rainy season with high humidity.We recommend dressing with light clothes.
Amazon Rainforest:The rainforest is the most humid area of the country with high rainfall throughout the year (2000-3000 mm). Temperatures are around 26°C (79°F). There are hot days and cool nights. We recommend dressing in light clothes and always wear insect repellant.
Galápagos Islands: The climate in the Galapagos Islands is not so hot, despite being at the equator. This is due to the relatively cool Humboldt Current coming from the southeast and the cold low Cromwell current coming from the west. During the rainy season (January to June) there is an average air temperature of 27 degrees Celsius, but it is sunny and in the drier period, the temperatures average is 21 degrees Celsius and it is often foggy.
Ecuadorian cuisine is diverse, varying in each region. In the Andes, the cuisine is based in chicken, beef, pork and cuy (guinea pig) are served with rice, potatoes, corn and vegetables.
In the coastal lowlands, seafood is the main dish with different preparations of fish and shrimp, served with plantain (chifles or patacones), rice, coconut and peanut based sauces, vegetables. Fresh fruits are varied such as bananas, papaya, melon, pineapple, passion fruit, mango, coconut and more. One of the most important products of the region is the arriba cacao, used for export and for producing local fine dark chocolate.
In the Amazon, dishes are based in pork, chicken and fish withone of the main ingredients is the yuca or cassava.
Special diets (vegetarian, vegan, kosher, gluten-free) are offered specially in large cities and upon request.