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Ecuador

Ecuador is one of the most biodiverse places on the planet. Its territory includes four principal regions: the Amazon, the Andes, the Pacific Coast, and the Galapagos Islands and is home to over 25 active volcanoes and many protected National Parks. It is the country where pure chocolate and bananas come from, which has a volcano with the closest point to the Sun from Earth and La Mitad del Mundo, the geographical point with a weird gravitational force. Guayaquil and Quito are the largest Ecuadorian cities, that yearly receive hundreds of thousands of visitors drawn to South America’s rich history, landscapes or gastronomy.

DESTINATIONS

HIGHLIGHTS

Destinations! Even if you plan to visit Ecuador for Galapagos Islands, do not hesitate to also book at least 3 days on the mainland. Located at the south coast of the Pacific, on the banks of the Guayas River, Guayaquil is the perfect city to visit, especially if you want to avoid altitude sickness in Quito. Take a leisurely walk along its famous 2,5km promenade, visit museums or explore the surrounding region to discover local lifestyle and traditions.

Nature! Whether you intend to venture to the Galapagos Islands, hike in the Andes, go birdwatching in the Amazon, or just wait for the whales to come in the warm waters of the Pacific Coast, Ecuador is the perfect place to immerse yourself in the nature.

Amazing Experiences! For an authentic travel experience, visit a traditional cocoa plantation. Learn the whole chocolate making process, from cacao fruit to bean and bar, craft your own chocolate bars and taste real Ecuadorian chocolate.

BEST TIME TO VISIT

Like many tropical areas, the climate can be divided into two major seasons. The rainy season usually begins in October and ends in May, and is followed by a dry season that lasts from June to September.

The weather in Ecuador is quite unpredictable, so the best time to visit depends on the altitude and the proximity to the equator of your chosen destination. February and March tend to be the sunniest and driest months, therefore not great to travel in coastal areas, but the crystal-clear waters attract many divers in Galapagos. If you plan to visit the Ecuadorian Amazon, the best time to go is between December and March because it rain less, compared to the Andes where the temperature drops with the altitude and it can rain anytime, regardless of the season.

Tips&Tricks: From December to May the weather in the Galapagos Islands is influenced by the warm currents of Panama and the northeast winds, which makes the rainy season excellent for swimming and snorkeling.

THE PERFECT 20-DAY ITINERARY

Although one of the smallest countries in South America, Ecuador is a destination unlike any other. Home to some of the most unique wildlife not found anywhere else in the world, this incredible country is an amazing place for every nature-lover and adventure enthusiast.

Our 20-day travel itinerary will take through the hidden gems of Amazon and Galapagos Islands, volcanoes, mountains, ocean and photogenic plazas surrounded by architectural wonders.

VACATION BUDGET

The official currency of Ecuador is the US dollar. The average budget for a day in Guayaquil, Ecuador’s largest city, is around USD100. That includes accommodation in  a central location, meals for one day and tickets for visiting some nearby museums or tourist attractions.

Accomodation

From luxurious haciendas to perfect hotels for tight budget travelers, in Ecuador you will find a variety of accommodation that will not disappoint. For a double room with breakfast included, hotel prices in downtown Quito or Guayaquil range from about USD75/night at the Hotel Colonial San Agustin to USD135/night at the Hotel La Basilica Quito. Highly rated apartments, such as La Casa Azul in Cuenca have an average price up to USD170/night. In Galapagos you will find mid-range hotels such as Hotel Fiesta with prices that start from USD135/night.

  • Price recommendations for the best mid-range hotels:

Quito or Guayaquil: USD75-150/night

Cuenca: USD40-180/night

Galapagos Islands: USD70-260/night

Transportation

Although buses are one of the most common ways to explore mainland Ecuador, getting around Galapagos Islands is more convenient to do with taxis, boats or rented bicycles, and the easiest way to move between the inhabited islands – Santa Cruz, San Cristobal, Isabela and Floreana is via ferry. If you arrive by plane on Baltra Island, there is a bus shuttle that will bring you to the Itabaca Channel. Once there, you must also board a ferry or take a water taxi to cross over to Santa Cruz Island, home to the largest town in the Archipelago, Puerto Ayora.

TRADITIONAL ECUADORIAN CUISINE

Since Ecuador is divided into four regions, its typical cuisine has a wide variety of flavors. Andean crops such as quinoa, corn and different varieties of potatoes serves as the main ingredient for many popular types of stews and soups. Seafood Ceviche is one of the most famous Galapagos dishes and fried plantain chips are the perfect snack that often accompany main dishes.

Tips&Tricks: Fanesca is a traditional Ecuadorian soup traditionally prepared only during the Holy Week. Its origin dates back to the Inca Empire, being known in the Quechua language as “uchucuta”. This special soup is made with twelve different kinds of beans and grains including: fava beans (habas), lupines (chochos), lentils, corn, peas, fresh beans (porotos), pumpkin (zapallo), rice, onions, garlic, cumin, achiote, peanuts, milk, cream, cheese and dry salted cod. Before serving, it is generally garnished with hard boiled eggs, fried plantains, herbs, parsley and sometimes empanadas.

LANGUAGE

Ecuador’s official language is Spanish, but there are more then 30 indigenous languages spoken throughout the country. Since English recently became a required course in primary school, except for those working in tourism, most people do not understand it. Therefore, it is always a good idea to try and learn a few Spanish words before visiting the mainland or Galapagos Islands.

TIPS & TRICKS

1. The best way to arrive in Galapagos is by plane. The only two international airports in mainland Ecuador from where you can depart are José Joaquín de Olmedo International Airport (GYE), in Guayaquil and Mariscal Sucre International Airport (UIO), in Quito. Both flights are operated by Tame, the national airline of Ecuador within the same price range.

3. When leaving the country, you need to be aware of the currency restrictions, as there is a 5 percent tax on currency taken out of Ecuador above USD1200.

2. The current Galapagos National Park fee is USD100/per adult person and it must be paid in cash upon arrival at the airport. Please note however that USD50 or USD100 bills are not accepted, so try to ensure that you have smaller bills.

4. Because Galapagos is 1000km from the mainland, Internet access can sometimes be quite difficult. Most restaurants and accommodation facilities provide free wireless, but the signal is quite weak. Especially for GPS navigation, before arriving in the Archipelago you should buy a local SIM card, from Quito or Guayaquil.

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