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Frequently asked questions to travel to Ecuador

Frequently asked questions to travel to Ecuador

When is the best time to visit Ecuador?

There really isn’t a wrong time. There is little seasonal variability, beyond rainy season and dry season, also known as winter and summer. These variations are a little unpredictable and depend where you are in the country. Some may argue that birding is better during the dry season. Others may feel it’s better to avoid the tourist traffic of July and August. What it comes down to is really when you are free and what you are hoping to do while there.

What is the weather like there?

Quito is spring-like all year due to being so close to the equator and so high in altitude. The rainy season is May through September. The Amazon regions are hot, humid, and wet year-round with a slightly wetter season from April to June. Keep in mind that the rains can be a refreshing break from the heat and humidity.  The coastal areas are quite hot and humid year round, and the Galapagos is hot, but dryer, with two seasons – one slightly cooler and less humid than the other. Most animals there are active all year.

Are Earth Treks trips suitable for kids?

Absolutely! Ecuador is a wonderful place for families to visit with a mix of wildlife encounters, multi-sport adventures, and warm hospitality. We have one trip that is specific to families, called Family Trip through Ecuador, which outlines some minimum age recommendations. We would be happy to talk to you about various trip options for your family.

What types of food are typically Ecuadorian?

Popular Ecuadorian staples include meat, potatoes, corn, seafood, beans, and rice. Soups and stews are served as a main dish or appetizer. Ceviche, a local favorite, is a cold seafood soup soaked in lemon juice. Roast pork, fried corn or potato pancakes, and grilled steak are also common. Vegetarians can find plenty to eat, but will generally have less variety to choose from than meat eaters.

What are the rules around tipping?

Tips are often included in the bill at restaurants, however, it is customary in Latin America to offer a tip for exceptional service.

What should I pack?

Before leaving, you will receive a detailed list of what to pack, based on your specific destinations. The Ecuadorian climate varies considerably, with hot temperatures on the coast, cold temperatures high in the mountains, and moderate temperatures elsewhere. For general tips on what to pack on your trip, go to our Key Travel Tips.

What time zone is Ecuador in?

Ecuador is five hours behind Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) – and therefore the same as Eastern Standard Time (EST). The country does not observe daylight-saving time, as the sun rises and sets on queue at the same time all year around. So during the months from April to October, mainland Ecuador is on Central Standard Time. The Galapagos Islands are always one hour behind the mainland.

What currency is used in Ecuador?

In 1999, the Ecuadorian government adopted the U.S. dollar as their official currency. The bills are all the same, but the coins show Ecuadorian leaders and historical figures – a great souvenir in itself.

Should I bring cash or travelers checks? Are ATMs available?

We recommend taking a small amount of cash with you and then withdrawing more from ATMs (available in larger towns and cities) as needed. It’s best to avoid travelers checks, as they must be cashed when banks are open.

Can I use credit cards?

Major credit cards are generally only accepted in larger restaurants and stores. Although it is helpful to bring a credit card along for emergencies, don’t count on using it for most purchases.

Can I use my cell phone?

Check this out with your cell phone provider before leaving. Avoid the shock of coming home to a gigantic bill from international roaming. Consider employing one of the following strategies: enable airplane mode for the duration of your trip; set up international data roaming; take your SIM card out and only use free WI-FI connections (now offered in many hotels and restaurants throughout Ecuador); or unlock your phone before you leave (through your provider) and purchase a SIM card when you arrive.

What are the visa and passport requirements?

Travelers to Ecuador require a passport that is valid for a minimum of six months after departing the country. With the exception of a handful of countries, most travelers do not need a visa for Ecuador. Canadians do not require a visa.

How safe is Ecuador?

You should take the same precautions you would anywhere else. Although safety specific to tourists has been fortified in recent years, it’s still important to use your common sense and take precautions, such as not going into unfamiliar areas alone, especially at night. Petty theft is more common in airports, crowded tourist sites, and busy markets, so be aware of your valuables and avoid carrying large amounts of cash, jewelry or other expensive items.

What about altitude sickness?

Quito sits at nearly 10,000 feet (or 2850 meters) altitude above sea level. Many can feel the effects of the altitude upon arriving there, although there is a good chance you may not feel anything. If you do, you may experience shortness of breath, fatigue in your muscles, and possibly headaches – sensations that can feel similar to sleep deprivation. These symptoms are not usually long lasting. It just takes a little time (a day or so) for your body to acclimatize to the new heights. Drinking plenty of water and avoiding alcohol while you are experiencing symptoms may help to diminish the effects.

What shots do I need for Ecuador?

First and foremost, make sure that you are up-to-date on all routine vaccinations such as measles, tetanus, etc. This holds true for all international travel. The vaccination for yellow fever may be required depending on which part of Ecuador you plan to visit – it is particularly recommended if you plan to visit the Amazon basin, which many of Earth Treks’ itineraries include. The Yellow Fever vaccination should be given at least ten days before travel.

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