Ecuador is a republic in the northwest of South America. The Republic comprises the Galapagos islands. The capital city is Quito.
The entire western part of Ecuador is washed by the Pacific Ocean. It shares its borders with Colombia and Peru.
Ecuador has four climate zones. In the lowland and on the coast the climate is equatorial with hot and humid weather. The average temperature in this area never drops below +28°C and from December to May is a hot and wet season. In the eastern Ecuador, the temperature can reach +38°C. The climate in the mountains is temperate equatorial and the south of the country and the Galapagos islands are in a sub-equatorial climate zone.
We recommend traveling to the eastern part of Ecuador from August to February. The most comfortable holidays on the coast are from April to December.
The majority of the population are the Catholics. The official language is Spanish.
If you prefer lazy time on a beach, you should go to Atacames, Bahia de Manta, San Vicente, Playa de Montanita, Salinas and the Santa Elena Peninsula. In this resort cities, you can not only relax on well-groomed beaches but get and adrenalin rush from diving, snorkeling and surfing. The Galapagos National Park is the best place for all surfers and divers.
If you are planning to go on excursions, go to Quito, Cuenca and Guayaquil. These are the cultural centers of Ecuador where the travelers can see important historical sites, architectural monuments, visit national parks, reserves and the memorial complex with a zero degrees latitude.
Those who like active country holidays, should have a trip to Chimborazo Volcano, Cayambe Volcano and Cotopaxi Volcano. There, the travelers can go climbing or trekking.
A travel to Ecuador may seem a bit tiring for the tourists from EU and CIS countries.
Air Europa, LAN Airlines, Air Madrid and Iberia offer direct flights from Madrid to Ecuador (Quito or Guayaquil). There are no other direct flights from Europe and CIS countries.
Aeroflot and Air France offer regular transit flights from Moscow and Paris with a stop in Lima (Peru). KML flies to Ecuador with a stop in Amsterdam. The tourists from Kiev can fly with the Ukrainian International Airlines with a stop in Amsterdam.
There is a train running from the capital city of Peru to Ecuador. The trip will take you about 24hours.
The citizens of CIS and EU countries do need a visa to travel to Ecuador.
This rule applies to all the tourists who are not planning to stay in the country for more than 90 days. The passports are stamped right at the airport specifying the number of days the tourists can stay in the country visa-free.
If necessary, the travelers can extend their stay in Ecuador but they have to apply to the Immigration Service of Ecuador.
According to the customs legislation of Ecuador, the amount of money imported in the country is not restricted. However, all the money must be declared. The export of currency is allowed in the same amount that was stated in the import declaration.
The travelers can import in Ecuador duty-free the following goods:
- personal belongings;
- tobacco and alcohol;
- gifts (the total amount must not exceed 200 dollars).
It is strictly prohibited to import in Ecuador non-preserved products.
It is not allowed to export without supporting documents objects having a cultural or historical value. If the tourists want to buy in Ecuador jewelry, souvenirs, woolen and leather products they must have a recipe confirming the purchase.
Your stay in Ecuador will allow you trying many various traditional dishes of the Indian tribes who lived on the territory of the country before America was discovered.
The most favorite exotic soups among the locals and the tourists are Locro (potato soup with avocado and cheese), Jaguarlocro (potato soup with blood) and Caldo de pata (broth made from cow's feet).
The tourists will not be disappointed by unusual meat dishes such as Cuy (roasted Guinea pig). While not everyone will risk to try this a Guinea pig, Seco de chivo is a dish to all tastes. This is roasted or stewed goat.
Ecuador has something to offer to seafood lovers. We recommend Supa de mariscos (exotic soup with seafood) and Seviche (seafood marinated in lime juice and hot pepper). You will surely enjoy a delicate taste of Encocados, fish stewed in a coconut milk.
Those who have a sweet tooth should be ready for a great variety of desserts: Humitas (sweet corn), Colada (an amazing souffle with a taste of naranjilla) and Chucula (a cream mousse with cinnamon and vanilla, sprinkled with coconut flakes and salty cheese).
In Ecuador, they do not produce wine but they have local beer Pilsener and Biela. Also there are alcoholic beverages made of sugar cane Canelazo and Pisco.
The national currency in Ecuador is US dollar. In circulation they have:
- banknotes from 1 to 100 dollars;
- coins (cents) from 1 cent to 1 dollar.
In Ecuador, exchange money only in the official exchange offices and at banks. The banks in Ecuador are open 5 days a week so you won't be able to exchange the currency at the weekend.
The cards are accepted in tourist areas and hotels but the tourists will have to pay a tax 8%. Small malls and entertainment facilities, small hotels and hostels do not accept credit card. You can cash the traveler's checks only at banks.
There are ATMs in large malls. As in small cities you can withdraw money only at banks, a preferable way of payments in Ecuador is cash.
The criminal situation in the country is under control.
Details of interest
So, you have made up your mind to go to far and unknown Ecuador. What should you know and what to be ready for?
Customs and Traditions in Ecuador
The Ecuadorians are very calm, good-tempered and hospitable. They are as hospitable as religious. If you visit the home of an Ecuadorian, bring a small gift for him or her in gratitude for the invitation.
In small towns, the local always say hello to everyone they meet.
There are no restrictions concerning smoking in public places but we do not recommend drink alcoholic drinks outside bars or eateries.
Do not take a picture of the locals without their permission.
Sightseeing in Ecuador
- In Ecuador, pay your attention to the Cathedral of Quito. It is located on the Independence Square and was built in the 17th century in the Baroque style.
- The Avenue of Volcanoes is a mountain range to the south of Ecuador. This is one of the most attractive places in Ecuador and a destination for the climbers.
- A village Otavalo. The tourists come here to buy souvenirs. In Otavalo, there is an Indian market where the tourists can buy local crafts. The market is open only on Saturdays.
- Cotopaxi is one of the world's highest active volcanoes 200km to the south of Quito near the Avenue of Volcanoes.
- The Urbina Bay on the Isabela Island is a natural habitat for the world's largest turtles, different colored iguanas and penguins. The Isabela Island is the largest of the Galapagos islands and it was named after Queen Isabella of Spain.
- The Galapagos islands is an archipelago in the Pacific ocean. This is still a place of earthquakes and seismic activity which causes constant changes in the landscape. The Galapagos islands and its waters comprise a national park which is often called a Museum of Evolution.
- You will me much impressed by the trip to the Sangay National Park where there are two active volcanoes. The park is a natural habitat for such rare animals as the Andean condor and mountain tapir.
Souvenirs in Ecuador
- Warm sweaters and other things made of alpaca wool are sold on the Otavalo market.
- In Cuenca, the tourists buy jewelry boxes, tableware and national costumes with ethnic patterns.
- In Quito, you can buy silver jewelry.
- In Balsa and Salinas buy figurines made of special very light wood.
- You will find hats and Panama hats, pipes made of tagua nut, carnival masks and national musical instruments in Guayaquil and San Vicente.