Where to go, what to see: your Ecuador travel guide

Why visit Ecuador?

Although travel to Ecuador is becoming steadily more popular, it is still one of South America’s best-kept secrets. Split by the Andes and rows of active and snow-capped volcanoes, Ecuador seers with energy. This small but diverse country offers a snapshot of South America unlike all the others. Considering its haunting cloud forests on the outskirts of Quito, where mists hover and protect thousands of wildlife species, as well as its unspoiled and endless variety, Ecuador offers distinctively unique experiences to its travellers. While South America is teeming with wildlife and adventure, Ecuador is especially accessible. For a small territory, it consists of four different regions – the Islands, Pacific Coast, the enrapturing Andes Mountain range, and rainforests. Ecuador draws visitors for its varied landscapes and for its unique position as the gateway to the Galápagos Islands.

Weather and climate in Ecuador

When is the best time to visit Ecuador?

Ecuador’s climate is generally very tropical and may be cooler in higher elevations.

To help you plan, below are average low and high temperatures for Ecuador.

 

Quito

Guayaquil

Galapagos Islands

 January

 9/22°C

 22/31°C

21/29°C

 February

 10/22°C

 22/30°C

23/30°C

 March

 9/22°C

 23/31°C

23/31°C

 April

 11/22°C

 22/31°C

22/30°C

 May

 11/21°C

 22/30°C

22/29°C

 June

 9/21°C

 21/29°C

21/26°C

 July

 9/22°C

 20/28°C

20/26°C

 August

 9/23°C

 20/29°C

18/24°C

 September

 9/23°C

 20/30°C

17/24°C

 October

 9/22°C

 21/30°C

18/25°C

 November

 9/22°C

 21/30°C

18/26°C

 December

 9/22°C

 22/30°C

19/27°C

 


Ecuador food and fun facts

Food specialities of Ecuador

Potatoes will accompany almost every meal; rice is also a very popular side dish. Soup is a big part of lunch and dinner. Ceviche, empanadas, and locro de papa (a famous Ecuadorian soup with avocados, potatoes, and cheese) are other popular dishes. In restaurants, always ask if they have menus in English, as many establishments will.

Bottled water is how many people drink water even at home.

Never ask for tap water. Ice is rarely used as well.

Fun facts

  • Quito is said to have the most pleasant temperature in the world, nicknamed “Land of Eternal Spring”
  • Ecuador gained independence from Spain in 1822 and from Gran Colombia in 1830; therefore Ecuador celebrates two independence days.
  • Ecuador has 54 UNESCO World Heritage sites and 19% of its countryside is protected
  • The official currency of Ecuador is the US dollar, which was adopted in 2000 after Ecuador suffered a financial crisis and defaulted on their external loans in 1999. The currency that was used before this was called the Ecuadorian Sucre.

Things to consider before visiting Ecuador

How to call Ecuador: Country code

The country code for Ecuador is 593. When calling to Ecuador from overseas, dial your international access code (+44 from the UK), followed by the country code, area code, and phone number.

Ecuador’s currency

The official currency of Ecuador is the US Dollar.

Credit cards are accepted in Ecuador, and you should have no problems using them in larger shops and restaurants, though you may be charged an additional fee for using them. Visa and MasterCard are the most accepted. Smaller shops may ask you to pay in cash or have a minimum amount required to use a credit card. Be prepared to show your passport with all credit card transactions.

Travellers' cheques are extremely difficult to exchange in Ecuador. Their use is not recommended.

Shopping in Ecuador

The following budget guidelines are just approximate values or starting values for meals and are per person. Actual prices will vary widely by restaurant and city within a country but below are some averages as provided by our experienced personnel.

  • The approximate cost of a soft drink/mineral water/coffee is US $0.75.

  • An average lunch consisting of a salad or sandwich and a soda or water starts at approximately US $6.

  • Dinner at a mid-range restaurant with dessert and a non-alcoholic beverage starts at approximately US $20.

In open street markets, try not to touch items unless you are interested in purchasing them. If you would like to take photos, please ask permission. Most vendors are happy to have their picture taken with the item you have just purchased. If you are being confronted by vendors, smile, say nothing and then shake your hand low to say no. This is polite and they understand. For many people, saying “No” means I want it at a lower price and they will follow you in attempt to bargain.

In many areas of South America, bargaining for purchases is normal. First, ask for a price. Offer an amount slightly below what you wish to pay. It is important to be polite and smile while bargaining. In most cases, bargaining will not save you a lot of money. Keep different value bills folded and separated in different pockets, that way you can pull out the exact money you need, and sometimes this can close the deal. Opening a wallet or purse to pull a roll of bills out can lead to negotiation problems. Always finish the transaction with “thank you” and a smile.

When and how much to tip in Ecuador

Bars and restaurants often add a service charge to the bill as a tip (generally 10%). It is customary to add additional 10-15% tip in cash to be handed directly to the service personnel.

  • For a taxi, a tip of 10% is recommended.

  • Tip hotel staff $1 for room or bar service.