Dear Ecuador visitor,
On behalf of the staff of EcoAmerica Tours, we wish you a most pleasant experience in Ecuador. Our goal is to have you enjoy a trouble-free journey in this exciting destination. Here is some important information regarding your forthcoming adventure. Please take a few moments and become familiar with this information.
If you are going on a cruise-exploration through the Galapagos Islands, we want to invite you to check more especific and very useful information:
- Galapagos Islands: Month by Month
- Galapagos National Park: Rules and Regulations
- The Main Attractions: Island by Island
- Life Aboard the Vessels
Before living your city of origin, please take a few moments to review all your documents for accuracy. We will provide you a master voucher, which will be exchanged at your first point of contact, when applicable, for a series of individual service orders for each and every one of the different travel services contracted, booked, confirmed, and prepaid by our office and to be provided by different suppliers throughout your adventure.
After deplaning, you will need to go through Immigration and Customs before exiting the airport. Our associates are not allowed into the Immigration/Custom areas. If you are to receive an arrival transfer, please look for our representative with a sign with your name and our company name on it. At this point, you will exchange your master voucher for an individual voucher packet. If you are renting a car, a representative from the car rental agency will meet you at the exit point of the Immigration/Customs area and they too will be holding a sign with your name on it. If you do not have a transfer or car rental, the individual voucher packet will be waiting for you at your first contracted service, i.e. hotel or lodge. The suppliers involved in the handling of your travel arrangements also aim to provide you with the finest possible service, and to make sure that your travel needs are to your satisfaction.
Below, please find a few tips which will come in handy before packing, and through the length of your trip.
Clothing & Packing
City Attire: Even though Quito is an informal and casual city, we recommend men to wear pants (jeans are OK), and ladies should wear skirts, pants or Bermuda length shorts. For the evening meal, men should wear nice slacks, shirt and sweater (sport jacket is optional), and women will feel comfortable in a nicer casual evening attire, and a shawl. Formal attire is only used when conducting business.
The highland areas can be cold, and it is best to dress in layers, wear a sweater over a shirt and T-shirt since the day begins and ends quite cool but at midday it becomes warm. For the jungle and the islands loose-fitting shirts and long pants are essential. If you plan to hike in the jungle make sure you bring rain gear, and two pair of boots or hiking shoes, since one pair can be worn while the other dries from the previous day use. Since Ecuador lies on the Equatorial Line, the sun is direct and strong.
It is highly recommended that you bring a high SPF sun block, sunglasses, and a hat or cap. Do not forget to bring plenty of film or a large capacity memory stick. Flying within Ecuador has a luggage weight limit of 55 lbs. per person. If you are taking medication always carry it with you rather than putting it in your suitcase.
For your safety and convenience, we recommend that you exercise caution (as you would in any part of the world). Do not bring large amounts of cash (the city and the larger towns have ATMs) or expensive jewelry. The Ecuadorian Chamber of Tourism recommends:
1. Use only the authorized taxis from the hotel taxi stand, and those that are clearly identified.
2. Never leave your personal belongings unattended.
3. Always carry a photocopy of your passport, showing your photograph and the date you entered the country. Leave the original in the safety deposit box of the hotel.
4. Keep your airline ticket, important documents, and cash and travelers checks in the hotel safety box.
5. Don’t wear valuable jewelry and carry only the amount of money you’ll need for each day.
6. Guard valuable items you are carrying, such as cameras and video cameras. Put your wallet in your front pocket and carry your purse crosswise, especially when visiting the markets.
We recommend drinking bottled water.
US Citizens must present proof of citizenship in the form of a valid passport. As of May 1998, visas are not required. Citizens of other countries, please contact the nearest consulate for information on travel documents (i.e. visa, tourist card, etc.) before departure. The normal processing time for a passport is four to six weeks (a longer period exists during certain times of the year), and a passport can be obtained quickly from your regional passport office. Please contact your regional passport office for details.
The local currency is the U.S. Dollar. All prices are posted in U.S. dollars. Credit Cards (Master Card and Visa are accepted most everywhere; American Express is not as widely accepted) are accepted in the city and larger towns. Travelers Checks are difficult to exchange. Although some establishments have signs indicating acceptance of credit cards, this is often not the case. Always check first. Some establishments assess a 10% surcharge when paying with credit cards. Always check first. Bring cash for small towns and villages. Note: No one, not even banks, will accept dollar bills that look “old”, or are in anyway damaged or torn.
The electrical current for Ecuador is the same as in the US (110 volts AC, 60 Cycles). An adapter is recommended to accommodate some outdated plugs.
Generally a 10% tip is appropriate for restaurants. Some establishments add the tip to the bill. Bellboys, porters, guides, and tour bus drivers generally receive a tip for their services. Suggested tipping: bellboys – $1 per person for parties of two or more, single travelers – $1 per bag; airport porters – $0.50 per bag; tour guides – $3 to $5 per person per day; river rafting guides – $5 to $8 per person per day; tour bus drivers – $1.50 to $2 per person per day.
There are taxis available at the airport and each hotel. Running taxis are also available.
Post offices around the country are open from 08:00 to 12:00 and from 14:00 to 17:00 (schedule varies from region to region).
Holidays and Office Hours
The holidays in Ecuador are: January 1, Mardi Grass (variable in February), Holy Week (variable in March or April), May 24, June 24, June 29, July 24, July 25, August 10, October 9, October 12, November 2, November 3, December 6, and December 25.
In addition to the national holidays, some of the provinces and municipalities celebrates their own Patron Saint’s day and there are other celebrations dating from pre-Hispanic times.
Please keep in mind that during these festivities people celebrate, normal activities are put on hold, the main square fills with revelers, and the richest expressions of traditional culture are proudly displayed.
Private offices generally open at 09:00 a.m. and close at 6:00 PM. Shops, depending on their location are open from 09:00 AM and closed between7:00 and 8:00 PM.
Meal times: breakfast from 06:00 to 09:00; lunch from 12:30 PM to 3; 30 PM, and dinner from 7:30 to 10:00 PM.
Modern, clean, sanitary and first-rate conditions and facilities can be found in Quito and Guayaquil. Some rural parts of the country have medical services available in small hospitals and clinics. Yellow Fever inoculation is required for some remote areas of the Amazon basin. Check with your local doctor.
Legal Services are available. It is better to contact your embassy or consulate for any assistance. Leave your passport at the hotel’s safe, and carry a photocopy with the immigration visa posted.
The official language is Spanish, but various indigenous communities also speak Quechua. English is spoken in almost all tourist areas.
Weather conditions vary from season to season and region to region. For the Galapagos and on the coast the dry season falls between May and December. In the Highlands, the dry season is from July to October. The highlands can be very cold at night time. In the jungles, the dry season is from October to March, during the wet season, April to September, it only rains for a few hours at a time, which is not enough to spoil your Amazon Adventure.
Immunizations, Insects, and Insect Repellent
Vaccinations are not generally required for visiting Ecuador, as sanitary conditions in tourist areas are acceptable. Nevertheless, a malaria vaccination is recommended for trips into the deep jungles of the Amazon. Don’t let the thought of bugs get you down. The right kind of protection and common sense can make your trip worry-free. When entering the jungle or forests wear lightweight cotton long sleeve shirts and long pants. Cover all exposed skin surfaces with insect repellent. Avoid being outdoors at dusk, as this is when many of the insects feed. Using these simple tips will make you rainforest experience great. Please remember that not every bug is out looking for you, but they are there (especially if you are visiting them in their home: the rainforest). Don’t let a bug ruin your trip.
Valid passports with an entering stamp. The airport departure tax is US$25 for international flights and US$2 for local flights. Land and sea departures vary according to the area.
What to Bring Recommendations – Summary
The following is a general list of those items that we, at EcoAmerica Tours, have found to come in handy while traveling.
- Casual resort wear including men’s long pants for dinner time on board Galapagos ships. Some 4 and 5 star city hotels require this attire at their A La Carte or Specialty Restaurants
- Cotton shirts, some long and some short sleeved
- Cotton or synthetic blend socks
- Light sweater or sweatshirt
- Lightweight water resistant jacket or poncho
- Lightweight water resistant hiking boots
- Long pants (cotton or synthetic blend; avoid jeans since they do not dry fast)
- Shorts (cotton or synthetic blend)
- Sun hat or baseball cap
- Tennis or walking shoes
- Warm jacket (for higher elevations only)
- Antibacterial ointment (Neosporin)
- Cortisone cream
- Imodium A.D.
- Moist wipes
- Prescription medication
- Solarcaine lotion or gel
- Backup prescription eye wear and medication (if needed)
- Camera with fresh batteries and large capacity memory card (or lots of film)
- Day pack or fanny pack for nature walks and a plastic water bottle
- For natural history enthusiasts, we suggest you bring a field guide.
- Insect repellent (waterproof)
- Lip balm or lip protectant ((waterproof)
- Resalable plastic bags in assorted sizes to keep your cosmetics and/or toiletries from spilling
- Small flashlight or head lamp
- Sunscreen or sun block (waterproof)
- Swiss army knife
- Travel alarm clock
- Valid driver’s license
- Valid Passport (original and photocopy) of everyone in your party
- Waterproof disposable camera
Traveling with small children? here are some additional recommendations
- An interesting book or a coloring book with crayons and color pencils
- Some table or electronic games to play
- Rubber boots and a lightweight poncho
Dress in Ecuador, for the most part, is very casual. Temperatures and clothing needs vary depending on elevation. Packing soft sided luggage with wheels will make traveling around the country much easier. Most hotels have laundry service available for guests. We have found that traveling light makes for a more enjoyable adventure.
And last but not least, when packing remember that on almost all domestic flights there is a weight restriction of 55 lbs, and these days, international flights may be restrictive too!
Since the information provided above has been collected from several sources and even though we attempt to keep it updated, it tends to change, and we cannot guarantee its accuracy.