Straddling the Equator between Colombia (to the north) and Peru (to the south) in northwestern South America, the Republic of Ecuador is home to one of the most stunning portions of the Northern Andes Mountains. The country also lies along the northwestern fringes of the Amazon Basin and receives both warm and cool ocean currents along its equatorial Pacific Coast.

The world-renowned Galapagos Islands are located 1,200 kms (over 600 miles) offshore, in the middle of the great Pacific Ocean. Learn more about the Galapagos Islands tours in our Galapagos section.

Area

Ecuador covers a territory of 109,483 square-miles (283,559 square-meters), only about 2-3% of South America’s total landmass.

Government

Ecuador has enjoyed a democratic government since 1979. The current president is Mr. Lenin Moreno.

Population

As per the 2010 census, Ecuador is home to around 16 million people. Guayaquil, its largest city, has over three million inhabitants, while Quito, the capital, has a population of 2.5 million.

Language(s)

Ecuador is the second-smallest Spanish-speaking nation in South America after Uruguay, yet it is, at the same time, home to thirteen official native languages, with fourteen recognized indigenous nationalities.

Currency

As of 2001, Ecuador uses the US Dollar as its official currency.

Climate

It Varies, depending on altitude. The lower you go (meaning the closer you are to sea level), the more tropical it is. Days are hot, and rain—when it rains—is heavy in the Amazon. The Andes offers spring-like conditions all year round and when the sun is out you

Light, summery clothing is recommended. In cities like Guayaquil, air-conditioners are commonplace at every locale at all times, like a hot summer’s day in almost any big city, all year round.

In the Amazon Basin, temperatures are also high, but local architecture using bamboo and featuring steep thatched palm-leaf roofs promotes ventilation which keeps interiors pleasant. Breezes coming in from rivers and lagoons also help to cool things off.

In the Andes, temperatures drop as one moves upslope, though Quito, despite its 2800 meters above sea level, is not a cold city. During most of the year, sunny days are followed by cloudier afternoons, with showers that typically last only about an hour, a meteorological effect that may offer spectacular purple-and-orange sunsets. It only gets chilly at night or when it rains. The “invierno,” which means winter in Spanish, is a rainy season. It may rain throughout the day, with occasional hailstorms.

There is no clear-cut winter or summer, however, so Ecuador is a great year-round destination. Refer to our Weather Section for temperatures and more information on seasons.

Arriving to Ecuador

All travelers (including minors) arriving in Ecuador must provide proof of:

  • A negative RT-PCR (nasal) taken no more than 3 days (72 hours) before entering Ecuador or,
  • A rapid Antigen test took no more than 3 days (72 hours) before entering Ecuador or,
  • A vaccination card showing the traveler received a complete series of the COVID vaccine.

The 3 days (72 hours) period applies to the date & time when the test is taken and not when test results are provided.

For traveling to Galapagos

All travelers arriving in Ecuador and aged 16 years old when traveling must provide proof of:

  • A negative RT-PCR (nasal) taken no more than 3 days (72 hours) before entering Ecuador and,
  • A vaccination card showing the traveler received a complete series of the COVID vaccine.

NOTE: Travelers from 2 to 15 years old, only require an RT-PCR test (nasal).

For more information about covid entry requirements, you can visit our Terms & Conditions.

Ecuador is a Yellow fever-free territory.  Should you wish to have further information about vaccination in Ecuador, please check with your trusted physician. You can also check the World Health Organization official advice at  https://www.who.int/ith/ith-country-list-new.pdf

All international flights into Ecuador serve the airports of Quito (UIO) or Guayaquil (GYE). For those wishing to experience the Andes and the Amazon Basin, your obvious bet is choosing Quito as your arrival destination. You can then connect to Guayaquil if you want to explore the Pacific Coast further, though, conversely, you may visit Guayaquil first. Guayaquil is closer to Galapagos and you save the time about an hour in travel time to the islands.

We suggest a two-day stay in Guayaquil and at least a three-day stay in Quito and take advantage of these mainland destinations. You can also catch a connecting flight to Cuenca from both airports.

If you are planning to explore the Amazon Jungle, only Quito has daily flights to this region.

Quito airport is less than an hour’s transfer from Colonial Quito or the new town, both of which offer an array of excellent hotels to stay in. For visitors with limited time in Quito or those who need to catch an early flight, there are excellent hotels in the airport area.

All flights to and from the Galapagos Islands originate in Quito (UIO) and make a brief stopover in Guayaquil (GYE).

 

Which airlines serve Ecuador?

If you are coming from North America, you can choose among the following airlines (daily flights in most cases and from/to Quito and Guayaquil): United Airlines (Houston), Jetblue (Ft. Lauderdale), Delta (Atlanta), American (Miami), Avianca (Bogotá), Copa (Panama), Latam (Lima), and Aeromeximo (Mexico DF).

If you are coming from Europe or the UK: PlusUltra, Iberia and AirEuropa (Madrid), and KLM (Amsterdam).

From Asia and Oceania, you can fly to the US with all major carriers and connect in Houston or Atlanta directly with Quito or Guayaquil. If traveling from Oceania, either Sydney or Melbourne, you can connect through Santiago de Chile with Latam or Qantas.

 

Travel Times from major cities:

New York – approx. 7 hours’ flight time

Miami — approx. 4 hours’ flight time

Los Angeles – approx. 8-9 hours’ flight time

Europe — approx. 10-14 hours’ flight time 

Sydney – approx. 25 hours’ flight time

Beijing – approx. 22 hours flight time

Citizens of most countries including the United States, Canada, Australia, the UK and most European countries, are eligible to stay a maximum of 90 days in Ecuador without a visa. You can also check with your closes Ecuadorian embassy or consulate for more information regarding visas.

You will find Ecuador to be a beautiful, friendly, and enjoyable destination and your guides will answer any questions you may have regarding this topic.

Take the usual precautions for any city you are unfamiliar with. We suggest you keep your belongings close at hand, especially your wallet, camera and backpack when touring. For other valuables, especially your passport we recommend leaving them in your hotel lockbox.

Wayra Routers’ Emergency number

The following contact information can be utilized by you, your family, and associates during your trip to Ecuador (or the Galapagos).

Our 24/7 Customer Service & Emergency:

+593-99-794-7938

Tipping and gratuities are always a personal matter based on experience and the services received.

We offer the following tipping and gratuity guidelines for mainland Ecuador when considering excellent service:

 

Restaurants and porters:

  • 10% of the bill at restaurants is typically included in your check, but we recommend an additional 10% for excellent service.
  • US $1 to US $2 per bag to porters at airports and hotels.

 

Private tours in mainland Ecuador (per guest & tour): 

  • US$ 20 – 25 for guest for the Naturalist Bilingual guide
  • US$ 10 – 15 for guest for drivers

 

If you visit a Hacienda or Amazon Lodges (per person): 

  • US$ 10 per guest for the Naturalist Bilingual guide
  • US$ 5 per guest for native guides
  • US$ 10 per guest for staff (keep in mind tips will be shared equally amongst lodge staff)

 

For Galapagos Cruises (per guest): 

  • US $80 – US $100 per guest for the naturalist guide.
  • US $180 – US $200 per guest for the crew.

Ecuador runs on the US dollar, which simplifies your visit. Major credit cards are accepted nationwide except in markets.

Bringing cash to your mainland Ecuador trip is a must. Don’t take all your cash with you and avoid take anything over twenty dollar bills, as most establishments will not accept large bills (50 or 100). Though ATMs are available in all major cities and near hotels, and most shops do accept credit or debit cards, some don’t. This is especially true when wishing to purchase local arts and crafts or when shopping at local markets.

In small towns, smaller handicrafts can cost from US$10 to US$ 25 an item. Larger items, including rugs and ponchos, can be more expensive.  A typical traditional lunch should not exceed US$ 15 per serving, though at fancier restaurants, and depending on the number of courses and beverages ordered, the bill can reach US$ 40 per person.

Bottled water at corner stores costs around US$ 1.

You can find local banks (all of which feature ATMs) at malls, local financial districts, and important tourism hubs. Working hours are typically 9 AM – 4 PM on weekdays.

You will also find ATMs at Ecuador’s major airports, including Baltra Airport in the Galapagos, though we strongly advise you to carry cash on your flight, since telecommunication systems on the islands may be unreliable. Once at the major Galapagos Island port cities – Puerto Ayora (Santa Cruz Island) and Puerto Baquerizo Moreno (San Cristóbal Island) – you will find banks and more ATM machine options.

Ecuadorian souvenirs include beautiful arts and crafts, clothing, hats and fine chocolate.

Some of our suggestions include:

  • Pacari Chocolate
  • Panama Hats (only produced in Ecuador!)
  • Ponchos made of alpaca or llama fur
  • Bags made of dried and dyed fibers (shigras)
  • Colorful Andean table cloths and bread basket covers, featuring classic Andean embroidery.
  • Andean naïve paintings on sheep-skin canvas
  • Andean musical instruments, including pan flutes and charangos

Before planning your trip, you should consult with your local physician and health officials as well as the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in Atlanta, GA. The CDC offers an excellent section for travelers, which you can access by going to www.cdc.gov, clicking on the Traveler’s Health Item. From there select Destinations and then choose Ecuador or Peru.

You must advise us (or your tourism company of choice) of any medical conditions, allergies or special medical and dietary needs you may have during your scheduled trip by submitting your Reservation & Medical form well in advance.

Quito stands at roughly 9,500 feet above sea level so even a stroll along the cobblestones of its Colonial old town can cause shortness of breath. You should avoid drinking alcohol during the first few days of your visit. The better shape you are in, the more you will enjoy and experience during your trip.

Some guests may experience altitude sickness, known locally as soroche. This typically results in shortness of breath, headaches, and possibly nausea. In most cases, one’s body adjusts to the altitude in about two days. Physically undemanding activities, including a short city walk, are ideal for the first few days of your visit. Resting helps as does taking over-the-counter analgesics. Staying hydrated by drinking plenty of water or tea is also important to lessen symptoms.

Persistent high altitude sickness symptoms can worsen quickly, signaling the need to get to a lower elevation with more oxygen. If you have high blood pressure, heart trouble or have had issues with altitude sickness in the past please consult your physician before traveling to Quito. For such guests, you should organize your visit through Guayaquil.

Food and waterborne diseases are the number one cause of illness in travelers. The following precautions will ensure that you stay healthy during your trip. Tap water is perfectly safe for brushing your teeth but it might not be suitable for drinking due to certain minerals that locals are used to.

If you wish to try local food in side-road eateries, make sure it is deep boiled or fried and avoid anything raw. It is always a good idea to consult your physician, who can also prescribe medications that you can turn in case you contract any gastrointestinal complications during your visit.

It is very important to stay hydrated during excursions and walks in the Galapagos, Amazon rainforest or high-elevation treks in the Andes. In the Galapagos, we provide drinking water dispensers for filling water bottles. On the mainland and Amazon, if you have arranged excursions with Quasar, water will be provided to you. Hotels typically also provide drinking water in your room and more upon request.

All regular communication services are found in Ecuador. Internet, international calls, roaming, etc. It is not difficult to make international calls. To make it easier you can check with your long-distance and/or mobile provider before your trip to see if they will provide you with an access number to use. Hotel staff and guides will also be happy to assist you.

Check with your mobile provider prior to your trip, not only to see what services are available to you in Ecuador but also how to avoid unexpected roaming fees. Ask your provider how to configure your phone to avoid them.

You can also learn how to connect your phone to Wi-Fi at mainland hotels to make calls over the Internet. Internet communication is provided in most hotels, including Wi-Fi at no charge, and the use of computer connections to the Internet at a lobby or business center. You can’t always count on high-speed connections, however. There are also Internet cafes and you can find Wi-Fi hookups at many haciendas as well.

We would love you to disconnect from the outside world and enjoy the wonders Ecuador has to offer. Please note that in certain lodges in the Amazon rainforest or Galapagos, you will not be able to use any communication as these are isolated zones. All suppliers operating in remote destinations have an emergency satellite phone.

Electricity

Throughout Ecuador, the electrical current is 110 volts, 60 cycles, AC, which is the same standard as North America. Most outlets accommodate the same two flat-pronged plugs used throughout the USA and Canada.If you are visiting from other countries (including Europe and Australia), travel with a universal adaptor or a simple US-two-prong plug adaptor. Most facilities accommodate US three-prong plugs as well.

The following is a brief summary of what you may want to bring on your trip to mainland Ecuador.

 

Footwear

  • Hiking shoes if you are visiting haciendas, cloud forests or the Amazon.
  • Comfortable walking shoes for your urban walks in Quito, Cuenca or Guayaquil

For Galapagos travelers, comfortable walking shoes for inland excursions and Teva-style sandals for beach activities (which can include walking on lava rocks along the shore)

Shirts and blouses

  1. T-shirt for sunny mornings and afternoon in the Andes, and Guayaquil
  2. Polo shirts, light blouses.
  3. Long sleeve shirts for colder afternoons in the Andes.

Outwear

  • Cotton sweaters for cold afternoons, hacienda and mountain trails in the Andes.
  • Thick jacket for Andean treks and hikes and nights at haciendas.
  • Light waterproof jacket for Amazon excursions.

Trousers and skirts

  • Shorts for urban walks in Guayaquil
  • Light-weight full-length pants for jungle excursions in Amazon and midday walk in the Andes
  • Dressier pants for evening outings
  • Casual dresses/skirts for urban visits and evenings

Socks and underwear

  • Regular underwear
  • Warmer hiking socks for Andean excursions
  • Regular socks

Headgear

  • Sun hat or cap with neck protection for midday walks.
  • Sunglasses

Travel accessories

  • Sunblock
  • Mosquito repellent
  • Photo camera / Video camera
  • Additional memory for cameras
  • Alarm clock
  • Flashlight or headlamp for Amazon trips
  • Binoculars
  • All necessary A/C adaptors, including charger adaptors for 110v, two flat-prong outlets
  • Good books and Spanish/English dictionaries

Ecuador’s weather changes little throughout the year. Since the country lies on the Equator, there are no definite ‘four seasons,’ although many people say that in the Andes, one experiences all four seasons in one day.

Still, we do speak of clear-cut rainy and dry seasons in most parts of the country. They do not necessarily occur at the same time of year; however—it depends on where you are—and the presence of microclimates further complicates matters. Microclimates are formed due to specific pockets in elevation that create isolated meteorological patterns.

The Andes’ typical rainy season spans from October through May with the least rainfall in July and August, though the eastern slope of the Andes is typically wet from March to September, while the dry season takes place between October and February. In the Amazon, there is a lot of precipitation all year long, through rain can subside. Usually, the wettest months fall between March and September.

Note that in the Andes, there is also what they call a veranillo, or “small summer” that takes place at some point between the end of November and early January.

On the coast (including Guayaquil), it is colder during the northern hemisphere’s Summer months (July-Sept), with the highest humidity and hot weather between February and May.

Average Temperatures in the Andes  (Quito)

January                      68°F/20°C (day)

50°F/10°C (night)

February                     66°F/19°C (day)

50°F/10°C (night)

March                         66°F/19°C (day)

48°F/9°C (night)

April                            66°F/19°C (day)

50°F/10°C (night)

May                             66°F/19°C (day)

52°F/11°C (night)

June                           68°F/20°C (day)

48°F/9°C (night)

July                             66°F/19°C (day)

48°F/9°C (night)

August                       68°F/20°C (day)

50°F/10°C (night)

September                70°F/21°C (day)

48°F/9°C (night)

October                      66°F/19°C (day)

48°F/9°C (night)

November                  66°F/19°C (day)

48°F/9°C (night)

December                  66°F/19°C (day)

50°F/10°C (night) 

 

Average Temperatures in the Amazon

January                      79°F/26°C (average daily)

February                     77°F/25°C (average daily)

March                         77°F/25°C (average daily)

April                            77°F/25°C (average daily)

May                             77°F/25°C (average daily)

June                           75°F/24°C (average daily)

July                             73°F/23°C (average daily)

August                       75°F/24°C (average daily)

September                77°F/25°C (average daily)

October                      77°F/25°C (average daily)

November                  77°F/25°C (average daily)

December                  79°F/26°C (average daily)

 

Average Temperatures in Guayaquil

 January                      88°F/31°C (day)

73°F/23°C (night)

February                     88°F/31°C (day)

75°F/24°C (night)

March                         90°F/32°C (day)

75°F/24°C (night)

April                            90°F/32°C (day)

75°F/24°C (night)

May                             88°F/31°C (day)

73°F/23°C (night)

June                           84°F/29°C (day)

71°F/22°C (night)

July                             84°F/29°C (day)

70°F/21°C (night)

August                       84°F/29°C (day)

70°F/21°C (night)

September                86°F/30°C (day)

70°F/21°C (night)

October                      84°F/29°C (day)

72°F/22°C (night)

November                  86°F/30°C (day)

73°F/23°C (night)

December                  88°F/31°C (day)

73°F/23°C (night)

 Average Temperatures in Galapagos

Minimum air temperature Maximum air temperatures Average sea temperature
January 72°F / 22°C 86°F / 30°C 76°F / 24.5°C
February 75°F / 24°C 86°F / 30°C 77°F / 25°C
March 75°F / 24°C 86°F / 31°C 77°F / 25°C
April 75°F / 24°C 88°F / 31°C 77°F / 25°C
May 72°F / 22°C 82°F / 28°C 76°F / 24.5°C
June 70°F / 21°C 79°F / 26°C 73°F / 23°C
July 68°F / 20°C 79°F / 26°C 72°F / 22.5°C
August 66°F / 19°C 79°F / 26°C 71°F / 21.5°C
September 66°F / 19°C 79°F / 26°C 72°F / 22°C
October 68°F / 20°C 79°F / 26°C 73°F / 22.5°C
November 70°F / 21°C 79°F / 26°C 73°F / 23°C
December 72°F / 22°C 81°F / 27°C 73°F / 22.5°C