Tag Archives: Ecuador

Travel Feature: Ecuador

Today’s Travel Feature brings us south, all the way down to the Equator!

Travelers to Ecuador will find endless opportunities for exploration, relaxation, and having fun! The biggest draw to Ecuador is that it contains breathtaking mountains, dense tropical rain forests, and a beautiful South Pacific coast line, all in one country! Here is some information on Traveling to and around Ecuador. Have you been to Ecuador? Please give your suggestions in the comments!

Flickr Creative Commons:  David Berkowitz

Flickr Creative Commons: David Berkowitz

Getting to and around Ecuador

It is very important to pay a visit to a travel clinic a couple months before traveling. Traveling to Ecuador requires a couple vaccinations and a Tuberculosis test. The practitioner should also prescribe you altitude medication, and Ciprofloxacin (Cipro) in case you eat something you should not have.

Flights to Ecuador occur relatively frequently (depending on where you are traveling from), but the prices are based heavily on the day of week you travel. Additionally where you are traveling from and how many layovers you are willing to endure will greatly impact the price of your ticket. Make sure you are watching ticket prices at least six to eight months before your trip. Play around with the dates if you are flexible. The day of the week you depart can change the ticket price by a couple hundred dollars, which is true for any destination.

You will most likely fly in to Quito, Ecuador’s capitol. Quito is centrally located in the country, making it an easy starting point. There is also an airport in Guayaquil, and if you are going to Ecuador for the sole purpose of exploring the Galapagos, then you will probably fly straight from Quito to Guayaquil.

Many of the flights to Ecuador get in at night when it is dark. If you are unfamiliar with the Spanish language, and have never visited a South American country before, then it is highly recommended that you arrange for your hotel or hostel to pick you up from the airport. This is more expensive than taking a bus, but much easier. And if it is clear you are not a local, a taxi driver will charge you a highly inflated price for a ride.

Flickr Creative Commons: mark goble

Flickr Creative Commons: mark goble

Many of the hotels and hostels in Ecuador have websites with email addresses listed. You can arrange a ride to where you are staying in Quito for $20-$50 by email. This is worth the price. Ecuador is relatively safe, but everywhere in the world is more dangerous at, especially when you are a foreigner. You will feel better knowing ahead of time that your commute from the airport to your hotel is taken care of. When you get off the plane, make sure you keep all your belongings with you at all times. Theft is the number one complaint by travelers to Ecuador. If you are a smart traveler, you will not have any problems.

Now for choosing a hotel. There are tons of places to stay in Quito. The city is vast, covering rolling hills and valleys. For tourists, the best place to stay is around the Foche in La Mariscal. Mariscal is an area flourishing with restaurants, bars, museums, city tours, bus stations, and more. While reasonably priced, the hotels directly in or surrounding the Foche will be more expensive than ones that are further out. The weather in Ecuador is almost always nice, with more rain depending in the season. Choosing a hotel that is further away from the city center will not make your trip less enjoyable, just make sure you bring a map!

Flickr Creative Commons: Pete

Flickr Creative Commons: Pete

Hostels are a practical choice if you do not mind using a public bathroom. Many of the hostels offer both private rooms and dorm-style rooms. Unless you are going with a large group of people, it is highly recommended that you choose a private room. If not, you and your belongings will be exposed to strangers. Still, staying at a private room in a hostel allows you to meet a lot of fellow travelers, while maintaining privacy and security.

Staying few days in Quito will suffice, but where to go next? Popular choices are the cities of Baños, Montañita, Cuenca and Guayaquil. Taking buses across Ecuador is extremely cheap, and (mostly) reliable. There are two bus stations in Quito: Terminal Quitumbe and Terminal Carcelén. The buses to popular destinations listed above all leave from Terminal Quitumbe in southern Quito. As a rule of thumb, the cost of the bus ride in dollars is equal to the length of the bus ride. For example, Quito to Baños is a four hour ride, and costs $4.

You can take a taxi from anywhere in Quito to the bus stations, or you can take a city bus. If you have a lot of belongings, it is advised that you take a taxi. Theft is very common for tourists on city buses.

So where are you going to go? Hopefully to all of them! To decide where, check out these helpful sites!

Briefly, Baños is great for outdoor adventurers and thrill seekers, but don’t forget the numerous spas! Guayaquil is perfect for scuba divers, nature lovers, and biology buffs. Cuenca is ideal for true outdoorsmen and explorers while Montañita is a popular destination for college students and party goers. The town of Canoa is a smaller surf town for those who want to go to the beach, but avoid all the college parties. Ecuador has something for everyone!


Flickr Creative Commons: Meredith Cook

Flickr Creative Commons: Meredith Cook

Things to be Aware of While Traveling

Altitude. Did you know that Quito is 9,350 feet? Follow the instructions for the altitude medication. For your first day in Quito, do not over-exert yourself. After 24-48 hours your body will be better adjusted for hiking and biking.

Again, watch out for theft. Keep eyes and hands on all of your belongings at all time. Be cautious of keeping everything in a backpack because you can’t see behind you. The goal isn’t to make you a paranoid traveler, or to keep you from traveling to Ecuador, just to make sure you keep your stuff!

ATMS: There are ATM’s in the major cities of Ecuador. It is rare that stores and restaurants accept credit/debit cards. Make sure your bank card will work at the ATMs Ecuador, and call your carrier to let them know you will be out of the country so they don’t suspend your card due to ‘suspicious’ activity. You should also have two credit cards (of different carriers) with you in the event that one does not work. It is important to take out cash before traveling to a smaller city – enough for your hotel, food, activities, and transport back to Quito, plus extra in case there is an issue and you have to stay extra days. If you can, avoid carrying all your money in your bag. Shirts with inside pockets or pouches that go around your neck under your clothes are good options to carry your money. Keep most of your cash on you, and some of it dispersed securely throughout your bags.

Street Food. It looks so good. But you should avoid it. Anything left out in the sun or washed with tap water can make you terribly sick and ruin your trip. Only eat fruit that you remove the outside peel before eating – bananas, mango, watermelon etc. Generally restaurant food is okay, but not always. This is what the cipro is for. Typically, if you abstain from eating all meat, even in restaurants, and street food, you can avoid getting a stomach bug.

Many Ecuadorians speak English very well, but many do not speak any English at all. You can almost always find someone to help you out with directions or instructions. It is still a good idea to brush up on some basic Spanish phrases.

Flickr Creative Commons: Stefan Krasowski

Flickr Creative Commons: Stefan Krasowski

SUNSCREEN. This cannot be stressed enough. If you are not from an area near the equator, you will need a LOT of sunscreen at a high SPF. Bring at minimum a large, full tube per week for each person traveling. This sounds excessive but fair-skinned people will want to apply sunscreen to every inch of exposed skin at least three times a day. The sun on the equator is strong, and severe sunburn can ruin a good trip.

There are many more aspects to traveling Ecuador that we are unable to cover here in one blog post. We hope this covers many of your major questions! Please leave comments and questions for us!