1. What is the best time to travel?
You can travel to Ecuador the whole year as the climate does not vary greatly, but the dry season, from July to November, is the best time.
2. When is the best time to see wildlife?
The volcanic Galapagos Archipelago is the second largest marine reserve in the world. Famous for its unique and fearless wildlife, it has become a paradise for nature enthusiasts and photographers. There's never a bad time to visit the Galápagos. The peak season lasts from mid-June to early September and from mid-December to mid-January. There are also several National Parks where (weather permitting) you can take great pictures.
3. What are the best festivals and when do they take place?
Every city of Ecuador celebrates their own festivals either in honour of a saint (most Ecuadorians are Catholic) or a local tradition. There are plenty of other celebrations throughout the country such as: "Virgen del Carmen" on 16th July and the "Fiesta de la mama negra" in Latacunga, held on 23rd and 24th September, among many others.
4. Can I pre-book transfers and extra nights?
Yes you can pre-book transfers (arrival only) and extra nights with Shoestring.You can add these on to your booking form.
5. What about my passport?
You need a passport that is valid for at least 6 months from the date of departure. You are responsible for having a valid passport and visa when you travel.
6. Do I need a visa?
You are responsible for having a valid passport and visa when you travel. Foreign nationals do not need a visa for Ecuador at present but please check here to confirm the latest information. Make sure you inquire at least a month before departure if you need a visa so you do not run into time problems.
7. Do I need vaccinations or malaria tablets?
Please click here
for questions regarding vaccinations or malaria tablets for this country and then contact your GP or a specialized health clinic and make an appointment to get your injections and pills. Please make sure that you arrange this at least six weeks before your departure. Two weeks should suffice for people who have already had a few vaccinations. You are responsible for having the right protection when going on tour.
8. What is the recommended currency for Ecuador?
The US Dollar (USD) is the official currency in Ecuador. In 2000 the sucre was replaced by the dollar as the legal currency, but despite dollarization, the sucre is likely to persist in rural areas for a while longer. It is recommended that travellers bring both US dollar notes and travellers cheques as other foreign currencies are difficult to exchange outside of Quito, Guayaquil and Cuenca. Small denominations in good condition are the easiest to exchange outside of the main cities. In the main centres most currencies can be exchanged at banks and 'exchange houses' (casas de cambio) at variable commission rates. ATMs are available in the cities and major credit cards are accepted in tourist areas and large hotels.
9. What kind of clothing and other stuff is practical to take?
During just one day of travelling in Ecuador, it is possible to encounter all seasons. You therefore need to be prepared for all climates and all types of weather. A warm jumper, thick trousers, a shawl (to cover your mouth against fierce wind and stinging lava sand) and a waterproof jacket/windcheater are no luxury. For the jungle and the coast, you will need light summer clothing, but bring something to protect you against the sun. Even with a fully overcast sky you can get badly sunburnt.
The same applies for shoes. In the jungle and on the beach you do not need walking boots (in the jungle rubber boots are best (but you will be able to borrow these), while on the coast you need only sandals). However, if you want to go climbing in the Andes, you will need sturdy, high, well worn-in walking boots with good tread. In the evenings in the jungle and on the coast, you will need a high-collared t-shirt with long sleeves.
10. What kind of luggage should I take?
Preferably you should take a canvas bag or backpack rather than a stiff suitcase, as these are less convenient to transport. In addition, you will need a smaller backpack or shoulder bag for your daily luggage. To keep your money and documents safe, we recommend that you take a thin cotton money belt that you can wear underneath your clothing without it being visible. Make sure you pack some clean clothes and any other important items in your hand luggage in case you have to go without your main luggage for 48 hours because of a delay.
11. What about electricity in Ecuador?
Please click here to check what voltage and plugs are in use in Ecuador. You may also wish to consider taking a universal electric plug.
12. Which travel guides and maps?
If you want to take a travel guide or map, we suggest you click on Lonely Planet.
13. What is the accommodation like?
The majority of our hotels are comfortable and of mid-range standard but remember that you are in a developing country with a much lower standard of living than your are used to at home. All accommodation will be in twin rooms with private facilities.
14. How is accommodation arranged if I book alone?
If you book alone you will share your room with a fellow traveller ( from the same sex when possible ) unless you have booked a single room.
15. Do I need to take a mosquito net?
There is no mosquito netting in the accommodation in the jungle. The windows are fully covered with fine-meshed gauze. A mosquito net is not really necessary but you could consider bringing one.
16. Do they cater for vegetarians in Ecuador?
Vegetarians should not have a problem as there is a great variety of fruit and vegetables in Ecuador.
17. What kind of transportation is used?
Transportation will be provide in private (mini)buses or public buses.
18. Is Ecuador dangerous?
Pickpockets operate in Ecuador's cities. It is easy to keep them at bay: just carry your bank notes and valuable documents underneath your clothing, in a way that isn’t visible. Keep a little money at hand so that you do not have to look for your valuables out on the street. If your day backpack contains valuables, carry it on your front. Carry your camera in your bag, so that it isn’t immediately visible. Mugging occurs now and then in the larger cities and along the coast. When it does happen it is usually in places that you would normally avoid anyway such as dark, quiet streets. Never talk to people offering drugs and do not go with police unless they wear proper identification. Do not wear expensive-looking sunglasses or jewellery out in the street. In restaurants and internet cafes, take good care of your luggage.
19. What local customs do I need to keep in mind?
In Ecuador, it is customary to start a conversation by saying hello and asking how the other person is. ‘Buenos días, ¿cómo está?’ is a common expression. When saying goodbye after meeting someone, even if the contact was short, women are often lightly kissed on the cheek by both men and women. Indigenous people do not kiss; sometimes they offer only a weak handshake. Politeness is highly valued. Always ask permission to take photos of the local people. A tip is often requested. It is a legal requirement to carry identification at all times. Dress is more conservative and modest in the highlands compared to the coast and eastern regions. Politeness and good manners are essential for successful communication.
20. Are there opportunities to swim?
Yes, there are beautiful beaches in Ecuador and you will have the opportunity to swim.
21. What are other activities and sports could I do?
You can take part in whale watching and horse riding excursions as well as hiking plus lots of shopping in local markets.
22. How are communications in Ecuador?
The international access code for Ecuador is +593. The outgoing code is 00 followed by the relevant country code.The city code for Quito is (0)2. Calls made from hotel rooms can be very expensive, but public telephones can be found in most public buildings in the main cities. The most cost-effective way to telephone internationally is from call centres, which are located in most towns and cities. They also offer fax services and sometimes internet connections too, but internet cafes are available in the main towns. The local GSM mobile phone network does not have roaming agreements with international operators. European, Australian and other phones from non-GSM mobile phone networks will not work, but mobile phones can be rented at the international airports or at mobile phone shops.
23. What is the time difference?
Please check the world clock in order to find out the exact time difference
24. Are there opportunities to snorkel or dive?
There are fantastic opportunities to dive in Ecuador but this can be quite difficult to arrange so please check with your tour guide.