General Information

Area: 256,370 km2

Location: Ecuador is one of the smallest countries in South America. It lies on both the Northern and the Southern Hemispheres and it is divided by the Equator, thus the name of the country. Ecuador has 24 provinces, but the most touristic ones are: Galapagos, Manabi, Guayas, Imbabura, Pichincha, Cotopaxi, Chimborazo, Sucumbios, Napo, Orellana and Pastaza

Population: Approximately 14 million inhabitants

Capital: Quito has approximately 2.3 million inhabitants and has been declared a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site. However, Guayaquil is considered the country’s economic center and it is the largest city in Ecuador. It has approximately 3.7 million inhabitants.

Language: The official language is Spanish, but English is spoken in most hotels, stores and tourist sites. French and German is less frequent. Several other dialects are also spoken, such as Quechua, Cofan, Siona, Huaorani, Shuar and Tsachila.

Religion: The Roman Catholic religion predominates for approximately 95% of the population.

Boundaries: Colombia on the north, Peru on the south and east, and approximately 800 km of Pacific Ocean on the west.

Islands: Galapagos (an approximate total surface of 8,000 km2) comprised of 13 principal islands, 6 small islands and 42 islets.

Highest Elevations: Chimborazo at 6,310m and Cotopaxi, the highest active volcano in the world, at approximately 5,897m.

Currency: The Ecuadorian currency is the American dollar. At tourist sites, purchases can be made with credit cards such as American Express, Visa, MasterCard and Diners Club.

Documents: All foreigners must present their passports when entering the country but no visa is required. Tourists can stay in Ecuador for 3 months. It is recommended that you always carry your passport or a copy, because regular controls are carried out in different places in the country.

Weather: Because of the great variations in altitude, temperatures also vary in different regions of the country. Consequently, the average temperature on the Coast is 27 ºC, the Andes weather is subtropical and the temperature varies between 3 ºC and 11 ºC, the climate in the Amazon region is warm and humid and the temperature varies between 23 ºC and 26ºC, while the Galapagos insular region has a dry subtropical weather and the temperature varies between 18 ºC and 38 ºC.

Clothing: On the Pacific Coast, summer clothing is used all year around, but in the Andes only from May to August. The rest of the year casual clothing including a coat or raincoat is recommended. For Galapagos or the Amazon region, you should bring informal lightweight clothing.

Electricity: 110V and 60Hz plugs. In hotels and on cruise ships, 220V is available.

Time Difference: In Ecuador, it is 7 hours earlier in summer and 6 hours earlier in winter in relation to central European countries. The Galapagos Islands are one hour earlier than the Ecuadorian mainland.

Taxes: Most of the time, international airport taxes are included in the cost of the ticket, however the tourist has to check and confirm with the airline. Other taxes vary between $2 and $10, especially in National Parks and Reserves. In Galapagos, the entrance tax to the National Park is $50 for tourists from Andean Pact countries, $6 for Ecuadorians and $100 for citizens of other countries, and the cost of the transit control card is $10. On Isabela Island in Galapagos, there is a US $5 dock tax and the airport tax is US $15 for inter-island flights. Confirm these costs with our office before leaving on your tour.

Airports: There are two international airports in Ecuador: Mariscal Sucre Airport in Quito and José Joaquín de Olmedo Airport in Guayaquil. Flights leave from these airports for the principal cities of the world. Other principal cities in the country also have terminals for national flights.

Medical Services: Most cities in the country have clinics and hospitals. All hotels have information regarding how to contact doctors or emergency services. Many hotels have their own medical doctor on call. Some pharmacies are open 24 hours a day.

Water: We recommend drinking bottled water and not tap water.

Telephone, Fax, E-mail: Long distance calls from Ecuador may be made directly or by dialing 116 or 117. At present, most hotels offer fax and e-mail services. There are also many cyber cafes that provide international telephone, fax and e-mail services.

Tourist Visa: Visitors can stay up to 90 days without visa; however please consult at the Ecuadorian Embassy in your country.

Working Hours: The banking sector and money exchanges are open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Businesses and shopping malls are usually open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday to Saturday. Some small stores have longer hours, so it is possible to shop on weekends.

Recommended medicine and vaccinations: No vaccinations are required for entry into the country, but if you plan to visit the Amazon region you should be vaccinated for yellow fever. It is also wise to be vaccinated for typhus, malaria, polio, tetanus and hepatitis. And of course, you should not forget the medicine you take regularly, and you should consult with your doctor before traveling, especially if you have specific heart or blood pressure problems.

International Airlines Operating in Ecuador: American Airlines, Continental, Delta, Jet Blue, Avianca Group, Iberia, Copa, Lan, Aerogal, Insel Air and Tame.

National Airlines Operating in Ecuador: TAME, AEROGAL, and LAN.

Culinary Specialties: The following list of culinary specialties is in no way complete, because our gastronomy is wide and varied, but some special dishes are potato soup with cheese, potato soup with sprinklings of fried cow blood, pig feet soup, beef soup with peanut sauce, green banana ball soup, ceviche and many others.

Crafts: A great variety of different kinds of crafts can be found all over the country. In Quito in the Mariscal sector, shops are open every day, and there are different types of craft businesses in other cities as well. The typical Indian markets are also well-known for many different articles such as jackets, table cloths, ponchos, hats, shawls, scarves, embroidered clothing, carved wooden objects, leather objects and clothing, clay figurines, bags, alpaca articles, silver and coral jewelry and many other things. Visit the markets and notice the different things for sale. Do not forget to bargain – haggling is part of the deal.

Transportation Services (bus, taxi, and plane): Bus lines offer land transportation where you can just jump on the next bus leaving to your destination at a terminal. Each city has its own terminal, with frequent departures to each one of the different provinces. We recommend having your belongings close to you when using buses, and it is not wise to travel at night.

Taxis are another means of transportation in the cities and there are many of them. They can be summoned by phone if you like, or you can catch them passing by on the street fairly easily. In Quito, almost all cabs have taximeters. We recommend you only take the yellow taxis marked as such, with orange license plates. There are many “pirate” taxis which are just regular cars acting as taxis but with no permission to pick up passengers.

The fastest transportation is by air, especially between Quito, Guayaquil and Cuenca with daily flights. The average time of a flight is 30 to 45 minutes, except for flights to Galapagos that take approximately and hour and a half from Guayaquil.

There are also car rental services that offer different types of vehicles and corresponding prices. To rent a car you need your passport, a credit card and a driver’s license. Before you sign the contract, make sure it is insured.

Train: It is not used as a way of transportation; it is more a tourist attraction. It has eight routes in total with a lot of amazing views and experience.